Attempts by Trump’s DOJ to expose an anonymous Twitter user critical of Trump allies raises concerns about First Amendment violations and overreaches in DOJ authority. CREW is suing the Department of Justice following its failure to fulfill a CREW FOIA request about the DOJ’s attempts to unmask the Twitter account @Nunesalt, a parody account that mocks California Representative and Trump ally Devin Nunes.
In 2019, Nunes sued Twitter for defamation, and in 2020, unsealed grand jury records showed that Trump’s DOJ issued a subpoena to Twitter for the identity of the anonymous Nunes-parody Twitter users. Under the Biden administration, the DOJ withdrew its subpoena, but the public still deserves full transparency about the DOJ’s policies around subpoenas for social media providers.
This would not be the first time that Trump and then-AG Bill Barr’s DOJ was weaponized to go after those perceived as Trump enemies and protect friends of Trump. From Trump’s corruption of presidential pardon power to protect his cronies to Bill Barr’s interference in the Russia probe, Trump and Barr’s repeated abuse of the DOJ ultimately led CREW to call for Barr’s impeachment before Barr resigned in the final weeks of the Trump administration. The public needs to know if the DOJ was once again weaponized to protect a Trump ally—this time threatening the right to free speech along the way.
September 30, 2021