- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2019

On a day devoted outwardly to foreign affairs, President Trump on Tuesday had his eyes firmly on 2020, clamoring for fairness for conservatives on social media, predicting the death of socialism in the U.S. and pushing back against political opponents alive and dead.

He also dissented from Democrats‘ proposal to pack the Supreme Court, saying it’s the desperate cry of a party that can’t win elections fairly.

During meetings at the White House with Brazil’s populist President Jair Bolsonaro, another critic of “fake news,” Mr. Trump especially went after internet giants Facebook, Twitter and Google for suppressing the voices of conservatives and displaying “hatred” toward him and his supporters.

“It seems to be if they’re conservative, if they’re Republicans, if they’re in a certain group, there’s discrimination,” Mr. Trump said at a White House Rose Garden press conference. “Things are happening, names are taken off, people aren’t getting through. We have to do something.”

He tweeted earlier in the day, “Facebook, Google and Twitter, not to mention the Corrupt Media, are sooo on the side of the Radical Left Democrats. But fear not, we will win anyway, just like we did before! #MAGA”.

Facebook apologized to the president’s social media director, Dan Scavino Jr., for temporarily restricting his account for about two hours because of automated bots on the platform. A Facebook representative said its efforts to limit repetitive, identical activity from one account sometimes can have “unintended consequences.”

The president didn’t say whether he would support a suggestion by Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, to make tech companies liable for the third-party content on their platforms. But he repeated his belief that the social media companies are biased against his supporters, through actions such as “shadow bans” or otherwise stifling free speech.

“I see it absolutely on Twitter and Facebook,” Mr. Trump said. “Something’s happening with those groups of folks that are running Facebook and Google and Twitter, and I do think we have to get to the bottom of it.”

Mr. Trump said those talking about possible collusion with Russia should instead apply the term to the social media companies.

“There is collusion with respect to that, because something has to be going on,” he said. “When you get the back-office statements made by executives of the various companies and you see the level of, in many cases, hatred for a certain group of people that happen to be in power, that happen to have won the election, you say that’s really unfair.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has denied the allegations, and Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai told House lawmakers last year his company does not purposefully bury conservative content.

Facebook reached a nearly $5 million settlement Tuesday with the ACLU and agreed to make major changes to its ad platform to curb discrimination against minorities in employment, housing and credit ads.

Mr. Trump’s tweet Tuesday comes after Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican, filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter, saying the company “shadow bans” conservative accounts. Shadow banning is a way to limit the audience for certain tweets.

Twitter has acknowledged making an error, saying it shadow-banned an editor at The Federalist, a conservative publication. But the company denies that shadow banning is a policy.

As the president with nearly 60 million Twitter followers sought a more level playing field against liberals, he also used Mr. Bolsonaro’s visit to highlight what he called the “twilight” of socialism — both in South America and in U.S. political parties. Mr. Trump is counting on the Brazilian’s support to help topple socialist leader Nicolas Maduro in neighboring Venezuela, but he also took aim at leading democratic socialist presidential contender Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont.

“The twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere,” Mr. Trump said. “And hopefully, by the way, it’s also arrived — that twilight hour — in our great country, which is doing better than it’s ever done economically. The last thing we want in the United States is socialism.”

Mr. Sanders, who supports Medicare-for-all, a $15 minimum wage and tuition-free college, said this week that he needs to do “a better job maybe in explaining what we mean by socialism.”

“Obviously, my right-wing colleagues here want to paint that as authoritarianism and communism and Venezuela, and that’s nonsense,” Mr. Sanders told NPR. “I want a vibrant democracy. In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, we can provide a decent standard of living for all about people.”

The White House blasted “Medicare for All” Tuesday in its annual economic report, saying the proposal increasingly embraced by Democrats would cost too much, harm the economy and worsen Americans’ health.

“M4A will be neither more efficient nor cheaper than the current system, and it could adversely affect health,” said the report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

With Democratic presidential contenders pushing a far-left agenda to appeal to primary voters, some such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have raised the idea of packing the nine-seat Supreme Court with as many as six new justices. Reporter Saagar Enjeti of the Daily Caller asked Mr. Trump if he would “entertain” such a proposal for the high court, which has a conservative majority thanks to Mr. Trump’s two successful nominees, Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh.

“I wouldn’t entertain that,” Mr. Trump replied. “I can guarantee it won’t happen for six years. We have no interest in that whatsoever.”

Mr. Trump said the only reason Democrats are pushing the idea is that “they want to try to catch up.”

“If they can’t catch up through the ballot box by winning an election, they want to try to do it a different way,” Mr. Trump said.

As long as the GOP holds the majority in the Senate, it’s unlikely a Democratic president could add more justices. It would take an act of Congress to change the number on the high court.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to pack the high court with new seats in 1937, after watching the justices deal setbacks to his New Deal initiatives. That legislation was not popular with the public and ultimately stalled.

Having beaten back the surging tide of liberal ideas for one more day, at least, the president also went after an opponent who seems to still torment him from the grave — the late Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican.

“I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be,” Mr. Trump told reporters.

During a series of tweets last weekend, the president criticized Mr. McCain over news reports that the lawmaker had shared the so-called “Steele Dossier” with the FBI and the media in late 2016. The president said new court documents revealed that Mr. McCain “sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election. He & the Dems, working together, failed.”

Mr. Trump also criticized Mr. McCain for failing to provide the crucial vote to repeal Obamacare in July 2018, shortly before his death from brain cancer.

The criticism prompted Meghan McCain, the late senator’s daughter, to say of the president, “He will never be a great man.”

Mr. Trump said of Mr. McCain Tuesday, “I’m very unhappy that he didn’t repeal and replace Obamacare. He campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare for years. And then he got to a vote and he said thumbs down.”

If Mr. McCain had provided the decisive vote, the president said, “Our country would have saved a trillion and we would have had great health care.”

“I think that’s disgraceful,” he said of the late senator’s action.

The president’s remarks prompted Sen. Mitt Romney, Utah Republican, to tweet Tuesday night: “I can’t understand why the President would, once again, disparage a man as exemplary as my friend John McCain: heroic, courageous, patriotic, honorable, self-effacing, self-sacrificing, empathetic, and driven by duty to family, country, and God.”

Bailey Vogt and Alex Swoyer contributed to this article.

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