Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Facebook’s oversight board upheld the suspension of Donald Trump’s account in response to the former president’s comments about the deadly Capitol insurrection. However, the board also criticized Facebook for indefinitely suspending Trump’s account and instructed the company to conduct a six-month review to determine whether the ban should be lifted.
- Trump lashed out against Facebook and other social media giants in response to the decision, saying such companies “must pay a political price” for suspending his accounts. “What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country,” Trump said in a statement. “The People of our Country will not stand for it!”
- Trump endorsed Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney as House Republican conference chairwoman. The former president’s endorsement comes as House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has signaled willingness to replace Cheney over her criticism of Trump. Asked about the efforts to oust Cheney, Joe Biden said earlier today, “I don’t understand the Republicans.”
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
The White House press secretary deflected a question about the Facebook oversight board’s decision to uphold the suspension of Donald Trump’s account.
“This is an independent board’s decision, and we’re not going to have any comment on the future of the former president’s social media platform,” Jen Psaki said.
Psaki emphasized that Joe Biden believes social media companies need to do more to crack down on misinformation about the presidential election and coronavirus vaccines.
Asked specifically about First Amendment concerns in connection to the suspension of Trump’s account, Psaki replied, “We are of course a believer in First Amendment rights. I think what the decisions are that the social media platforms need to make is how they address the disinformation, misinformation.”
A reporter asked the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, about the strict new health guidelines for summer camps.
The reporter noted the guidelines recommend that adult camp counselors remain masked outdoors at all times, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks outdoors unless in crowded settings.
Psaki said the guidelines could be still be reviewed more closely as health experts continue to gather data on the risks for vaccinated Americans.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, acknowledged this morning that the guidelines are “a bit stringent,” and he suggested health officials would continue to review them.
The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing with reporters.
Psaki is joined today by agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack, who will be discussing food and nutrition security in the US.
Vilsack emphasized the importance of feeding children through the summer months, when schools are out of session. Millions of American children rely on free or reduced school lunches during the academic year.
Vilsack said his department was committed to ensuring children have access to food during the summer, and he noted the USDA is investing $1 billion to improve the nutritional value of school lunches.
As he was leaving Taqueria Las Gemelas in northeast DC, Joe Biden was asked about the likely ouster of Liz Cheney from House Republican leadership.
“I don’t understand the Republicans,” the president told reporters.
A number of House Republicans have been pushing for Cheney’s removal from her role as conference chairwoman since she supported Donald Trump’s impeachment in January.
Cheney’s removal seems likely now that House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has signaled he is open to replacing her. Trump has endorsed congresswoman Elise Stefanik for the job.
Joe Biden paid a visit to Taqueria Las Gemelas in northeast DC today to highlight the benefits for restaurants included in his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
The restaurant is owned in part by Mexican immigrants Yesenia Neri Diaz and Rogelio Martinez, the White House said in a statement about the visit.
The White House also noted Taqueria Las Gemelas is one of the businesses that benefitted from the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund in the American Rescue Plan.
The restaurant also used the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the first coronavirus relief package, to rehire some of its workers after letting them go at the start of the pandemic.
“Now, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund allows the owners of Las Gemelas to complete delayed projects, provide raises to their staff, and operate with confidence again,” the White House said.
“Today, on Cinco de Mayo, the administration is reminded of the resiliency and ingenuity of the Mexican-American community in difficult times. As our country recovers from the pandemic, the Biden-Harris administration is committed to providing relief to small businesses and restaurants across the country and revitalizing opportunities for immigrants to achieve the American dream.”
Trump endorses Stefanik to replace Cheney in House Republican leadership
Donald Trump has officially endorsed Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney as the House Republican conference chairwoman.
“Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership. We want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again movement, and prioritize the values of America First,” the former president said in a new statement.
“Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair. Elise is a tough and smart communicator!”
Cheney has not yet been ousted from her leadership role, but it seems only a matter of time until she is, now that House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has signaled he is open to replacing her.
Some of Cheney’s Republican colleagues have been pushing for her ouster since she voted in support of impeaching Trump after the January 6 insurrection.
