Trump posts mugshot as he returns to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter

Former US president posts defiant message about election interference and appeals for donations after being booked at Georgia jail

Former US president Donald Trump had more than 88 million followers at the time Twitter, now X, suspended his account in 2021. AFP
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Former US president Donald Trump returned to social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, with a post on Thursday showing his mugshot from his booking at Fulton County Jail in Georgia earlier in the day.

With his post appealing for donations, Mr Trump reclaimed direct access to the public on a platform that banned him after his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Mr Trump, who had more than 88 million followers at the time he was banned, posted a picture of his mugshot with the words: “Election interference! Never surrender!”

The post garnered more than 14 million views 50 minutes after going live.

The San Francisco-based microblogging platform cited the risk of further incitement of violence when it permanently suspended Mr Trump’s account in January 2021.

However, it reversed its position in November 2022, a month after billionaire and self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” Elon Musk bought the platform.

The former president used the app and other social media platforms to claim his defeat in the 2020 election was due to widespread voter fraud.

Mr Trump launched a bid in November to regain the White House in 2024.

However, he opted out of a Republican primary debate held on Wednesday by Fox News and was instead interviewed by conservative commentator Tucker Carlson on X, breaking a vow that he would stick exclusively to his new platform Truth Social.

That 46-minute conversation had about 250 million views as of Thursday night, according to the X's statistics.

Mr Trump had 6.4 million followers on Truth Social, the app developed by his Trump Media & Technology Group start-up, as of Thursday.

Truth Social has been Mr Trump’s main source of direct communication with his followers since he began posting on the app regularly in May.

He has used the platform to promote allies, criticise 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, a special-purpose acquisition company (Spac).

The deal, which would infuse TMTG with $1.3 billion in cash, is now in doubt amid investigations by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which have delayed its closing.

Mr Trump's company faces a crucial deadline as DWAC shareholders have until 10am on September 5 to vote to extend the period the Spac has to complete its merger with TMTG.

If DWAC does not secure the votes, the Spac will be liquidated on September 8.

Mr Trump sued Twitter in 2021 over his suspension from the platform, arguing the move breached 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.

Mr Trump's lawyers have said his claims are still viable and can be ruled on by the appeals court, despite his reinstatement to the platform.

Updated: August 25, 2023, 6:19 AM