The Trump Justice Department tried to help Congressman Devin Nunes in his yearslong effort to unmask the holder of Twitter accounts, including @DevinCow, that trolled him mercilessly over his support for the former president.
The US Attorney’s Office in Washington persuaded a grand jury in late-November to issue a subpoena ordering the social media company to turn over information about the holder of the accounts, according to court records unsealed Monday.
Twitter refused the request, arguing that the information requested appeared to be an attempt to violate the free speech rights of the account holder.
“Given Congressman Nunes’s numerous attempts to unmask his anonymous critics on Twitter – described in detail herein – Twitter is concerned that this subpoena is but another mechanism to attack its users’ First Amendment rights,” Twitter’s lawyers wrote in their request to block the subpoena.
Nunes, a California Republican and a staunch Trump supporter, has tried unsuccessfully through several lawsuits to identify who’s behind the parody accounts, including @DevinNunesMom,@fireDevinNunes and @DevinGrape.
After the subpoena arrived, Twitter’s lawyers asked the US attorney’s office to further justify the request. An assistant US attorney told them the subpoena was part of an investigation into the possible violation of a interstate communications to threaten to injure someone.
A spokesman for Nunes didn’t immediately respond to email and phone messages seeking comment.
“Twitter is committed to protecting the freedom of expression for those who use our service,” Twitter said in statement. “We have a strong track record and take seriously the trust placed in us to work to protect the private information of the people on Twitter.”
The involvement of the Justice Department was reported earlier by the New York Times.
The subpoena targeted the holder of the accounts, @NunesAlt.
After news of the unsealing of the subpoena broke Monday afternoon, Nunes Alt tweeted from the account @Devin Nunes Alt-Mom, “This is the closest thing I’m gonna get to a Mother’s Day card.” – Bloomberg