The company said it resorted to a permanent suspension due to “the risk of further incitement of violence,” following a deadly riot on Capitol Hill Wednesday. It broke out after Trump spoke to supporters and repeated his unproven claim that the 2020 election had been “stolen” from him.
Donald Trump Jr. blasted the move Friday, highlighting the different approaches Twitter has taken to President Trump and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“So the ayatollah, and numerous other dictatorial regimes can have Twitter accounts with no issue despite threatening genocide to entire countries and killing homosexuals etc… but The President of the United States should be permanently suspended,” he tweeted. “(Former Chinese Communist Party Chairman) Mao would be proud.”
The president’s son likely was referencing a move by Twitter earlier Friday to remove an anti-vaccine tweet from Khamenei, but stop short of banning his account. Khamenei claimed the United States’ and other Western nations’ coronavirus vaccines are “completely untrustworthy.”
Other recent tweets, in which he describes the U.S. as “the enemy” and vows to take “revenge” for the Trump-ordered slaying of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a state-backed terrorist whom the State Department linked to the killings of 608 U.S. troops during the Iraq War, remained visible Friday evening.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., raised similar concerns in a tweet of his own and also took issue with Chinese Communist Party officials who falsely claimed the U.S. military sent the coronavirus to China.
President Trump for years has used Twitter to speak directly to the American people – sidestepping media gatekeepers and garnering tens of thousands or more reactions to his posts.
At least one strategist said the ban could be a blow to the president’s future influence on national politics.
Longtime Republican consultant David Carney, a veteran of multiple presidential campaigns over the past three decades, is currently a top political adviser to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. He told Fox News Thursday that the potential long-term lockout of Trump from his social media platforms would “be a huge crushing blow to his prospects to being a kingmaker in the future because those are his go-to platforms.
“It will be difficult to be much of an influencer without those platforms,” he said.
Lawmakers, commentators and others also flocked to Twitter to respond to the platform’s Trump ban.
Twitter cited two relatively tame tweets Friday for the bans – prompting Axios reporter Jonathan Swan to note they were “two of his least offensive posts ever.” The company argued they were considered in a broader context including the past two months – during which it flagged many of President Trump’s tweets with a disclaimer about the 2020 election results.
“What happened on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol is as wrong as wrong can be,” tweeted Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. “But canceling conservative speech will not promote ‘unity and healing.’”
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz warned, “Big tech tyranny is playing out before our very eyes.”
But Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate West Virginia Democrat, thanked Twitter for banning the president.
“We must come together as a country to heal and find a common path forward,” he wrote.
Mark Levin, host of Fox News’ “Life, Liberty & Levin,” wrote that he was quitting the platform himself and urged supporters to follow him on the alternative social media sites Parler and Rumble.
“I have suspended my own Twitter account in protest against Twitter’s fascism,” he wrote.
Longtime Trump critic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., retweeted news of the president’s Twitter ban. She separately called for Apple and Google Play to ban the alternative Parler app over reports that far-right radicals use it to plot “the murder of police officers.”
Twitter, as part of its reasoning for shutting down Trump’s account, said plans for a “secondary” attack on Capitol Hill and other violence were circulating both on and off its platform.
The company banned Trump’s personal handle, @realDonaldTrump. His official account, @POTUS, remains active, but had three tweets removed Friday after they were posted in the wake of the personal account ban.
On Inauguration Day, which is Jan. 20, the @POTUS handle will be transferred to President-elect Joe Biden, and the tweets made during President Trump’s term in office will be archived on a separate account, according to Twitter. Obama-era @POTUS tweets were moved to the handle @POTUS44.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.