'Covfefe' Act mooted in Congress to keep Trump's personal tweets

WASHINGTON • Born from a deleted, after-midnight tweet from US President Donald Trump, the true definition of "covfefe" remains unsettled, even to the commander-in-chief, who appeared to mistype it into existence on Twitter one night last month.

Mr Trump famously sent a tweet at 12.06am Washington time on May 31 that said: "Despite the constant negative press covfefe."

The message remained on the Internet for hours, spurring a wave of speculation about what Mr Trump intended to say.

Now a US congressman from Illinois wants to bring new meaning to the word. The "Covfefe" Act, introduced by Democrat Representative Mike Quigley on Monday, aims to preserve tweets from the President's personal Twitter account, ensuring that his posts are archived as presidential records. The "Covfefe" Act stands for Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically For Engagement.

"In order to maintain public trust in government, elected officials must answer for what they do and say; this includes 140-character tweets," Mr Quigley said in a statement. "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."

Mr Quigley's Bill would add an explicit mention of "social media" to the Presidential Records Act, a law mandating the preservation of presidential communications.

Mr Quigley also hopes to ensure that messages from Mr Trump's personal Twitter account, @RealDonaldTrump, get archived in the same way as those from the official account @POTUS. Deleting tweets would also violate the Records Act, under the proposed law.

This is not the first time Mr Quigley has deployed topical wordplay to challenge what he sees as President Trump's lack of transparency. Earlier this year, he introduced the Mar-A-Lago Act (Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness). The Act would require the administration to publish the visitor logs tied to the White House and any other location, like Mr Trump's private club of that name in Palm Beach, where the President conducts official business.

However, the Mar-A-Lago Act, like the Covfefe Act, seems likely to face uphill battles to become law in the Republican-controlled Congress.

WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2017, with the headline ''Covfefe' Act mooted in Congress to keep Trump's personal tweets'. Print Edition | Subscribe