The week had to end with something absurd but somehow monumental. The president lost the one tool that had made him president, the tool that allowed him to define himself, the tool that had allowed him to build what was, in effect, his own army, his army that stormed the Capitol to stop the certification of the vote that had made Joe Biden president and to make him president again. He told his army to go down there and force those people to toss out what all fifty states had certified, to put an end to that, by force. Generals give orders. Generals inspire. And that worked. His army showed up. They couldn’t get the job done, but they raised holy hell and made a mess, and made their point. They’d be back. The government would do what they said, not what the voters or anyone else said, eventually, one day, perhaps one day soon. But their general just lost his voice. It was taken from him. The New York Times reports that it seems his voice had become too dangerous:
Twitter said on Friday that it had permanently suspended President Trump from its service “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” effectively cutting him off from his favorite megaphone for reaching the public and capping a series of actions by mainstream sites to limit his online reach.
Twitter said in a blog post that Mr. Trump’s personal @realDonaldTrump account, which has more than 88 million followers, would be suspended immediately.
Twitter is publicly-traded corporation with shareholders and everything, with a reputation to defend by avoiding liabilities. Registered users of its services have to abide by their rules. Be civil or go elsewhere, find another service. It’s a free country but their platform. Back in the day, out here in Hollywood, Jim Morrison, of The Doors, once dramatically urinated on the bar at Barney’s Beanery down at the bottom of the hill here. They asked him to leave and told him he could never come back. Twitter just told Donald Trump to leave and never come back. It was the same sort of thing:
The company said two tweets that Mr. Trump had posted on Friday – one calling his supporters “patriots” and another saying he would not go to the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20 – violated its rules against glorifying violence.
The tweets “were highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021,” Twitter said, referring to the storming of the Capitol by a mob of Trump loyalists.
And that was that:
Within minutes, Mr. Trump’s account on Twitter was no longer accessible. His posts were replaced with a label: “Account suspended.”
Mr. Trump tried to evade the ban late Friday by using the @POTUS Twitter account, which belongs to sitting U.S. presidents, as well as other accounts to lash out at the company. But almost all of his messages were almost immediately removed by Twitter. The company forbids users to try avoiding a suspension with secondary accounts.
And of course he was furious:
In a statement late Friday, Mr. Trump said Twitter was trying to silence him. He said he was negotiating with other sites and promised a “big announcement soon,” adding that he was looking at building “our own platform.”
“Twitter is not about FREE SPEECH,” Mr. Trump said. “They are all about promoting a Radical Left platform where some of the most vicious people in the world are allowed to speak freely.”
But he was right. Twitter is not about free speech. Twitter is about making money, by providing a service to the public. They’re not going to get involved in Trump’s bumbling attempt at a violent overthrow of the United States Government. That would screw up their business model. No one needs this nonsense:
A day earlier, Facebook had barred Mr. Trump for the rest of his term, and other digital platforms – including Snapchat, YouTube, Twitch and Reddit – also recently limited Mr. Trump on their services.
Twitter was next, and they were thorough:
On Friday, the company also permanently suspended the accounts of several prominent Trump supporters who used the platform to spread conspiracy theories, including the lawyer Sidney Powell and President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn. Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk show host, also appeared to deactivate his account.
Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Trump’s son, called Twitter’s move against his father “absolute insanity” and said the tech companies were overreaching. “We are living Orwell’s 1984,” he tweeted.
No, we’re living in a modern free-market economy, but this was a blow:
Mr. Trump had repeatedly told allies who raised the possibility that social media firms would bar him, “They’ll never ban me.”
In the White House, there was an extensive process for drafting official tweets. But at night and early in the morning, Mr. Trump composed his own tweets on his iPhone, often to the chagrin of advisers and Republican lawmakers who then spent hours or days dealing with the fallout.
“Without the tweets, I wouldn’t be here,” Mr. Trump told The Financial Times in April 2017.
