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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

After fueling allegations that Twitter and other social platforms censor conservatives, President Trump is now calling on Congress to pass legislation that would target some of the world's largest social media companies, and has suggested that those companies be sued for illegal activity.

Why it matters: This is a departure from Trump's attitude after he was elected. Trump told Axios he would be reluctant to regulate social platforms, because they made it easier for him to reach Americans in an unfiltered way.

Trump told Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo that "you may need legislation in order to create competition" for Twitter.

  • Trump told Bartiromo that Twitter "should be sued because what's happening with the bias."
  • He repeated that in an interview with Fox News' Tucker Carlson, and said Twitter has engaged in "possible illegal" activity.

He also suggested that U.S. regulators should be the ones to sue Google and Facebook, not European regulators.

Between the lines: Despite increasing his Twitter follower count by nearly 5x since he was elected, Trump now says that he sees Twitter as a threat to his ability to communicate.

  • "You know, I have millions and millions of followers but I will tell you, they make it very hard for people to join me in Twitter, and they make it very much harder for me to get out the message," he told Bartiromo.
  • Trump's personal Twitter handle, @realDonaldTrump, now has over 60 million followers. He had 12.9 million in November of 2016.

The big picture: The president has gone from bullying the press to targeting a variety of information gatekeepers, including big tech.

  • The White House will host a Presidential Social Media Summit with "digital leaders" on Thursday. It has quietly invited tech’s top conservative critics in politics and media to attend, according to the WashPost.
  • Last month, the White House launched a tool last month allowing any U.S. citizen to complain of being censored by a social-media platform.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.

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