Preet Bharara questions whether Trump will respect ‘presidential alert’ system

Former U.S. Attorney Pree Bharara on Wednesday questioned the scope of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE's ability to use a new emergency alert system that was tested for the first time earlier in the day.

"Serious question - what law prevents abuse of this new Presidential Alert? What law prevents POTUS from using it to attack a rival or promote himself?" Bharara asked in a tweet.

"Yes I understand there are 'protocols.' Anyone who thinks this POTUS abides by 'protocols' is a fool," he added.


Bharara, who was fired from his post in New York's Southern District after Trump took office, argued that White House officials have already violated government protocols with their use of Twitter, and questioned what would stop them from doing so with the alert system.

Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), sent out the first test of the presidential alert system on Wednesday afternoon.

The system allows the government agencies to send emergency alerts directly to every cellphone in the U.S.

The message, delivered to millions of cellphones around 2:18 p.m. EDT, read “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System."

"No action is needed,” the message added.

Officials have said that use of the system for official alerts — which cellphone users cannot turn off — is allowed under a 2016 law signed by then-President Obama ordering the testing of the emergency alert system.

The system cannot be used by law for any purpose other than "to transmit a message that does not relate to a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster or threat to public safety," FEMA said.

Three New York-based activists filed a lawsuit last week to block Trump's use of the alert system, arguing that it could be used for political purposes. The individuals cited Trump's use of Twitter to "weaponize information" in their complaint.