He knows that Twitter was his presidency. He didn’t seem to know Twitter wasn’t his:
The pushback against Mr. Trump online began on Wednesday after his loyalists, urged on by the president, breached the Capitol building. In the aftermath, Twitter temporarily locked Mr. Trump’s account, followed by Facebook. At the time, Twitter said the risks of keeping his commentary live on its site had become too high.
The company said Mr. Trump could return to its platform if he deleted several tweets that contained falsehoods about the election or calls for violence, which violated its policies. One of the tweets was a video that Mr. Trump had posted after the police pushed the mob back where he told his supporters: “We love you. You’re very special.”
After Mr. Trump took those posts down, he was reinstated to the site on Thursday. Late on Thursday, he issued a conciliatory message, saying he was outraged by the violence and would facilitate a peaceful transition of power.
And then he changed his mind:
Mr. Trump tweeted on Friday that his supporters were “American Patriots” who would possess a “GIANT VOICE long into the future.” He also said he would not attend the inauguration on Jan. 20.
He wasn’t going to abandon his army, damn it! Twitter understood:
Twitter said those messages appeared to condone Wednesday’s violence and were likely to stoke further violence. It added that the one about the inauguration offered the date as a target for attack.
“Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the U.S. Capitol and state capitol buildings on Jan. 17, 2021,” Twitter said.
They see what’s on their feed and on the feeds of other services. Trump’s Army has planned two more massive attacks on the Capitol. Twitter wants no part of this. Find another service. It’s a free country but this is their platform. But that will not be easy:
Parler is one of the hottest apps in the world, a social network that has attracted millions of conservatives over the past year with its hands-off approach to policing users’ posts. And with the news that President Trump had been kicked off Twitter and Facebook, Parler was the odds-on bet to be his next soapbox.
But just as it was gaining new clout, Parler is now suddenly faced with an existential crisis.
On Friday, Apple told the company that it had to step up its policing of the conversation on its app – undercutting its flagship feature – or lose its platform on iPhones. Several hours later, Google suspended Parler from the Play Store, the main way to download apps on Android devices, until it better polices its app.
In an email to Parler, Apple said it had received complaints that people used the Parler app, which mimics Twitter, to plan Wednesday’s deadly riot in Washington. Apple said it had determined that Parler was not “removing content that encourages illegal activity and poses a serious risk to the health and safety of users.”
Apple has lawyers. Google has lawyers. They want no part of this either:
A day earlier, John Matze, Parler’s chief executive, had said in an interview with the New York Times about Wednesday’s melee that he doesn’t “feel responsible for any of this and neither should the platform, considering we’re a neutral town square that just adheres to the law.”
In its letter, Apple referenced his stance and added, “We want to be clear that Parler is in fact responsible for all the user generated content present on your service and for ensuring that this content meets App Store requirements for the safety and protection of our users.”
Apple gave Parler 24 hours to comply before the app would be removed from Apple’s App Store.
Google said in a statement that it had pulled the app because Parler was not enforcing its own moderation policies, despite a recent reminder from Google, and because of continued posts on the app that sought to incite violence.
“We recognize that there can be reasonable debate about content policies and that it can be difficult for apps to immediately remove all violative content, but for us to distribute an app through Google Play, we do require that apps implement robust moderation for egregious content,” Google said.
So, what is egregious content? That may be the issue here:
In the eyes of many conservatives, Parler was a safe haven from so-called Big Tech censorship – a place where they could espouse conspiracy theories, make threats and even plan violent rallies without worrying about getting banned. It had been one of the most downloaded apps in recent months just as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram increasingly cracked down on hate speech and misinformation.
But it is now clear that Parler will not be able to maintain its free-for-all status if it wants to be able to keep its wide reach. Apple and Google make the operating systems that back nearly every smartphone in the world, and they roughly split the market in the United States.
If Apple pulls Parler from the App Store, people would not be able to download the app to their iPhones or iPads. People who had already downloaded the Parler iPhone app would still be able to use it, but the company would not be able to update the app, meaning it would eventually be rendered obsolete as Apple updated the iPhone software.
