Don’t count Sen. Bernie Sanders as a fan of Twitter’s move to permanently suspend former President Donald Trump.
In an interview with Ezra Klein on Klein’s New York Times podcast, Sanders (I-Vt.) railed against Trump, but said he had reservations about Twitter banning Trump.
“You have a former president in Trump, who is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a pathological liar, an authoritarian, somebody who doesn’t believe in the rule of law. This is a bad news guy,” Sanders said when asked if liberals have become " too censorious," according to a transcript of the interview. “But if you’re asking me, do I feel particularly comfortable that the president, the then-president of the United States could not express his views on Twitter? I don’t feel comfortable about it.”
Sanders, a progressive senator who has been a frequent critic of big tech and corporations, said that he isn’t sure what the right answer is on how to protect “First Amendment rights without moving this country into a big lie mentality and conspiracy theories.”
“So how do you balance that? I don’t know, but it is an issue that we have got to be thinking about," Sanders said, according to the transcript. "Because of anybody who thinks yesterday it was Donald Trump who was banned and tomorrow it could be somebody else who has a very different point of view. So I don’t like giving that much power to a handful of high tech people, but the devil is obviously in the details, and it’s something we’re going to have to think long and hard on.”
Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s personal account after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence” after Trump repeatedly peddled false claims that the election was stolen from him. Trump allies have slammed Twitter for the move to ban the former president, with some arguing it was "censorship," but few Democrats have questioned the move. In wake of the insurrection, moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) applauded Twitter for its move and others argued it was overdue.
Sanders has previously called for big tech companies like Facebook and Amazon to be broken up. Sanders himself has a prolific Twitter following, with more than 15 million followers on his personal account.