Government & Communications

Attempts by governmental bodies to improve or impede communications with or between the citizenry.

Associated Press Fact Check: Trump Can't Be Trusted

President Donald Trump can’t be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad. The latest deadly London attacks, like one in the Philippines recently, prompted visceral reactions from President Trump instead of statements shaped by the findings of the US intelligence and diplomatic apparatus. He got ahead of the facts emerging in Britain’s chaos June 3 and got it wrong in the Philippines case, calling the episode there a “terrorist attack” when it was not.

Conway hits media's 'obsession' with covering President Trump's tweets, not actions

White House aide Kellyanne Conway June 5 slammed the media for its "obsession" with President Donald Trump's tweets instead of his actions. "This obsession with covering everything he says on Twitter and very little of what of he does as president," Conway said. The host shot back, saying Twitter is Trump's preferred method of communication with the American people. "That's not true," Conway responded. President Trump often uses the medium to discuss his goals and go after his political enemies.

Rep Nunes-led House Intelligence Committee asked for ‘unmaskings’ of Americans

The Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee asked US spy agencies late in 2016 to reveal the names of US individuals or organizations contained in classified intelligence on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, engaging in the same practice that President Donald Trump has accused the Obama Administration of abusing, current and former officials said. The chairman of the committee, Rep Devin Nunes (R-CA), has since cast the practice of “unmasking” of US individuals and organizations mentioned in classified reports as an abuse of surveillance powers by the outgoing Obama Administration.

President Trump has argued that investigators should focus their attention on former officials leaking names from intelligence reports, rather than whether the Kremlin coordinated its activities with the Trump campaign, an allegation he has denied. “The big story is the ‘unmasking and surveillance’ of people that took place during the Obama administration,” Trump tweeted June 1.

British Prime Minister Theresa May calls for internet regulation after violent attack

British Prime Minister Theresa May is calling for tighter internet regulation in the wake of a deadly terror attack in and around London Bridge. The British PM said in a statement that technology serves as a breeding ground for terrorism and extremism. “We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed,” May said. “Yet that is precisely what the internet and big companies that provide internet-based services provide. We need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.”

May called on democratic governments to “reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning.” A UK parliamentary report from May alleges that social media companies have prioritized profit margins at the expense of the public’s safety by giving home to illegal content.

White House orders agencies to ignore Democrats’ oversight requests

The White House is telling federal agencies to blow off Democratic lawmakers' oversight requests, as Republicans fear the information could be weaponized against President Donald Trump. At meetings with top officials for various government departments this spring, Uttam Dhillon, a White House lawyer, told agencies not to cooperate with such requests from Democrats, according to Republican sources inside and outside the administration. It appears to be a formalization of a practice that had already taken hold, as Democrats have complained that their oversight letters requesting information from agencies have gone unanswered since January, and the Trump administration has not yet explained the rationale.

The declaration amounts to a new level of partisanship in Washington, where the president and his administration already feels besieged by media reports and attacks from Democrats. The idea, Republicans said, is to choke off the Democratic congressional minorities from gaining new information that could be used to attack the president.

In Trump’s America, Black Lives Matter activists grow wary of their smartphones

As a long-time political activist, Malkia Cyril knows how smartphones helped fuel Black Lives Matter protests with outraged tweets and viral video. But now Cyril is having second thoughts about her iPhone. Is it a friend or a foe?

For all of the power of smartphones as organizing tools, the many streams of data they emit also are a boon to police wielding high-tech surveillance gear, allowing them to potentially track movements and communications that activists such as Cyril would rather keep private. Such worries are driving a nationwide push by Cyril and other activists to train members of their movement in the tactics of digital defense — something they say is crucial with an aggressive new president who has displayed little sympathy for their causes.

Cross-Departmental Collaboration Increasingly Vital to Digital Inclusion

As life increasingly migrates into the digital realm, more agencies within municipal government are finding that digital inclusion — the effort to provide all residents with equal access to technology, as well as the related skills to benefit — is vital to the well-being of the public. Cities such as Seattle (WA), Portland (OR), Austin (TX), Kansas City (MO), and Louisville (KY) have laid out official digital inclusion strategies and forward-thinking plans, and many other cities now have appointees or departments dedicated to the issue. At the same time, the number of tangentially related government agencies contributing to the work is rising, and as it does local government leadership is acknowledging that digital inclusion is an increasingly vital foundation for healthy, equitable cities, cities in which the entire populous has a chance to advance and thrive.

Facing political crisis, President Trump leans on familiar ally: Fox News

President Donald Trump has swatted away swirling questions over his associates' contact with Russian officials by questioning the legitimacy -- if not the existence -- of unnamed sources cited in stories about the ongoing investigation into the Kremlin's interference with the election. But on May 30, the president promoted a Fox News report that was centered around claims from a single anonymous source. A day later, President Trump leaned on his favorite cable news program, "Fox & Friends," to support his insistence that the investigation is nothing more than a "witch hunt." The sequence provided a vivid reminder that at perhaps the most dire moment of his young presidency, with reporters and lawmakers alike raising questions that could have political and legal ramifications for the White House, President Trump has found refuge in the typically friendly coverage of Fox News.

Sean Spicer Holds Uncharacteristically Short Press Briefings

For two days in a row, since returning from President Trump's trip abroad, the White House press secretary has held uncharacteristically short press briefings in which he claimed not to know the answer to questions, outsourced questions to other officials or dismissed the premise of questions entirely. Both briefings included less than 20 minutes for questions -- far less than most prior briefings -- and ended with Spicer abruptly exiting the room to the consternation of reporters. At May 31's briefing, which was off-camera, one reporter could be heard shouting after the departing press secretary, "How short are these gonna be!?"

White House IT Director Gets Lobbying Waiver

Christopher Liddell, the White House director of strategic initiatives, was granted a 90-day waiver to conduct White House business while his trust divested assets that were deemed to be in conflict with his new position. Liddell, previously a CFO for Microsoft, has been a go-to on tech policy matters and helps run the newly formed Office of American Innovation. Also granted an ethics waiver is Charles Herndon, the White House information technology director. Prior to joining the administration, Herndon worked for IT contractor CSRA. The waiver will allow Herndon to provide technology services to the White House, though he is barred from participating in work related to a Defense Information Systems Agency contract in which he "participated personally and substantially while an employee of CSRA."