Stefanik had been one of the names floated to replace Cheney if she were removed from her post, and the New York congresswoman had already received the backing of House minority whip Steve Scalise.
When Stefanik arrived in Congress in 2015, she was widely considered to be a more moderate member of the House Republican caucus. However, she became an outspoken defender of Trump during his first impeachment inquiry and has remained in his good graces ever since.
CDC director warns coronavirus variants remain a ‘wild card’ even as cases decrease
The White House pandemic response team held a briefing this morning to provide an update on coronavirus case numbers and vaccine distribution.
Senior White House adviser Andy Slavitt reiterated Joe Biden’s announcement yesterday that the federal government is working with its vaccination partners to make it easier than ever to get a shot.
For example, the pharmacies participating in the administration’s vaccination program will now be required to provide walk-up appointments for those who have not yet received a vaccine.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also celebrated the recent downward trend in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
However, Dr Rochelle Walensky emphasized that the coronavirus variants remain a “wild card” in the pandemic response, which is why it is so crucial for Americans to get vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“Simply put, the sooner we get more and more people vaccinated, the sooner we will all get back to normal,” Walensky said. “We are not out of the woods yet, but we could be very close.”
Donald Trump suggested social media giants like Facebook “must pay a political price” for suspending his accounts after the Capitol insurrection.
Some of Trump’s congressional allies have argued the Facebook oversight board’s decision to uphold the suspension of his account underscores the need for more regulation of social media companies.
Congressman Jim Banks, the chairman of the Republican study committee, said on Twitter, “If Facebook is so big it thinks it can silence the leaders you elect, it’s time for conservatives to pursue an antitrust agenda.”
‘These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price,’ Trump says
Donald Trump has released a statement harshly criticizing Facebook and other social media giants, after an oversight board upheld the suspension of his Facebook account.
“What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country. Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before,” the former president said in the statement.
Trump added, “The People of our Country will not stand for it! These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”
Facebook initially suspended Trump’s account on January 7, the day after a group of his supporters staged a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol. The company said two of Trump’s posts praising the insurrectionists violated Facebook’s community guidelines. Facebook had previously taken down several of Trump’s posts promoting the “big lie” that there was widespread fraud in the presidential election.
In its decision, the oversight board said Facebook made the right decision to suspend Trump’s account in January, due to the continued threat of violence.
However, the board also said Facebook was wrong to indefinitely suspend Trump’s account and instructed the company to conduct a six-month review to determine whether to lift the ban.
Richard Luscombe reports for the Guardian:
Donald Trump’s defenders were, predictably, less than enamored by the oversight board’s decision to uphold the suspension of his Facebook account.
Lauren Boebert, the controversial right-wing congresswoman from Colorado, issued what appeared to be a threat: “This morning, Facebook banned Trump permanently. Facebook will pay the price. Mark my words,” she wrote, apparently overlooking the fact that the ban must be reviewed inside six months.
The loyalist Tennessee senator Marsha Blackburn attacked Facebook’s founder, even though the company insists he had no role in today’s decision.
The continued suspension “is extremely disappointing,” Blackburn wrote. “It’s clear that Mark Zuckerberg views himself as the arbiter of speech.”
And Kelli Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party that has a record for censuring members who have crossed Trump, used the hashtag #unAmerican to condemn the board’s action.
“In an OUTRAGEOUS decision: Facebook’s ‘oversight committee’ upholds permanent ban on President Trump’s right to free speech,” she wrote.
Richard Luscombe reports for the Guardian:
The decision by Facebook’s oversight board to uphold the ban on Donald Trump’s account was immediately welcomed by some social media users, and criticized by others.
Scott Dworkin, the activist and founder of the group the Democratic Coalition, said, “For now, it’s a big win for America, and the entire world,” in a tweet that also noted the ban would be reviewed within six months.
The Axios reporter Jonathan Swan tweeted that the decision could have far-reaching implications for Trump’s political future.
“The bottom line is Trump and his inner circle were hanging on this decision and view Facebook reinstatement as crucial to Trump’s political comeback. Mostly because of its fundraising power,” he wrote.
