A federal judge issued a ruling on Friday that requires senior Biden administration officials to comply with an investigation by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana that seeks to uncover the federal government’s efforts to collude with Big Tech to censor Covid-related posts they deemed misinformation.
Writing for the Western District of Louisiana Court, Judge Terry A. Doughty ordered that high-ranking officials such as Anthony Fauci and former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki must cooperate with the plaintiffs’ deposition requests “for purposes of their preliminary injunction discovery.” In law, a deposition is a tool used in the discovery process in which witnesses give out-of-court testimony under oath.
In arguments explaining why they seek to depose Fauci, Missouri AG Eric Schmitt and Louisiana AG Jeff Landry contend that the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden is “directly involved with multiple social media censorship campaigns against COVID-19 misinformation,” with the plaintiffs pointing to Fauci’s efforts to “discredit any theory” that the respiratory virus was the result of a “lab leak” as an example.
“Plaintiffs further this argument by pointing out the publicly available emails between Drs. Fauci and [former National Institutes of Health Director Francis] Collins regarding their efforts to discredit the lab-leak theory, which Plaintiffs assert led to the censorship of the theory online,” the court order reads. “These emails indicate that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Collins were both aware of certain scientists’ concerns that SARS-CoV-2 looked bioengineered. However, those same scientists authored a paper for Nature Medicine that discredited the lab-leak theory despite that three days earlier on February 1, they had advocated the theory to Dr. Fauci.”
Schmitt and Landry also allege that Fauci was involved with Twitter’s suspension of independent journalist Alex Berenson and that his credibility as a public health official should be called into question given his numerous lies since the pandemic’s outset. Doughty ultimately agreed, finding that the plaintiffs had “proven” Fauci has “personal knowledge” about social media companies’ efforts to censor information surrounding Covid and ordering Fauci to engage with Schmitt and Landry’s investigation.
Doughty had previously issued a ruling last month ordering Fauci and other members of the Biden administration to forfeit all external communications with Big Tech companies.
In the order released Friday, Doughty also granted the plaintiffs’ request to depose Psaki, who Schmitt and Landry claim made numerous public statements that “reinforced the public threats of adverse legal consequences to social-media platforms if they do not increase censorship of views disfavored by federal officials” and “reinforced the public threats of adverse legal consequences” to said companies if they chose not to ramp up censorship of “views disfavored by federal officials.”
Additional high-level Biden administration officials ordered to testify under oath in Schmitt and Landry’s investigation include Director of White House Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty, former White House Senior Covid-19 Adviser Andrew Slavitt, and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, among others.
In a public statement, Schmitt celebrated the court’s decision, saying it is “high time we shine a light on this censorship enterprise and force these officials to come clean to the American people.”
Filed in May, the lawsuit from the Missouri and Louisiana AGs has managed to uncover a treasure trove of emails and communication records showing Biden administration officials colluding with Big Tech companies to censor any Covid-related information they claimed to be “misleading” or untrue. In one email chain from the summer of 2021, a senior Facebook representative thanked an official from the Department of Health and Human Services for “taking the time to meet” and expand upon the steps the tech giant took to remove what they referred to as “misinformation.” A separate batch of communication logs also shows a senior White House official asking Facebook to remove a parody account of Fauci, to which the company’s representative replied, “Yep, on it!”
The release of Doughty’s order comes following confirmation by Meta (Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the FBI interfered in the 2020 presidential election by pressuring his company to “censor Russian misinformation — and thus the Hunter Biden laptop story.”