But as NBC News reports, we’re not there yet:
In the wake of Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol, Trump supporters with extremist views feel emboldened and are vowing to return to Washington for the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20, using online platforms to rally each other.
“Many of Us will return on January 19, 2021, carrying Our weapons, in support of Our nation’s resolve, towhich [sic] the world will never forget!!! We will come in numbers that no standing army or police agency can match,” wrote a popular Parler user who frequently posts about QAnon, and is being tracked by the Anti-Defamation League.
That’s Trump’s Army:
Posters explicitly stated their intentions to “occupy” the Capitol. QAnon conspiracy theorists and people associated with militia groups had a visible presence in Wednesday’s crowd.
“Round 2 on January 20th. This time no mercy. I don’t even care about keeping Trump in power. I care about war,” an anonymous person posted on the platform TheDonald.win which is filled with comments posted by people who lauded those who rioted Wednesday as “heroes.”
These plans are in place and there will be no mercy:
According the National Park Service, which handles permits for rallies in D.C., there are seven First Amendment permit applications in process that overlap with the inauguration date, one of which is clearly for Trump supporters.
Megan Squire, professor of computer science at Elon University and a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center who tracks online extremism, says she’s concerned that since President Donald Trump will not be at the inauguration, extremists will be focused on Biden.
That means that Biden is a dead man now, and since Mike Pence will show up for the inauguration – he and Biden get along just fine – it may be time to finish that job:
Some of President Donald Trump’s supporters apparently intended to kidnap Vice President Mike Pence and execute him if he didn’t overturn their election loss.
The president’s supporters stormed into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, as Pence presided over the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election win, and video captured some of them threatening to execute the vice president – who Trump had singled out in a speech just minutes before they burst into the building.
“Hang Mike Pence, hang Mike Pence,” the crowd chanted as alarms sounded after the mob broke into the Capitol.
That was the plan:
Photographs show some rioters carrying flex cuffs used as restraints by law enforcement and gallows set up outside the Capitol, and the vice president was taken to safety, along with lawmakers, congressional staffers and reporters, after the president’s supporters broke in.
“I heard at least 3 different rioters at the Capitol say that they hoped to find Vice President Mike Pence and execute him by hanging him from a Capitol Hill tree as a traitor,” reported Reuters photographer Jim Bourg. “It was a common line being repeated. Many more were just talking about how the VP should be executed.”
Capitol Hill reprter Andrew Feinberg said the rioters were looking for Pence, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – whose office was ransacked by the president’s supporters.
But this was about Pence:
A Trump supporter who spoke to local news outlet CBS17 said the crowd in D.C. turned violent after hearing reports that Pence would not help the president overturn his election loss.
“People got news on their phone that Mike Pence said he is not going to object to these seven states, and he was going to accept the electoral college that promotes [President-elect Joe] Biden,” she explained. “That is when everybody got really upset and that’s when they started storming.”
Trump had inspired his army. Pence may be dead soon. But maybe not:
After years of fidelity, Donald Trump’s most ardent online fans have finally turned on him.
All it took was for the president to acknowledge the reality of his loss a little over a day after they, the MAGA faithful, stormed the Capitol in a violent attempt to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
“People were willing to die for this man and he just threw them all under the bus. That’s the only thing that’s shameful about the events of the past 36 hours,” Nick Fuentes, the host of the America First podcast and the unofficial leader of the white nationalist Groyper Army, angrily tweeted, shortly after Trump released a video Thursday night in which he conceded that Biden would be the next president and called for political reconciliation.
Cassandra Fairbanks, a prominent MAGA activist, tweeted: “He tells angry people to march to the capitol and then proceeds to throw his supporters under the bus.”
They had to think about this:
Was Trump merely trying to placate his establishment handlers? Or did he truly betray the MAGA movement, days after several of his followers died while following his instructions to storm the Capitol?
QAnon conspiracy theorists, praying for years that Trump would flush Satan-worshipping pedophile elites out of Washington, tore apart any scrap of data from the video to prove that he was playing one final trick. They subjected the time stamps to numerology, thinking that there was a secret message encoded.
