President Trump’s tweets could soon be classified as presidential record and render any deletions illegal, thanks to a new bill introduced Monday by a Democratic congressman.
The Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement (COVFEFE) Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., would amend the Presidential Records Act to include social media, meaning that Trump’s prolific Twitter missives would be documented and preserved — including deleted tweets.
“What the president says matters,” Quigley told Yahoo News Tuesday. “He doesn’t have the luxury of deciding what’s his legacy. … The president must be held accountable for any posts.”
According to ProPublica’s tally, Trump has deleted 18 tweets since he took office, including the viral “covfefe” tweet for which Quigley’s bill is named, and more than 160 tweets since launching his campaign in the summer of 2015. Under the COVFEFE Act, deletion of posts from any of president’s social media accounts would become illegal.
Many of Trump’s deleted tweets contain typos or misspelled words, such as when he recently decried the appointment of a “special councel” while referring to the special counsel for the Russia probe. During the campaign, his account deleted a couple of tweets with anti-Semitic or Nazi imagery.
Because these Trump gaffes are blasted out to millions of people before they get scrapped, users across Twitter quickly document his posts. But Quigley argued that’s not enough.
“It has to be documented appropriately, in an appropriate and accurate fashion,” Quigley said to Yahoo News. “It’s not official if Joe from Iowa documents it or saves it — that does not mean it’s historical record.”
The Presidential Records Act lacks an explicit requirement that mandates archiving a president’s social media posts. White House officials confirmed to the National Archives that they are saving the president’s tweets, including those he’s deleted, but have not detailed the process.
“This is a president of the United States that uses social media to comment on everything from NATO to the Paris Agreement to the London attack,” Quigley said to Yahoo News. “The Presidential Records Act is important, but it has to be relevant … and include the means of communication of the president.”
Press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed last week that Trump’s tweets are “considered official statements by the president of the United States,” despite earlier insistence from top White House officials that the president’s tweets are “not policy.”
Quigley, who co-chairs the Congressional Transparency Caucus, introduced another piece of legislation in March also named to goad Trump. The Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness (MAR-A-LAGO) Act would make public visitor logs at the White House and Trump’s resorts, including his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
The use of “clever” names sparks interest in the legislation, Quigley said, noting that though he’s introduced measures promoting transparency every year for the past eight years, the COVFEFE and MAR-A-LAGO acts have caught the attention of Congress and the Internet.
Quigley and his staff are currently looking for co-sponsors for the bill.
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