Trump celebrates free speech after repeatedly attacking war hero John McCain

Joe Sommerlad, Chelsea Ritschel, Peter Stubley, Clémence Michallon

Donald Trump signed an executive order which will withhold federal funding from colleges and universities that do not permit or protect free speech amidst the president’s own attacks on Senator John McCain, more than six months after his death.

According to the president, the order is the first of many steps to come in his protection of the First amendment. During his remarks, Mr Trump invited students from colleges around the country to share their own stories of hindered free speech. One student recalled a time her school stopped her from handing out Valentine’s Day cards with religious messages.

Mr Trump also discussed his administration’s plans for student loan debt, which he said he is “going to work to fix”.

According to the president, who pointed some of the blame at universities, the Education Department and Treasury Department will publish information on future earnings and loan repayment for every major at every school.

The president’s remarks on the importance of upholding free speech come as he faces continued backlash over his own comments regarding late Senator John McCain, who he attacked Wednesday during a visit to Ohio.

In addition to repeating that he was “not a fan” of the late senator, Mr Trump complained that he had never been thanked for McCain’s state funeral.

Democrats and republicans have defended McCain following the president’s comments. The Washington National Cathedral also disputed Mr Trump’s claims that he had to “approve” the funeral for the late senator.

Also on Thursday, Mr Trump “made history” when he tweeted that the United States would be recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently hosting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, called the president’s recognition of the territory as Israeli land a “Purim miracle” and thanked President Trump.

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