Trump is trying to rig the FCC to pass his executive order cracking down on Facebook and Twitter

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Trump is trying to rig the FCC to pass his executive order cracking down on Facebook and Twitter
President Donald Trump.Carlos Barria/Reuters
  • President Trump on Wednesday nominated National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) advisor Nathan Simington to join the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
  • Simington would be replacing FCC commissioner Mike O'Rielly, who has expressed doubt over Trump's executive order targeting social media companies.
  • Trump needs three out of five FCC members to sign off on a petition put forward by the NTIA to enact the executive order.
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Donald Trump is trying to replace an FCC member who displeased him by questioning his executive order on social media.

The president on Wednesday nominated White House official Nathan Simington to join the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Simington is currently an adviser to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The Verge reported last week that Simington was in the running to take over from Republican FCC commissioner Mike O'Rielly.

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Trump abruptly withdrew his re-nomination for O'Rielly in August after O'Rielly appeared to oppose an executive order signed by Trump in May targeting social media companies.

The order would give powers to federal regulators to amend Section 230, a section of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that protects internet companies from being liable for the content users post and gives them the authority to moderate their own platforms.

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Trump signed the order two days after Twitter placed fact-checks on two of his tweets.

One week before Trump withdrew his nomination, O'Rielly signaled he thought the order might break the First Amendment, saying: "The First Amendment protects us from limits on speech imposed by the government — not private actors — and we should all reject demands, in the name of the First Amendment, for private actors to curate or publish speech in a certain way."

Simington is much more likely to support the order, and reportedly even helped to draft it.

The executive order instructed the NTIA to submit a petition to the FCC, which it did on July 27. Per Ars Technica, Trump needs to get three out of five FCC members to back the petition.

As it stands he has only has one commissioner, Republican Brendan Carr, definitely onside. Two of the FCC members are Democrats who oppose the order. Another is O'Rielly, and the fourth is FCC chairman Ajit Pai who has yet to publicly pick a side.

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