President Trump said in the Oval Office Thursday that he would seek to shut down Twitter if it continued to not be "honorable" in its fact-checking and if there was a legal way to do so.

Reality check: Trump does not have the unilateral power to shut down social media platforms. Legal experts agree that doing so would be a violation of the First Amendment.

The big picture: The comment came as Trump signed an executive order targeting protections for Big Tech companies — a move catalyzed by the president's anger toward Twitter for issuing its first-ever fact-check on one of his tweets, which included misinformation on mail-in voting.

What he's saying: "If Twitter were not honorable, if you're going to have a guy like [Yoel Roth, Twitter's head of site integrity] being your judge and jury, I think just shut it down as far as I'm concerned."

  • Trump added that he's unsure how he would shut down Twitter, saying that he would need to speak to a legal team.
  • "If it were able to be legally shut down, I would do it. I think I'd be hurting it very badly if we didn't use it anymore."

Trump also told reporters that he would delete his Twitter account "in a heartbeat" if there was not so much "fake news" — referring to critical coverage by journalists. He has often said that Twitter is his preferred platform for communicating directly with the American public.

Go deeper: Trump has turned Big Tech's speech rules into a political football

Go deeper

Trump stokes fears of election-night mail voting fraud

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

President Trump raised new alarms about the alleged danger of election fraud in an interview with "Axios on HBO," warning that "lots of things can happen" with voting by mail if the presidential race isn't decided on election night.

Why it matters: Trump's comments — which contradict the lengthy history and widespread use of mail-in voting — could be a preview of the claims he'll make on election night to undermine trust in the results if he appears to be losing.

Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 18,614,542 — Total deaths: 702,330 — Total recoveries — 11,181,018Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 4,793,950 — Total deaths: 157,416 — Total recoveries: 1,528,979 — Total tests: 58,239,438Map.
  3. 2020: Joe Biden will no longer travel to Milwaukee for Democratic convention.
  4. Public health: Florida surpasses 500,000 confirmed casesModerna skirts disclosures of vaccine costs.
  5. Sports: The return of high school sports hangs in the balance — UConn becomes first FBS team to cancel football season.
  6. Education: Chicago Public Schools to begin school year fully remote.
Updated 40 mins ago - World

Beirut explosion: Death toll rises to 135, officials under house arrest

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

The death toll from Tuesday's explosion in Beirut, Lebanon has now surpassed 130, including at least one U.S. citizen, amid a search for answers as to why a huge store of ammonium nitrate was left unsecured near the city's port for nearly seven years.

What we know: The government says around 5,000 people are injured. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said current indications are that the massive explosion was accidental, despite President Trump's puzzling claim on Tuesday evening that it appeared to be a bomb attack.