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President Trump fell for a fake Twitter account claiming to belong to his publicity-shy older sister Elizabeth.
On Friday, Trump retweeted an article posted on the rightwing web site waynedupree.com. The piece heaped glowing praise on Trump’s older sister, Elizabeth Trump Grau, for breaking years of carefully-guarded silence to step forward and vociferously defend Trump from a new Twitter account, “@thebettytrump.”
Except she didn’t.
“I’m trying to delete it,” a woman who identified herself as Trump’s sister, Elizabeth Trump Grau, told VICE News, when reached by phone Friday. “I don’t even belong to Twitter.”
Asked if she had more to say about the incident, Grau said that she did not.
“I have no statement,” she said. “I’m just annoyed about this whole thing.”
The account was established this month and dropped its first MAGA-friendly tweet Wednesday afternoon. Dozens more followed, showering President Trump with adoration and pouring scorn on his enemies.
“I’m the first sister of the USA but you can call me Betty,” the account claimed.
“Why should Donald concede? He hasn’t lost,” the account insisted.
The account also mocked CNN reporter and Trump critic Anderson Cooper as “Anderson Pooper.”
The president, fooled by the imposter, responded gleefully to what he apparently believed was his sister’s decision to join the fray on his behalf.
“Thank you Elizabeth,” Trump wrote on Twitter at 8:01 am ET Friday morning. “LOVE!”
But shortly before 1:00 pm ET, the account acknowledged it was a “parody” and apologized for the confusion.
“I would’ve clarified sooner that I was a parody but I certainly didn’t anticipate President Trump himself taking notice of the account,” the user wrote.
By late afternoon, the account had been suspended.
Elizabeth Trump Grau, 78, has long been the most secretive of the Trump siblings. She’s stayed out of the Trump family feud that erupted earlier this year after President Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, published a damning tell-all account of her family history. Elizabeth, the president’s older sister, is so low-profile, she hardly gets a mention in Mary’s book.
President Trump and his sister Elizabeth aren’t particularly close, Michael Cohen, president Trump’s estranged former attorney and fixer, told VICE News on Friday.
Cohen said Friday morning that he was instantly skeptical that the Twitter account really belonged to the president’s sister. He said the account’s handle, “@thebettytrump,” looked suspicious because nobody calls Elizabeth “Betty.”
“In my 15 years knowing Trump and the Trump family, I have never heard anyone refer to her as ‘Betty,’” Cohen told VICE News. “I have heard ‘Elizabeth,’ or ‘Liz.’ ‘Betty?’ Never.”
Trump’s confusion about whether his own sister joined social media to defend him represents only the most recent occasion when he’s expressed little concern for basic facts, in both formal presidential addresses and on Twitter. Right now, he continues to baselessly insist that he won the 2020 election, while his campaign and legal team flail around for evidence that could support his outlandish claim to victory.
In fact, Trump may have fallen for the fake Twitter account because it was parroting exactly the message he’s hoping to send about the 2020 election.
“This election inspired me to break my silence and speak out on behalf of my family,” the account wrote in its first tweet on Wednesday. “My brother Don won this election and will fight this to the very end. We’ve always been a family of fighters. We are all so very proud of him and the job he has done for our country. 4 MORE YEARS!”
By noon on Friday, even the web site that posted the article Trump blasted out earlier that morning was backing away from the authenticity of “Betty’s” Twitter account. The site posted an update that now referred to her as Trump’s “alleged” sister in the headline and stated it was no longer sure the original tweet came from Elizabeth Trump Grau.
“This tweet was widely shared online and covered by other publications. While this has not been officially ‘fact-checked’ by social media executives and professionals, we’re hearing from many others that this is not actually the account of Ms. Elizabeth Trump, but is actually a parody account. If this is true, we deeply regret the error and apologize,” the update stated.
The original headline read: “Trump’s Sister Issues Rare and Bold Statement on 2020 Election and Proves How Much She Believes in Her Brother."
A sub-head to the story added: “This was so powerful.”
The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.