Trump Appoints Unqualified Guy Who Hates Section 230 To Top Justice Department Role
from the why-is-he-in-government-at-all? dept
In 2018, we wrote about a law professor named Adam Candeub, who was one of the lawyers for white supremacist Jared Taylor, suing Twitter in a doomed lawsuit for kicking him off its platform. I had a confusing email exchange with Candeub which I wrote about in that piece, which suggested that he was either unaware of Section 230 at the time he filed the lawsuit, or simply confused about the long list of decisions around 230 that made the lawsuit an obvious loser (which is what happened). Candeub and his co-counsel were very angry about my article, and insisted that their alternative interpretation of Section 230 would win the day.
Since being proven wrong, Candeub has spent a tremendous amount of energy trying to twist and torture Section 230 interpretations into his own belief of what they should be. Back in May, Candeub was hired by the Trump administration to be deputy assistant secretary, where he helped guide Trump’s ridiculolus executive order on 230 a few weeks later. It recently came out that he, and new FCC commissioner Nathan Simington, abused their government jobs to try to get Fox News to attack Section 230, telling a producer of Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s show that doing so may help get Trump and down-ballot Republicans elected in the fall.
In normal times, federal government officials are supposed to represent everyone, and not just their own political party. They are not supposed to engage in campaigning or electioneering on the public’s dime, and they certainly aren’t supposed to be working with the press to help elect their own party. Yet, that’s exactly what Candeub and Simington did. In response, Simington got his FCC commissionership (despite basically no relevant telecom law experience) and Candeub… has now been promoted to a senior level Justice Department job:
Adam Candeub, the acting head of Commerce?s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, has been named deputy associate attorney general starting Monday, according to two officials and a third person familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity to discuss the plans. The political appointment does not require congressional confirmation.
The concern, as noted in Politico, is that he’s going to use the remaining month in office to cause problems for the internet:
Candeub has played a central role in carrying out Trump?s executive order targeting social media companies like Twitter and Facebook over allegations they censor conservative viewpoints. The executive order asked federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission, to narrow the scope of a crucial set of liability protections that shield online companies from lawsuits over the user content they host. One of Candeub?s advisers at the NTIA, Nathan Simington, was confirmed last week to a five-year term as an FCC commissioner.
Trump has taken increasing aim at the legal shield, a 1996 law known as Section 230, in the twilight of presidency, including vowing to veto a must-pass defense spending bill that overwhelmingly sailed through both the House and Senate because it does not repeal the protections. And he?s rallied his allies across federal agencies and in Congress against the law, which has been widely credited with enabling the creation of today?s thriving online industry.
Candeub, who first joined NTIA earlier this year, has a long history of bashing the social media giants over allegations of an anti-conservative bias. In 2018, Candeub represented a white nationalist in a lawsuit against Twitter alleging the social network censored him.
The article further notes that in writing the NTIA’s petition to the FCC (in response to the executive order that he helped craft), Candeub worked closely with the DOJ, which has itself continued to attack Section 230 (despite the fact that Section 230 has an exemption for any federal criminal laws, and thus does not impact the DOJ at all):
Candeub actively consulted with the Justice Department during this summer?s efforts to draft the administration?s social media petition to the FCC. He also ran draft copy by White House adviser James Sherk, according to emails obtained by POLITICO through a Freedom of Information Act request.
?I?m feeling heavy breathing,? Candeub wrote in one July 13 email pressing DOJ counsel Lauren Willard and DOJ’s Chris Grieco for feedback on the petition, citing pressure from Sherk.
It’s not clear what Candeub can do in the month he has left, but it certainly is alarming that he’s been put in this position. He has shown over his few months in office that he has no interest in representing the American people as a public servant, but rather in trying to twist a law that stymied a high profile lawsuit he was involved in, and he’s implicated in an email to try to do that twisting to help his political allies. There is no way he should be in any government role, let alone a powerful one at the Justice Department.