“In no way did Trump say he conceded. He said: transitioning to a new Admin. As in, he gonna clear this one out and bring a new one,” tweeted We the Inevitable, a conspiracy account, getting more than 3,000 retweets within the hour. The account’s followers agreed that this was surely a sign that he was getting rid of Vice President Mike Pence – now cast as a MAGA traitor after participating in the certification of Biden’s win – and that on Jan. 20, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, now a full-fledged QAnon patriot, would replace him in Trump’s second term.
But they weren’t sure, until the amazing Trump tweet:
Then, as despair was kicking in, Trump gave them what they needed: a digital attaboy for their support.
“The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future,” Trump tweeted on Friday morning. “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
And just like that, the faith was restored… It was retweeted 700 times within minutes.
“I’m feeling much better, for a minute I thought I was alone in my thinking,” one account replied.
One tweet fixed everything. And now the man can never tweet again. He can’t save the day like that ever again. He has to face what Slate’s Jeremy Stahl reports here:
Momentum for the impeachment of President Donald Trump – which seemed for a moment on Friday afternoon like it might have stalled – received two major end-of-week boosts.
First, NBC News reported that House Judiciary Committee members Jamie Raskin, David Cicilline, and Ted Lieu would be introducing articles of impeachment on Monday, seeking Trump’s removal from office and barring him from further federal elected office for having committed “incitement of insurrection” prior to Wednesday’s mob attack on the Capitol.
Those articles accuse Trump of having “made statements that encouraged – and foreseeably resulted in – imminent lawless action at the Capitol.”
The charge continues:
“Incited by President Trump, a mob unlawfully breached the Capitol, injured law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress and the Vice President, interfered with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the election results, and engaged in violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.”
The impeachment charge goes on to cite Trump’s likely illegal phone call to Brad Raffensperger, in which he attempted to pressure the Georgia secretary of state to “find” votes to undo Georgia’s presidential election results. It goes on:
“In all of this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coordinate branch of government.”
No tweet can fix that, or fix this:
Shortly after the articles of impeachment news, the Anchorage Daily News reported that Sen. Lisa Murkowski wants Trump “out” of office immediately and is considering leaving the Republican Party to join the incoming Senate Democratic majority.
“I want him to resign. I want him out. He has caused enough damage,” Murkowski told the paper. She continued:
“I think he should leave. He said he’s not going to show up. He’s not going to appear at the inauguration. He hasn’t been focused on what is going on with COVID. He’s either been golfing or he’s been inside the Oval Office fuming and throwing every single person who has been loyal and faithful to him under the bus, starting with the vice president. He doesn’t want to stay there. He only wants to stay there for the title. He only wants to stay there for his ego. He needs to get out. He needs to do the good thing, but I don’t think he’s capable of doing a good thing.”
No tweet can fix this either:
Things had started to look up for Trump on the impeachment question earlier on Friday, with allies like Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Ken Buck coming to his defense and even some Democrats appearing lukewarm. Oregon Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader reportedly expressed disapproval for impeachment, going so far as to compare it to a “lynching.”
Schrader, though, received significant pushback from his caucus for the racially charged comments.
Oops. But the real problem was this:
Possibly worse for Republicans than Murkowski’s impeachment stance was another portion of her Daily News interview in which she said she was open to leaving the party. As Murkowski told the paper: “If the Republican Party has become nothing more than the party of Trump, I sincerely question whether this is the party for me.”
Thanks to Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock’s victories in Georgia this week, the incoming Senate will be a 50-50 tie with Vice President–elect Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote to give Democrats the majority. If Murkowski were to switch parties, that would offer significant leeway to incoming Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as he seeks to push through President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda by increasing the Democrats’ razor-thin Senate majority.
And that would be one more thing Trump ruined for the Republicans who are supposed to be his people too. And now he can’t even tweet to whine and sneer and bully and brag and threaten these people, to fix any of this. All the platforms have now banned his egregious content. But that’s what the election did too. Now the only problem is his army. He can’t tweet. But they can cause endless trouble.