The Trump campaign’s Twitter account has been locked on Thursday, after sharing a video calling Joe Biden a “liar” and referencing a New York Post report on Hunter Biden, the Democratic nominee’s son. On Wednesday, Twitter blocked users from sharing the Post’s report the younger Biden introduced his dad, while vice president, to a “top executive” at a Ukrainian energy company, before pressuring Ukrainian lawmakers to fire a prosecutor looking into the company a year later.
“This is election interference, plain and simple,” Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign, told TheWrap. “For Twitter to lock the main account of the campaign of the president of the United States is a breathtaking level of political meddling and nothing short of an attempt to rig the election. Joe Biden’s Silicon Valley pals are aggressively blocking negative news stories about their guy and preventing voters from accessing important information. This is like something from communist China or Cuba, not the United States of America.”
The @TeamTrump handle has 2.2 million followers on Twitter.
To unlock the account, a Twitter rep told TheWrap that the Trump campaign “may be required to delete” the tweet for violating its policy on hacked material and sharing private information.
Twitter pointed to the hacked materials policy, which says users cannot “directly distribute content obtained through hacking that contains private information,” on Wednesday when it blocked users from sharing the New York Post report. The platform, when users went to share the story, sent a warning the story was “potentially harmful” and could not be posted. As many pointed out afterwards, this policy, if applied consistently, would appear to make a number of investigative reporting stories unfit to share on Twitter.
Backing up for a moment, the Post shared a trove of emails it said belonged to the younger Biden on Wednesday. Among them was a 2015 “message of appreciation” from Vadym Pozharskyi — an adviser to the board of Burisma, the energy company that paid Hunter Biden a reported $50,000 a month — thanking him for an introduction to then-VP Joe Biden.
The New York Post said, “Less than eight months after Pozharskyi thanked Hunter Biden for the introduction to his dad, the then-vice president admittedly pressured Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk into getting rid of Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin by threatening to withhold a $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee during a December 2015 trip to Kiev.”
The Post said the emails were from a computer that had been dropped off at a Delaware computer repair shop last year. The shop owner made a copy of the hard drive and gave it to the attorney for Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and current lawyer for President Trump. Ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon informed the Post about the hard drive last month, and Giuliani shared a copy of it last Sunday, according to the report.
Joe Biden’s camp pushed back on the report afterwards, saying the meeting did not happen.
“The New York Post never asked the Biden campaign about the critical elements of this story,” Biden rep Andrew Bates told Politico. “They certainly never raised that Rudy Guiliani — whose discredited conspiracy theories and alliance with figures connected to Russian intelligence have been widely reported — claimed to have such materials. Moreover, we have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place.”
The @TeamTrump account wasn’t the only Trump-tied account to get locked. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s account was locked on Wednesday for sharing the Post report; her account was restored on Thursday morning after deleting the tweet, with McEnany telling Fox News that Twitter essentially had her at “gunpoint.”