Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director for US President Donald Trump, has rejected suggestions that US President Donald Trump’s divisive use of Twitter is a sign of stupidity, arguing that it is instead a shrewd move to boost his chances of winning the 2020 Presidential election.

“You can’t say that the guy’s not smart; he has great political instincts, and the Twitter feed is a base play,” he said, speaking a talk at online conference Collision from Home.

“What the President’s doing right now, is he wants to magnify his base and he wants to get that voter participation up 10% from where it was in 2016, and he’s done the math. He knows if he can get it up 10%, he has a very high likelihood of winning in those swing states that he needs to win.”

Core to this, Scaramucci said, was that Trump was encouraging divisiveness on Twitter by intentionally polarising voters to solidify support among his base.

“He may not win the popular vote, let’s assume that he won’t win that. But this is a tribal, polarising figure; he is the chief of the red tribe and If you give me that Twitter feed, I can tell you exactly what he’s thinking about why he’s doing that, why he is saying that, and who he is trying to trigger,” he said.

“He loves when these people talk about him. He doesn’t care if they’re talking negatively about him, or positively about him

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“So no, this is not impetuous behaviour. This is premeditated behaviour. And remember when he’s talking on that Twitter feed, plus Instagram and Facebook, he has 150 million people he’s reaching. That’s one and a half times the Super Bowl audience every time he puts his thumbs on that phone.”

“Politics is a substitute for murder”: Anthony Scaramucci

Scaramucci also argued that much of the savagery found in politics and online discourse was a result of the history of our species, which played a key role in why anonymity in social media provided a space for bullying and harassment.

“Remember that we have politics because it’s a substitute for murder and savage killing,” he said.

“And so when you really think about the species and its evolvement over time, it’s no wonder to me that politics is vicious, and there’s no wonder to me that there’s viciousness in anonymity on the internet.

“We’re all trying to become more civilised and move away from our primordial and atavistic instincts, but they’re there. And I think what we are all alarmed by is that we see them expressed in social media, because people can take cover behind these names.”

Read more: Brittany Kaiser: Facebook should ban Trump disinformation