Trump signs social media executive order
Trump has gathered the White House press pool in the Oval Office as he signs an executive order aimed at regulating social media companies.
The president, appearing alongside attorney general William Barr, said the executive order would look to modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which grants liability protections to social media companies.
Trump said Barr would also work with states to establish their own regulations and the administration would develop policies to prevent companies that “suppress free speech” from receiving taxpayer dollars.
However, experts have already said Section 230 can likely only be amended by Congress, leaving Trump’s executive order very vulnerable to a legal challenge.
The 2020 Boston Marathon, which was originally supposed to occur last month, has now been canceled.
The city initially delayed the event, which brings in more than $200 million to Boston’s economy, from April to September out of concern about the spread of coronavirus.
Boston mayor Marty Walsh said the decision to postpone was made with the hope that coronavirus “would no longer be a significant public health risk” by September, but officials no longer feel confident in that.
“Economically, it’s a big hit there’s no question about it,” Walsh said. “This entire three months has been a big hit for most sectors economically.
“Certainly we’re feeling it in our budget, our restaurants are feeling it, our small businesses are feeling it. Many of our offices are feeling it. We’ll survive. It might be a different reality for a lot of people.”
Trump to soon sign social media executive order
The president just told reporters that he would sign an executive order directed at social media companies in the next half hour.
Trump added that he would hold a separate press conference on China tomorrow, when he will likely again accuse Twitter of helping Beijing spread false information about coronavirus.
After Twitter added a fact-checking label to two of Trump’s tweets about vote by mail, the platform similarly labeled tweets from a senior Chinese official who claimed the virus may have originated in the United States.
Moments ago, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany accused Twitter of being “very hastily eager to censor President Trump and his employees,” even though the platform did not remove Trump’s inaccurate tweets.
The House has voted to send the FISA bill to a conference committee with the Senate, after Republican members turned against the bill at the urging of the president.
The House voted 284-122 to send the bill, which would reauthorize three expired surveillance programs, to committee.
The vote will give lawmakers a chance to renegotiate a new version of the bill that may be more appealing to Trump, who said he would veto the legislation the House had been prepared to vote on yesterday.
But considering the president has conflated the reauthorization with the Obama administration’s surveillance that led to the firing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, it will probably be difficult to craft a bill to Trump’s liking.
McEnany criticizes states’ efforts to expand vote by mail
Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has concluded her briefing, which ended with the White House adviser once again criticizing states’ efforts to expand vote by mail.
A reporter pointed out that McEnany herself has voted by mail 11 times over the past decade, sending her ballot back to her home state of Florida.
The press secretary said Trump was comfortable with absentee voting when someone could not physically be in the state, but he was opposed to mass vote by mail due to concerns about voter fraud, which is very rare.
“The president is okay with mail-in voting so long as you have a reason. He’s not okay with mass mail-in voting,” McEnany said.
But it’s important to note that Florida does not enforce restrictions on vote by mail. The website of the Florida Division of Elections reads, “Except on Election Day, no excuse is needed to vote a vote-by-mail ballot.”
So when Trump and McEnany say they specifically voted absentee, it’s not exactly accurate because they weren’t asked to provide a reason for not voting in person. They simply voted by mail, as many Americans now want to do out of concern about the spread of coronavirus at polling places.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany deflected a question about a debunked conspiracy theory involving MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.
An employee of the conservative website OANN asked if the White House thought Scarborough should sue the president for defamation after Trump repeatedly promoted the theory.
The OANN employee seemed to suggest Trump should welcome a lawsuit from Scarborough, so the president could depose the host about the 2001 death of his former staffer, Lori Klausutis.
But McEnany interestingly did not take the bait, instead deflecting attention to some of Scarborough’s past comments about the case, indicating the White House may be trying to move away from Trump’s widely criticized attacks on his MSNBC foe.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump is feeling “perfect” and “absolutely great” (his words) after taking hydroxychloroquine.
Quoting the president, McEnany said the president would absolutely take the anti-malaria drug again to help prevent coronavirus.
