In a matter of weeks, President Trump has thrown into question the future of a decades-old bedrock of open government: Independent watchdogs working inside federal agencies to find wrongdoers and root out waste.
But his recent spate of inspector general firings, combined with public threats and not-so-subtle efforts to undercut the authority of many others in those jobs, are only the most serious actions of a president who came to office as a skeptic but is now seeking re-election as a full-throated opponent of such independent oversight.
Trump's accelerating antagonism is more than another sign of how emphatically he's abandoned his "drain the swamp" 2016 campaign mantra. It's also drawn unusual campaign season antagonism from several influential Republicans in Congress, who last week launched legislation that would make it tougher for Trump to dismiss inspectors general and restrict who he could name as a government watchdog.
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Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or cl… https://t.co/2Z5Yb4iJbA— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1590577912.0
The president can issue an executive on anything he wants, but its impact and legality is a question. Trump signed an executive order that could limit social media companies' legal protections after Twitter began fact-checking on his posts.
According to The Washington Post, lawmakers in Congress and a variety of legal experts from across the political spectrum "doubted the legality of Trump's draft proposal and feared its implications for free speech."
Some in the tech industry even began quietly discussing their legal options, including a potential lawsuit challenging Trump's order, the Post reported.
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The Supreme Court finally decided to move cautiously into the 20th century on Monday, announcing that several of its next oral arguments will be broadcast live.
The notoriously opaque court revealed the history-making change in a brief news release explaining plans to break with several precedents during the coronavirus outbreak.
The decision is by far the biggest win for government transparency advocates brought about by Covid-19, which has so far been cited much more often for pushing state and local governments to conduct emergency business in the relative shadows.
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