President Donald Trump’s behavior on Twitter routinely drives entire news cycles. This weekend, he showed that a single word within a single presidential tweet can be explosive. Trump raised alarm bells in his published response to the news that his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The tweet published to Trump’s account clearly implied that he already knew that Flynn had deceived the Feds when he fired him back in February: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!” That unleashed a frenzy of speculation about whether Trump had just admitted to obstructing justice, since it seems he must have known that Flynn had committed a felony when he was pressuring then-FBI director James Comey to ease up on the Flynn case. But then came word that maybe Trump didn’t write the tweet after all. The Washington Post reported that “Trump’s lawyer John Dowd drafted the president’s tweet, according to two people familiar with the twitter message.” The Associated Press also identified Dowd as the one who “crafted” the tweet, citing “one person familiar with the situation,” though Dowd himself declined to make a comment to the AP. Attributing the tweet to Dowd set off a new round of incredulous chatter. Would the president’s lawyer really compose a tweet like that on his client’s behalf, especially one that seemed so incriminating? One widely shared response from a person who tweets from the account @nycsouthpaw, and it focused on a single word in the tweet as grounds for skepticism: “We’re supposed to believe John Dowd wrote ‘pled’ instead of ‘pleaded’?” Others argued that Dowd could very well have used “pled” as the past-tense of “plead.” Harvard Law School professor Jonathan Zittrain noted, “I’ve seen lawyers write each. It’s not like, you know, ‘hung’ and ‘hanged.’” Indeed, both “pleaded” and “pled” are both considered acceptable by American usage guides—though, in many newsrooms, “pled” is considered a rookie mistake, which helps explain why some journalists