Twitter bans Trump permanently

Twitter bans Trump permanently

Social media platform cites 'risk of further incitement of violence'

(Reuters Photo)
(Reuters Photo)

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump, already facing mounting calls to step down or risk impeachment, suffered further ignominy on Friday when Twitter permanently suspended his account, saying the US leader is too dangerous to use the platform.

After a “close review” of tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account, “we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence”, the San Francisco-based social media company said.

“Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021,” Twitter wrote in a blog post.

The unprecedented move, which severs Trump from his 88.7 million followers, is an astounding setback for the president in the chaotic waning days of his administration.

It could also prove an insurmountable hurdle should the brash Republican choose to mount a political comeback in 2024, as he has hinted he could do on multiple occasions.

With his presidency imploding, Trump signalled a final, unrepentant display of division by announcing — in his final tweet before the ban — that he would skip the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20.

“To all of those who have asked, I will not be going,” he tweeted.

Biden responded this was “a good thing,” branding Trump an “embarrassment”.

However, Biden showed how wary he is of the growing rush to impeach Trump — and deepen the country’s political divisions — over his incitement of crowds who stormed Congress on Wednesday.

“That is a judgement for the Congress to make,” Biden said, adding that the “quickest” way to get Trump out was for him and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to take over in 12 days.

“I am focused now on us taking control as president and vice president on the 20th and to get our agenda moving as quickly as we can.”

Two days after Trump sent a mob of followers to march on Congress, his presidency is in freefall, with allies walking away and opponents sharpening their teeth.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that Democrats will launch impeachment proceedings unless Trump resigns or Vice President Mike Pence invokes the 25th Amendment, where the cabinet removes the president.

“If the President does not leave office imminently and willingly, the Congress will proceed with our action,” Pelosi wrote.

In a jaw-dropping moment, Pelosi revealed she had spoken Friday with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley about “preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike".

“The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people,” Pelosi wrote.

House Democrats, who already impeached Trump in a traumatic, partisan vote in 2019, said the unprecedented second impeachment of a president could be ready next week.

“We can act very quickly when we want to,” Representative Katherine Clark told CNN.

A draft impeachment resolution being circulated would charge Trump with a single article: “incitement of insurrection”.

Whether Republican leaders of the Senate would then agree to hold a lightning-fast impeachment trial before the transition is another matter.

But Republican Senator Ben Sasse told CBS News he would “definitely consider” articles of impeachment if and when they are introduced, while Senator Lisa Murkowski became the chamber’s first Republican to openly call for Trump’s resignation.

In the House, top Republican Kevin McCarthy said: “Impeaching the president with just 12 days left in his term will only divide our country more.”

Trump, whose actions Wednesday capped his relentless efforts to overturn Biden’s Nov 3 election win, finally conceded defeat on Thursday and appealed for calm.

“A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” Trump said in a short video, reading from a script drafted by his aides.

However, the evidently reluctant concession, in which Trump failed to congratulate Biden or directly admit defeat, was too little, too late to calm outrage over his role in the Capitol invasion.

Five people died in the mayhem, including one woman who was shot dead and a US Capitol Police officer. Flags over the Capitol were lowered to half-staff Friday.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos became the second cabinet member to quit, after Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, telling Trump in a letter that such “behaviour was unconscionable for our country”.

Multiple lower-level officials have also left. According to reports, the only reason the trickle hasn’t turned into a flood is the decision by senior figures to try to maintain stability during the transition to Biden.

After losing his personal account, Trump used the official presidential account @POTUS to send out two more angry messages.

“We will not be SILENCED!” he wrote in one of the messages on the government account, which has 33.4 million followers. 

Twitter subsequently company deleted those tweets, saying accounts used by Trump to try to get around the ban could face permanent suspension as well under its “ban evasion” policies.

Twitter also shut down his @TeamTrump campaign account shortly after it sent out a tweet with a “statement from President Trump” accusing Twitter of “banning free speech” and coordinating with “the Democrats and the Radical Left” to silence him.

The account shortly before that had pointed its 2.3 million followers to its account on Parler, which is popular with conservatives for its hands-off approach to content moderation.

Google suspended Parler on Friday, citing posts inciting violence, while Apple gave the service 24 hours to submit a detailed moderation plan.

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