White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday that the Trump administration had no hand in deleting a national park’s tweets about climate change and denied any broader social media censorship is coming from the White House.
“There’s nothing that’s come from the White House, absolutely not,” Spicer said during a press briefing when asked whether it had anything to do with Badlands National Park deleting a series of tweets it posted Tuesday about climate change, and whether there is a more comprehensive mandate controlling federal agencies’ speech.
But earlier this week, The Huffington Post received a message that was reportedly sent to EPA staff Monday announcing freezes on external press releases and social media posts and other tight controls on communicating with the press. The memo states that the instructions were handed down during a briefing for communication directors and that they “will remain in place until further direction is received from the new Administration’s Beach Team” ― the name for the new administration’s staffers working at each agency while new leadership is put in place.
However, Spicer implied that the EPA enacted those rules independently from the White House because of past misuses of social media.
“The EPA actually violated the Antideficiency Act and the anti-lobbying bans, I think it was a year ago, during the Obama administration and inappropriately marketing some policies of President Obama,” he said, referring to the EPA’s use of social media to push support for the Clean Water Rule.
Spicer indicated that in addition to playing no role in the removal of the Badlands tweets, the White House was not involved in the main National Parks Service twitter account going temporarily silent and apologizing after it retweeted posts seemingly critical of President Donald Trump last week.
Spicer suggested that call was made internally by NPS.
“I know in the Park Service for example, somebody over the weekend, somebody who ― an unauthorized user had an old password in the San Francisco office, went in and started retweeting inappropriate things that were in violation of their policy, and they’ve directed ―” he said before cutting himself off.
“And I think ― there’s a couple of these agencies that have had problems adhering to their own policies, and I would refer you back to them as to why ― why those things are happening, but I know that they are taking steps in both of those two cases to address inappropriate use of social media,” he said.
S.V. Dáte contributed to this story.