In October 2015, then-18-year-old Lauren Batchelder asked Trump a question at a political forum in New Hampshire. “So, maybe I’m wrong, maybe you can prove me wrong, but I don’t think you’re a friend to women,” she said. Trump defended himself, and Batchelder took the mic again, asking if she’d get equal pay and access to abortion with Trump as president. Trump answered: “You’re going to make the same if you do as good of a job, and I happen to be pro-life, okay?”
Batchelder thought that was the end of it, but when she woke up the next day, she realized that the current president-elect had sent out a series of tweets about her. “The arrogant young woman who questioned me in such a nasty fashion at No Labels yesterday was a Jeb staffer!” he tweeted. (Batchelder is not, and has never been, a staffer for Jeb Bush, though she did volunteer for his campaign.) His followers replied with screenshots of Batchelder and posted her phone number and other personal information online.
Within hours, her phone began to ring, and her email inbox and Facebook account filled with threatening messages. “I didn’t really know what anyone was going to do,” Batchelder, now 19, told the Washington Post. “He was only going to tweet about it and that was it, but I didn’t really know what his supporters were going to do, and that to me was the scariest part.”
She said the abuse has continued, prompting one Trump supporter to send her a Facebook message five days before the election that read, “Wishing I could f—ing punch you in the face. id then proceed to stomp your head on the curb and urinate in your bloodied mouth and i know where you live, so watch your f—ing back punk.”
Batchelder’s case illustrates what happens when Trump, who has more than 17 million Twitter followers, goes after a private citizen online. And far from showing restraint as his following has grown, Trump has continued the pattern. On Wednesday he attacked Chuck Jones, a union leader, who wrote in the Washington Post Thursday that his office is now receiving threats, too.
“I think I am very restrained, and I talk about important things,” Trump said of his Twitter presence during an appearance on the Today show this week. “I get it out much faster than a press release. I get it out much more honestly than dealing with … dishonest reporters. So many reporters are dishonest.”