Judge Orders Biden Administration to Produce More Evidence in Big Tech Censorship Case

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a news writer for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States, world, and business news.
January 26, 2023Updated: January 26, 2023

The Biden administration has been ordered by a Louisana court to disclose documents relating to five national security officials that could reveal their possible involvement in the government’s supposed collusion with big tech to suppress election-related social media content deemed to be “misinformation” or “disinformation,” court documents show.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry called on the court to order the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), an operational component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to disclose documents and obtain testimony from five CISA employees: Chad Josiah, Rob Schaul, Alex Zaheer, John Stafford, and Pierce Lowary, court documents dated Jan. 19 (pdf) show.

Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee, approved their order, according to court documents (pdf) dated Jan. 25.

Their request came shortly after the deposition of CISA election security agent Brian Scully, a full transcript (pdf) of which was released by Landry on Jan. 19.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 22, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

‘Switchboard Work on Behalf of Election Officials’

In that deposition, Scully revealed that in 2020, CISA “did some switchboard work on behalf of election officials,” which revolved around “receiving alerts from elections officials about social media content they deemed to be disinformation and then CISA routing those concerns to social media companies.”

Scully told officials during his deposition that the work was mainly being conducted to ensure that social media companies were “aware” of the supposed disconfirmation.

“Over the course of the election I think we forwarded about 200 emails, total,” Scully said of emails sent to social media firms.

However, he noted that there was an “understanding” that those companies would then apply their moderation policies to the flagged content.

He added that at least five other individuals were involved in the switchboard work, prompting Bailey and Landry to ask the court to ensure the disclosure of the documents and testimony relating to five national security officials.

Judge Doughty in his approval of the order, said that “federal Defendants argue that the information requested is not relevant to the preliminary injunction because the ‘switchboarding’ was done prior to the 2020 election, and the practice has been disbanded.”

Epoch Times Photo
Logos for social media apps are shown on a cell phone screen. (Pixelkult/Pixabay)

Missouri, Louisiana File Lawsuit Against Biden Admin

“That issue remains to be seen. Plaintiffs should not have to rely on Federal Defendants’ representations. Plaintiffs have the right to obtain the information to make that determination for themselves,” the judge wrote.

Therefore, Doughty ordered that the CISA must “supplement their answers to and requests for production to include responsive answers and production of documents” with information from the CISA employees within 14 days from the date of the order.

The latest move is part of a court-ordered discovery process in a lawsuit filed in May 2022 by Missouri and Louisiana against the Biden administration alleging big tech collusion to suppress free speech.

In their lawsuit (pdf), the two states claimed that President Biden and high-ranking members of the government colluded and coerced social media companies to “suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content” or what they claimed was “misinformation” on everything from COVID-19 and its origins to the elections.

In December, judge Doughty ruled that three of the defendants named in the lawsuit, namely, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly, and Rob Flaherty, a deputy assistant to President Joe Biden, would not need to appear for a deposition as part of the lawsuit and that less “intrusive” means could be used to obtain the information being sought from them.

The White House has denied claims that it colluded with social media companies to censor free speech on multiple topics, including COVID-19 and elections.

The Epoch Times has contacted DHS for comment.

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