Former President Donald Trump rolled out a plan Thursday that he said would “shatter the left-wing censorship machine” and reclaim the First Amendment guarantee of free speech for all Americans.
In the first policy-related announcement of his 2024 presidential campaign, Mr. Trump vowed to sign an executive order after being elected that would ban the federal government from “colluding” with groups that impede free speech and ban federal taxpayer dollars from being spent on government-led efforts to label speech as misinformation or disinformation.
He promised to fire federal employees who have tried to censor “lawful speech” and block federal funds from going to universities that wrongfully curtail speech.
“If we don’t have free speech, then we just don’t have a free country. It is as simple as that,” the 76-year-old said in the video announcement. “If this most fundamental right is allowed to perish, then the rest of our rights and liberties will topple just like dominoes. One by one they will go down.”
He also reiterated his support for curtailing the legal immunity protections for Big Tech platforms under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
Earlier this month, new Twitter owner Elon Musk began revealing the left-wing bent of the social media giant that led to the censorship of conservative viewpoints, the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop computer story just weeks before the 2020 presidential election, and the chaotic decision to permanently ban then-President Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
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The Twitter Files have also revealed the extent to which the platform worked with the Biden campaign and federal agencies to moderate speech, including regular meetings between platform executives and officials from the FBI, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Department of Homeland Security.
The file dump comes a month after Mr. Trump announced he was running for the Republican nomination for president.
Andy Surabian, a Republican strategist and former Trump White House official, applauded the announcement.
“The free speech policy plan that Trump put out wasn’t just a home run, it was a grand slam,” Mr. Surabian said. “It’s exactly what conservatives want to see from him in his presidential campaign — a concrete policy agenda about the issues the base cares deeply about, that shows his vision for the future.”
“If this is any indication of what his presidential campaign will look like once things really get going, then I think he’ll be in a strong position to prove his doubters wrong once again,” he said.
Mr. Trump has more doubters this go-round, though polls show he is still the clear front-runner in a race that is expected to pick up speed early next year.
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Mr. Trump delivered a double-barrelled announcement Thursday. He led with the news that he is starting to sell digital superhero-themed trading cards for $99 before releasing the video outlining his vision for defending free speech.
“In recent weeks, bombshell reports have confirmed that a sinister group of deep state bureaucrats, Silicon Valley tyrants, left-wing activities, and depraved corporate news media have been conspiring to manipulate and silence the American people,” Mr. Trump said.
“They have collaborated to suppress vital information on everything from elections to public health,” Mr. Trump said. “The censorship cartel must be dismantled and destroyed and it must happen immediately.”
Mr. Trump urged House Republicans to order the Biden administration and the president’s campaign operation, as well as silicon valley tech companies to preserve communications and documents that include “evidence of censorship.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, a Trump ally and the incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a similar request Wednesday to Big Tech companies demanding they hand over communications between their employees and the Biden administration dating back to the start of his term.
Mr. Jordan said it was part of the committee’s investigation into the Biden administration’s effort to “censor, silence, or reduce the reach of certain information and viewpoints.”