During his brief but abominable occupation of the White House, Donald Trump distinguished himself from his predecessors by relentlessly expressing his aversion to the free press and the Constitution. He repeatedly referred to the media as “the enemy of the people,” and more recently literally called for termination of the Constitution.
On Wednesday the newly GOP-led House Oversight Committee held a hearing to finally get to the bottom of the Scandal of the Century, Hunter Biden’s stolen laptop. Specifically the Committee sought to prove that the pre-Elon Musk Twitter regime had deliberately skewed their policies to adversely affect conservatives and Republicans and, especially Donald Trump.
The Republicans staged a shamelessly shallow exercise in feigned outrage over imaginary offenses that was triggered by the embarrassingly ineffective attempt by Musk’s “Twitter Files” “exposé” to unveil political bias on the part of Twitter’s previous staff.
Notable during the avalanche of asininity on the part of Republican members of the Committee, were the remarks by Clay Higgins of Louisiana. When it was his turn to question the Twitter executives who were summoned before the Committee to testify, Higgins launched into an unhinged flurry of baseless accusations and culminating in outright threats:
“You, ladies and gentlemen interfered with the United States of America 2020 presidential election, knowingly and willingly. That’s the bad news. It’s gonna get worse because this is the investigation part. Later comes the arrests part. Your attorneys are familiar with that.”
Marjorie Taylor Greene said the same thing.
Clay Higgins tells former Twitter employees they are going to get arrested for rigging the 2020 election. pic.twitter.com/vyBoHb3UVl
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) February 8, 2023
What we have here is a member of Congress threatening to have witnesses arrested for unspecified crimes for which he has no evidence ever occurred. What Higgins is asserting as criminal is the exercise of the constitutional rights of a private social media company to moderate the content on its website. It is wholly inappropriate intimidation by a government official seeking to coerce the behavior of individuals to comply with his political beliefs.
That sort of authoritarian bullying is generally reserved for tyrants and dictators, and those who seek to emulate them. And speaking of Donald Trump… He was thrilled to see how Higgins browbeat the Twitter execs. He posted a video of Higgins along with with his approval on his pitifully failing Twitter ripoff, Truth Social, saying that…
“Finally we have people with courage stepping forward! The Election was Rigged and Stolen, in so many ways – A mockery of our fully weaponized ‘Justice’ system.”
[For the record, the tweet that Trump was so appalled by that he wanted Twitter staff arrested was by supermodel Chrissy Teigen, who called Trump a “PAB” (look it up) for being too cowardly to tag her in his tweet that insulted her]
Of course, there was nothing in Higgins remarks – or in the entirety of the hearing – that even hinted at any evidence that the “Election was Rigged and Stolen.” To the contrary, Democrats on the Committee conclusively proved that the only bias by Twitter was in favor of Trump and the GOP. Even worse, in questioning by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) it was affirmed that only the Trump White House ever attempted to direct Twitter to censor content. And it did so with an overt threat that, “We’ll shut you down. We’ll regulate you. We Will never allow this to happen.”
Twitter executives verify to the House Oversight Committee that the Trump White House tried to get Twitter to take down tweets from Chrissy Teigen that made fun of Trump. pic.twitter.com/gQU8YWT0kw
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) February 8, 2023
That is an example of unambiguous government suppression of a free press and a violation of the First Amendment. Nevertheless, Rep. Jim Jordan tried to turn the tables by accusing the Biden campaign of censorship simply because they made a request for Twitter to review certain offensive tweets. Jordan’s argument, however, was ridiculous. He claimed that asking Twitter to review whether tweets were in compliance with their own terms of service was censorship.
"My, my, my, what happens when you hold a hearing and can't prove your point?" pic.twitter.com/ibC1cQUDYl
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) February 8, 2023
Obviously, it’s not against the First Amendment to ask a company to review content based on the company’s own standards. What’s more, the Biden campaign not only didn’t accompany their requests with threats, they weren’t even in power at the time, so they had no clout with which to threaten. And yet this is the scenario in which Trump posted a comment urging his cult to “Watch the Twitter hearings going on right now in Washington. They admit that the Presidential Election of 2020 was RIGGED & STOLEN!”
Naturally Trump is lying. No such admission occurred in the hearing. But Trump’s flagrant dishonesty is precisely the sort of provocation that resulted in the riots in Washington on January 6th. And his continued presence on social media (both Twitter and Facebook recently reinstated his accounts) will predictably result in more violence.
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