President Donald Trump’s administration has taken a much more aggressive approach to its war against the so-called alt-right than he initially claimed.
The White House and the State Department have blocked news outlets, Twitter and other platforms from reporting on the alt-left and alt-loyalist organizations, the latest salvo in an increasingly aggressive campaign to undermine the administration.
“We are in this war not with Russia, but with white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists,” Trump said in an interview with The New York Times published Sunday.
“And if they are successful, we will tear down their statues and we will treat them like criminals.”
The president did not specify what type of alt-righters he was referring to.
But the tweets are just the latest evidence that the administration is moving to block news outlets that have criticized Trump, and to delegitimize his administration.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday that the president was committed to ensuring “the safety and security of journalists and the American people.”
She said the administration had blocked several news outlets from covering the investigation into the deadly car attack on the crowd at a peaceful rally in Charlottesville, Va.
The State Department has also blocked news organizations from reporting from the country’s cities and states, a move that was first reported by The Associated Press and has been widely condemned by journalists.
The Trump administration has been working to “militarize” Twitter and has shut down a number of accounts that have been critical of the president, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Trump, however, is using the platform to express his frustrations with a number the news media, which he has called “the enemy of the American People.”
“This is the enemy of our People,” he tweeted Sunday night.
“They want us to believe the truth is the truth, but they don’t believe the facts.
They want to use the truth against us.
They are the enemy.”
Trump is also using Twitter to vent his frustration with media coverage of his administration, a tactic that has also been criticized by news outlets.
In his Times interview, Trump said the “alt-left” is “not very popular.”
“The media, they hate our country, they love to hate our people, they are very vicious people,” he said.
“But the people, the people that are really upset are the dishonest media, the dishonest politicians, the liars.”
The Trump White House has also taken a more aggressive stance against journalists than the Obama administration, with some White House officials calling for their arrests for reporting on Trump and other officials.
The administration has reportedly used threats to silence journalists, such as a threat to shut down Breitbart News’ website.
In one such instance, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Clinton said on Sunday night that the Obama White House “had a real problem” with Breitbart News.
The news outlets have been blocked from reporting about Trump’s remarks in a White House briefing with reporters on Monday.
The AP reported that several news organizations have been told by the administration to avoid the White House, and that some outlets have refused to report on Trump’s comments.
Trump’s tweets and comments about the alt right and other far-right groups have also come under fire from members of his own party, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump has been under intense pressure from his own members to fire or to limit access to a number officials, including State Department chief of staff Philip Goldberg, as well as National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
Trump also has been forced to defend some of his most controversial executive actions and other policy proposals, including his executive order banning transgender people from the military.