Much has been said about the president’s penchant for using the social-networking platform Twitter. It seems as though his @potus45 account retweets about every other one of his tweets from his personal account, garnering thousands of mentions, likes and retweets.
Donald Trump has effectively proclaimed his personal Twitter account as his mouthpiece and his presidential account as his “official” platform on Twitter.
For a man that claims a large percentage of his net worth is tied up in his “brand”, it seems a lot like using a personal account for public business clearly circumvents laws to keep presidents from making money outside of the office. In effect, he is building his brand, and the number of his Twitter followers (he’s gained several million followers since January) by using the office to which he was elected.
Like him or not, his brand on Twitter grows by the day. At the end of his term, if Twitter follows the same protocol as they did with Obama, the official @POTUS account will transfer to the next president while all of the current POTUS tweets will be on an archived account called @POTUS45.
However, every single follower Trump gained on his personal account will stay with him. He is essentially driving people to the account he’ll still control after his term, which will add value to his brand. Having an audience of 30 million on Twitter is better than having an audience of 1 million is you plan on selling books, endorsing products, or peddling ideas.
This seems to be a clear case of a Rule 5 CFR 2635.702 violation. That rule states that a personal cannot use their position in a public office for private gain. Even applying the rule in a limited fashion to personal gain while in office, there is no question that by using his personal Twitter account, he is driving views and traffic to the small number of other Twitter accounts he follows. Accounts he follows, which are basically endorsements, mainly hover around Trump-branded businesses.
Whether the Republican-controlled Congress does anything about it is another matter completely.