Twitter has announced that it had permanently suspended the account of outgoing US President Donald Trump due to “risk of further incitement of violence”. The unprecedented move by the California-based social media platform comes two days after his supporters stormed the Capitol, bringing disgrace to the country and its democratic institutions. Five people, including a woman and a police officer, have died.
Trump was tweeting again Friday, his Twitter account reinstated after a brief ban, and he reverted to an aggressive statement that his supporters must not be “disrespected” after he had sent out a calmer Thursday video decrying the violence. Toward evening, Twitter said it was permanently suspending him from its platform, citing “risk of further incitement of violence.”
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said in a statement on Friday.
Trump then switched to his official @POTUS account to accuse Twitter of conspiring with his political enemies “to silence me”. “Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech, and tonight, Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and the Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me — and YOU, the 75,000,000 great patriots who voted for me,” he said in a series of tweets from the @POTUS account. The post was swiftly deleted by Twitter.
Apparently expecting such a move, Trump also put out his comments as a statement through the White House press office. Trump signaled to his followers, of which he had 88.7 million on @realDonaldTrump until it was shut down, that they would have a new place to meet virtually soon.
“We have been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon, while we also look at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future. “We will not be SILENCED!” he declared.
Twitter has also banned Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell as part of a purge of QAnon accounts.
Dozens of QAnon social media accounts were hyping up January 6 in the days leading up to a Washington DC rally for Trump, expressing hope that President-elect Joe Biden’s victory would be overturned. Twitter said in an email statement on Friday: “Given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behavior in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content.” The company says that when it determines a group or campaign is engaged in “coordinated harmful activity”, it may suspend accounts that it finds primarily encourages that behaviour.
QAnon is a baseless belief, born on the internet, that Trump has been secretly fighting deep state enemies and a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibals operating a child sex-trafficking ring.
Meanwhile, warnings flashing, Democrats in Congress laid plans Friday for swift impeachment of President Donald Trump, demanding decisive, immediate action to ensure an “unhinged” commander in chief can’t add to the damage they say he’s inflicted or even ignite nuclear war in his final days in office.
As the country comes to terms with the violent siege of the US Capitol by Trump supporters that left five dead, the crisis that appears to be among the final acts of his presidency is deepening like few other periods in the nation’s history. With less than two weeks until he’s gone, Democrats want him out — now — and he has few defenders speaking up for him in his own Republican party.
“We must take action,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared on a private conference call with Democrats.
And one prominent Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, told the Anchorage Daily News that Trump simply “needs to get out.”
The final days of Trump’s presidency are spinning toward a chaotic end as he holes up at the White House, abandoned by many aides, top Republicans and Cabinet members. After refusing to concede defeat in the November election, he has now promised a smooth transfer of power when Democratic President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20. But even so, he says he will not attend the inauguration — the first such presidential snub since just after the Civil War.
In Congress, where many have watched and reeled as the president spent four years breaking norms and testing the nation’s guardrails of democracy, Democrats are unwilling to take further chances with only a few days left in his term. The mayhem that erupted Wednesday at the Capitol stunned the world and threatened the traditional peaceful transfer of power.
Pelosi said she had spoken to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley “to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes” for nuclear war. She said Milley assured her longstanding safeguards are in place.
The president has sole authority to order the launch of a nuclear weapon, but a military commander could refuse the order if it were determined to be illegal. Trump has not publicly made such threats, but officials warn of grave danger if the president is left unchecked.
“This unhinged president could not be more dangerous,” Pelosi said of the current situation.
Biden, meanwhile, said he is focused on his job as he prepares to take office. Asked about impeachment, he said, “That’s a decision for the Congress to make.”
The Democrats are considering lightning-quick action. A draft of their Articles of Impeachment accuses Trump of abuse of power, saying he “willfully made statements that encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — imminent lawless action at the Capitol,” according to a person familiar with the details who was granted anonymity to discuss them.
The articles are expected to be introduced on Monday, with a House vote as soon as Wednesday.
If Trump were to be impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, he might also be prevented from running again for the presidency in 2024 or ever holding public office again. He would be only the president twice impeached. A person on the call said Pelosi also discussed other ways Trump might be forced to resign.
Senators from a bipartisan group convened their own call to consider options for congressional action, according to an aide granted anonymity to reveal the private discussions.
Not helpful, the White House argued. Trump spokesman Judd Deere said, “A politically motivated impeachment against a President with 12 days remaining in his term will only serve to further divide our great country.”
The soonest the Senate could begin an impeachment trial under the current calendar would be Jan. 20, Inauguration Day.
Conviction in the Republican Senate at this late date would seem unlikely, though in a sign of Trump’s shattering of the party many Republicans were silent on the issue.
(With inputs from PTI, AP and AFP)