NEW YORK - Former President Donald Trump has returned to X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, firing off his first message in 2 1/2 years shortly after he surrendered at an Atlanta jail on charges he conspired to overturn his election loss.
He posted a photo of his mug shot and the words, "Election interference. Never surrender!" along with a link to his website, which directs to a fundraising site.
It was Trump's first post since Jan. 8, 2021, when Twitter suspended his account indefinitely, citing fears he would incite additional violence following the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol building. His account was reinstated last November shortly after Elon Musk took over the company, but Trump had refrained from tweeting, insisting that he was happier on his own Truth Social site, which he launched during the ban.
The message marks a homecoming of sorts for Trump to one of his most important megaphones — one he used to dominate his rivals in the 2016 primary and to command the news cycle for years. Trump, who is running again for the White House in 2024, often marveled at how quickly his missives would travel from his account to cable news stations, under the banner, "BREAKING NEWS."
The return to X — and the inclusion of a link to a fundraising page — is also a reflection of just how much money Trump’s campaign has been burning on lawyers representing the candidate and allies as he battles criminal charges in four jurisdictions. Trump’s political operation entered the second half of the year in a strained financial position with its bank account drained by tens of millions of dollars that were directed toward defending the former president from mounting legal challenges as he seeks the White House again.
The new post also came a day after Trump skipped the first Republican primary debate, choosing to instead tape an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson that aired as counterprogramming.
Trump has 86.5 million followers on what is now known as X, dwarfing his rivals in the 2024 race.
FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump looks back at journalists after welcoming Mongolian President Battulga Khaltmaa to the White House July 31, 2019 in Washington, DC.
But the platform has undergone significant changes since Trump left it, including Musk changing its name.
Trump returned to Facebook in March, posting, "I’M BACK!" weeks after his personal account there was reactivated.
But he has stuck with Truth Social, the Twitter lookalike he launched after he was suspended from Twitter and Facebook, to post a daily stream of missives, announcements and re-posts. That has included using the platform to break news of his indictments and planned surrenders as he has faced a mounting list of legal woes.
As part of his deal with Digital World Acquisition Corp. to take Truth Social public, Trump had agreed — so he wouldn’t compete against his own company — that it would be the "first channel" for "any and all social media communications and posts coming from his personal profile," according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
That included an exclusivity clause in which the former president was "generally obligated to make any social media post on Truth Social and may not make the same post on another social media site for 6 hours" for a period of 18 months, beginning Dec. 22, 2021. That period ended in June.