Donald Trump recently thanked and retweeted a social media fan, Nicole Mincey, who had repeatedly praised the president from the account @ProTrump45.
The problem, according to The Washington Post, was that there was no evidence the Twitter account actually belonged to someone named Nicole Mincey. In fact, experts told the Post the account may not have belonged to a person at all. Instead, the Twitter feed showed signs of being a bot, a fake Twitter account pretending to represent a real person and created to promote a particular agenda — in this case, a Russia-backed, pro-Trump agenda.
Twitter suspended the account on Sunday after it was flagged as a probable bot, the Post said.
According to a new Daily Beast report, however, there was a real person behind the Twitter account — but her online name, her photo, and her 146,000 followers were all fabricated. The outlet claims to have tracked down the real Nicole Mincy (who spells her last name without the “e”) behind the account and an online store, protrump45.com, that sold knockoff Make America Great Again hats and Deplorable Lives Matter garb.
The Daily Beast reports that Mincy — who was described on the blog for her store as “an african american [sic] trump supporter named Nicole Mincey from Camden NJ and humble beginnings [who] became an entrepreneur and began a Pro-Trump empire” — allegedly stole a stock photo of a black model from the company PlaceIt for her social-media bio.
Navid Safabakhsh, the CEO of PlaceIt, told the outlet: “Sorry, I can’t tell you who she is out of respect for her privacy, but I can tell you that [the woman in Mincey’s Twitter photo] is obviously not the person that the president tweeted at.”
The Daily Beast says the real Nicole Mincy is a college student at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City and that she claims the @ProTrump45 Twitter account — and its network of 146,000 fake followers — was actually run by a group of around 10 people “with Republican opinions.”
Mincy said the group used her real name and college address for ProTrump45 business without her permission because she was black so “marketing-wise,” it made “perfect sense.” (The Daily Beast’s Ben Collins expressed skepticism over the existence of Mincy’s alleged colleagues, calling them “made up.”)
RELATED VIDEO: Exclusive: Natasha Stoynoff Speaks Out: ‘I Don’t Want Women to Feel Afraid’
Russian bot or not, the @ProTrump45 incident underscores the potential consequences for the president’s reckless retweeting habits, says The Washington Post. Trump has come under fire multiple times in the past for amplifying messages from social media accounts of dubious origins, including recently retweeting a video depicting himself metaphorically attacking CNN that was originally shared by a Reddit user with a history of racist and anti-Semitic posts.
In the case of @ProTrump45, “the president doesn’t know whether it’s a Russian bot or not,” Clint Watt, a former FBI agent and fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told the Post. “He’s just pushing a narrative, whether it’s true or false. This provides a window not just for Russia but for any adversary to both influence the president or discredit him.”
Legendary journalist Dan Rather summed up the overwhelming distrust in the president as such: “He’s flakey as baked pie crusts and mean as a margay, and besides that he’s lazy.”
“The tweets,” he added, “have been a disaster for Donald Trump.”