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Trump touts the ‘power’ of extremist social media activists at White House summit

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump blasted “disgraceful” social media companies for “terrible bias” and accused them without evidence of manipulating his content during a summit at the White House on Thursday, touting his massive online following and praising conspiracy theorists and far-right agitators alike.

“You have a lot of power and you have to use it wisely,” Trump said to the several hundred conservative digital and social media professionals in attendance, before celebrating their work extensively.

“You communicate with our citizens without going through the fake news filter,” the tweeter-in-chief said. “The crap you think of is unbelievable.”

The president spoke to the “historic” nature of the gathering, taking repeated shots at the mainstream press and praising the people in the room who challenge “the media gatekeepers.”

In recent years, complaints from conservatives of unfair treatment by major tech companies have grown from murmurs into a cacophony of complaints that now includes the president and other major Republican politicians. Some have threatened to put forward legislation on the topic, though none has yet become a serious threat to the companies.

Several of the social media personalities who attended Thursday’s event are known for spreading false information or trafficking in harassment, which some disinformation researchers call “incredibly toxic.”

Hours before the meeting, the Southern Poverty Law Center called the meetup “a gathering of groups and individuals who have no business at the White House,” saying the invite list included “conspiracy theorists and extremists.”

“For years we’ve watched social media serve as a gateway to radicalization and, far too often, real-life violence. Bringing these groups together is beyond irresponsible; it is essentially conducting a hate summit at the White House,” a statement from the SPLC reads.

Attendees included right-wing personalities Ali Alexander, who had pushed the false conspiracy theory that the California-born Sen. Kamala Harris was not an “American black,” Jim Hoft, from the conspiracy website Gateway Pundit, and YouTube personality Tim Pool, who has pushed the false conspiracy theory that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich leaked hacked emails to WikiLeaks.

Trump also took several minutes to congratulate White House social media director Dan Scavino, who has been a part of his inner circle since before the administration.

“I think Hillary [Clinton] had 28 people and I had Dan. Right? I had my Dan,” Trump said with a laugh.

Coincidentally, Twitter was down for about 45 minutes before the event started. As if on cue, the site was back up and running mere moments before Trump took the stage in the East Room.

The White House did not distribute a full list of participants ahead of the event but large social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Google said they were not invited to attend. After the session wrapped, officials still declined to provide a complete list of attendees.

The president hinted at why in a tweet Thursday morning, writing: “A big subject today at the White House Social Media Summit will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies. We will not let them get away with it much longer.”

Twitter and Facebook declined to comment.

Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale, who spearheaded the president’s all-important 2016 digital strategy, also joined the event. Parscale is still heavily involved in this area for 2020, with more responsibility and influence. He and the president speak on an almost daily basis about campaign matters and beyond. Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is also a key conduit among Parscale, the campaign and the White House.

Cabinet officials and lawmakers also attended the summit, including Sen. Josh Hawley, who spoke briefly at the president’s invitation. Hawley said “social media giants would love to shut us down” and urged them to “stop discriminating against conservatives.”

Without offering many specifics, Trump said he was inviting big tech firms to the White House in the coming weeks for a “big meeting” and a “real conversation.”

Apart from the purported topic of Thursday’s meeting, the president spent considerable time on other subjects, including his time hosting “The Apprentice” and taking swipes at Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., whom he referred to us “Pocahontas.”

Trump also defended several of his most well-known typos and spelling errors, blaming his digits and arguing he’s “actually a good speller” but “the fingers aren’t as good as the brain.”

Organizers printed and displayed giant versions of some of the president’s tweets for the event, including a reference to this head-scratcher from 2018: “Who can figure out the true meaning of “covfefe” ??? Enjoy!”

After Trump delivered his prepared remarks, radio show host Sebastian Gorka asked the first question in a Q&A session with summit attendees. Midway through the first question, reporters were escorted out of the room, and the livestream on the White House’s website faded out.

After the president made brief remarks on abandoning his call for a citizenship question on the 2020 census, a confrontation erupted in the Rose Garden between several of the social media summit attendees and a few White House press corps members. Gorka and Trump supporter Joy Villa were seen shouting “fake news” at the assembled reporters and a brief screaming match ensued. Secret Service officers came up to the people involved and asked them to calm down before Gorka and Villa eventually stepped away and left the area.



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Jeremy Corbyn BLUNDER: Labour leader ‘did not know’ ISIS leader ‘blew himself up’

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JEREMY CORBYN has come under more fire for suggesting ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi should have been arrested and put on trial.

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Pelosi: 'Nobody should have the right to endanger whistleblowers'

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters in her weekly briefing that she stood by the whistleblower, and that any threat to them “undermines our ability to hear truth about power.”

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First public impeachment hearing ‘corroborated evidence of bribery’

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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that the testimony presented by two career U.S. diplomats at the first House impeachment hearing a day earlier had presented evidence of bribery committed by President Donald Trump.

“The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid and a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into a political rival,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference.

Asked to further elaborate on her statement regarding bribery, Pelosi said, “Well, you know we’re talking Latin around here — e pluribus unum, from anyone, quid pro quo, bribery, and that is in the Constitution, attached to the impeachment proceeding. …”

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“The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections — that’s bribery,” she said.

Pelosi continued to assert that Democrats still have not made a decision about whether to pursue articles of impeachment against the president.

The speaker also said that what Trump had done in the Ukraine case “make[s] what Nixon did look almost small,” referring to the Watergate-related charges that led to the 37th president’s impeachment.

Under section 4, Article II of the Constitution, “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Pelosi’s comments come amid a Democratic shift in the language used to describe Trump’s actions with regard to Ukraine that lie at the heart of the current impeachment inquiry. Lawmakers had called the president’s moves a “quid pro quo,” but have recently shifted to a more uniform use of more widely used terms that Democrats believe may resonate more deeply with voters.

In his testimony Wednesday, acting Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor testified that a White House meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the release of U.S. aid to Ukraine were conditioned on Ukraine announcing investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as the 2016 presidential election.

George Kent, a senior State Department official, also testified about those investigations and the efforts by Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, to smear former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, and pressure Ukraine to launch those probes.

Pelosi was also asked Thursday about the whistleblower, whom Hill Republicans and Trump have called on to offer formal testimony. “Nobody should have the right to endanger whistleblowers, and that is a right that I will defend,” she said. “Any retribution or harm coming to the whistleblower undermines our ability to have truth about power.”

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