On 11 November 2016, the disreputable Conservative Daily Post web site published an article reporting that Donald Trump would make burning the U.S. flag a treasonous act as his first order as President.
The actual text of the article was short on details supporting its clickbait title — “Trump’s First Order: Anyone Burning an American Flag to Be Charged with Treason” — The Conservative Daily Post hinged their argument on a comment Trump reportedly made back in 2015:
In September of 2015, Donald Trump was asked about his stance on the legality of burning our flag.
“Personally, I don’t think it should be legal,” the Republican presidential front-runner [said] last year. Yet, now we have more examples than we need of this treason.
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that flag burning is constitutionally protected freedom of speech. Now that Donald Trump will be appointing several Conservative Judges to serve on the Court, we can expect that ruling to change in the coming year or so.
On top of Trump’s comments a year ago, senior members in his administration have indicated President Trump has now made this issue one of this top priorities. Sources argue that soon after President Trump assembles his cabinet and has a Supreme Court Judge nominated, they will move this issue forward immediately to prosecute anyone caught burning the American flag.
Conservative Daily Post purposefully misled readers by linking to the same Daily Caller article twice. The first link pointed to comments Trump made about flag-burning in 2015, while the second link purportedly pointed to comments recently made by his new administration team indicating that cracking down on flag-burning would be one of Trump’s top priorities as President:
Both of these links point to the same article, which was published in September 2015 and does not support the second part of the claim (i.e., that cracking down on flag-burning would be one of Trump’s top priorities as President).
During a September 2015 interview, then-candidate Trump did say he thought burning the American flag should be illegal:
If Donald Trump had his way, it would be against the law to burn the American flag.
“Personally, I don’t think it should be legal,” Trump told TheDC, speaking of burning the American flag. “Let me ask you a question. It didn’t used to be legal, did it? I see more and more burning of the flag. Did it used to be legal?”
Burning the American flag was illegal for parts of American history, but Supreme Court decisions in 1989 and 1990 declared that desecrating the Stars and Stripes was protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
“People burning the flag, I don’t like them in this country,” Trump added.
The Conservative Daily Post falsely reported that Donald Trump said that his first act as president would be to make flag burning a “treasonous act.” However, the president-elect did post on Twitter on 29 November 2016 that those who burned an American flag should face consequences and possibly lose citizenship: