CORONAVIRUS:

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National Govt & Politics
Trump declares churches 'essential,' calls on them to reopen
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Trump declares churches 'essential,' calls on them to reopen

Trump declares churches 'essential,' calls on them to reopen
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Alex Brandon
President Donald Trump speaks with reporters about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, May 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Trump declares churches 'essential,' calls on them to reopen

President Donald Trump on Friday labeled churches and other houses of worship as “essential" and called on governors nationwide to let them reopen this weekend even though some areas remain under coronavirus lockdown.

The president threatened to “override” governors who defy him, but it was unclear what authority he has to do so.

“Governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now — for this weekend," Trump said at a hastily arranged press conference at the White House. Asked what authority Trump might have to supersede governors, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she wouldn't answer a theoretical question.

Trump has been pushing for the country to reopen as he tries to reverse an economic free fall playing out months before he faces reelection. White evangelical Christians have been among the president's most loyal supporters, and the White House has been careful to attend to their concerns throughout the crisis.

Following Trump's announcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines for communities of faith on how to safely reopen, including recommendations to limit the size of gatherings and consider holding services outdoors or in large, well-ventilated areas.

Public health agencies have generally advised people to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and encouraged Americans to remain 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from others when possible. Some parts of the country remain under some version of remain-at-home orders.

In-person religious services have been vectors for transmission of the virus. A person who attended a Mother’s Day service at a church in Northern California that defied the governor’s closure orders later tested positive, exposing more than 180 churchgoers. And a choir practice at a church in Washington state was labeled by the CDC as an early “superspreading" event.

But Trump on Friday stressed the importance of churches in many communities and said he was “identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services.”

“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential” but not churches, he said. “It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential."

“These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united,” he added.

Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, said faith leaders should be in touch with local health departments and can take steps to mitigate risks, including making sure those who are at high risk of severe complications remain protected.

“There’s a way for us to work together to have social distancing and safety for people so we decrease the amount of exposure that anyone would have to an asymptomatic," she said.

A person familiar with the White House’s thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations said Trump had called the news conference, which had not been on his public schedule, because he wanted to be the face of church reopenings, knowing how well it would play with his political base.

Churches around the country have filed legal challenges opposing virus closures. In Minnesota, after Democratic Gov. Tim Walz this week declined to lift restrictions on churches, Roman Catholic and some Lutheran leaders said they would defy his ban and resume worship services. They called the restrictions unconstitutional and unfair since restaurants, malls and bars were allowed limited reopening.

Some hailed the president's move, including Kelly Shackelford, president of the conservative First Liberty Institute.

“The discrimination that has been occurring against churches and houses of worship has been shocking," he said in a statement. "Americans are going to malls and restaurants. They need to be able to go to their houses of worship.”

But Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, said it was “completely irresponsible” for Trump to call for a mass reopening of houses of worship.

“Faith is essential and community is necessary; however, neither requires endangering the people who seek to participate in them,” he said. “The virus does not discriminate between types of gatherings, and neither should the president."

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, made clear that churches and other houses of worship will not resume in-person services in her state until at least next weekend and said she was skeptical Trump had the authority to impose such a requirement.

“It’s reckless to force them to reopen this weekend. They’re not ready,” she said. “We’ve got a good plan. I’m going to stick with it.”

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, said he would review the federal guidance, while maintaining a decision rests with him.

"Obviously we’d love to get to the point where we can get those open, but we’ll look at the guidance documents and try to make some decisions rather quickly, depending on what it might say,” he said. “It’s the governor’s decision, of course.”

The CDC more than a month ago sent the Trump administration documents the agency had drafted outlining specific steps various kinds of organizations, including houses of worship, could follow as they worked to reopen safely. But the White House dragged its feet, concerned that the recommendations were too specific and could give the impression the administration was interfering in church operations.

The guidance posted Friday contains most of the same advice as the draft guidance. It calls for the use of face coverings and recommends keeping worshippers 6 feet from one another and cutting down on singing, which can spread aerosolized drops that carry the virus.

But there are some differences.

The draft guidance discussed reopening in steps. A first phase would have limited gatherings to video streaming and drive-in services. Later phases allow in-person gatherings of limited size and only when social distancing precautions could be followed. The new guidance has no discussion of such phases.

Another difference: The draft guidance said everyone who attends a service should wear a face covering, while the new guidance says masks should be used when social distancing cannot be maintained.

