‘He liked to use the Oxford comma’ – Trump aide reveals how he crafted his ‘signature’ tweets

Court pic of Madeleine Westerhout - 'He liked to use the Oxford comma' – New York court hears how to craft signature Trump tweet
Madeleine Westerhout, who worked at the Trump White House until 2019, took to the stand in New York - Reuters/Jane Rosenberg

Donald Trump dictates his tweets to an aide and delivers precise instructions about the use of punctuation marks such as Oxford commas and exclamation points, a court has heard.

Madeleine Westerhout, who worked as Mr Trump’s personal secretary until 2019, told his New York hush money trial that the ex-president preferred her to note down his thoughts rather than write the social media posts himself.

He would then edit them on paper and had very specific requirements about grammar, according to Ms Westerhout, who later became tearful in the witness box as she recalled her time in the White House.

“My recollection is there are certain words he liked to capitalise,” she said. “Words like ‘country’. He liked to use exclamation points.

“It is my understanding that he liked to use the Oxford comma.”

Mr Trump is accused of falsifying records to hide a payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. He denies the charges.

Giving evidence for the prosecution, Ms Westerhout provided details about Mr Trump’s workflow for communicating via Twitter, his preferred social media platform until the end of his presidency in 2020.

Mr Trump did not use a computer or have an email address, to the best of her knowledge. He preferred to dictate his tweets to her, she said.

Ms Westerhout, whose desk was positioned directly outside the Oval Office, said she would take notes, quickly type up the draft and print it out for him.

Occasionally, Mr Trump would have more edits. She told the court she soon learned what made a “signature” Trump tweet.

Dan Scavino, Mr Trump’s top aide, had access to the @‌realDonaldTrump account, she said, and he would generally craft the tweets once the wording had been finalised.

But Ms Westerhout said she would occasionally stand-in when Mr Scavino was absent.

Madeleine Westerhout would help Donald Trump construct his tweets
Madeleine Westerhout would help Donald Trump construct his tweets - Getty Images/Jabin Botsford

In the wake of the Jan 6 Capitol riot in 2021, Mr Trump was banned from Twitter for messages the site said risked “further incitement of violence”.

The Republican presidential candidate has since formed Truth Social, which is now his preferred social media platform.

Ms Westerhout, 33, was forced to resign from the White House in 2019 after she reportedly bragged to journalists at an off-the-record dinner that she had a better relationship with Trump than his own daughters, Ivanka and Tiffany.

When asked about the dinner with reporters by the prosecution, Ms Westerhout began to cry in the witness box and spoke of her regret over a “youthful indiscretion”.

Ms Westerhout was also asked about a 2020 book she wrote titled “Off the Record: My Dream Job at the White House, How I Lost It, and What I Learned”, which describes Mr Trump in a favourable light.

“I thought it was really important to share with the American people the man I got to know,” she said through tears. “I don’t think he’s treated fairly.”

Trumps top tweets

Rigged elections, Jan 17 2017 – Oxford comma

The Oscars, Mar 6 2018 – Capitals and exclamation mark

Biden threat, May 22 2018 – Oxford comma and exclamation mark

Bin Laden, Nov 19 2018 – Capitals and exclamation mark

Iranian president, Jul 23 2018 – Many capitals and exclamation mark

Witch hunt, Dec 19 2019 – Capitals and exclamation mark