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Dems post guide on dodging Trump administration’s ‘communications blackout’

Dems post guide on dodging Trump administration’s ‘communications blackout’
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Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) released a guide Thursday for federal employees “who wish to break the Administration’s communications blackout.”

”The Trump administration has strapped a muzzle on federal agencies and attacked legitimate whistleblowers. Should you wish to break that silence, we want this to be a resource for the safe and responsible disclosure of information,” Lieu said in a statement.

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“In this age of gag orders and alternative facts, it’s important that we provide federal employees tools to ensure transparency,” Beyer added.

The document, “Speak Truth to Power,” is broken into two sections: “Know Your Rights” and “Know Your Options” and is presented as a resource for circumventing the Trump administration’s pause on external communication by federal agencies.

“From day one the Trump Administration and its allies in Congress have treated the federal workforce like a punching bag, all while issuing hostile threats to whistleblowers and dissenters,” Beyer said in explaining the need for the document that provides tips on how to reach the press securely to share information.

The guide lists which federal laws apply to federal employees, detailing the First Amendment and the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act as key protections for individuals who are considering voicing dissent about administration policies. 

The “Know Your Options” section tells workers how they can reach inspectors general and the press and includes links to federal whistleblower statutes.

The guide suggests, for example, that employees use encrypted messages to communicate with the press.

Shortly after inauguration, the administration put in place new restrictions on federal agencies on social media use and interaction with press and lawmakers.

At the Environmental Protection Agency, staffers were ordered via a memo to stop issuing press releases, blog updates and social media posts. The Agriculture Department’s research arm was reportedly told by its chief of staff to stop issuing news releases, photos and other “public-facing” documents — although the agency quickly disavowed the order and said new guidance would replace it.

The Democrats’ guide comes the same day that President Trump pledged to punish people who leaked damaging information about the inner workings of the White House.