___

Associated Press writers Mike Stobbe and Jonathan Lemire in New York, Philip Marcelo in Boston and Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Nearly 6 million people worldwide -- including more than 1.7 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Saturday, May 30, continue below: US coronavirus cases surpass 1.7M, deaths near 103K Published 12:51 a.m. EDT May 30: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States continued to climb past 1.7 million early Saturday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,747,085 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 102,836 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 368,284 cases and 29,646 deaths and New Jersey with 158,844 cases and 11,409 deaths. Massachusetts, with 95,512 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,718, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 117,455. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Six other states have now confirmed at least 50,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 106,910 cases, resulting in 4,088 deaths • Pennsylvania: 74,984 cases, resulting in 5,464 deaths • Texas: 61,630 cases, resulting in 1,635 deaths • Michigan: 56,621 cases, resulting in 5,406 deaths • Florida: 54,497 cases, resulting in 2,413 deaths • Maryland: 50,988 cases, resulting in 2,466 deaths Meanwhile, Georgia, Virginia and Connecticut each has confirmed at least 41,000 cases; Louisiana, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 33,000 cases; North Carolina, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 21,000 cases; Iowa and Arizona each has confirmed at least 18,000 cases; Wisconsin and Alabama each has confirmed at least 17,000 cases; Mississippi and Rhode Island each has confirmed at least 14,000 cases; Nebraska and Missouri each has confirmed at least 13,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 11,131; Kansas, Kentucky, Utah and Delaware each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 7,493; Arkansas and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.
  • More than 5.8 million people worldwide -- including more than 1.7 million in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. While efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak continue, states have begun to shift their focus toward reopening their economies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the U.S. here. Live updates for Friday, May 29, continue below: Virus protection adds new wrinkle to Southwest heat relief Update 11:15 p.m. EDT May 29: Trying to stay safe during a global pandemic is hard enough, but people in Southwest desert cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas where temperatures can soar into the triple digits are also trying to protect themselves from the brutal heat. A 48,000-square-foot hall of the Phoenix Convention Center was being transformed Friday into a daytime heat relief center for homeless people, with city officials offering free transportation to get them there. But with most other government-run spaces like libraries and community centers still closed this week to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Salvation Army and other nonprofit groups were shouldering a big load of the responsibility for ensuring people stay cool and hydrated amid extreme heat warnings for some parts of the southwestern U.S. At a dozen of their sites in metro Phoenix, Salvation Army staff and volunteers Thursday asked people to wear masks, clean their hands with the alcohol-based sanitizer gel provided and stay at least 6 feet away from others as a precaution amid the virus outbreak. UN announces first 2 deaths of UN peacekeepers from COVID-19 Update 10:15 p.m. EDT May 29: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday announced the deaths of the first two U.N. peacekeepers from COVID-19. He made the announcement at a ceremony marking the International Day of U.N. Peacekeepers, saying both peacekeepers, who died Thursday and Friday, were serving in Mali. The U.N. said one was from Cambodia and the other from El Salvador. Guterres said the coronavirus pandemic has changed almost everything, but not “the service, sacrifice and selflessness” of the more than 95,000 men and women serving in the 13 U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world. According to the U.N. peacekeeping department, there have been 137 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in U.N. peacekeeping operations, with the greatest number by far — 90 cases — in Mali. There were 21 cases in the U.N. mission in Congo, 17 in Central African Republic, three each in South Sudan and Cyprus, and one each in Lebanon, the U.N.-African Union mission in Sudan’s Darfur region, and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in the Middle East. Person tested positive at Lake of the Ozarks Update 9:15 p.m. EDT May 29: Health officials said Friday that they were seeking to “inform mass numbers of unknown people” after a person who attended crowded pool parties over Memorial Day weekend at Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks tested positive for COVID-19. Camden County Health Department said in a release that the resident of Boone County in mid-Missouri tested positive on Sunday after arriving at the lake area a day earlier. Officials said there have been no reported cases of the virus linked to coronavirus in residents of Camden County, where the parties seen in videos and photos posted on social media took place. Because “mass numbers of unknown people” need to be notified, the officials released a brief timeline of the person’s whereabouts last weekend, including stops at a bar called Backwater Jacks, a bar and restaurant that has a pool, as well as a dining and pool venue called Shady Gators and Lazy Gators. Backwater Jacks owner Gary Prewitt said previously in a statement that no laws were broken, though the images appeared to show people violating Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s state order requiring social distancing. Parson allowed businesses and attractions to reopen May 4, but the state order requires 6-foot social distancing through at least the end of May. US judge won’t lift 50-person cap on Nevada church services Update 8:10 p.m. EDT May 5: A federal judge rejected a rural Nevada church’s request Friday for an emergency injunction that would allow it to exceed Gov. Steve Sisolak’s 50-person cap on religious gatherings. Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley filed a lawsuit against the governor last week that argued the previous ban on religious gatherings of more than 10 people was unconstitutional. Sisolak raised the limit to 50 people under strict social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus when he announced this week the reopening of several business categories previously considered non-essential. That cleared the way for casinos to open June 4 for the first time since mid-March. Washington DC starts reopening in fits and starts Update 6:50 p.m. EDT May 5: As the nation’s capital took the first tiny steps toward reopening Friday, the continued threat of coronavirus was ever present. Showing IDs was not enough at the Dacha Beer Garden in Washington’s Shaw neighborhood. Would-be customers had to answer a series of questions about any possible exposure to the COVID-19 and whether they themselves had shown any symptoms. “Please keep your mask on when you’re not dining and drinking,” hostess Amy Symonds told the patrons, laying out a series of rules and taking down everyone’s’ phone numbers before they were seated at socially-distanced tables. “It’s good to have some level of normalcy again,” said Jeff Gullo, who was one of the first in line to get in. Fifteen minutes after opening, nearly two dozen people were seated at the popular all outdoor facility. But the gradual reopening of the District of Columbia as a three-month stay-at-home order was lifted came in fits and starts, with not everyone ready for even a limited return to pre-pandemic normality. Barbers and hair salons welcomed back clients grown haggard from months of self-maintenance. Nonessential businesses, shuttered since late March, started offering curbside pickup. And restaurants that have been operating solely on takeout began limited outdoor seating. UK officials report 2,095 new cases of COVID-19 Update 6:20 p.m. EDT May 5: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 2,095 new coronavirus infections early Friday evening, raising the country’s number of COVID-19 cases to 271,222. The previous day, 1,887 new coronavirus cases were reported. Authorities with the British Department of Health and Social Care also announced that a total of 38,161 have died in the U.K. due to the novel coronavirus. According to Johns Hopkins University, which releases its own numbers on a rolling basis, here are the countries with the highest numbers of reported coronavirus cases: 1) United States: 1,743,235 cases 2) Brazil: 438,238 cases 3) Russia: 387,623 cases 4) United Kingdom: 272,607 cases 5) Spain: 238,564 cases 6) Italy: 232,248 cases New Jersey announces reopening of child care centers, youth day camps Update 4:35 p.m. EDT May 29: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced plans to reopen more businesses and programs across the state. Murphy said child care centers can reopen June 15, and non-contact organized sports activities can resume June 22. Youth day camps can start July 6. “We want our children to be able to enjoy their summer with friends, participating in the activities that create lifelong memories,' he said. 'We know day camp is one of those memory building places.” Horse racing in the state can resume without fans beginning next weekend. Murphy said the data continues to move in the right direction, with new hospitalizations down by 70% since the state’s peak. To date, 11,531 people have died in New Jersey due to COVID-19. New Jersey health officials confirmed 158,844 coronavirus cases Friday. President Trump announces U.S. will pull out of World Health Organization Update 3:05 p.m. EDT May 29: President Donald Trump announced during a news conference Friday that the United States will terminate its relationship with the World Health Organization. The president said the move was made because he does not agree with the way the organization has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly but they have refused to act. Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,' he said. Trump called out China’s role in the spread of the virus. “The world needs answers from China on the virus. We must have transparency,' he said. New York City to begin opening June 8  Update 2:50 p.m. EDT May 29: New York City is on track to begin reopening on June 8 as the state gradually loosens restrictions put in place during the coronavirus crisis. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made that announcement Friday, saying the nation’s worst pandemic hot spot is meeting goals set for hospital rates and testing. The governor said the city will “stockpile” personal protective equipment like masks, and will focus on infection rates in hot spots by ZIP code. Cuomo made the remarks as a large swath of upstate New York got the go-ahead Friday to reopen hair salons, retail shops and offices under strict guidelines. New York City remains the only region of the state that has not yet commenced economic rebirth. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said earlier Friday that masks or face coverings are necessary for all employees and customers for reopenings to be safe and effective. Connecticut colleges and universities to hold in-person classes this fall Update 2:00 p.m. EDT May 29: Mark Ojakian, the president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, said the university system plans to reopen campuses this fall. CSCU consists of 17 campuses, including UConn and Yale, and will open Aug. 24, the Hartford Courant reported. The first day of classes will be Aug. 26. Ojakian said there will be safety policies and procedures put in place to keep faculty and students safe. “We still have a lot of planning to do and more questions need to be addressed in the coming weeks and months,' he said. Each school will have to prepare and present plans to reopen that meet state health and safety standards. Many classes will have online portions. According to the Hartford Courant, students will be able to attend in-person classes on campuses until Thanksgiving break. Students will be asked to leave campus for the holiday break and will remain off-campus, completing the rest of their courses and final exams virtually. Coronavirus cases continue to drop in New York; city prepares for phase one of reopening Update 12:20 p.m. EDT May 29: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is nearing milestones that would allow the city to begin reopening in the next few weeks. “We are confident that we will be able to go to phase one in the first two weeks of June,' he said during a news conference. “This is going to be based, of course, on the tangible indicators and thresholds from the state and the city. So that’s what will lead the decision. We have to have that factual evidence.' De Blasio said officials have not confirmed which day phase one will begin. He said officials are conducting conversations that will help them determine “the exact right date to start.