Trump in apparent Twitter snub after Musk lifts ban – US politics live

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A brief recap of how Donald Trump’s return to Twitter happened:

The first, and most pivotal event, is Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform. The Tesla boss announced his intention months ago then tried to back out, before finally taking over Twitter last month. Musk said he would reverse Trump’s ban if he took over the platform, but decided to first put it to a vote on Friday:

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The 52% in favor of his return is the type of popular vote margin Trump can only dream of.

Anyway, Musk made good on his promise and reinstated the former president on Saturday:

Trump has not yet tweeted. Musk has, perhaps seeking to distract attention from the chaos that appears to be engulfing Twitter since he took it over:

After being booted from Twitter following the January 6 insurrection, Trump started Truth, a competing social network that never really took off, and on which he was its most famous denizen. Last month, Trump told UKTN News that he planned to remain there. A regulatory filing from Truth indicates that even if Trump intends to return to Twitter, he has comittments to take care of first:

President Trump is generally obligated to make any social media post on TruthSocial and may not make the same post on another social media site for 6 hours. Thereafter, he is free to post on any site to which he has access. … In addition, he may make a post from a personal account related to political messaging, political fundraising or get-out-the-vote efforts on any social media site at any time.

Key events

In a brief encounter with the press after the turkey pardon, Biden said he had no advance warning of attorney general Merrick Garland’s decision Friday to appoint a special counsel to handle the criminal investigations involving Donald Trump.

“I learned about when you did,” Biden said.

Garland last week announced the appointment of Jack Smith as special counsel to decide on whether to bring charges related to the Mar-a-Lago documents case and the January 6 insurrection.

Joe Biden has just carried out one of the most solemn duties an American president must perform: pardoning the thanksgiving turkey.

In a chilly morning ceremony on the White House lawn, Biden gave a reprieve to turkeys Chocolate and Chip, while finding a way to zing the Republicans for their underwhelming midterm performance:

“The only red wave this season is gonna if our German Shepherd, Commander, knocks over the cranberry sauce.”

— President Biden jokes about Republicans’ midterm performance at the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon pic.twitter.com/Yw4YgHYLtz

— The Recount (@therecount) November 21, 2022

As happens sometimes, there was a heckler at the president’s speech, but on this occasion, it was his own dog:

The GOP was watching, and wasted no time in highlighting a gaffe made by the president:

BIDEN: “9.5 million turkeys! I tell ya what, that’s like some of the countries I’ve been to and they — anyway… *looks at turkey* you wanna talk?” pic.twitter.com/GgsRkr23nZ

— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) November 21, 2022

Speaking of Trump and lawyers, another of his former top White House officials is going to South Carolina’s high court to stop a subpoena from a Georgia prosecutor looking into meddling in the state’s 2020 election, Politico reports:

JUST IN: The South Carolina Supreme Court has agreed to expedite consideration of Mark Meadows effort to block a subpoena from Fulton County, Ga. prosecutors. pic.twitter.com/FijMKwohMA

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) November 21, 2022

The appeal to South Carolina’s supreme court by Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff for his final months in the White House, is the latest development in his lengthy battle to resist the summons from Fanni Willis. She’s the district attorney in Fulton county, which contains most of Atlanta, and has empaneled a special grand jury to look into attempts by Trump’s allies to interfere in Joe Biden’s election victory in the state.

Manhattan DA restarting Trump criminal investigation: NYT

Manhattan’s district attorney Alvin Bragg is reinvigorating a criminal investigation into a payment made by Donald Trump to a porn star who alleges she had an affair with the business mogul before his time in the White House, the New York Times reports.

The inquiry into the payment made to Stormy Daniels would add to the heaping pile of legal problems facing the former president, though according to the Times Bragg’s case has been seen as a long-shot and could face trouble if it ever goes to court:

Under Mr. Bragg’s predecessor, the district attorney’s office rejected the idea of focusing a case solely on the hush money, concluding, with the help of outside legal experts, that it would hinge on a largely untested and therefore risky legal theory. And if Mr. Bragg were to charge Mr. Trump without uncovering any new evidence or relying on a more conventional theory, he would risk having a judge or appellate court throw out the case.

To help build the hush-money case, prosecutors are revisiting another strategy that has yet to work: pressuring a top Trump lieutenant, Allen H. Weisselberg, to cooperate.

While Mr. Weisselberg has already pleaded guilty to unrelated tax charges and testified last week against Mr. Trump’s company at its trial for the same tax crimes, he has not turned on Mr. Trump. To ramp up the pressure, the prosecutors are considering a new round of charges against Mr. Weisselberg in hopes of securing his cooperation against the former president, the people said. Those potential charges concern insurance fraud and are unrelated to the hush money.

Mr. Weisselberg, who has direct knowledge of the hush-money payment, has long resisted the prosecutorial pressure campaign, repeatedly stymieing the investigation into Mr. Trump. There is little indication that the loyal executive, the former president’s financial gatekeeper for decades, will suddenly give in to Mr. Bragg.

Former acting US solicitor Neal Katyal thinks the special counsel appointed to handle the criminal investigations into Donald Trump is bad news for the former president.

He shared his thoughts in an interview with MSNBC:

Joe Biden is 80 years and one day old today, and being praised for Democrats’ surprisingly good performance in the midterms. The Guardian’s Lauren Gambino has more on the second wind the president is getting, and the challenges to come:

Today, Joe Biden will quietly ring in his 80th birthday over brunch with his family in Washington. It’s a milestone none of his predecessors reached while serving in the White House and one that looms large as he considers his political future.

Yet the president enters his ninth decade at a moment of unexpected strength. Democrats defied history in the midterm elections, keeping control of the Senate and shattering Republican hopes of a “red wave” in the House.

The verdict – a beat-the-odds performance by his party and the defeat of several election-denying candidates backed by Donald Trump – offered validation to a president who saw the elections as a test of American democracy.

In the afterglow of the election, Democrats have piled on praise – a major reversal for Biden, who spent much of of the second year of his presidency weathering the blame for what many anticipated would be a crushing rebuke from voters. But instead of a repudiation, he found vindication.

“You did it, Joe!” Vice-President Kamala Harris exclaimed at a post-election event with supporters. “This victory belongs to Joe Biden,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, his one-time rival for the Democratic nomination, said last week. And when asked how Democrats overcame tremendous headwinds and the weight of history, Jaime Harrison, chair of the Democratic National Committee, credited the president: “I have to thank Joe Biden.”

Former vice-president Mike Pence may be trying to distance himself from his one-time boss Donald Trump, but Ramon Antonio Vargas report he raised eyebrows at the federal investigations into the former president’s conduct during interviews over the weekend:

Though he believes “no one is above the law,” former US vice-president Mike Pence says he hopes federal prosecutors “give careful consideration before they take any additional steps” in investigating Donald Trump’s role in inciting the rioters who staged the January 6 Capitol attack and tried to hang him.

Pence made those remarks Sunday in an interview with the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd, in which he also said that the FBI “sent the wrong message” with its search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August to retake government secrets that were stored there without authorization.

According to Pence, Trump was “repeating … what he was hearing from that gaggle of attorneys around him” before the deadly January 6 attack on the Capitol nearly two years ago, which supporters of the president at the time launched in a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to halt the certification of his defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

While Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk has acquiesced to Donald Trump’s return to the platform, he has said conspiracy theorist Alex Jones would not be joining him, Dan Milmo reports:

Elon Musk has said he will not reinstate the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Twitter, saying he has “no mercy” for people who capitalise on the deaths of children for personal fame.

Twitter permanently suspended the accounts of Jones and his Infowars website in September 2018 for violating the platform’s abusive behaviour policy.

Jones, 48, gained notoriety for pushing a false conspiracy theory about the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012, which led to harassment of parents who lost their children in the massacre. Jones has been ordered by a US court to pay more than $1.4bn (£1.2bn) to people who suffered from his false claim that the shooting, in which 20 children and six educators died, was a hoax.

Railroad union rejects White House-brokered labor contract

One of the country’s largest railroad workers’ unions has rejected a White House-backed contract, raising the possibility of a work stoppage on a key part of the nation’s transportation infrastructure ahead of the holiday season, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Joe Biden had in September cheered a tentative deal brokered by his administration to call off a freight rail strike, which could have worsened the country’s high inflation. However, it still needed to be approved by members of the unions involved, and the Journal says it narrowly lost a crucial vote:

The unions representing engineers and conductors, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and SMART Transportation Division, were the final two out of the 12 unions reporting the ratification of votes in a protracted labor dispute.

SMART-TD, whose members narrowly rejected the deal, said it would head back to the negotiating table with the railroads for a revised deal with a Dec. 8 UKTN. Without another agreement, workers will be allowed to strike on Dec. 9.

