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Federal Judge Rules Against Biden Admin, Must Disclose Communications With Big Tech

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A federal judge wants to get to the bottom of what kind of interactions the federal government has had with big tech companies and has ordered that it show its communications.

Federal US District Court Judge Terry Doughty, of the Western District of Louisiana granted the order of discovery sought by Republican Attorneys General Eric Schmitt of Missouri and Jeff Landry of Louisiana on Tuesday, NBC affiliate KPVI reported.

President Joe Biden, members of his administration and select social media companies must turn over documents and answer questions within the next 30 days during a discovery phase of a lawsuit alleging collusion to suppress freedom of speech, a court ruled.

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The attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri filed a lawsuit in May alleging Biden and eight high-ranking members of his administration and the government colluded with and/or coerced social media companies Meta, Twitter and YouTube to suppress “disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social medial platforms.” 

On Tuesday, Terry Doughty, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, ruled there is “good cause” for the discovery process and set a timetable, including specific deadlines for depositions.

“In May, Missouri and Louisiana filed a landmark lawsuit against top-ranking Biden Administration officials for allegedly colluding with social media giants to suppress freedom of speech on a number of topics including the origins of COVID-19, the efficacy of masks, and election integrity,” Missouri Republican Senate candidate and current Attorney General Eric Schmitt said. “Today, the Court granted our motion for discovery, paving the way for my office to gather important documents to get to the bottom of that alleged collusion. This is a huge development.”

The lawsuit alleges that social media companies labelled information as “misinformation” and “disinformation” in violation of the First Amendment and that the federal government went beyond its authority and the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security which violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

The lawsuit also said that the now disbanded “Disinformation Governance Board” suppressed information involving the Hunter Biden laptop story prior to the 2020 Presidential election, the lab-leak theory of COVID-19’s origin, the efficiency of masks and COVID-19 lockdowns and election integrity.

“After the AGs filed a motion for expedited preliminary injunction-related discovery, the Biden administration filed an opposition. The Biden administration argued Louisiana and Missouri don’t have the authority to bring a parens patria suit – an action to protect citizens unable to protect themselves – against the federal government,” the report said.

“The administration argued the states can’t meet an ‘injury in fact’ standard, defined as ‘it suffered ‘an invasion of a legally protected interest’ that is ‘concrete,’ ‘particularized,’ and ‘actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.’” The administration contended there wasn’t a link between alleged injuries to the states and the government’s alleged actions and argued the states can’t demonstrate how the court will provide justice for an alleged ‘injury in fact,’” it said.

Nina Jankowicz, who was supposed to be the head of the Disinformation Governance Board, or as some mockingly called it “The Ministry of Truth,” spoke to CNN host CNN’s Brian Stelter and complained that the administration did not do enough to defend her reputation.

And she said that the White House of basically muzzled her so she could not defend herself.

She claimed that the board was supposed “to bring best practices to bear, and to make sure that we were up with the latest research, the latest trends, in disinformation and countering it and make sure that work was being done in a way that protected freedom of speech, protected civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy.”

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“So, the sympathetic view, to you, is that the Disinformation Board was the victim of disinformation. Is that how you feel?” the host responded.

But Jankowicz, true to her liberal roots, blamed Republicans.

“Oh, it absolutely was the victim of disinformation,” she insisted. “So, all of these narratives, that the Disinformation Governance Board was going to be this ‘Ministry of Truth,’ and all of the harassment and disinformation that was directed against me, was based on that falsehood, based on that falsehood that was knowingly peddled by many people in the conservative media ecosystem and on Capitol Hill.”

Stelter wondered why, if the misgivings were incorrect, the Department of Homeland Security did not defend her more vigorously.

“Yeah, I have a lot of misgivings about the way things went down and I think the first thing to point out, Brian, is that there was a disproportionate focus on me, given my level of power within the department,” she argued.

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“I was not allowed to speak on my own behalf, and frankly, all the communications decisions that were being made about how to talk about the board were made above my pay grade, and above my level of decision-making,” she said. “I was the executive director, but there were a lot of people that were involved that didn’t take advice frankly that I had given them.”

For his part, Stelter gave some pushback.

“Look, I would start with the name,” the host said. “Even just the name, right, Nina, it sounds Orwellian. And any PR professional would say don’t call it that, you know? There were just dumb mistakes made.”

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The name “belies the fact that it was meant to be an internal governing mechanism, governing how the Department of Homeland Security did its work on disinformation, not governing the internet,” she said before going back to blaming the Biden administration.

“And that was one of the reasons that I ended up making the choice to resign, right?” she said. “I felt like the government had just rolled over, to the critics, who had completely spun this narrative out of control based on absolutely nothing and reality and the fact that they weren’t able to defend me, the person that they had chosen, the experts that they had chosen to lead this board and safeguard this work.

“It just didn’t feel like it was worth it, especially given the fact that my family was receiving threats,” she said.

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