However, the FDA has issued guidance that the drug should not be used outside of a hospital setting due to concerns about possible cardiovascular side effects.
An expansive study also indicated that coronavirus patients who received hydroxychloroquine saw a higher death rate than those who did not.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump wants “justice to be served” for George Floyd, the black man who died after a police officer put a knee on his neck.
However, McEnany deflected questions about what justice would look like in this case, including whether the police officers involved should be prosecuted.
McEnany described Floyd’s death as “egregious, appalling and tragic” and said Trump is currently being briefed on the case by attorney general William Barr.
The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said Trump’s social media executive order would be signed “hopefully before 5pm”.
But she cast a fair amount of uncertainty over when the order would be ready and provided few details on what it would include.
“It’s still in the works, but it’s getting closer,” McEnany said.
CNN reporter Jim Acosta asked White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany why Trump and his advisers do not think he should be fact-checked, when he has often shared false or misleading information over Twitter.
McEnany disagreed with the premise of Acosta’s question, arguing it was the media that actually needed to be fact-checked.
On Trump’s record of past falsehoods, McEnany said, “His intent is always to give truthful information to the American people.”
According to the Washington Post, the president has made more than 18,000 false or misleading claims since taking office.
McEnany criticizes Twitter for fact-checking Trump
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany extensively criticized Twitter for fact-checking two of Trump’s tweets about vote by mail.
McEnany said Twitter’s fact-checking tool was “targeted against the president of the United States,” saying the platform was “very hastily eager to censor President Trump and his employees.”
But Twitter did not actually remove Trump’s inaccurate tweets, instead adding a label to them that linked to additional context debunking one of the president’s claims, so it is unclear how the president has been “censored.”
McEnany holds White House briefing
Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, is now holding a briefing in the White House briefing room.
The press secretary opened by acknowledging the loss of George Floyd, saying his death was “absolutely tragic.”
She also confirmed that the justice department has opened an investigation into police involvement in Floyd’s death. “Justice will be served,” McEnany said.
As America passes the 100,000 death mark, it has become abundantly clear that the pandemic amounts to a racial disaster of stunning proportions.
Figures compiled by APM Research Lab from 40 states show that African Americans are being killed at almost three times the rate of white people.
Black Kansans are seven times more likely to die from the virus than white Kansans. In Missouri, Wisconsin and Washington DC the ratio is six times.
Such grotesque distortions are most visible in New York City, that giant laboratory test into virulent racial inequity. Data released this week showed that when the city’s zip codes are ranked according to highest death rates, eight out of the top 10 have majority black or Latino populations.
None of the 10 are in wealthy, largely white Manhattan.
The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:
The Justice Department announced a settlement Thursday with a South Dakota school district charged with electing board members in a way that discriminated against Native Americans.
The case is significant because it marks the first new case the Justice Department filed under the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 voting law, alleging a discriminatory voting scheme. Civil rights groups have loudly criticized the Department’s silence around the law, saying it was abdicating its responsibility to prevent discriminatory voting and giving leeway to bad actors to make it harder to vote.
The new case involved the seven-member school board for the Chamberlain School District, which touches three counties in South Dakota. About 70% of the district’s voters are white and the remaining 30% are Native American, but since 2007, just one Native American has won a race for the school board.
The Justice Department said in its complaint that that disparity was the result of an “at-large” election system in which the entire school district voted for the school board members. If voters were grouped several districts within the school board’s jurisdiction, Justice Department attorneys said in their complaint, Native American population was significant enough to comprise a majority in at least two of them.
“The Chamberlain School District’s method of election is characterized by the use of practices and procedures that have the result of impairing American Indian electoral opportunities,” Justice Department attorneys wrote in their complaint. “The at-large method of electing the Chamberlain School Board dilutes the voting strength of American Indian citizens.”
Under the settlement, which still needs to be approved by a federal judge, the school district agreed to change the way candidates are elected. Starting in 2021, there will be three districts to elect two candidates each to the school board. The seventh seat will still be at-large.