Update: after deleting the original tweet that kept much of Twitter, and most of the political media up all night, Trump followed up shortly after 6am with a tweet in which he tried a humorous spin on "covfefe":
"Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!" Trump tweeted at 6:10am ET.
Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
Many were quick to ask just how many conspiracy theories Trump's question would start.
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Trump's infamous late night tweeting appeared to finally cross into the twilight zone on Wednesday morning, when moments after midnight, president Trump sent out a bizarre unfinished tweet with a typo.
"Despite the constant negative press covfefe," Trump tweeted shortly after 12 a.m. E.T.
Thirty minutes passed, then an hour, and the tweet remained undeleted, meanwhile the questions mounted. The NYT pondered, "had the president’s lawyers, so eager to curb his stream-of-consciousness missives, tackled the commander in chief under the cover of night? Perhaps, some worried aloud, Mr. Trump had experienced a medical episode a quarter of the way through his 140 characters."
No one at the White House could immediately be reached for comment. By 1 a.m., the debate had effectively consumed Twitter — or at least a certain segment of insomniac Beltway types, often journalists and political operatives — ascending the list of trending topics.
The tweet remained undeleted from Trump's timeline for nearly 6 hours, and was deleted shortly before 6am ET, but not before sparking a firestorm of replies, with "covfefe" trending on Twitter.
The tweet had over 10,000 reactions by 12:30 a.m.
“What if this is it,” asked Emily Nussbaum, the New Yorker television critic, after just five minutes. “That is his final tweet & the rest of history stops.”
It's been five minutes. What if this is it. That is his final tweet & the rest of history stops.— emily nussbaum (@emilynussbaum) May 31, 2017
Some appeared to temper their whimsy as a more sobering news story dominated the medium: a huge explosion shaking Kabul, leaving dozens dead or wounded. But the instinct to linger was powerful, for those who had glimpsed the initial post, even if they did not seem entirely sure why they were still awake.
Eventually, the jokes lurched into delirium. Twitter users held forth on the former F.B.I. director James Covfefe. They pledged to order a grande covfefe during their next Starbucks runs. They announced they had at last discovered what Bill Murray whispered to Scarlett Johansson at the end of “Lost in Translation.” Some speculated this was America's nuclear code.
Here are some of the ways people responded to Trump's tweet:
When they go low, we covfefe.— billy eichner (@billyeichner) May 31, 2017
Two tweets diverged in an iPhone screen, and I - I screenshotted the one less coherent. And that has made all the difference. pic.twitter.com/Y7NEzs7QIX— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) May 31, 2017
ten punk bands just named themselves covfefe https://t.co/jrXdXX1iQ6— Jason Gay (@jasongay) May 31, 2017
If you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my covfefe.— Travon Free (@Travon) May 31, 2017
"Covfefe" is already the third most popular boys name in red states. pic.twitter.com/SzqqsUlg1z— Krister Johnson (@KristerJohnson) May 31, 2017
Clinton— M??? ?eg?i? ???? (@MattNegrin) May 31, 2017
Electoral college victory. pic.twitter.com/BrHPgUZSOT
#Covfefe - you either have it, or you don't. It can't be explained. It can't be reasoned with. It simply is. Much like Donald Trump.— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) May 31, 2017
Covfefe in the streets, covfefe in the sheets.— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) May 31, 2017
We're all having a laugh but #covfefe was the nuclear code.— Dan Telfer (@dantelfer) May 31, 2017