While opinions often vary regarding how seriously to take what President Donald Trump posts on Twitter, proposed legislation could give a little more weight to each and every tweet.
Today, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Illinois, introduced a bill that would make the president’s often unpredictable social media presence part of the official presidential record. The bill, Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement, is nicknamed the “COVFEFE Act,” turning the president’s famous—and presumably misspelled—tweet into legislation with a few more than 140 characters. Last month, Trump wrote “covfefe” in a tweet before later deleting it and using the word a second time. (Administration officials have refused to call it just a Twitter typo.)
By amending the current Presidential Records Act, the Covfefe Act would require the preservation of the president’s social media posts. The updated act also would require archiving any deleted tweets, potentially making deleting tweets in the future “subject to disciplinary action.”
“In order to maintain public trust in government, elected officials must answer for what they do and say; this includes 140-character tweets,” Quigley said in a prepared statement. “President Trump’s frequent, unfiltered use of his personal Twitter account as a means of official communication is unprecedented. 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. Tweets are powerful, and the president must be held accountable for every post.”
The legislation comes a week after some members of the Trump administration defended Trump’s use of social media to communicate with the nation while also saying that what he tweets shouldn’t be taken so seriously. And while “covfefe” became a national joke, other tweets sent by the president have caused more of an international uproar, such as when he criticized London’s mayor after terror attacks in the city earlier this month or when he accused Qatar’s government of supporting terrorist organizations.
Trump’s tweets have also been used against him in court. A presidential post was cited in legal documents related to his proposed travel ban. While officials have said his executive order barring people from Muslim-majority countries is not an official ban, Trump himself has called it one from his personal Twitter account.
Earlier this year, a spokesperson for the White House assured two Democratic senators that the National Archives and Records Administration said the president’s tweets would be archived. However, that policy is not yet required by any actual law.