DOJ Dropped Its Subpoena For NunesAlt Twitter Account One Week After Twitter Called Bullshit On Its Demands
from the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-wasted-tax-dollars-and-goodwill dept
Well, that was fast. I mean, this all actually happened a few months ago but the unsealing process makes this all seem very sudden.
Yesterday, it was revealed that the Trump DOJ sent a subpoena to Twitter demanding personal information related to the NunesAlt account — one of several Rep. Devin Nunes has unsuccessfully tried to sue for defamation. It seemed very strange that the DOJ would be involved, but Nunes developed a close relationship with Trump over the past four years and it certainly appeared that this was some prime White House backscratching.
The subpoena was delivered to Twitter last November. On March 10, Twitter filed its motion to quash, noting Nunes’ multiple attempts to sue satirical Twitter accounts, his lack of success in doing so, and his apparent attempts to use federal law enforcement resources to engage in discovery for him.
It also noted the DOJ’s subpoena made no mention as to why Twitter should turn over this information. It wasn’t until Twitter called the AUSA who signed the subpoena that it was provided answers. The answers were incomplete. The DOJ claimed it was part of an investigation into threats allegedly made by the account. But the DOJ refused to show Twitter the alleged threats, much less answer any of its other questions.
A week later (but only one day later for us, thanks to a gag order being tossed into the spacetime continuum), the DOJ dropped its request [PDF] for this Twitter users’ info. As was the case with the subpoena sent to Twitter, there’s not a whole lot of information in the DOJ’s withdrawal of its information demand.
The United States of America, by and through its undersigned counsel, respectfully submits under seal this memorandum in opposition to Twitter, Inc.’s motion to quash grand jury subpoena and to vacate non-disclosure order.
On March 17, 2021, counsel for the United States informed counsel for Twitter, Inc. that the grand jury subpoena at issue is withdrawn. The term of the nondisclosure order has ended. As there is no dispute between the parties, Twitter, Inc.’s motion should be denied as moot.
Given this swift dismissal of its demand for info — one supposedly tied to a super-serious investigation into “threatening communications in interstate commerce” (a complicated way of saying the internet was involved) — it’s difficult to believe this was anything other than a fishing expedition performed on behalf of Devin Nunes, who has had zero success talking courts into compelling the unmasking of his critics. If the DOJ really had anything worth investigating, it wouldn’t have abandoned its efforts at the first sign of resistance.
And we can’t let this whole thing pass by without noting how gag orders disrupt the justice system and keep the public from learning what’s being done with their tax dollars. Finding out about something like this six months after it was initiated and two months after the DOJ called it quits is ridiculous. The only thing protected here was the DOJ’s shoddy reputation as a mere extension of President Trump’s will while he and Bill Barr were still in control. That the DOJ refused to show Twitter the alleged threats strongly suggests it was attempting to turn heated (but protected) speech into a criminal act to help Devin Nunes out with his defamation lawsuits.