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the number of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus are down. De Blasio said Thursday that 5% of New York City residents tested positive for COVID-19. “Every day we’ve seen progress in recent weeks, today the lowest we’ve ever seen,” he said. “Congratulations everyone, this is putting us well on the way to our goal of opening in the first half of June. Well done NYC.' Sen. Bob Casey tests positive for COVID-10 antibodies Update 11:55 a.m. EDT May 29: Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey revealed Friday morning that he received a positive test result from a COVID-19 antibody test, which means that he “likely had COVID-19 at some point over the last several months and [has] since developed an antibody response to the virus,” he wrote in a statement. Casey said he experienced a low-grade fever and mild flu-like symptoms for days and he contacted his physician, but he was never tested for the coronavirus. He said he self-isolated and continued to work remotely, as his symptoms were “mild and manageable.” “I will continue to follow the guidance of public health experts by wearing a mask in public and observing social distancing practices, and I hope that others will do the same to help slow the spread of this virus,' Casey wrote in the statement. Doctors sue for mail access to abortion pill during coronavirus pandemic Update 5:55 a.m. EDT May 29: A group of doctors, in concert with the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, challenging a rule that requires patients to visit medical facilities in order to obtain abortion pills. In the suit, the physicians argue patients should be allowed to have prescriptions for the drug mifepristone filled by mail, avoiding direct contact with potentially contaminated health care settings during the novel coronavirus pandemic. “Of the more than 20,000 drugs regulated by the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration,) mifepristone is the only one that patients must receive in person at a hospital, clinic or medical office, yet may self-administer, unsupervised, at a location of their choosing,” the lawsuit states. Tyson Foods shuts down 7th meatpacking facility amid latest coronavirus outbreak Update 2:53 a.m. EDT May 29: Tyson Foods shut down its Storm Lake, Iowa, pork processing plant temporarily, following the latest novel coronavirus outbreak to infect the company’s operations. Citing a “delay in COVID-19 testing results” as a partial reason for the facility’s idling, the company issued a statement attributing the shutdown to “team member absences related to quarantine and other factors” as well. According to the Des Moines Register, 555 of the Storm Lake plant’s 2,517 employees have tested positive for the virus. The two-day stoppage is intended to allow for deep cleaning and sanitization with plans to reopen for business next week, the company statement said. Since the onset of the global pandemic, Tyson has shuttered six other facilities temporarily, including facilities in Waterloo, Columbus Junction and Perry, Iowa, as well as Dakota City, Nebraska; Logansport, Indiana; and Pasco, Washington, the Register reported. Iowa has confirmed a total of 18,586 novel coronavirus cases, resulting in 506 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. US deaths near 102K, total cases soar past 1.7M Published 12:49 a.m. EDT May 29: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States soared past 1.7 million early Friday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,721,750 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 101,617 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 366,733 cases and 29,529 deaths and New Jersey with 157,185 cases and 11,409 deaths. Massachusetts, with 94,895 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,640, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 115,833. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Five other states have now confirmed at least 53,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 103,813 cases, resulting in 3,993 deaths • Pennsylvania: 74,220 cases, resulting in 5,373 deaths • Texas: 60,395 cases, resulting in 1,611 deaths • Michigan: 56,014 cases, resulting in 5,732 deaths • Florida: 53,285 cases, resulting in 2,364 deaths Meanwhile, Maryland, Georgia, Connecticut and Virginia each has confirmed at least 41,000 cases; Louisiana, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 33,000 cases; North Carolina, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases, followed by Iowa with 18,586 and Arizona with 17,877; Wisconsin and Alabama each has confirmed at least 16,000 cases; Rhode Island and Mississippi each has confirmed at least 14,000 cases; Nebraska, Missouri and South Carolina each has confirmed at least 10,000 cases; Kansas, Kentucky and Delaware each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; Utah, the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 7,364; Arkansas and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown.
  • Universal Orlando has announced that on June 2nd, six of their hotels will be re-opened for their guests. As an additional bonus, those who stay at any of the re-opened hotels will have early access to the theme parks, starting on June 3rd and 4th, ahead of their public reopening on the 5th.  Here are the hotels that will be re-opened on June 2nd:  - Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando  - Loews Sapphire Falls and Royal Pacific Resort  - Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort  - Universal's Aventura Hotel  - Universal's Endless Summer Resort- Surfside Inn and Suites  The reopening of the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Universal's Endless Summer Resort at the Dockside Inn and Suites has yet to be announced.
  • What started out as protests in Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd has now spread to several states, including right here in Florida. It started Friday morning after rumors circulated on social media that former officer Derek Chauvin, one of the four involved in the incident, moved to a home in the unincorporated area of Windermere. In response, the Orange County Sheriff's Office released a tweet, saying that they have verified that Chauvin has a home there, but is not there and has no plans to be in that area.  Despite this, protesters have gathered outside the home, holding signs and writing messages on the driveway of the home and the street near the home with chalk. Orange County Sheriff John Mina says that he is proud of the community since the protests have been peaceful and that while they will monitor the situation, there are currently no plans to add security to the home.  Just after 1 p.m., leaders in Minnesota have announced that Chauvin had been taken into custody and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.
  • Officers with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday seized a shipment of unauthorized pills to treat COVID-19 at the Port of Seattle. According to a news release, officers seized 360 pills. “The use of unauthorized medications can give consumers a false sense of security and prove fatal in some instances,” officials said. “Unauthorized products that claim to cure, treat or prevent serious illnesses such as COVID-19 may cause individuals to delay or stop appropriate medical treatment, leading to serious harm.” CBP is working with the Food and Drug Administration to protect U.S. consumers from fake or harmful medications. “We show vigilance in carrying out our mission to protect the American public, whether it be terrorist weapons or dangerous medications,” Seattle Area Port Director Clay Thomas said. “The men and women of CBP value our enforcement partnerships and are proud to work with the dedicated FDA team to further protect the public.”

