U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he would soon sign an executive order requiring American universities and colleges to maintain “free speech” on campuses and threatened that schools not complying could lose federal research funds.

Trump made his remarks at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference after bringing to the stage Hayden Williams, a conservative activist who was punched at the University of California, Berkeley, last month while recruiting students for a conservative group.

“Today, I am proud to announce that I will be very soon signing an executive order requiring colleges and universities to support free speech if they want federal research funds,” Trump said.

If universities do not comply “it will be very costly,” he said. The U.S. government awards universities more than $30 billion annually in research funds.

The White House did not immediately respond a request for comment on details of the order.

Freedom of speech is enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

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David Shepardson, Katanga Johnson – Reuters – March 2, 2019.

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