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by Sharon Rondeau

Screenshot: WTNH, New Haven

(May 27, 2020) — At a Wednesday afternoon joint press conference with Gov. Ned Lamont, U.S. Senator from Connecticut Richard Blumenthal claimed that Trump “threatened to shut down the internet” in response to Twitter’s imposition of a “fact-checking” initiative visibly applied to two of Trump’s recent tweets.

Lamont and Blumenthal spoke to the press from a newly-arrived coronavirus mobile testing center in New Haven which Lamont announced on Twitter early Wednesday afternoon with a link.

The testing unit is a “pop-up,” or non-stationary one, WTNH reported prior to Blumenthal’s visit and acquiring of a test himself.

Regarding testing in Connecticut, Lamont said in response to a question, “Right now we have all the testing capacity we need” and that Connecticut is conducting 42,000 coronavirus tests each week.

That rate temporarily dropped, he said, as a result of the Memorial Day weekend.

For his part, Blumenthal agreed that testing capacity is currently adequate but that “four or five times” the number of people currently being tested in Connecticut and throughout the nation needs to be achieved.  For that, he said capacity is not sufficient and attributed it to a “lack of leadership” in Washington.

Trump has demonstrated disdain for Blumenthal as a result of the latter’s exaggeration of his military service during the Vietnam War.  According to NBC News on September 29, 2018:

The president has made similar remarks on Blumenthal’s admitted falsehoods — we fact checked another claim last year — but the president exaggerated them even further on Monday, saying the senator had once claimed to be a war hero.

Blumenthal did lead voters in Connecticut to believe he was a Vietnam veteran when, in fact, he was never deployed to Vietnam. He obtained at least five deferments and later served in the Marine Reserve in the Washington area, according to a New York Times article in 2010.

There’s no evidence Blumenthal boasted of near-death experiences, or claimed to be a war hero; he did make false claims about returning back from war or serving in Vietnam.

During Blumenthal’s first U.S. Senate campaign in 2010, The New York Times reported that Blumenthal’s “Words on Vietnam Service Differ From History.”

As The Post & Email reported Wednesday morning, Trump responded to Twitter’s new “fact-checking” by tweeting, “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that……..happen again. Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”

While en route to NASA as of the time of this writing (1:16 p.m. EDT), after expressing his dissatisfaction with Twitter Wednesday morning, Trump subsequently tweeted, “Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct. Big action to follow!

It is unclear how Blumenthal construed Trump to be “threatening to shut down the internet.”


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