Trump DOJ tried to force Twitter to unmask identity of Devin Nunes parody account

California congressman has filed nine lawsuits against online critics

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Tuesday 18 May 2021 00:33
Republican Devin Nunes lists off conspiracy theories in opening remarks of Trump impeachment hearing
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The Trump administration tried to force Twitter to unmask the user behind a parody account that mocked GOP congressman Devin Nunes.

Mr Trump’s Justice Department served the social media giant with a subpoena on 24 November 2020 demanding the name of the person behind the @NunesAlt account.

They also issued a gag order preventing the company from talking about the request, according to a newly unsealed court filing.

Mr Nunes was a vocal supporter of Mr Trump during his one term in the White House but was often a target of social media mockery.

A federal judge unsealed a motion from Twitter filed in March to quash the subpoena that was issued last November.

In the court filing Twitter had raised concerns that the federal government was helping Mr Nunes in his legal fights with his online critics.

Over the past two years Mr Nunes and his campaign committee have filed nine lawsuits against those critics, which include two other Twitter accounts, @DevinCow and @DevinNunesMom.

“It appears to Twitter that the Subpoena may be related to Congressman Devin Nunes’s repeated efforts to unmask individuals behind parody accounts critical of him,” the motion stated.

“His efforts to suppress critical speech are as well-publicized as they are unsuccessful.”

It is not clear if Twitter ever complied with the subpoena or if Joe Biden’s Justice Department ever worked on it.

In its court filing Twitter had argued that the subpoena violated the US Constitution’s First Amendment.

“Twitter is committed to protecting the freedom of expression for those who use our service,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.

“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.”

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