PRESIDENT Joe Biden’s new ASL interpreter has been unveiled as running a pro-Trump Facebook group sharing right-wing videos that spread false election information.
Professional sign language interpreter Heather Mewshaw was introduced Monday by White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a shake-up of the new president’s communications.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Monday daily press briefings would be signed by ASL interpreters
Calls are mounting for ASL interpreter Heather Mewshaw to be removed from the White House role amid claims she runs a group spreading right-wing conspiracies
It was later revealed Mewshaw manages the Hands of Liberty Facebook page, which shares pro-Trump videos and vaccine misinformation, reported Time magazine.
The group had been called Right Side ASL before it was deleted by Facebook in November after being “flagged for violating community standards”.
Videos of college graduate Mewshaw show her wearing a MAGA hat, as well as signing to videos that include vaccine misinformation and false claims about the election and Capitol riots.
In a video titled “Thank You President Trump From the Right Side ASL Team!” and posted on Rumble on January 20, ASL interpreter Mewshaw dons a MAGA hat and signs to Trump dancing to the song YMCA.
Another video she signs in is titled: “WHAT REALLY HAPPENED On January 6th?”
The Hands of Liberty Facebook group also featured a video claiming “Joe Biden is literally and legally not the President elect.”, reports Time.
The Sun has contacted Mewshaw for comment on her involvement with the group.
More than 1,000 people have now signed a petition to have Mewshaw removed as an interpreter at the new administration’s daily press briefings, citing a “conflict of interest”.
“The deaf community is outraged when they saw her presence,” wrote petition organizer Trevor Baldwin.
“Her actions are unethical and harmful to the Deaf Community at large.”
Among those calling for her removal, deaf teacher Jonathan Reynolds said wearing a MAGA hat while interpreting was a “violation of contract”.
“Interpreters need to show none of favors for whom they support and show no conflict of interest,” he added.
University of Carolina assistant professor Jon Henner, who studies ASL and is deaf, said: “Problems appear when we assume that all interpreters are neutral entities. This is a false assumption. Everyone has bias.
“If there is an ideological disconnect between the interpreter and the speaker, then there’s a possibility that the interpretation will be biased AGAINST the speaker.
“It is PROBLEMATIC for the interpreter who is the public face of the Biden White House to be associated with alt-right disinformation campaigns.”
Mewshaw appears wearing a MAGA hat while signing as Trump dances to the YMCA song during a rally
University of Carolina assistant professor Jon Henner has raised his concern at a White House interpreter associated with alt-right disinformation campaigns
Right Side ASL’s removal from Facebook was announced in a video in November which featured Mewshaw signing.
The post read: “Sad News: Our Facebook Page, Right Side ASL Backup, has been flagged for violating community standards and will be taken down at any time.”
Since reports of Mewshaw’s partisan support emerged, the Hands of Liberty ASL Facebook page also appears to have been taken down.
It has also closed its Twitter, Instagram and Parler accounts.
Videos of the professional ASL interpreter – who has worked in the field for more than two decades – can still be viewed on Rumble, social media site MeWe and online TV channel Gab.
Disclaimers on the sites read: “This isn’t our original video. Hands of Liberty provides, upon request, ASL interpreting accommodations to the Deaf community for inaccessible online video content. This service is provided by volunteers.
“Remember that censorship is considered an act of violence and oppression that causes trauma to everyone involved.”
The National Association of the Deaf said it was “gratified to witness history in the making”, reported the MailOnline, but added: “Care must be taken by everyone who hires an ASL interpreter to ensure that they are properly vetted for any interpreting job, whether it is a medical appointment, a job interview, a court proceeding, or a White House press briefing.”
Mewshaw could be seen on the White House’s YouTube stream of the press briefing Monday.
Psaki had said Mewson’s inclusion was part of “this administration’s accessibility and inclusion efforts”.
“The President is committed to building an America that is more inclusive, more just and more accessible for every American, including Americans with disabilities and their families,” she added.
Last August, the National Association of the Deaf joined five deaf individuals in suing Trump and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, claiming the failure to provide an interpreter undermined the ability of deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans to access key information about the coronavirus pandemic.
The next month, a federal judge ordered the White House to include American Sign Language interpretation at all televised coronavirus briefings.