Trump’s reelection campaign said Thursday that Twitter suspended its official account, claiming that Team Trump’s post about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, is a violation of its policy.
“Your account has been locked,” the Twitter message said. “What happened? We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules. Specifically, for: Violating our rules against posting private information.”
The account was active and posting on Twitter again hours after campaign officials first said it had been locked. The original campaign post which Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said triggered Twitter to take action was apparently taken down.
The incident came less than three weeks from the Nov. 3 election.
“You may not publish or post other people’s private information without their express authorization and permission,” the Twitter message read, according to Mike Hahn, the Director of Social Media for the Trump 2020 campaign.
The post said that “Joe Biden is a liar who has been ripping off our country for years,” echoing statements that President Donald Trump has made about his Democratic presidential rival. It had cited a claim from a New York Post article about Hunter Biden’s emails, which Biden’s campaign has denied.
19 days out from the election. pic.twitter.com/Z9FFzridyr
— Mike Hahn (@mikehahn_) October 15, 2020
Murtaugh, Trump’s campaign’s communications director, said the move is tantamount to “election interference” on behalf of Twitter.
“This is election interference, plain and simple. For Twitter to lock the main account of the campaign of the President of the United States is a breathtaking level of political meddling and nothing short of an attempt to rig the election,” he said. “Joe Biden’s Silicon Valley pals are aggressively blocking negative news stories about their guy and preventing voters from accessing important information. This is like something from communist China or Cuba, not the United States of America.”
“This is chilling censorship of a sitting President’s re-election campaign 19 days from an election, plain and simple,” Andrew Clark, Trump campaign Rapid Response Director, noted in another statement. “Twitter is interfering in the election and trying to stop the public from learning damning information about the Biden family’s corruption at all cost, but our campaign and our supporters will not be silenced.”
On Wednesday night, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded to complaints from the New York Post and others that an article related to Hunter Biden’s emails was blocked.
“Our communication around our actions on the @nypost article was not great. And blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we’re blocking: unacceptable,” Dorsey wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
Twitter has not responded to a request for comment about the Trump Team account. But a Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider that accounts that post materials or links which violate its hacked materials policy “may be required to delete those Tweets.” They did not elaborate.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s personal account was also locked on Wednesday for an unspecified amount of time after she shared the NY Post’s article.
President Trump suggested that Twitter should face legal action over the incident.
“So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of ‘Smoking Gun’ emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the @NYPost. It is only the beginning for them. There is nothing worse than a corrupt politician. REPEAL SECTION 230!!!” the president wrote on Twitter late Wednesday.
Publishers can be held liable for any content they post, while social media platforms are protected via Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
The incident, and others like it, prompted Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to announce they would be voting to issue a subpoena to Dorsey for a hearing set for next Friday.
“This is election interference and we are 19 days out from an election,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to reporters on Thursday, adding that the Judiciary Committee “will issue a subpoena to Jack Dorsey” for next Friday, Oct. 23. Cruz and Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said they will hold a vote on issuing a subpoena.