Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, confirmed late Sunday that he is behind an anonymous Twitter account under the pseudonym "Pierre Delecto" that he's used to be a "lurker" on social media for most of the past decade.
The trail leading to Romney's secret account began earlier Sunday when The Atlantic published a profile of Romney at a time when he is one of a few prominent Republicans to be critical of President Donald Trump's actions on Ukraine that led House Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry. Romney was asked about one Trump tweet in particular where the president attached the hashtag "IMPEACHMITTROMNEY," to which the 2012 Republican presidential nominee said, "That's kind of what he does," and explained that he uses a secret Twitter account to follow politics.
"What do they call me, a lurker?" Romney said, declining to name the account but saying that he followed fewer than 700 accounts. That sparked Feinberg's interest, who went through the Twitter accounts of some of Romney's relatives for clues. She found that Romney's eldest grandchild, Allie Romney Critchlow, had just 481 followers, making the account ripe for a quick investigation.
It's through her account that Feinberg found a user who piqued her attention — a person under the handle @qaws9876. The account was public and followed about the same number of accounts Romney had mentioned to The Atlantic. It followed all of the Romney family, a number of Romney-related 2012 campaign accounts and political reporters from the Romney 2012 beat, among others that seemed right for Romney to have an interest in following.
The account, which went under the username "Pierre Delecto," was public and showed only a handful of tweets, most in recent months. The tweets were often replies to prominent users criticizing the senator.
In May, Romney responded to Washington Post conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, who wrote that Romney's strategy was "non-confrontation verging on spinelessness."
"Jennifer, you need to take a breath," Delecto replied. "Maybe you can then acknowledge the people who agree with you in large measure even if not in every measure."
Romney also liked a number of tweets that were strongly critical of Trump, including one supporting the use of the 25th Amendment in response to the president's recent decisions on Syria and Turkey. Romney also liked searing criticism of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The account was made private late Sunday evening. Soon after, Romney told The Atlantic's McKay Coppins, who authored the profile of him, that he was in fact behind the "Pierre Delecto" account. "C'est moi," he told Coppins.
Reached by NBC News, a Romney spokeswoman pointed to Coppins' tweet.