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Trump bans government scientists from sharing their work with the taxpayers who funded it

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Donald Trump wants to be known as the president who tweets, but his administration is placing certain restrictions on government researchers sharing their findings with the Americans who pay for their work.

The president signed executive orders Tuesday that cut off all new contracts and grants for the Environmental Protection Agency — and he also banned the agency’s employees from providing updates on social media or to journalists, the Associated Press reported.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent an email Monday morning, which was obtained by BuzzFeed News, prohibiting its employees from communicating with the public about their taxpayer-funded work.

Those “public-facing documents” include news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds and social media content, said Sharon Drumm, chief of staff of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The USDA rescinded that order Wednesday, saying it had not been officially released and guidelines about its implementation had not been issued.

A Reuters analysis showed the leaked document was similar to guidelines issued in 2009 by President Barack Obama’s agriculture secretary, but the Trump administration memo was different in two key ways.

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The new memo centralized the agency’s media inquiries and social media presence through the Office of the Secretary, and USDA agencies were ordered to review websites, blog posts and other social media and “remove references to policy priorities and initiatives of the previous Administration.”

The U.S. Department of the Interior reportedly ordered employees to stop posting messages on government Twitter accounts after the National Park Service a post comparing the size of Trump’s inauguration with President Barack Obama’s in 2009.

Drumm’s message did not specifically refer to Trump, but the department’s scientists believe the order was a message from the administration.

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The memo was vaguely worded enough that department officials weren’t sure whether scientists are allowed to publish studies in academic journals or present findings at conferences, but the USDA’s statement clarified that those should not be blocked.

“ARS values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public,” the agency said in a statement.

A Washington Post reporter also tweeted Tuesday afternoon that taxpayer-funded economists might also be forbidden from sharing their findings with the public without approval from the Trump administration.

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A University of Maine researcher issued a warning on social media that additional political attacks on scientists were coming.

“Please, stand up for science and the environment,” warned Jacquelyn Gill, a paleoecologist and biogeographer. “This is the emergency we were all worried about.”

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Updates added Wednesday after the USDA rescinded the memo and Reuters compared the document to one circulated in 2009 by the Obama administration.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Whistleblower alleges misconduct in IRS audits — and it could finally deliver Trump’s tax returns: report

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On Tuesday, Politico reported that House Democrats received a tip from a whistleblower about possible misconduct at the Internal Revenue Service in audits of presidential tax returns — and plan to use this revelation to bolster their legal case for obtaining President Donald Trump's tax returns.

In a federal court motion, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), who is seeking the president's tax returns, included a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin from earlier this month, informing him that the committee received an "undisclosed communication ... from a Federal employee setting forth credible allegations of 'evidence of possible misconduct' — specifically, potential 'inappropriate attempts to influence the mandatory audit program.'"

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Washington Post editorial board calls Trump too cowardly to pass background checks in scathing editorial

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The Washington Post just published a scathing editorial saying that President Donald Trump is far too cowardly to fight for gun safety laws or any kind of gun reform.

For a brief few days, while Trump was on vacation, he was willing to say that background checks needed to be tightened. But once he was on the phone with the National Rifle Association, everything changed. It isn't the first time. When Trump promised action after the Parkland, Florida massacre he said to the faces of parents who'd just lost their children. The next day he reneged. Now Americans are back at step one, where the next shooting is around the corner and even if police are on scene to take the shooter down in less than 60 seconds, people will still die.

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Trump’s tumbling support among ‘the poorly educated’ may crush his 2020 prospects: report

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When Donald Trump famously declared, “I love the poorly educated” during his 2016 campaign, it was obvious that he was taking a much more populist (or rather, pseudo-populist) approach than Republican presidential candidates were typically known for. And white males without college degrees continue to be a key part of the president’s base. But Washington Post columnist Aaron Blake, analyzing an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Monday, stresses that when Trump is up against a “generic 2020 Democrat,” he finds himself struggling with non-college educated white women.

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