In response to First Amendment advocates demanding he unblock certain Twitter users, President Donald Trump has claimed executive privilege in preventing accounts from seeing or responding to his tweets.
Trump argued that, as president, he has the right to block accounts that reply to his tweets with “mean” comments in order to protect the American people.
“People tweeting mean things at president hurts country, national security. Dangerous. Unamerican. Sad,” Trump tweeted at 5 a.m. on his @realDonaldTrump account.
A follow-up tweet said, “Mean tweets makes the president look weak to other countries. Must be blocked to protect Americans. Executive privilege invoked.”
“They’re trying to make me look like a putz, which makes the country look like a putz. And who the hell respects a putz? North Korea? Iran? I don’t think so.”
Later in the morning, Trump attempted to reinforce his argument by calling in to Fox News’s Fox & Friends.
“I have to block all those losers who tweet mean things about me. They’re trying to make me look like a putz, which makes the country look like a putz. And who the hell respects a putz? North Korea? Iran? I don’t think so,” the prolific tweeter told the show’s hosts. “I’m blocking the hell out of them, and I’ll keep blocking them, to keep the American people safe.”
The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University equated Twitter — which Trump has leveraged to circumvent conventional media in communicating with his supporters — to a modern form of town hall. They’ve claimed the blocking suppresses free speech in a public forum protected by the First Amendment, something Trump asserts is necessary to protect the country from the ill effects of disagreeable tweets.
“Two words, Steve: executive privilege,” Trump replied when host Steve Doocy mentioned the institute’s claim. “Not everyone deserves to see what I tweet,” added the president, who has nearly 33 million Twitter followers.
“When did Twitter get so mean, anyway?” Trump later interjected. “By the way, ‘mean’ is my word. Everyone knows I have the best words. You saw Obama tried to steal that word from me, right? That’s my word. Such a sleezeball.”
When asked about simply making his Twitter account private, which would require potential followers to be approved by Trump, the president replied, “Only thin-skinned losers make their accounts private.”