Dems condemn Elon Musk, GOP celebrates

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Elon Musk reinstated former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account Saturday night after a nearly two-year ban, spurring mixed reactions from lawmakers and other public figures.

While Trump’s account is live, it was not immediately clear if the former president would return to the platform. Trump, who on Tuesday announced he was running for president in 2024, has previously said he would not return to Twitter and would stick with his own social media platform, Truth Social.

Yet many still took to Twitter Saturday to voice views on Musk’s move. While liberal leaders expressed fear over the future of the influential social media company, many Republicans cheered the decision. At least one is wondering if she will also be allowed back on the platform.

“Welcome back, @realDonaldTrump!” an account for Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee wrote on Twitter. The congressional panel, which is controlled by Democrats, was responsible for launching impeachment proceedings against the former president. 

U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, shared the news on Twitter and wrote: “2023 is going to be great. 2024 will be better.”

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, welcomed Trump back to the platform and wrote: “He’s back.”

Some Democrats decried the move.

“I’m disgusted,” Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, wrote.

Minutes after the announcement, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr., D-N.J., called on Twitter users to remember the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection — the violent attack at the U.S. Capitol that led to Trump’s removal from the platform. 

“682 days ago insurrectionists ransacked the US Capitol and hours later 68% of House republicans voted to finish the rioters’ job and make trump a dictator,” Pascrell wrote. “Never forget it.”

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican who has taken a a strong public stance against Trump, shared a link to a link to a House hearing from the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack

“With Trump back on Twitter, it’s a good time to watch this Jan 6 hearing. It covers each of Trump’s tweets that day, including those that have been deleted, and features multiple Trump WH staff describing his inexcusable conduct during the violence,” Cheney wrote on Twitter.

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Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, urged advertisers to halt work with Twitter.

“In Elon Musk’s Twittersphere, you can incite an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which led to the deaths of multiple people, and still be allowed to spew hate speech and violent conspiracies on his platform,” Johnson said in a statement. “Any advertiser still funding Twitter should immediately pause all advertising.”

Johnson added: “If Elon Musk continues to run Twitter like this, using garbage polls that do not represent the American people and the needs of our democracy, God help us all.”

Musk told leading civil rights groups earlier this month that he would not allow banned accounts back on the platform until he established a clear process to vet them.

For Musk to reinstate Trump after a short poll “shows he is not remotely serious about safeguarding the platform from hate, harassment and misinformation,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the the Anti-Defamation League, calling Musk’s decision a threat to American democracy.

“As we’ve said before, Trump used Twitter to foment intolerance, issue threats and incite a violent attack against the US government,” he tweeted. “Moreover, he has shown no indication that he would do anything different if given the opportunity.”

Trump’s reinstatement on the platform was spurred by a Friday poll posted by Musk, who purchased Twitter for $44 billion late last month. Musk launched the poll on his personal Twitter account Friday evening, allowing users to respond “yes” or “no” on whether to “Reinstate former President Trump.”

Over a 24-hour period, a majority of 15 million people voted in favor of reinstating Trump’s account. It was unclear how many of the poll participants were verified users or bots.

“The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk wrote on Twitter Saturday evening, including a Latin phrase meaning “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” 

In a statement before the poll closed Saturday evening, Trump said: “Vote now with positivity, but don’t worry, we aren’t going anywhere. Truth Social is special!”

During a virtual appearance Saturday at an annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump elaborated on his future on the platform, saying that, while he has “always liked” Musk, he did not see himself returning to Twitter.

“I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason for it. They have a lot of problems at Twitter. You see what’s going on,” Trump said.

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Musk, the world’s richest man who is also the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, has already made a series of sweeping changes at Twitter since taking the helm. Last month, he announced Twitter would be establishing a “content moderation council.”

In recent weeks, the company has reinstated the accounts of far-right satire publication The Babylon Bee, Canadian men’s rights activist Jordan Peterson and comedian Kathy Griffin.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican with ties to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, on Saturday called on Twitter to reinstate her personal account, which Twitter permanently blocked in January for repeated violations of its COVID-19 misinformation policy.

“Interesting it took a poll to decide to reinstate (Trump) him,” Taylor Greene wrote. “… What does it take to reinstate my account?”

USA TODAY was unable to contact Twitter for comment Saturday. Amid mass resignations and firings, the company no longer has a communications department.

It’s unclear if other social media platforms may also lift bans on Trump’s accounts. Facebook is expected to decide in January whether to lift Trump’s suspension. And YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said last year that the platform would lift the Trump ban “when we determine the risk of violence has decreased.”

In response to Trump’s campaign announcement this week, the nonprofit civil rights group Color of Change said Trump’s candidacy “officially puts Twitter, Meta, Youtube, and other social media platforms on notice to monitor for harmful disinformation.”

“The choice is simple: take a stand against a megaphone for white supremacy or once again place Black communities and our democracy in the crosshairs of a far-right extremist leader and his followers,” Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, interim co-vice president of Color Of Change, said in a statement. “There is no acceptable pathway for Trump to return to the platforms that banned him.”

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