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Koch brothers network breaks with Trump over China trade war

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President Donald Trump is so far unwilling to back down from a trade war with China, but that may change as pressure mounts from the influential political and donor network backed by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers.

Executives at Americans for Prosperity, just one part of the ever-growing Koch influence empire, said that tariffs will only hurt American consumers and possibly cancel out positive effects from the Republican tax-cut bill passed in December.

“From the beginning we’ve said that tariffs and protectionism is a bad idea,” Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, said in an interview on Friday. “It’s a tax on American consumers because a lot of the product they’re buying will cost more and it hurts American industries when countries retaliate.”

The group has also expressed its concerns directly with the White House.

Charles and David Koch, the leaders of Koch Industries, one of the largest private corporations in the world, exert vast political power and influence on the right for an array of pet conservative issues, such as tax cuts.

The political wing of the Koch network was one of the most vocal supporters of the tax reform bill Trump signed last year. The group pushed the message that changes to the tax code will lead to economic growth across the country.

On Friday, with the president ratcheting up his trade rhetoric, Americans for Prosperity continued to make the case for the GOP tax cuts. In a recent article titled “5 Things to Look Forward to Under the New Tax Code,” the group promoted the notion that the reduced corporate tax rate – which was cut from 35 percent to 21 percent in the tax bill – will not only lead to strong growth, but more investments in the United States.

However, there is concern within Koch-backed groups that the ripple effects from a trade war could cancel out tax-reform wins.

“We think when you look at tariffs this is a significant threat that can undermine tax reform and increase costs for people who are only just starting to feel the relief,” Americans for Prosperity’s top spokesman, Bill Riggs, told CNBC.

The group has privately spoken with the White House about the tariffs. So far, the two sides have failed to see eye-to-eye on the administration’s trade policies.

“It’s been an ongoing conversation. We have a good line of communication with the White House’s economic policy team. They’ve explained their reasoning behind it and we just strongly disagree,” said Phillips, the Americans for Prosperity president.

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Google removes Parler app from Google Play Store

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Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google

Anindito Mukherjee | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Google has removed Parler, a social media app popular with Trump supporters, from the Google Play Store, making it much harder for Android users to download and access the app.

Google said in a statement that its requires social media apps to have content moderation policies that remove posts that incite violence, and that posts on Parler were encouraging further violence after the U.S. Capitol riot earlier this week.

The removal of the app comes as the violence at the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters on Wednesday that left five dead has renewed calls for social media and technology companies to more closely moderate their platforms, especially when it comes to calls to incite violence.

Twitter permanently banned President Donald Trump’s personal account on Friday because it felt that Trump’s most recent tweets were inciting violence, while Facebook prevented Trump from posting through the inauguration later this month.

Screenshots of the Parler app seen by CNBC show users posting references to firing squads, as well as calls to bring weapons to the presidential inauguration later this month. In its statement, Google said that it warned the app about its content moderation policy earlier this year.

Parler was launched in 2018, and it emerged earlier this year as a pro-Trump alternative to Twitter with less content moderation. “We’re a community town square, an open town square, with no censorship,” Parler CEO John Matze said in June. “If you can say it on the street of New York, you can say it on Parler.”

The Google Play store is not the only way to install apps on Android phones. Users have the option of alternative app stores, or a process called side-loading, which manually installs software without going through an app store.

The Parler app won’t be removed from user phones, and it is still accessible on the web, although the website was having issues loading on Friday.

Parler didn’t immediately return a request for comment about app store removals on Friday. Matze, the Parler CEO, posted on his social network snippets of a message from Apple on Friday that suggested that Apple was planning to imminently remove the app from its app store for iPhones. An Apple representative didn’t immediately have a comment.

Here’s Google’s full statement:

“In order to protect user safety on Google Play, our longstanding policies require that apps displaying user-generated content have moderation policies and enforcement that removes egregious content like posts that incite violence. All developers agree to these terms and we have reminded Parler of this clear policy in recent months. We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the U.S. 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. In light of this ongoing and urgent public safety threat, we are suspending the app’s listings from the Play Store until it addresses these issues.”

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Trump tweets from POTUS handle account taken down almost immediately

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U.S. President Donald Trump makes a fist during a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress in Washington U.S, January 6, 2021.

Jim Bourg | Reuters

President Donald Trump continued tweeting Friday evening using the government-owned @POTUS account, despite having his @realDonaldTrump account permanently suspended by Twitter earlier in the day.

“As I have been saying for a long time, Twitter has gone further and further in banning free speech, and tonight, Twitter employees have coordinated with the Democrats and Radical Left in removing my account from their platform, to silence me,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets that are no longer visible on the social media service.

The tweets were removed from the service almost immediately. It’s unclear what steps Twitter took in the handling of the @POTUS account.

Earlier in the day, the company announced that it would permanently suspend Trump’s personal account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Twitter specifically noted that Trump’s tweets earlier in the day could be interpreted as supporting rioters. The company also noted that plans for future armed protests had begun proliferating on and off of the social media service.

In his @POTUS tweets, Trump reiterated his call to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that shields tech companies from being held liable for what users post on their platforms. The sentiment was echoed by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“I’m more determined than ever to strip Section 230 protections from Big Tech (Twitter) that let them be immune from lawsuits,” Graham tweeted.

Trump also said his administration has “been negotiating with various other sites, and will have a big announcement soon.” He added that his team is looking “at the possibilities of building out our own platform in the near future.”

“We will not be SILENCED! Twitter is not about FREE SPEECH,” Trump wrote in the now removed tweets.



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Pro-Trump dark money groups organized the rally that led to deadly Capitol Hill riot

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