From the incomprehensible “covfefe” to a post labelling fired FBI director James Comey a “leaker,” President Donald Trump’s tweets would be preserved as presidential records if a Democratic lawmaker’s proposed COVFEFE Act becomes law.
Representative Mike Quigley of Illinois introduced on Monday the “Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically For Engagement” Act. This act would amend the Presidential Records Act and require the National Archives to store presidential tweets and other social media interactions.
“If the president is going to take to social media to make sudden public policy proclamations, we must ensure that these statements are documented and preserved for future reference,” Quigley, a member of the House intelligence committee, said in a statement.
“Tweets are powerful, and the president must be held accountable for every post.”
"I think this amendment is important and makes sure that the laws keep up with the changing times," says Young Post cadet Julia Kan, 17, of Northfield Mount Hermon School. "Especially with the US president, who wields so much control over his social media networks. I think he has been tweeting constantly without much consideration for the effect of his words. The administration should not baby Trump and let him get away with announcing huge policy claims, anti-Semitic (or anti-"alien", for that matter) tweets, and misinforming/lying to the general public. Through the amendment, Trump will be held responsible for everything he says online, too."
Further, the law would bar the prolifically tweeting president from deleting his posts, as he has sometimes done. This has inspired websites archiving his erased tweets.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said last week that Trump’s tweets “are considered official statements by the president of the United States.”
Regina Cheng, 18, of Cheung Chuk Shan College agrees that Trump's days of playing free-for-all on Twitter should come to an end.
"Twitter can also be a tool for public relations," Regina reasons, "but when Trump is taking it to the next level of making proclamations, he should bear the responsibility that comes with it. If he is incapable of separating rants from official business, he should be limited in some way."
However, Regina and Julia's fellow YP cadet, Henriette Wohlschlaeger, 16, of SKH Lam Woo Memorial Secondary School disagrees.
"The appeal of all social media platforms is that everyone, including every kind of celebrity or political figure, can post whatever is on his or her mind at any time," Henriette argues. "That's what makes Twitter authentic and interesting. Preserving and documenting tweets would destroy this charm."
The White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the proposed legislation.
Trump, who has more than 32 million followers on Twitter for his 8-year-old personal @realDonaldTrump profile, is known for messages on the social media site that are sometimes riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes.
Trump famously sent a tweet at 12:06 a.m. ET (0406 GMT) on May 31 that said: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” The message remained on the internet for hours, spurring a wave of speculation about what Trump intended to say.
The message was later deleted.
Trump’s next communication that day at 6:09 a.m. ET (1009 GMT) made light of the tweet, saying: “Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe"??? Enjoy!”
Spicer, asked at a news briefing at the time whether people should be concerned about the covfefe tweet, said, “no” and added, “I think the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.”