Twitter Users Ask Platform to Delete 2 Senators' Tweets to Protect Zelensky

Twitter faced calls to remove tweets from U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Steve Daines that featured screenshots of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressing members of Congress on Saturday.

Rubio, a Florida Republican, shared a screenshot of the meeting with a caption that read, "on zoom call now with President Zelenskyy," while Daines, a Montana Republican, shared a similar screenshot captioned "Currently on a zoom call with President Zelenskyy. #StandWithUkraine."

U.S. Representative Dean Phillips, a Democrat from Minnesota, condemned the tweets on Twitter and said that the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. requested that no one share anything from the meeting.

"The Ukrainian Ambassador very intentionally asked each of us on the zoom to NOT share anything on social media during the meeting to protect the security of President Zelenskyy. Appalling and reckless ignorance by two US Senators," he wrote.

Some social media users flooded the tweets, demanding that Twitter take them down for potentially endangering Zelensky's safety amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Demands for the posts' removals caused Rubio to trend on Twitter Saturday afternoon.

However, Phillips noted in his tweet that they were asked to not share anything on social media only during the meeting, which has since ended.

"Instead of sharing, these should be reported to Twitter so they can take them down. Ppl act like they can't figure out how to use geolocation to find them," wrote user @FeliDiabolica.

Florida State Representative Anna Eskamani accused Rubio of sharing the screenshot for "clout."

"You were told not to share screenshots and yet you did? For what reason? Clout?" she asked in a tweet.

The criticism spanned party lines, with some Republicans condemning the posts. Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, joined in on condemning Rubio's tweet.

"Dude, what the hell is wrong with you? You are the Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and a Member of the Foreign Relations Committee. You were specifically asked NOT to share this briefing with Zelensky. Why would you risk his safety for a tweet?" he asked.

Olivia Troye, who served as a homeland security advisor to former Vice President Mike Pence, wrote: "People like Marco Rubio don't actually care about their role in the national security apparatus & what it means to be concerned about the safety of others above one's own self..."

In a statement sent to Newsweek Saturday afternoon, a Rubio spokesperson defended the social media post.

"There were over 160 members of Congress on a widely reported Zoom call. There was no identifying information of any kind. Anybody pretending this tweet is a security concern is a partisan seeking clicks," the statement said.

On Tuesday, a Rubio spokesperson pointed to a video of Zelensky saying "I'm staying in Kyiv. In my office. I'm not hiding. And I'm not afraid of anyone." as making the criticisms "even more absurd" in a statement to Newsweek.

A Daines spokesperson wrote in a statement to Newsweek: "This was a well reported call with over 250 people joining, and it was not a secure or classified briefing. The photo was shared before it was requested not to and well into the call, and it had no identifying information. We should be focusing on what's important here and that's supporting Ukraine. The only reason why anyone wants to make this an issue is partisan clickbait."

During the call, Zelensky pleaded with lawmakers for aircraft to help fight against the Russian military, which invaded Ukraine in late February, Reuters reported.

Newsweek reached out to Twitter for comment. This story will be updated with any response.

Updated 03/05/2022 3:52 p.m. ET with statement from Senator Rubio.

Updated 03/05/2022 4:34 p.m. ET with statement from Senator Daines.

Updated 03/07/2022 11:58 a.m. with statement from Senator Rubio.

Twitter called to remove Rubio, Daines tweets
Senators Marco Rubio, above, and Steve Daines faced criticism for sharing a screenshot of Ukrainian President Zelensky during a meeting on Saturday. Joe Raedle/Getty Images