Fifth ‘Twitter files’ release details Trump’s last hours on platform as employees fumed

Fifth 'Twitter files' release details Trump's last hours on platform as employees fumed

The fifth installment in the bombshell “Twitter Files” revealed Monday that staffers inside the social media giant pushed for former President Donald Trump to be barred following last year’s Capitol riot — despite the company finding no policy violations in the former president’s tweets.

Trump, now 76, was banned from Twitter on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after a mob of his supporters breached the Capitol building and interrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

According to journalist Bari Weiss, Trump tweeted twice on the morning of the 8th — once to praise the almost 75 million Americans who voted for him in the election and proclaim: “They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”

In a second tweet, Trump announced he would not attend Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

In Weiss’ telling, the first tweet caused an uproar among Twitter’s employees, with one writing in an internal communication: “We have to do the right thing here and ban this account.”

“[E]xtraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary leadership,” another wrote, while a third added, “its [sic] pretty obvious he’s going to try to thread the needle of incitement while not violating the rules.”

However, according to Weiss, the people in charge of determining whether the former president’s posts merited a ban saw nothing wrong with either message.

“I think we’d have a hard time saying this is incitement,” wrote one official. “It’s pretty clear he’s saying the ‘American Patriots’ are the ones who voted for him and not the terrorists (we can call them that, right?) from [Jan. 6].”:

“Don’t see the incitement angle here,” a second monitor agreed, while policy official Annika Navroli concurred: “I also am not seeing clear or coded incitement in the DJT tweet.”

“I’ll respond in the elections channel and say that our team has assessed and found no [violations] for the DJT one.”

The internal messages reveal the push to ban Trump was not universal among Twitter’s rank-and-file, with one staffer warning their colleagues on Jan. 7: “Maybe because I am from China, [but] I deeply understand how censorship can destroy the public conversation.”

In response, the worker was told: “I understand this fear, but I also think it’s important to understand that censorship _ by a government_ is very different than censorship _of the government_.”

A second respondent wrote that Trump “clearly attempted to overthrow out Democratic system of government and showed no signs of remorse … if this is not a clear reason to suspend him … i’m [sic] not sure what would be.”

Trump was reinstated last month by new CEO Elon Musk, but he has yet to tweet from the resurrected account, instead continuing to share his thoughts on his Truth Social platform.

Donald Trump.
Then-President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter on Jan. 8, 2021.
The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Weiss, a former editor and writer at the Wall Street Journal and New York Times who now runs a Substack site called The Free Press, is one of three independent journalists given access to Twitter’s internal messages. 

On Saturday, writer Michael Shellenberger outlined how Twitter staffers pushed for policy changes to bar Trump after the riot, which was blamed for the deaths of five people.

Details of Twitter’s actions and policies under the pre-Musk regime have been made public on an occasional basis beginning Dec. 2, when journalist Matt Taibbi detailed how the company suppressed The Post’s bombshell report on Hunter Biden’s foreign business interests, as show through documents kept on the first son’s abandoned laptop.

The second installment, released by Weiss on Dec. 8, detailed how the social media giant was secretly “blacklisting” conservative users and accounts. But the platform bent over backwards to justify keeping up posts from users who were pro-Biden, Taibbi revealed the following day.

The third installment of the files also indicated that Twitter was in contact with the FBI and other federal agencies about so-called “misinformation” propagated on the site.

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