Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the former Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor, is also, apparently, the man behind a Twitter account that uses the moniker “Pierre Delecto.”
Romney on Sunday admitted to McKay Coppins, a writer at The Atlantic, that he was responsible for the social media account, which he uses to covertly monitor political discourse and occasionally defend himself. It’s unclear what, if anything, Pierre Delecto is a reference to.
Several events preceded the admission.
First, The Atlantic published Sunday a profile of Romney, one of the few prominent Republican lawmakers to criticize President Trump over his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rivals. Those efforts form the basis of an impeachment investigation by the House.
Trump lashed out in response this month, calling the senator on Twitter a “pompous ‘ass’ who has been fighting me from the beginning.” In one tweet, the president used the hashtag “#IMPEACHMITTROMNEY.”
In the Atlantic profile, Romney admitted to having what he called a “lurker account” — essentially a profile under a different name that he operated in secret to monitor the political conversation.
But he declined to divulge the name associated with the account.
The admission spurred curiosity, particularly that of the online newsmagazine Slate.
Slate theorized that Pierre Delecto, or Twitter user @qaws9876, was Romney after it discovered the account among the Twitter followers of one of his grandchildren.
Slate noted that Pierre Delecto’s first follower was Romney’s oldest son, Tagg.
The account was created in 2011, shortly after Romney announced his intention to run for president.
The account also posted several telling replies to Romney-related tweets, which were captured by screenshot before the account was made private Sunday night.
In one tweet from May, Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger at The Washington Post, said Romney’s strategy on Trump was “non-confrontation verging on spinelessness.”
“Jennifer, you need to take a breath,” Pierre Delecto replied. “Maybe you can then acknowledge the people who agree with you in large measure even if not in every measure.”
The Slate article prompted many on social media to surmise that if Pierre Delecto was in fact Romney, he had concocted one of the most prolific social media pseudonyms for a public official ever.
After Slate published its article, Coppins circled back with Romney to ask if he was indeed “Pierre Delecto.”
“Just spoke to @MittRomney on the phone, and asked him about Pierre Delecto,” Coppins said in a tweet. “His only response: “C’est moi.”’
A spokeswoman for Romney did not directly answer questions about the account Sunday night. But in an e-mail, the spokeswoman sent a link to the tweet from Coppins describing Romney’s admission.
New York Times
Facebook ramps up election security efforts before 2020
With just over a year left until the 2020 US presidential election, Facebook is stepping up its efforts to ensure it is not used as a tool to interfere in politics and democracies around the world.
The efforts outlined Monday include a special security tool for elected officials and candidates that monitors their accounts for hacking attempts such as login attempts from unusual locations or unverified devices. Facebook said Monday it will also label state-controlled media as such, label fact-checks more clearly, and invest $2 million in media literacy projects.
The company also said it has removed four networks of fake, state-backed misinformation-spreading accounts based in Russia and Iran. These networks sought to disrupt elections in the United States, North Africa, and Latin America, the company said. In the past year, Facebook said it has taken down 50 such clusters of accounts, a sign that efforts to use its services to disrupt elections are not letting up.
Facebook is under fire from presidential candidates, lawmakers, regulators, and privacy advocates around the world for problems ranging from election security to alleged anticompetitive behavior, privacy violations, and what many see as its outsized, often negative influence on society.
Democrats make bids to be new Oversight chairman
The race to replace the late representative Elijah Cummings as chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee is already quietly underway, with nearly half a dozen Democrats considering bids to replace him.
The potentially divisive contest — set to turn on questions of seniority, diversity, and effectiveness — will determine which Democrat will inherit a lead role in the ongoing impeachment inquiry of President Trump as one of three chairmen jointly directing the investigation.
Congress often obeys the rules of seniority when it comes to passing the torch for panel leadership positions. Yet there is no hard-and-fast rule mandating that is the case; instead, candidates make their case to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which will make a recommendation in a process that will commence after Cummings’s funeral Friday, according to Democratic aides.
Trump says Gabbard is not an agent of Russia
President Trump is attacking Hillary Clinton for suggesting Democratic presidential candidate Representative Tulsi Gabbard is a Russian agent.
Trump says of Gabbard, ‘‘she’s not a Russian agent.’’
Clinton appeared to call Gabbard ‘‘the favorite of the Russians’’ in a recent interview, saying she believes the Russians have ‘‘got their eye on somebody who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate.’’ Speaking during a Cabinet meeting Monday, Trump says Clinton and other Democrats claim everyone opposed to them is a Russian agent.Trump says he thinks Clinton’s attack boosts Gabbard and his own chances.