Supposed Donald Trump post about former administration staff is fabricated

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

An image circulating online claims to show a post from former US president Donald Trump insulting various members of his White House administration and inner circle. But the supposed post is a fake, Trump's 2024 campaign confirmed to AFP; his page on Truth Social features no such message, and the text exceeds the platform's character count limit.

"Is this for real? Sounds like he needs to be fitted with a straight jacket....or, his lawyers are laying groundwork for an Insanity defense," says one March 14 tweet sharing the purported screenshot from Truth Social, the social media platform Trump launched in February 2022.

Screenshot from Twitter taken March 15, 2023

Similar posts spread on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms.

The image appears to show Trump saying: "I surround myself only with the best and most serious people.... except for 'uncourageous' Mike Pence and Elaine 'Coco Chow' and 'dumb as a rock' Rex Tillerson and 'disaster' John Bolton and 'weird' Mick Mulvaney and 'sloppy' Steve Bannon and 'weak and ineffective' Mark Esper and Gordon 'unreliable' Sondland and 'not as good as Hitler's General' Gen. Kelly and 'slippery' James Comey and 'over-rated mad-dog' Gen. Mattis and 'very-weak Mr. Magoo' Jeff Sessions and 'sucker' Rudy Giuliani and 'weak and pathetic' Bill Barr and 'lying rat' Michael Cohen."

But the post is "fake," Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington said in an email to AFP.

In a separate email, spokesman Steven Cheung added that the post was an example of "misinformation" and "Swamp-like behavior" from opponents of Trump, who is running for president in 2024.

No such post appears on Trump's Truth Social feed -- nor could it, as the text exceeds Truth Social's 500-character limit.

Screenshot from Truth Social taken March 15, 2023
Screenshot from Truth Social taken March 15, 2023



On March 14, the day the fake message appeared online, Trump shared clips from Fox News host Sean Hannity's television program and posted about a forthcoming book, a campaign event he held in the state of Iowa, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the conservative website the Gateway Pundit.

The fabricated post parodies a comment Trump made while campaigning for the White House in August 2015, when he told the Washington Post, "I’m going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people."

It also references comments Trump has made, either in public statements or according to reports, about various people who were involved in his campaigns and White House administration.

Those people mentioned are former vice president Mike Pence, former transportation secretary Elaine Chao, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, former national security advisor John Bolton, former White House chiefs of staff Mick Mulvaney and John Kelly, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, former defense secretaries Mark Esper and James Mattis, former US ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, former FBI director James Comey, former attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William Barr, and former personal attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Michael Cohen.

AFP has debunked other fake Trump statements here and here.

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