Former US President Donald Trump returned to the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, with a post on Thursday showing his mug shot from his booking at Fulton County Jail in Georgia earlier in the day. With his post appealing for donations, Trump reclaimed direct access to the public on the platform that banned him following the January 6, 2021, attack on Congress by his supporters. On November 19 the San Francisco-based app reversed its position under billionaire Elon Musk, the self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” who bought Twitter on October 2.
Trump, who had over 88 million followers when Twitter banned him, posted a photo on Thursday of the mug shot with the words: "ELECTION INTERFERENCE! NEVER SURRENDER!" The post garnered more than 14 million views 50 minutes after going live.
Twitter permanently suspended Trump's account in January 2021, citing the risk of further incitement of violence following the storming of the US Capitol.
He used Twitter and other social media platforms to claim his defeat in the 2020 election was due to widespread voter fraud and to share other conspiracy theories.
On November 15 Trump launched a bid to regain the White House in 2024.
On Wednesday, Trump opted out of a Republican primary debate on Fox News, attracting millions of viewers who watched - or at least scrolled by - a rival interview on X.
That 46-minute conversation with conservative commentator Tucker Carlson had drawn nearly 250 million views as of Thursday night, according to the site's statistics.
On Thursday evening, Trump broke from a vow that he would stick exclusively with his new platform Truth Social, the app developed by his Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) startup. Trump had 6.4 million followers on Truth Social as of Thursday.
Truth Social has been Trump's main source of direct communication with his followers since he began posting on the app regularly in May. The former president has used Truth Social to promote his allies, criticize his opponents, and defend his reputation amid legal scrutiny from state, congressional, and federal investigators.
A year ago, TMTG announced a deal to go public by merging with Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC), a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The deal – which would infuse TMTG with $1.3 billion (roughly Rs. 10,744 crore) in cash – is now in doubt amid investigations by the Department of Justice and SEC, which have delayed its closing.
Trump's company faces a crucial deadline when shareholders of DWAC have until 10 am (local time), September 5 to vote to extend the period of time DWAC has to complete its merger with TMTG. If DWAC does not get the votes, the SPAC will liquidate on September 8.
Trump sued Twitter in 2021 over his suspension from the platform, arguing the move violated his right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
A US judge in California dismissed the case, and a federal appeals court in Pasadena, California, is set to take up the dispute on October 4. Attorneys for Trump have said his claims are still viable and can be ruled on by the appeals court, despite his reinstatement to the platform.
A few hours after Trump's post on X, Elon Musk reacted to his return to the platform. On his X account, Musk reshared Trump's post and said, “Next-level”.
In his X post, Trump also shared the link to his site, along with his mug shot, hours after his surrender in Fulton County, Georgia, in the election subversion case.
Trump's last tweet was on January 8, 2021, when he said that he would not attend the inauguration of then-US President-elect Joe Biden. "To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th," Trump had said in a tweet on January 8, 2021.
While Musk had reinstated the former US president's account, but Trump had not posted on the platform before Thursday.
In the latest development in the Georgia election subversion case, Trump surrendered himself in Fulton County jail in Atlanta, but later he was released on bond, according to jail records, CNN reported.
Jail records show that the former US President was placed under arrest and booked at the Fulton County jail on Thursday (US local time) night in connection with the Georgia election subversion case. He was at the jail for about 20 minutes.
Trump addressed reporters after being arrested and released from jail, saying “I did nothing wrong,” CNN reported. He described the criminal case against him as “a travesty of justice.”
“We have every single right to challenge an election that we think is dishonest,” he said.
Trump also addressed the other criminal cases pending against him, saying, “This is one instance, but you have three other instances. This is election interference.”
Trump was released after he agreed to a $200,000 (roughly Rs. 16.52 lakh) bond and other release conditions, including not using social media to intimidate co-defendants or witnesses in the case, which were previously negotiated by his attorneys.
Fulton County marks the first case where Trump has been required to pay a cash bail. Trump was already facing three other felony indictments when he was charged in Georgia.
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