The Trump administration rejected concerns that it had placed a gag order on executive agencies on Wednesday, responding to reports of rogue Twitter accounts and soon-to-be deleted webpages.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied that executive agencies have been asked to stop communicating with media and lawmakers and from posting to official social media accounts.
The Huffington Post reported Tuesday that federal employees were told to stop all external communication for a week. BuzzFeed wrote that the Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service employees were told on Monday not to release any “public-facing documents” for an indefinite period of time, but that the order was rescinded on Tuesday.
“They haven’t been directed by us to do anything,” Spicer said at a press briefing on Wednesday. There were some instances in which agency social media posts were deleted because they violated the agency’s own policies, rather than a directive from the White House, Spicer said.
The official Twitter account for Badlands National Park tweeted messages about climate change on Tuesday before deleting them. The National Park Service had also previously retweeted posts about the size of the crowd at President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Spicer told reporters that the Twitter accounts had violated the Department of the Interior’s own protocol, rather than new White House rules.
“There are a couple of agencies that have had trouble following their own policies,” he said.
The Environmental Protection Agency had decided to pause public communications, according to a statement emailed to Morning Consult.
“The EPA fully intends to continue to provide information to the public,” the statement said. “A fresh look at public affairs and communications processes is common practice for any new administration, and a short pause in activities allows for this assessment.”
The agency is also reviewing its current grants and contracts, although it is continuing to award “environmental program grants and state revolving loan fund grants to the states and tribes.” The EPA hopes to finish the review by Friday, according to the statement.