It is by no means a stretch to imagine that Donald Trump has broken laws.
In fact, one needn’t imagine a whole lot outside the realm of history. Trump most certainly has broken laws, though he’s never been convicted of doing so. Some of the illegal acts are important — he bragged about his sexual assaults on women, for example. Some are relatively harmless, like merely ruining lives by not paying people for their work. Oh, and then there’s that whole “knowingly and intentionally fleecing Trump U students” thing. But here’s what makes these crimes different than, say, shoplifting, or vandalism: They are all things that would never have happened without the opportunities wealth, status, and fame have afforded him.
Now that he’s president, of course, he can’t do any of that stuff. I mean, he can still lie and get away with it. Probably on a larger scale than I could stomach thinking about, honestly. But there is one potential crime he’s been committing, and it’s a crucial one: Blocking people on Twitter.
That seems silly, right? But he is once again facing a situation that wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for his position.
The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sent the White House a letter. In it, they demand that Trump stop blocking followers on Twitter, and unblock those he has already silenced. And it’s that key word — silenced — that is the cornerstone of their argument.
The senior attorney for the KFAI compared the president’s Twitter feed to a public town hall, or a “comment period” open to everyone for policy proposals. Stifling any particular user’s right to express themselves, which is the entire purpose of blocking on Twitter, constitutes a violation of the First Amendment, the institute says.
Trump has blocked multiple users
All the users Trump has blocked have been critical of him or his policies on the social media platform. Most recently, he blocked a writer for comedian Jimmy Kimmel. She had developed an entire response style based on the president’s tweets.
More importantly, his press secretary, Sean Spicer, told the world on Tuesday that Trump’s tweets are “official statements” from the White House. That would mean that not only can he not block any American from reading them, but that he can never delete them, either. To do so would be a violation of the Presidential Records Act.
Both the White House and Twitter have yet to comment.
Featured image via flickr/Sasha Kimel
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