A Republican lawmaker said Sunday that he is concerned about President Trump’s sharing of a heavily edited video that spliced together several verbal pauses by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) said that by sharing the video, Trump has escalated the debate over disinformation, which is “something that gets at the heart of our democracy.”
“You shouldn’t disseminate information that you know is ultimately doctored,” Hurd said when asked about the video during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Trump shared the video Thursday night on Twitter, ratcheting up tensions in his spat with Pelosi amid accusations from Democrats that the White House is stonewalling congressional investigations into the president’s personal finances, businesses and other matters.
“PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE,” Trump wrote in his tweet, quoting the chyron from Fox Business Network, which aired the video Thursday night on “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”
In a response on Twitter on Thursday night, Pelosi said Trump was “distracting from House Democrats’ great accomplishments #ForThePeople, from his cover-ups, and unpopularity.”
Trump’s tweet came on the same day that The Washington Post reported on the rapid spread of other distorted videos of Pelosi that have been altered to make her sound as if she is drunkenly slurring her words.
While none of the clips were “deepfakes” — realistic-looking fake videos crafted with the help of artificial-intelligence technology — Hurd said Sunday that they were nonetheless concerning. He added that lawmakers need to do a better of job of battling deepfakes and other disinformation as technology quickly transforms the U.S. political landscape.
“There’s a lot of things that’s concerning with that video of Speaker Pelosi, and it was just slowed down to make it seem like she was having a hard time speaking,” Hurd said. “This wasn’t even a deepfake. . . . In this case, at least we had the original to compare the two and recognize that it was doctored.”
Hurd predicted that “within months, we’re going to be able to see this deepfake technology continue to grow.”
“We’re not prepared,” he said. “We have old laws to decide how you handle disinformation. You have leaders that don’t understand how this technology can be used in the future. . . . We can’t be promoting this stuff, and if you can’t tell the difference between a doctored piece of information and not, that’s troubling as well.”
Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, tweeted a link to one of the altered videos of Pelosi last week with the note, “What is wrong with Nancy Pelosi? Her speech pattern is bizarre.” The tweet was later deleted.
Giuliani later said in a text message that he deleted the tweet because someone had a raised a question about it “and since I wasn’t sure I deleted it.”
John Wagner and Drew Harwell contributed to this report.