Trump Justice Dept. Tried To Use Grand Jury To Identify Nunes Critic on Twitter
The Justice Department under President Trump secretly obtained a grand-jury subpoena last year in an attempt to identify the person behind a Twitter account dedicated to mocking Representative Devin Nunes of California, according to a newly unsealed court document. From a report: But Twitter fought the subpoena, as well as an associated gag order barring the company from talking about it publicly. Twitter executives raised skepticism about whether the Justice Department might be abusing federal criminal law-enforcement power to retaliate against a critic of Mr. Nunes, a Republican who is a close ally of Mr. Trump, in violation of the First Amendment. Ultimately, according to a person familiar with the matter, the Justice Department withdrew the subpoena this spring, after President Biden took office.

What was going on behind the subpoena remains murky. The filing — a motion to suppress the subpoena and lift the gag order that Twitter filed in March — shows that the Justice Department sent the company a demand on Nov. 24 to provide identifying information about the user @NunesAlt. Twitter appears to have immediately been suspicious about the legitimacy of the request. The user of that account, the filing said, “appears to be engaged in clear First Amendment activity, discussing stances on current events, government policies and one elected official in particular — Congressman Nunes.” The filing provided examples of some of the account’s tweets, such as a photograph of Mr. Nunes with text superimposed over his face: “Believe in conspiracy theories. Even if there is no evidence.”

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