The COVFEFE Act Seeks To Make Trump's Tweets Official Records. Here's What It Stands For.

It's more than just a meme.

Two weeks ago, an apparent typo on President Donald Trump's Twitter account sent social media into a tizzy. "Despite the constant negative press covfefe," Trump's tweet read. For the several hours before the message was deleted, and even into the next few days, the internet had a field day creating memes. The National Spelling Bee champ was even asked to spell the word later that week.

Trump addressed the tweet after it was deleted, asking followers, "Who can figure out the true meaning of 'covfefe' ??? Enjoy!"


As of Monday, the true meaning could be Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement. That's the name of a new bill introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois that seeks to make Trump's tweets official presidential records. The legislation, shortened to the COVFEFE Act, would amend the Presidential Records Act to include social media.

CNN reports that the Presidential Records Act was amended in 2014 to include electronic records, "but did not explicitly mandate the preservation of social media records."

"In order to maintain public trust in government, elected officials must answer for what they do and say; this includes 140-character tweets," Rep. Quigley, who is the co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Transparency Caucus, said in a statement on his website. "President Trump's frequent, unfiltered use of his personal Twitter account as a means of official communication is unprecedented. If the President is going to take to social media to make sudden public policy proclamations, we must ensure that these statements are documented and preserved for future reference. Tweets are powerful, and the President must be held accountable for every post."

Quigley points out Trump has deleted 18 tweets so far as president. The legality of these deleted tweets has been an uncertain issue in the past. The National Archives reportedly advised the Trump administration to "capture and preserve all tweets that the President posts … including those that are subsequently deleted."

There has, however, been some question about whether Trump's personal account would be subject to the same official preservation as the @POTUS account. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer himself has said these tweets "are considered official statements by the president of the United States."

The COVFEFE Act would potentially clear up these concerns, and make deleted tweets a violation of the Presidential Records Act, subject to disciplinary action.

Whether this bill ultimately becomes law, it's an important conversation to be having. As our methods of communication evolve, it follows that our methods of archiving said communication should as well. Considering what a major tool Twitter has been for Trump in reaching out to the public, both during the campaign and as president, it's worth asking how that social media use should be regulated.

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