Top-ranking Biden administration officials — including Dr. Anthony Fauci — and five social media giants have 30 days to respond to subpoenas and discovery requests in a lawsuit alleging the government colluded with social media companies to suppress freedom of speech “under the guise of combatting misinformation.”
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry on Wednesday served third-party subpoenas on Twitter, Meta (Facebook’s parent company), Youtube, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Schmitt and Landry on Tuesday filed discovery requests seeking documents and information from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Fauci, its director; White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre; Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy; and former Disinformation Governance Board executive director Nina Jankowicz.
Discovery requests also were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and its director, Jen Easterly; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“In May, Missouri and Louisiana filed a landmark lawsuit against top-ranking Biden Administration officials for allegedly colluding with social media giants to suppress free speech on topics like COVID-19 and election security,” Schmitt said in Tuesday’s press release.
“Earlier this month, a federal court granted our motion for expedited discovery, allowing us to collect important documents from Biden Administration officials. Yesterday, we served discovery requests and today served third-party subpoenas to do exactly that.
“We will fight to get to the bottom of this alleged collusion and expose the suppression of freedom of speech by social media giants at the behest of top-ranking government officials.”
Schmitt announced in a July 12 statement that Terry Doughty, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, ruled in favor of a June 17 motion for expedited preliminary injunction-related discovery and set a timetable with specific deadlines for depositions.
According to Schmitt, government officials “both pressured and colluded with social media giants Meta, Twitter and Youtube to censor free speech in the name of combating so-called ‘disinformation’ and ‘misinformation,’ which led to the suppression and censorship of truthful information on several topics, including COVID-19.”
“The Court’s decision cleared the way for Missouri and Louisiana to gather discovery and documents from Biden Administration officials and social media companies,” Schmitt said in a press release on Tuesday.
“The order states, ‘The First Amendment obviously applies to the citizens of Missouri and Louisiana, so Missouri and Louisiana have the authority to assert those rights,’” he said.
In a statement on Twitter announcing the court’s decision to grant the attorneys general’s request, Schmitt said, “No one has had the chance to look under the hood before — now we do.”
🚨 BREAKING: A federal court granted our request for discovery & documents from top ranking Biden officials & social media companies to get to the bottom of their collusion to suppress & censor free speech.
No one has had the chance to look under the hood before – now we do. pic.twitter.com/TzrxtC3piN
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) July 12, 2022