NEWS ARCHIVES

Missouri and Louisiana Attorneys General Ask Court to Compel Department of Justice to Produce Communications Between Top Officials and Social Media Companies

Sep 1, 2022, 09:22 AM by AG Schmitt
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Yesterday, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry filed a Joint Statement on Discovery Disputes, asking the Louisiana District Court to compel the Department of Justice to turn over communications between high-ranking Biden Administration officials from the White House, Department of State, FBI and others and major social media companies. The Department of Justice has already turned over communications between a number of federal officials and social media companies but has refused to provide communications between top-ranking officials and social media companies.

“Missouri and Louisiana filed a landmark lawsuit back in May that seeks to expose how top Biden Administration officials allegedly colluded with social media companies to censor freedom of speech on a number of topics, including COVID-19. We won in court in July, and the Court required the Biden Administration to turn over communications between federal officials and social media companies,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “We have already received a number of documents that clearly prove that the federal government has an incestuous relationship with social media companies and clearly coordinate to censor freedom of speech, but we’re not done. The Department of Justice is cowering behind executive privilege and has refused to turn over communications between the highest-ranking Biden Administration officials and social media companies. That’s why, yesterday, we asked the Court to compel the Department of Justice to produce those records. We’re just getting started – stay tuned.”
 
The communications already provided by the Department of Justice to the plaintiff states show, as the joint statement points out, a vast “Censorship Enterprise” across a multitude of federal agencies. In response to Missouri and Louisiana’s interrogatories, defendants identified 45 federal officials at DHS, CISA, the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General (all of which are contained in either DHS or HHS) that communicate with social media platforms about “misinformation” and censorship. The joint statement points out, “But in those responses, Defendants did not provide information about any federal officials at other federal agencies of whom they are aware who engage in such communications with social-media platforms about misinformation and censorship, though Plaintiffs had specifically asked for this highly relevant information. Defendants’ document production, however, reveals that such officials at other federal agencies exist—for example, their emails include extensive copying of officials at the Census Bureau, and they also include communications involving the Departments of Treasury and State.”
 
Beyond the Department of Justice’s production, “Meta, for example, has disclosed that at least 32 federal officials—including senior officials at the FDA, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and the White House—have communicated with Meta about content moderation on its platforms, many of whom were not disclosed in response to Plaintiffs’ interrogatories to Defendants. YouTube disclosed eleven federal officials engaged in such communications, including officials at the Census Bureau and the White House, many of whom were also not disclosed by Defendants.”
 
The joint statement continues, “The discovery provided so far demonstrates that this Censorship Enterprise is extremely broad, including officials in the White House, HHS, DHS, CISA, the CDC, NIAID, and the Office of the Surgeon General; and evidently other agencies as well, such as the Census Bureau, the FDA, the FBI, the State Department, the Treasury Department, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. And it rises to the highest levels of the U.S. Government, including numerous White House officials. Defendants have objected to producing some of the most relevant and probative information in their possession.”
 
This “Censorship Enterprise” is proven by the Department of Justice’s productions thus far, but the full extent of federal officials’ collusion with social media companies on censorship is unknown until the Department of Justice produces further communications requested by Missouri and Louisiana.
 
A senior Facebook official sent an email to the Surgeon General stating, “I know our teams met today to better understand the scope of what the White House expects from us on misinformation going forward.” This email chain follows the SG’s “misinformation health advisory” in July 2021: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/hhs-fb-email-1.pdf?sfvrsn=53bc4454_2
 
The same senior official sent a later email to HHS and noted, "Thanks again for taking the time to meet earlier today." Then, the official continued to discuss how Facebook is taking even more steps to censor freedom of speech: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/hhs-fb-exhibit.pdf?sfvrsn=55bd83df_2
 
Twitter scheduled a meeting to debrief top White House officials on “vaccine misinformation.”: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/twitter-vaccine-meeting-wh.pdf?sfvrsn=6599e359_2b 
 
There are several instances where Facebook wouldn’t proceed with censoring freedom of speech on their platform until they had input, or a “debunking” from the CDC. Twitter followed the same course in at least one email.

 
The CDC also proposed a monthly pre-debunking meeting with Facebook to help them censor free speech (https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/cdc-fb-monthly-debunk.pdf?sfvrsn=3508a21f_2) as well as regular “Be on the Lookout” calls with major social media outlets: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/cdc-bolo-meeting.pdf?sfvrsn=9a060658_2
 
A White House official was even concerned about parody Fauci accounts and coordinated with FB to take them down: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/fake-fauci.pdf?sfvrsn=a9d8f2bf_2

The joint petition can be found here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/free-speech-pitch-thread-docs/doc-71---joint-statement-on-discovery-disputes.pdf?sfvrsn=3b968800_2