- President Donald Trump's Twitter habit grew more prolific, more eclectic and more bombastic in 2018.
- The president sent more than 3,400 tweets this year — an average of nearly 10 tweets a day, and a sizable increase from Trump's first year in office.
- Trump became even more reliant on Twitter as the primary means of communication for both his administration and himself.
President Donald Trump's Twitter habit grew even more prolific in 2018.
Trump sent more than 3,400 tweets this year — an average of nearly 10 tweets a day, and a sizable increase from the president's first year in office, according to data collected by the Trump Twitter Archive and reviewed by CNBC.
And despite the seemingly constant din of news bombshells breaking around his White House this year, Trump became even more reliant on Twitter as the primary means of communication for both his administration and himself.
White House press briefings, which nearly disappeared in the second half of 2018, have been largely supplanted by salvos of 280 characters or less, launched most mornings from Trump's official account. In the past six months, Trump's tweet-rate ramped up even more, to an average of nearly 12 per day from 8 per day in the first half.
That inflated volume hasn't diluted the president's penchant for hurling invective toward his detractors and political adversaries, however.
Through his tweets — which the Justice Department treats as official presidential statements — Trump criticized foreign leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, calling the former "weak" and the latter "short and fat"; repeatedly vented rage against the probe of Russian election meddling and possible collusion helmed by special counsel Robert Mueller; excoriated critics of his trade and immigration policies; and even lashed out at officials serving in his own administration.
The president's tweets have affected U.S. lawmakers, global alliances and the stock market. Here are 10 of Trump's most explosive tweets in 2018:
Trump started the new year off with a rhetorical bang — which some feared could increase the risk of a literal one.
The warning shot came a day after the New Year's Day address by North Korea's Kim, in which he said that his country's nuclear weapons can reach anywhere in the United States and threatened that he has a nuclear button on his desk.
Months later, Trump and Kim backed away from brinkmanship and met face-to-face in Singapore for an unprecedented diplomatic meeting.
Michael Wolff's White House expose "Fire and Fury" roiled Washington with its salacious allegations about the turmoil within the Trump administration.
Some details in the book raised questions about the president's mental capacity, prompting Trump to retort in a trio of tweets that "actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart."
A day before his confident defense of a protectionist U.S. trade policy, Trump said he would impose 25 percent tariffs on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum to try and force trade partners into "fairer" agreements.
Trump also appeared to reference his recent remarks about the U.S.-Mexico trade deficit at the time, by suggesting that "when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don't trade anymore-we win big. It's easy!"
Trade experts are often quick to point out that a trade deficit is not identical to losing money to other countries.
Trump sent one of his most scorching tweets of the year after reports that the Justice Department had received a referral recommending that Andrew McCabe, the FBI's former No. 2 official, be charged with lying to officials from that agency.
McCabe said he was being "singled out" for political purposes related to his treatment of the firing of ex-FBI Director James Comey, who was dismissed by Trump in May 2017.
Comey's ouster came shortly before the appointment of special counsel Mueller, who is conducting an ongoing probe of Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, possible collusion between the Kremlin and Trump campaign-related figures, and obstruction of justice.
Trump vented rage against McCabe and Comey in the April 2018 tweet, declaring "McCabe was totally controlled by Comey - McCabe is Comey!! No collusion, all made up by this den of thieves and lowlifes!"
The president's highly lawyered tweets above came on the heels of a revelation made by his lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, that then-candidate Trump himself had reimbursed his ex-attorney Michael Cohen for a $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
That payment was made as part of a nondisclosure pact Daniels had signed barring her from discussing an alleged affair with Trump years earlier. Trump had previously said he was unaware of the payment; Cohen had told The New York Times that "Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction" with Daniels.
In the string of tweets, Trump waved the controversy away as a quotidian part of life for celebrities and the ultra-wealthy. He also repeated his denial of the affair.
Trump predicted Republican dominance in the November midterms as he took credit for the success of John Cox, his party's top-voted candidate in the California gubernatorial election.
Cox lost to Democrat Gavin Newsom by a 62-38 margin in the general election, however. And analysts have described the results of the November midterms overall as something much more like a "blue wave," since Democrats gained 40 seats to take majority control of the House of Representatives, even as they lost seats in the Senate.
Upon his return from the historic summit with North Korea's Kim in June, Trump proclaimed that that regime was "no longer a nuclear threat."
"Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office," Trump added on Twitter.
A month later, The Washington Post reported that U.S. spy agencies still believed that North Korea was continuing to construct new missiles.
The Trump administration picked a unique way to hype an upcoming deadline for the U.S. to impose new sanctions on Iran: by borrowing the iconic imagery and sayings of HBO's fantasy series, "Game of Thrones."
HBO told CNBC it was "not aware" of the administration's plan to reference the television show in order to advertise economic sanctions on an adversarial power, and "would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes."
HBO's official Twitter account followed up soon after, asking, "How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?" referring to a fictional language used by one of the groups in the show.
After meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping for trade talks at the G-20 summit in Argentina, Trump said his officials would start looking into whether a "REAL deal with China is actually possible."
"President Xi and I want this deal to happen, and it probably will," Trump said. "But if not remember, I am a Tariff Man."
That self-applied honorific signaled Trump's willingness to ratchet up tariffs even further beyond the $250 billion in duties already put on Chinese goods. The White House had promised tariffs on a separate $267 billion unless Beijing changes its trade practices. China has imposed duties on about $110 billion in U.S. products.
On Saturday, Trump said that a possible trade deal between the United States and China was moving along steadily.
Before claiming that the Islamic militant group ISIS had been wiped out in war-torn Syria, news outlets reported that the U.S. was planning to suddenly withdraw its 2,000-plus troops from the country — an apparent reversal of Washington's policy in the region.
The announcement prompted heated criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike, as well as the announcement that Trump's Defense secretary, James Mattis, would resign over his disagreements with the president.
Trump has continued to staunchly defend the decision, complaining Monday morning that "I am the only person in America who could say that, 'I'm bringing our great troops back home, with victory,' and get BAD press."