White House officials said that President Donald Trump, who retweeted a suggestion over the weekend that he was owed two extra years onto his four-year term as president, was simply joking.
Trump retweeted a social media posting from Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., who said that the president had lost two years of his tenure due to the Russia investigation looking into allegations of collusion by his campaign and obstruction of justice by the president himself.
Falwell wrote in his initial tweet, “I now support reparations-Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup.”
Trump reiterated in a posting of his own his support of the notion that his time in office was stolen from him, writing as much in a follow-up tweet on Sunday evening.
After people online expressed misgivings with the president’s presumptions, White House officials and individuals who describe themselves as close to Trump told the Washington Post this week that the president was simply making a joke.
For some, however, the joke was lost on them.
New York University Professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat, for example, told the post that Trump’s jokes have the tendency to be more about testing the waters, of him trying to decipher what he can get away with, rather than legitimate quips meant to elicit laughter.
“Everything that he says is a trial balloon — even his, quote, jokes are trial balloons,” Ben-Ghiat said. “But if you look at what he jokes about, it’s always things like this — it’s the extension of his rights, it’s the infringement of liberties.”
She warned that despotic leaders from the past had done the same, adding that “authoritarians are continually testing the boundaries to see what they can get away with.”
— JoeMyGod (@JoeMyGod) May 7, 2019
Trump indeed has a penchant for telling “jokes” to audiences or online that aren’t really jokes at all. During the 2016 presidential campaign, for instance, Trump, while speaking to the media, asked Russia to try and hack into Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Per reporting from CNN, earlier this year while speaking at CPAC Trump lambasted the media for taking his words too seriously “[i]f you say something like, ‘Russia, please, if you can, get us Hillary Clinton’s emails. Please, Russia, please. Please get us the emails. Please!'”
In actuality, Trump did indeed intend to go after and obtain Clinton’s emails. The Mueller report detailed how Trump repeatedly asked Michael Flynn and other campaign surrogates to do so, Axios reported.
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Chris Walker is a freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. A millennial with more than a decade of journalism experience, Chris aims to provide readers with the latest and most accurate news of national importance. Chris likes to spend his free time doing activities in his community with his family.