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At the end of the social media executive order signing announcement, President Trump made even bigger news. The transcript is now posted, along with the permanent video and the executive order. See the president’s opening remarks and Attorney General Barr’s comments below.* These were a big enough story in themselves.
Looming in the background were the spreading riots on the pretext of the apparently wrongful killing of a handcuffed black man by a white cop. The president addressed that as well, exactly as a president should. The even bigger news came near the end of the question and answer period, foreshadowing the nine-minute speech that may reshape international relations around China. In under 30 minutes, over two days, President Trump was more presidential, and more consequential, than President Obama was in eight years.
Consider these remarks by President Trump:
Q [By an Indian journalist]: Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. Please.
Q: Are you worried about the situation on the border between India and China?
THE PRESIDENT: Ah, India. He loves India so much. He’s never asked a question other than an India question, and that’s okay. I just got back from India, right?
Q: I (inaudible) Indian, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: I just beat COVID.
Q: You are very popular in India.
THE PRESIDENT: I got back — I know. And they like me in India. I think they like me in India certainly more than the media likes me in this country.
Q: You’re a rock star there because of Ahmedabad and —
THE PRESIDENT: And I like Modi. I like your prime minister a lot. He’s a great gentleman. A great gentleman.
Yeah, they have a big conflict going with India and China. Is that what you’re talking about? Yeah?
Q: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: They have a big conflict going with India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people. Two countries with very powerful militaries. And India is not happy, and probably China is not happy. But I can tell you, I did speak to Prime Minister Modi. He’s not — he’s not
in a good mood about what’s going on with China.
Q [another reporter]: Mr. President, have you spoken to —
THE PRESIDENT: Wait. Are you finished? [Notice the respect he gives the Indian journalist.]
Q: No, sir. So, yesterday, you tweeted about do you want to mediate between India and China on this issue.
THE PRESIDENT: I would do that. You know, I would do that. If they — if they thought it would help if I were the mediator or the arbiter, I would do that. So, we’ll see.
[. . .]
Q: Mr. President, are you definitively staying in the U.S.-China trade deal?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll be announcing what we’re doing tomorrow with respect to China. And we are not happy with China. We are not happy with what’s happened.
All over the world, people are suffering. A hundred and eighty-six countries — all over the world they’re suffering. We’re not happy.
Okay. Thank you very much, everybody.
END 4:07 P.M. EDT
For further information see:
- Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship
- President Trump and AG Barr video on online censorship executive order
- Transcript of President Trump and AG Barr remarks
The White House Live page now shows two events on Friday:
2 p.m. EDT: President Trump Holds a News Conference — This turned out to be a momentous nine minutes, leaving the CCP fellow travelers and useful idiots pretending to be reporters howling and yapping impotently.
The president announced a series of serious economic and legal actions on China, based on the CCP’s culpability in inflicting a deadly disease on the world, based on their illegal seizure of international waters with fake islands, based on continued cheating and espionage, and based on their violation of their treaty with Britain over Hong Kong. It was not a call for war but a declaration of a massive counteroffensive against the actions of the Chinese Communist Party. The president openly declared a large counteroffensive against China, with all the tools of national power except military force, unspoken but there in the grievance of Chinese interference in international waters.
4 p.m. EDT: President Trump Participates in a Roundtable with Industry Executives on Reopening.
Finally, consider how President Trump is handling the police killing of a man in handcuffs. Here is how this president addressed the issue:
Q Have you spoken to the family of George Floyd yet?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I haven’t. But I feel very, very badly. And it’s a very shocking sight.
Bill and I were talking about it before. It’s one of the reasons Bill is here right now because, as you know, we’re very much involved. And I’ve asked the Attorney General — FBI and the Attorney General to take a very strong look and to see what went on, because that was a very — a very bad thing that I saw. I saw it last night, and I didn’t like it.
Q Do you think those police officers should be prosecuted?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m not going to make any comment right now. I can tell you I think what I saw was not good — was not good. Very bad.
So, we see Attorney General Barr literally standing at the right hand of the president in the Oval Office. President Trump then tells us the AG is there, not just for an executive order on leftist corporations interfering in our elections and our democracy, but also because the president summoned him to provide counsel and take action on this killing. Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany gave the press corps context before this Oval Office comment by her opening remarks in the press briefing:
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany
Issued on: May 28, 2020
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
2:14 P.M. EDT
MS. MCENANY: So, I want to start by acknowledging the horrific tragedy in Minnesota of George Floyd. The death of George Floyd is absolutely tragic — that video that we saw, that I saw, that my staff saw, that the President saw.
