On Thursday, the former president posted a photo of his Fulton County booking photo hours after being arrested and released in the Georgia election case.
With Twitter emerging as a popular political hub for conservatives under the social media company's billionaire owner, Elon Musk, and as Trump's legal troubles escalated, the former president reclaimed his favorite megaphone.
“Trump being back on Twitter is going to give him a megaphone both for running again in the Republican primary but also to try to impact American politics and make it all about him again,” said David Karpf, an associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University.
Georgia arrest brings Trump back to Twitter
The Georgia case is one of six civil and criminal trials Trump faces as he campaigns for president in 2024. He has dismissed the criminal cases as political prosecutions.
Musk reinstated the former president's Twitter account, including his blue check mark and 87 million followers, after the former president announced his 2024 presidential bid in November. But Trump did not start tweeting again until after his arrest Thursday.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2023
Will Donald Trump upstage Elon Musk?
Karpf is betting Trump, who forged his rhetorical style with the New York City tabloids in the 1980s and then refined it on NBC’s “The Apprentice,” will quickly resume his role as the main character on Twitter, supplanting Musk.
“That reality show, rambunctious style translates quite well to social media,” Karpf said. “His sort of personal rule that all attention is good attention and the worst sin is people not talking about you, that has served him pretty well and he’s quite gifted at it.”
How X could boost Trump in GOP primary, legal troubles
That social media savvy will serve Trump well during the GOP primary and could help him keep his significant edge over other Republican candidates including runner-up Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to Karpf.
“He is better at seizing attention than they are and as the Republican party network works out who they want their nominee to be, his ability to use Twitter to occupy the attention of a nation is going to be a real asset,” Karpf said of Trump.
What about Trump and TruthSocial?
Trump, who has certain contractual obligations to TruthSocial and has an incentive to prop up the value of his social media company, had previously said he would not return to Twitter even if invited.
Rejoining the social media platform was a trade-off for Trump, says Jay Ritter, a finance professor at the University of Florida. TruthSocial is not as powerful a megaphone although many of his followers repost his messages on Twitter.
"'Do I want more attention or do I want more money?'" Ritter said. “He’s infatuated with money and he’s infatuated with attention. That’s a tough call.”
Why Elon Musk wanted Donald Trump back
The decision to reinstate Trump's account marked the highest profile figure Musk has welcomed back to the social media platform since his turbulent $44 billion takeover of Twitter, now X, last year.
Especially at a time when the platform is struggling to keep its most active users engaged, Musk had a strong financial motive to bring back Trump, who is just the kind of mega-personality who drives engagement there.
Trump also returned to YouTube and Facebook after his suspensions were lifted. The de-platforming of Trump and other figures on the political right sparked outrage among conservatives who accused Facebook and other major social media platforms of censorship and liberal bias.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump returns to Twitter, now X, tweets booking photo after arrest