WASHINGTON — President Trump unleashed an especially intense barrage of Twitter messages overnight and Sunday morning, embracing fringe conspiracy theories claiming that the coronavirus death toll has been exaggerated and that street protests are actually an organized coup d’état against him.
In a concentrated predawn burst, the president posted or reposted 89 messages between 5:49 a.m. and 8:05 a.m. on top of 18 the night before, many of them inflammatory comments or assertions about violent clashes in Portland, Ore., where a man wearing the hat of a far-right, pro-Trump group was shot and killed Saturday after a large group of Mr. Trump’s supporters traveled through the streets.
In the weekend blast of Twitter messages, Mr. Trump also embraced a call to imprison Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, threatened to send federal forces against demonstrators outside the White House, attacked CNN and NPR, embraced a supporter charged with murder, mocked his challenger, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and repeatedly assailed the mayor of Portland, even posting the mayor’s office telephone number so that supporters could call demanding his resignation.
One of the most incendiary messages was a retweet of a program from the One America News Network, a pro-Trump channel that advances extreme theories and that the president has turned to when he feels that Fox News has not been supportive enough. The message he retweeted Saturday night promoted a segment accusing demonstrators of secretly plotting Mr. Trump’s downfall.
“According to the mainstream media, the riots & extreme violence are completely unorganized,” the tweet said. “However, it appears this coup attempt is led by a well funded network of anarchists trying to take down the President.” Accompanying it was an image of a promo for a segment titled: “America Under Siege: The Attempt to Overthrow President Trump.”
Mr. Trump likewise reposted messages asserting that the real death toll from the coronavirus is only around 9,000 — not 182,000 — because the others who died also had other health issues and most were of an advanced age.
“So get this straight — based on the recommendation of doctors Fauci and Birx the US shut down the entire economy based on 9,000 American deaths to the China coronavirus,” said the summary of a story by the hard-line conservative website Gateway Pundit that was retweeted by the president, denigrating his own health advisers, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Dr. Deborah L. Birx.
But Mr. Trump also retweeted a message calling for Mr. Cuomo to be locked up because of the high death toll from the coronavirus in New York nursing homes earlier in the pandemic. “#KillerCuomo should be in jail,” said the message by the actor James Woods, a strong supporter of the president’s.
And the president even “liked” a tweet that offered support for Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old Trump supporter who has been charged with homicide after two demonstrators were shot to death in Kenosha, Wis. “Kyle Rittenhouse is a good example of why I decided to vote for Trump,” the tweet said.
Mr. Cuomo responded on his own Twitter feed a few hours later, pointing to the Trump administration’s failure to contain the pandemic. “The White House has learned nothing from COVID,” Mr. Cuomo wrote. “National threats require national leadership. It’s been 6 months without a national strategy on testing or mask mandate. Only the federal government has the power to go to war with COVID. They are failing and the nation suffers.”
For his part, Mr. Biden issued a statement condemning the violence in Portland as “unacceptable” regardless of one’s political views and criticizing Mr. Trump for trying to raise the temperature rather than lower it.
“What does President Trump think will happen when he continues to insist on fanning the flames of hate and division in our society and using the politics of fear to whip up his supporters?” Mr. Biden asked. “He is recklessly encouraging violence. He may believe tweeting about law and order makes him strong — but his failure to call on his supporters to stop seeking conflict shows just how weak he is.”
The latest social media outburst by the president came just days after he accepted the nomination for a second term in an election in which he has been trailing for months. Mr. Trump sought to capitalize on any momentum generated by the Republican National Convention, posting a series of tweets asserting that he is actually leading in polls.
A new poll by Morning Consult, however, showed that Mr. Trump had narrowed Mr. Biden’s lead but that the president still trailed. The survey, conducted on Friday, the day after the conclusion of the Republican convention, found Mr. Biden ahead 50 percent to 44 percent, a six-point lead compared with the former vice president’s 10-point advantage a week ago after his own convention. Another poll by Yahoo News and YouGov likewise showed Mr. Biden’s lead shrinking to six percentage points, down from nine points.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 27, 2020
What should I consider when choosing a mask?
- There are a few basic things to consider. Does it have at least two layers? Good. If you hold it up to the light, can you see through it? Bad. Can you blow a candle out through your mask? Bad. Do you feel mostly OK wearing it for hours at a time? Good. The most important thing, after finding a mask that fits well without gapping, is to find a mask that you will wear. Spend some time picking out your mask, and find something that works with your personal style. You should be wearing it whenever you’re out in public for the foreseeable future. Read more: What’s the Best Material for a Mask?
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
- In the beginning, the coronavirus seemed like it was primarily a respiratory illness — many patients had fever and chills, were weak and tired, and coughed a lot, though some people don’t show many symptoms at all. Those who seemed sickest had pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome and received supplemental oxygen. By now, doctors have identified many more symptoms and syndromes. In April, the C.D.C. added to the list of early signs sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches. Gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea and nausea, has also been observed. Another telltale sign of infection may be a sudden, profound diminution of one’s sense of smell and taste. Teenagers and young adults in some cases have developed painful red and purple lesions on their fingers and toes — nicknamed “Covid toe” — but few other serious symptoms.
Why does standing six feet away from others help?
- The coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets from your mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The C.D.C., one of the organizations using that measure, bases its recommendation of six feet on the idea that most large droplets that people expel when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet. But six feet has never been a magic number that guarantees complete protection. Sneezes, for instance, can launch droplets a lot farther than six feet, according to a recent study. It’s a rule of thumb: You should be safest standing six feet apart outside, especially when it’s windy. But keep a mask on at all times, even when you think you’re far enough apart.
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
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A post-convention bounce is typical in presidential years but it does not always last, and an ABC News-Ipsos poll showed that Mr. Trump did nothing to improve his own standing with voters, only 31 percent of whom reported a favorable view, roughly the same as before the Republican convention. Democrats, however, are growing more concerned that Mr. Trump is successfully using violence in the streets after police shootings of Black Americans to energize his own supporters and tar Mr. Biden and his party as weak on law and order.
In that vein, many of Mr. Trump’s Sunday morning tweets focused on the violence in Portland, where the shooting death of a man exacerbated an already tense situation. The man was wearing a hat with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group based in the Portland area that has clashed with protesters before.
Mr. Trump repeatedly assailed Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland for resisting federal help and delighted in showcasing a peaceful protest held at the mayor’s own home on Friday, even retweeting a post accusing the Mr. Wheeler of “committing war crimes.” Rather than calling for calm, Mr. Trump seemed to justify aggressive action against demonstrators by his supporters.
“The big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected after 95 days of watching and incompetent Mayor admit that he has no idea what he is doing,” Mr. Trump wrote, as he retweeted a journalist’s post reporting that Trump supporters were firing paintballs and pepper spray, including at the reporter. “The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer. The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!”
Mr. Trump plans to travel on Tuesday to Kenosha, where emotions have been raw since the police shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the back seven times, leaving him paralyzed. The president’s trip has caused concern that he could inflame the situation. He made no comment on the shooting for days until he was asked about it on Friday in an interview with WMUR of New Hampshire during a visit to the state.
“It was not a good sight,” he said. “I didn’t like the sight of it, certainly. I think most people would agree with that. But we’ll be getting reports in very soon, and we’ll report back.”
His Twitter comments on Kenosha, however, have focused on restoring order in the streets. The president’s string of Twitter messages trailed off on Sunday morning before he got into his motorcade and headed to his golf club in Virginia, where he was greeted by a handful of protesters, including one dressed as a grim reaper holding a sign that said “183K,” referring to the number of people in the United States who have died from the coronavirus.