Trump aides, he said, were “cautiously optimistic that Trump would be re-platformed. And yes: his inner circle increasingly believes he will run in 2024. Facebook is crucial to their strategy as it was in 16 and 20.”
Frederick Joseph, best-selling author of the book The Black Friend, cautioned those welcoming the development. “People are praising Facebook for upholding the Trump ban as if that should have been a difficult decision,” he wrote.
“We spend so much time praising people dousing fires after lighting the matches.”
CNN tech reporter Donie O’Sullivan described the oversight board’s decision on the suspension of Donald Trump’s account as “worse-case scenario” for Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
“Facebook has created this board, this supposedly independent board, because it wanted this board to make the hard decisions for them,” O’Sullivan said.
“But what this board is now saying is, ‘You were right to suspend him at the time, but maybe you shouldn’t suspend him forever.’ So this turns it all back on Zuckerberg.”
The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly and Kari Paul report:
Facebook suspended Donald Trump’s account after the Capitol attack of 6 January, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed Congress in an attempt to overturn the former president’s defeat by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
Trump was initially suspended from Facebook and Instagram for 24 hours, as a result of two posts shared to the platform in which he appeared to praise the actions of the rioters. The company then extended the president’s ban “at least until the end of his time in office”.
His account was suspended indefinitely pending the decision of the oversight board, a group of appointed academics and former politicians meant to operate independently of Facebook’s corporate leadership.
The board assigned ultimate responsibility to the social media company regarding whether the account will be given a reinstatement date and said Facebook must complete its review of this matter within six months. It said Facebook failed to impose proper penalties against Trump for violating its policies.
Facebook typically removes violating content from an account, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disables the page and account. Trump’s account remains on Facebook with a number of older posts still live.
Congressman Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House judiciary committee, said Facebook should be broken up in response to the oversight board upholding the suspension of Donald Trump’s account.
If Republicans take back the House next year, Jordan could become the chairman of the influential judiciary committee and would be able to call for hearings on breaking up social media giants like Facebook.
Trump lashes out against Cheney, Pence and McConnell in new statement
Donald Trump has just released a new statement, but the former president focuses his ire on congresswoman Liz Cheney, not the Facebook oversight board.
“Warmonger Liz Cheney, who has virtually no support left in the Great State of Wyoming, continues to unknowingly and foolishly say that there was no Election Fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election when in fact, the evidence, including no Legislative approvals as demanded by the U.S. Constitution, shows the exact opposite,” Trump said.
That is not true — on multiple fronts. What Cheney has said is that there was not widespread fraud in the presidential election, so even if there were isolated cases of fraud, it would not have been anywhere near enough to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. And that is accurate.
Trump went on to say, “Had Mike Pence referred the information on six states (only need two) back to State Legislatures, and had gutless and clueless MINORITY Leader Mitch McConnell (he blew two seats in Georgia that should have never been lost) fought to expose all of the corruption that was presented at the time, with more found since, we would have had a far different Presidential result, and our Country would not be turning into a socialist nightmare! Never give up!”
Again, that is not true. Although the vice-president oversees the congressional certification of the presidential election, Pence had no authority to overrule the results in battleground states. And despite Trump’s claims that the country is “turning into a socialist nightmare,” it should be noted Biden is not a socialist.
Trump’s continued efforts to spread the “big lie” that there was widespread fraud in the presidential election will likely impact Facebook’s decision about whether to restore his account. The oversight board instructed Facebook to conduct a six-month review to determine whether the suspension of Trump’s account should be lifted.
A former senior adviser to Donald Trump suggested the oversight board’s decision could lead to more federal regulations on Facebook.
“It’s a sad day for America. It’s a sad day for Facebook, because I can tell you, a number of members of Congress are now looking at, do they break up Facebook? Do they make sure that they don’t have a monopoly?” said Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff.
Meadows told Fox News shortly after the decision was announced, “This is a sad day for America but a sadder day for the Facebooks of the world who have actually enjoyed a very wild, wild west kind of regulatory environment. I can tell you that’s going to change. The discussion will happen within hours of this decision on Capitol Hill.”
Even before this morning’s decision, lawmakers of both parties had suggested that social media giants like Facebook should be subject to more regulation.