The Trump administration last year rescinded an award to a journalist who helped expose Russian propaganda efforts because she wrote tweets critical of President Donald Trump, according to a new report from the State Department inspector general.
The Washington Post reports that Finnish journalist Jessikka Aro had been slated to receive a State Department International Women of Courage Award for her reporting on Russian propaganda operations, but it was pulled back at the last minute due to what the State Department said at the time was a bureaucratic error.
However, the State Department IG’s office found that State Department staffers really pulled the award because they were worried about American media outlets noting that Aro had been critical of Trump on her social media accounts.
“According to meeting notes obtained by the IG, senior U.S. officials argued that Aro’s invitation should be withdrawn, including the acting director of the Office of Global Women’s Issues,” reports the Post. “The director’s concerns included the possibility that the ‘media could highlight the tweets and Facebook posts during the ceremony,’ which could cause ‘potential embarrassment to the Department, particularly given the involvement of the Secretary and the First Lady [Melania Trump].'”
The State Department subsequently lied to Congress about its reasons for rescinding the award, the IG found, as it told lawmakers that Aro “ultimately was not selected to receive the award, due to the highly competitive selection of candidates.”