“SMART-TD members with their votes have spoken, it’s now back to the bargaining table,” said SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson. “This can all be settled through negotiations and without a strike.”

SMART-TD said that 50.87% of train and engine service members voted to reject the agreement. Most railroad workers represented by SMART-TD are conductors, and it also represents other groups like brakemen and yardmasters. The groups vote for their contracts separately, and SMART-TD said 62% of yardmasters voted to ratify the agreement.

Since the contract for conductors failed to be ratified, the contract for all railroad workers in SMART-TD’s coverage failed. SMART-TD said there was a turnout of more than 28,000 out of around 36,000 members covered in the current negotiations.

Perhaps Trump’s return to Twitter isn’t that big of a deal.

That was the argument tech journalist Kara Swisher made during a Sunday appearance on UKTN, UKTN reports. “I don’t think it makes any difference. Plus he’s the former president, so it doesn’t hit quite as hard,” Swisher said. “People have been posting his truths – I think that’s what they’re called – on Twitter already and it gets out anyway.”

Tech guru Scott Galloway agreed, saying on the program that Musk reinstated Donald Trump for the purpose of generating headlines. “Twitter has become a playground for bad actors and fake bots. This poll is meaningless, this decision is meaningless,” Galloway said.

However Brian L. Ott, a Missouri State University professor who has studied Trump’s use of the platform, issued a dire warning of what his return will mean in the New York Times:

As someone who has been studying Mr. Trump’s Twitter use since before he was elected president, I believe that his return would mean the heightened spread of both misinformation and disinformation, the proliferation of degrading and dehumanizing discourse, the further mainstreaming of hate speech and the erosion of democratic norms and institutions. But there is something else: Mr. Trump’s return to Twitter could escalate the likelihood of political violence.

His reasoning why:

Given that our communication environment is structurally predisposed to heighten and cement our ever-growing political divide by telling us how right and righteous we are, one may reasonably wonder why I am concerned about one user in particular. First, a large number of people not only listen to Mr. Trump but also are inclined to take direction from him. Second, Mr. Trump combines divisiveness and dogmatism with hatred and angry rhetoric that risks inciting violence. For reasons better left to psychologists, Donald Trump is not content to forget or forgive people he perceives have wronged him. He wants to destroy them. So, he calls them out, often on social media, and then he goads his followers into doing something about it.

A brief recap of how Donald Trump’s return to Twitter happened:

The first, and most pivotal event, is Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform. The Tesla boss announced his intention months ago then tried to back out, before finally taking over Twitter last month. Musk said he would reverse Trump’s ban if he took over the platform, but decided to first put it to a vote on Friday:

The 52% in favor of his return is the type of popular vote margin Trump can only dream of.

Anyway, Musk made good on his promise and reinstated the former president on Saturday:

Trump has not yet tweeted. Musk has, perhaps seeking to distract attention from the chaos that appears to be engulfing Twitter since he took it over:

After being booted from Twitter following the January 6 insurrection, Trump started Truth, a competing social network that never really took off, and on which he was its most famous denizen. Last month, Trump told UKTN News that he planned to remain there. A regulatory filing from Truth indicates that even if Trump intends to return to Twitter, he has comittments to take care of first:

President Trump is generally obligated to make any social media post on TruthSocial and may not make the same post on another social media site for 6 hours. Thereafter, he is free to post on any site to which he has access. … In addition, he may make a post from a personal account related to political messaging, political fundraising or get-out-the-vote efforts on any social media site at any time.

Trump is back on Twitter – and apparently snubbing it

Good morning, US politics blog readers. It’s been more than 24 hours since Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk allowed Donald Trump to return to the platform, and the former president hasn’t said a word. You would think Trump has plenty on his mind, considering his announcement last week that he will run for the White House in 2024, even as his legal situation is looking perilous after the justice department appointed a special counsel to handle two criminal investigations into his conduct. But the day is just beginning, and perhaps Trump will make his return in the hours ahead.

Here’s what else is happening today:

  • Joe Biden pardons the Thanksgiving turkey at 11.15am eastern time, marking the 75th anniversary of this most American of traditions. He then heads to military bases in North Carolina to celebrate Friendsgiving with the troops and their families.

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will speak with reporters aboard Air Force One during the flight to North Carolina, some time after 4.20pm.

  • Democrats in Congress want answers after the New York Times reported on another leak from the supreme court, albeit from a case decided several years ago, Politico reports.

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