Washington Insider

  • The feud between Twitter and President Donald Trump escalated on Friday after the President used the social media platform to threaten the use of force against rioters in Minneapolis, as Twitter slapped a warning label on the President's tweet, saying Mr. Trump had violated rules on 'glorifying violence.' 'These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd,' the President wrote, referring to the black man who was suffocated to death when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his head and neck for an extended period of time earlier this week. The President then spoke of sending in National Guard troops to restore order, warning that 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts.' That was evidently too much for Twitter, which placed a warning on the President's tweet. In the President's mind, the warning label from Twitter was the latest indignity against him by the social media giant, as Mr. Trump tore into Twitter early on Friday morning. 'Twitter is doing nothing about all of the lies & propaganda being put out by China or the Radical Left Democrat Party,' the President tweeted soon after 7 am. 'They have targeted Republicans, Conservatives & the President of the United States.' Earlier this week, Twitter added a link to a couple of the President's tweets about mail-in voting, giving a link for more information about the issue. The President was incensed, leading to his executive order on Thursday, and a direct threat to close down the company, which experts said he had no power to do. On Capitol Hill, the two parties saw the developing events on Twitter much differently. 'Twitter is censoring the President of the United States,' said Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). Democrats in Congress said the President was overreacting, and acting like an authoritarian. “Trump’s behavior is growing increasingly unhinged, authoritarian, and outright violent and is designed to inflame and divide America further,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ). “This is vile behavior,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).  “The President should not be encouraging violence.” “(T)he President’s executive order is a shameless attempt to use the power of his office to silence his critics and intimidate his perceived enemies,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA).