Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska blasted President Donald Trump for suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission should revoke NBC's broadcasting license. Sasse questioned whether Trump was betraying his oath of office.
On Oct. 11, Trump took to social media to deny an NBC News report stating that he had suggested increasing the U.S. nuclear arsenal by almost tenfold during a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon, according to Politico.
"With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?" Trump tweeted out. "Bad for country!"
That evening, Sasse took to Twitter to share an official statement in response to Trump's comment.
"Mr. President: Words spoken by the president of the United States matter," wrote Sasse. "Are you tonight recanting of the oath you took on January 20th to preserve, protect, and defend the First Amendment?"
Democratic lawmakers also blasted Trump's statement, asserting that the president was threatening to infringe on the First Amendment in response to media coverage he did not like.
Communications lawyer Andrew Schwartzman of Georgetown University Law Center noted that NBC is a network with numerous affiliates and that the FCC has no way of rescinding its license.
"It's an empty threat," Schwartzman said. "The last thing that NBC is going to worry about is whether its broadcast licenses are in jeopardy."
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has not publicly commented on Trump's tweet, but stated that his independent agency would not revoke the licenses of any networks because of partisan complaints, Bloomberg reports.
“Setting aside the fact that the FCC doesn’t license cable channels, these demands are fundamentally at odds with our legal and cultural traditions," Pai said during a Sept. 15 speech.
While Pai has not commented on Trump's latest remark, FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wrote in a tweet, "Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our democracy. Hope my [FCC] colleagues can all be on the same page with respect to 1st Amendment."
When reporters asked Trump to elaborate on his tweet, the president asserted that NBC was publishing so-called "fake news."
"It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write," Trump told reporters at the White House, according to Politico. "And people should look into it."
Sasse has previously criticized Trump's social media missives. On June 29, the Nebraska senator chided the president after he described MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski in graphic terms in a tweet, according to CNN.
"Please just stop," Sasse tweeted in response to Trump's tweet about Brzezinski. "This isn't normal and it's beneath the dignity of your office."