And the President put out a statement last night that, “At [his] request, the FBI and the Department of Justice are already well into an investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd. I have asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all of the work done by law enforcement. My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!”
I can tell you that as I’m briefing you at this moment, the President is receiving a briefing from the Attorney General, Bill Barr, on this and the Deputy Director of the FBI, as that is ongoing on as I began this briefing.
President Trump and his administration led with concern for the victim and his family and friends. They emphasized a prompt and proper legal response. That, then, set the context for President Trump remarking via Twitter later in the evening that looting and burning communities would not be tolerated and would be met with federal force if necessary. Naturally, the leftist controlling Twitter hated this law and order response and played further into President Trump’s hand by actually hiding a presidential communication for the first time, falsely asserting Jack Dorsey and his leftist cabal did so to stop glorifying violence.
Here is what Jack and his band of Chinese Communist Party loving leftists did not like:
Whether the President of the United States is warning that civil order will be restored with deadly military force if necessary, or whether he meant, as he tweeted Friday morning, that looting lawlessness leads to deadly lawlessness, shooting, in the same communities, he was entirely within the scope of his office and entirely within the First Amendment. Twitter is now openly at war with US.
* Excerpt of transcript
Remarks by President Trump Announcing an Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship
Issued on: May 28, 2020
3:47 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the gravest dangers it has faced in American history, frankly. And you know what’s going as well as anybody. It’s not good.
A small handful of powerful social media monopolies controls a vast portion of all public and private communications in the United States. And we know what they are; we don’t have to name them. We’re going to give you a complete listing. We’re going to give you a signed copy of what I’m going to be signing in a couple of minutes, and you’ll see exactly what we’re doing.
They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens and large public audiences. There’s no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction. And that includes individual people controlling vast amounts of territory.
And we can’t allow that to happen, especially when they go about doing what they’re doing, because they’re doing things incorrectly. They have points of view. And if we go by that, it’s actually amazing that there was a success in 2016. But we can’t let this continue to happen. It’s very, very unfair.
And you look at the statistics and you look at what is going on, and I think everybody would very much agree with that, including Democrats, by the way. I saw quite a few Democrats are saying this is about time something is done. So let’s see if they keep that decision after they hear that we agree with them.
The choices that Twitter makes when it chooses to suppress, edit, blacklist, shadow, ban are editorial decisions, pure and simple. They’re editorial decisions. In those moments, Twitter ceases to be a neutral public platform, and they become an editor with a viewpoint. And I think we can say that about others also, whether you’re looking at Google, whether you’re looking at Facebook and perhaps others.
One egregious example is when they try to silence views that they disagree with by selectively applying a “fact check” — a fact check — F-A-C-T. Fact check. What they choose to fact check and what they choose to ignore or even promote is nothing more than a political activism group or political activism. And it’s inappropriate. If you look at what’s happened, you look at where they’re going, where they’re coming from, I think you all see it yourselves.
This censorship and bias is a threat to freedom itself. Imagine if your phone company silenced or edited your conversation. Social media companies have vastly more power and more reach than any phone company in the United States. More reach, actually, than your newspapers, by far. More reach than a lot of your traditional forms of communication.
Therefore, today I’m signing an executive order to protect and uphold the free speech and rights of the American people. Currently, social media giants, like Twitter, receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they’re a neutral platform — which they’re not — not an editor with a viewpoint.
My executive order calls for new regulations, under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, to make it that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield. That’s a big deal. They have a shield; they can do what they want. They have a shield. They’re not going to have that shield.
My executive order further instructs the Federal Trade Commission, FTC, to prohibit social media companies from engaging in any deceptive acts or practices affecting commerce. This authority resides in Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. I think you know it pretty well. Most of you know it very well. I would think you know it quite well, right?
Additionally, I’m directing the Attorney General to work cooperatively with the states. He’s going to be working very much and very closely in cooperation with the states to enforce their own laws against such deceptive business practices. The states have brought in powerful authority to regulate in this arena, and they’ll be doing it also — and we encourage them to do it — if they see exactly as we’ve been seeing.
