Trump accuses Twitter of interfering in election after fact-checking his tweets for first time

Twitter: 'However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud'

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Wednesday 27 May 2020 00:05 BST
Trump asks reporter to take mask off then mocks him when he says no: 'You want to be politically correct'

Donald Trump has accused Twitter of interfering in the 2020 US presidential election after the social media platform for the first time fact-checked one of his tweets and concluded it contained false information.

The move came as the president continued to suggest in tweets that former GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough was responsible for the murder of a staff member in 2001 as her widower pleaded for Twitter to delete those posts.

The social media giant chose a Tuesday morning tweet by the president in which he claimed mail-in ballots are automatically "substantially fraudulent."

"Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed," Mr Trump wrote.

Though it took 10 hours, Twitter added a link to that tweet with these words: "Get the facts about mail-in ballots."

That link takes users to a separate page populated by news articles and tweets from journalists and experts refuting parts of the president's claims.

Ironically, the first item is a CNN article that calls the tweet an "unsubstantiated claim." Mr Trump has for years called the network "fake news" and accused it of being biased against him.

Below that is a section titled, "What you need to know."

It features bullet points pushing back on the president's claims about mail-in voting:

- "Trump falsely claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to 'a Rigged Election.' However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.

- "Trump falsely claimed that California will send mail-in ballots to "anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there." In fact, only registered voters will receive ballots.

- "Though Trump targeted California, mail-in ballots are already used in some states, including Oregon, Utah and Nebraska."

The president hit back around two hours later, taking to Twitter to accuse the social media giant of interfering in the 2020 election and threatening that he “will not allow it to happen”.

“They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post,” Mr Trump added.

Twitter's decision to push back on the president came after the widower of one of his former House aides asked the company to delete Mr Trump's tweets about his late wife, whom local police ruled died after hitting her head on a desk when she passed out due to a heart condition that had not been diagnosed.

The president for weeks has taken to Twitter to suggest the former Florida House member was responsible for the death of Lori Klausutis, who worked in his Florida office while he was a congressman. The conspiracy theory was first pushed by left-wing opponents of Mr Scarborough, but has been picked up by Mr Trump and many on the right because the MSNBC morning show host is a leading critic of the president.

"My request is simple: Please delete these tweets," Timothy J. Klausutis wrote to Twitter chief Jack Dorsey.

"I'm asking you to intervene in this instance because the president of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him - the memory of my dead wife - and perverted it for perceived political gain," Mr Klausutis told Mr Dorsey in the letter, first reported by the New York Times. "My wife deserves better."

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