The Trump White House has been embroiled in a vigorous internal debate over whether to issue an executive order aimed at punishing social media companies for perceived political bias, with opposition to the order coming from some of the most conservative parts of the administration.
White House sources tell Yahoo News that the office of Vice President Mike Pence, National Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow and others are making the argument that it will set a bad precedent to signal that the federal government can go after private companies and seek to penalize them for purely political reasons.
Even though the draft of the order that leaked to the public on Thursday would be limited in its impact, the signal it would send is the most significant thing, according to its opponents. The push comes as the coronavirus death toll in the United States has surpassed 100,000.
“There is pushback from a lot of people” inside the White House, an administration official told Yahoo News, saying there is “a lot of frustration” among advisers who are often some of the president’s most loyal backers.
The push for the order has come primarily from White House counsel Pat Cipollone, two White House sources said. One source said that Dan Scavino, White House director of social media, is also supportive. Cipollone and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump signed the executive order late Thursday afternoon in the Oval Office, saying, “We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers.” When asked by a reporter why he hasn’t deleted his Twitter account, Trump replied, “If you weren’t fake, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”
The concern from opponents of the executive order is that Trump’s anger over being fact-checked by Twitter for the first time this week might have led him to make public statements promising retribution that are hard to walk back. Read more