It’s — what they’re doing is tantamount to monopoly, you can say. It’s tantamount to taking over the airwaves. Can’t let it happen. Otherwise, we’re not going to have a democracy. We’re not going to have anything to do with a republic.
Finally, I’m directing my administration to develop policies and procedures to ensure taxpayer dollars are not going into any social media company that repress free speech. The government spends billions of dollars on giving them money. They’re rich enough. So we’re going to be doing none of it or a very little of it.
As President, I’ll not allow the American people to be bullied by these giant corporations. Many people have wanted this to be done by presidents for a long time. And now we’re doing it. And I’m sure they’ll be doing a lawsuit, and I’m also sure that we’re going to be going for legislation, in addition to this. And the legislation will start immediately.
And I’ll tell you, I’ve been called by Democrats that want to do this, and so I think you could possibly have a bipartisan situation. But we’re fed up with it, and it’s unfair, and it’s been very unfair. And we’ll see what happens.
[. . .]
I’d like to ask the Attorney General, please, to say a couple of words. And he’s very strongly behind it, backing it very powerfully. And again, we’re going to be doing this, but we’re also going through Congress.
ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR: Well, as you’ve mentioned, Mr. President, one of the things that I found has the broadest bipartisan support these days is the feeling that this provision, Section 230, has been stretched way beyond its original intention. And people feel that on both sides of the aisle.
This was adopted 25 years ago to protect a fledgling industry, and its purpose was to allow websites that were serving as, essentially, bulletin boards for diverse third-party content coming on, to say that you’re not responsible for the content of that third-party information. And it also tried to encourage these companies to take down things like child pornography or human trafficking advertising and things by saying, if you act to remove this kind of objectionable material, you won’t be liable for taking it down.
Now it’s been completely stretched to allow what have become really behemoths who control a lot of the flow of information in our society to engage in censorship of that information and to act as editors and publishers of the material.
So when they put on their own content — like “fact check” content — onto other people’s content, and when they curate their collection, and when they start censoring particular content including, in many cases, at the direction of foreign governments like Communist China, they become publishers and they shouldn’t be entitled to the same kind of shield that was set up earlier.
Now, this executive order is a very strong step toward addressing this problem. It sets up a rulemaking procedure that will eventually be under the FCC to try to get back to the original interpretation and understanding of Section 230. It also empowers the Attorney General to work with state attorneys general to come up with model legislation that addresses this at the state level. And we’re preparing federal legislation, which we will be sending over shortly for review at the Office of Management and Budget.
So this is an important step to get back to the original understanding.
You know, there’s a bit of a bait-and-switch that’s occurred in our society. These companies grew because they held themselves out as public forums, as free public forums where a variety of voices and diverse voices could come on and be heard. That’s how they grew. That’s how they attracted the eyeballs. That’s why people joined them.
But now that they have become these very powerful networks of eyeballs, now that they’ve grown by holding themselves out as free public forums, they’ve now switched. And they are using that market power to force particular viewpoints, and that’s wrong. And it has to be addressed not only through this executive order, but I think litigation going forward and by further action on Capitol Hill.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Q Mr. President, not only —
THE PRESIDENT: Do you have any questions for the Attorney General?
Q Yes, actually, I do. Mr. Attorney General, not only have you been against Section 230, and the President has been against Section 230, the Vice President has said he’s against Section 230. Do you believe that the executive order that the President is about to sign in any way repeals or amends Section 230?
ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR: No, it doesn’t repeal Section 230. And I’m not against Section 230 if it was properly interpreted and properly applied. But it’s been stretched, and I don’t know of anyone on Capitol Hill who doesn’t agree that it’s been stretched beyond its original intention.
I think this will help it get back to the right balance.
Q Mr. Attorney General, can you give us more details on the legislation both you and the President referred to? What do you want to do in that legislation?
ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR: Well, we’re still reviewing a number of possibilities. And it’d be premature for me to discuss the specifics.
[. . .]
Q — as to potential litigation, can you discuss the timing of that? And what is the remedy that you’re going to be seeking?
ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR: No, what I was referring to, there is litigation going on all the time on Section 230 and its scope. So we would look for appropriate vehicles to weigh in and file statement of interest.
Q So you wouldn’t be filing an individual —
ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR: Not necessarily.