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Missouri, Louisiana Request Depositions and Add 47 Defendants to Lawsuit Against Federal Government for Alleged Collusion with Social Media Companies

Oct 10, 2022, 10:10 AM by AG Schmitt
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry have filed a second amended complaint that adds 47 defendants (total of 67) to their lawsuit against the federal government for allegedly colluding with social media giants to censor freedom of speech. The list of new defendants include top officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the White House, and others. Further, Missouri and Louisiana plan to file a motion soon requesting that the Court allow the states to take the depositions of a number of key defendants.

“Missouri and Louisiana filed a landmark lawsuit, seeking to expose that the federal government has worked hand-in-hand with social media companies to censor freedom of speech on their platforms. Our lawsuit has done exactly that – we’ve found a staggering ‘censorship enterprise’ that extends to a multitude of federal agencies and implicates government officials at the highest levels of government, but we’re not done yet,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “Now, we’ve added 47 additional defendants to our lawsuit, including several FBI agents and more top-ranking White House officials. We’re also asking the Court to allow our offices to take depositions to question these officials under oath. We’re only just getting started.”
 
"Throughout this case, we have uncovered a disturbing amount of collusion between Big Tech and Big Government," added Attorney General Landry. "This egregious attack on our First Amendment will be met with an equally full-hearted defense of the rights of the American people."
 
Included on the list of new defendants are top White House officials Andy Slavitt and Rob Flaherty and White House Counsel Dana Remus, FBI Section Chief for the Foreign Influence Task Force Laura Dehmlow, CDC Deputy Communications Director Kate Galatas, and other top-ranking officials.
 
Referring to the addition of the FBI defendants, the petition states, “Defendant Laura Dehmlow is the Section Chief for the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force.  She is sued in her official capacity… Defendant Elvis M. Chan is Supervisory Special Agent of Squad CY-1 in the San Francisco Division of the FBI.  On information and belief, he has authority over cybersecurity issues for FBI in that geographical region, which includes the headquarters of major social-media platforms, and he plays a critical role for FBI and FITF in coordinating with social-media platforms relating to censorship and suppression of speech on their platforms.”
 
The complaint continued, “Pursuant to the third-party subpoena, Meta has identified the FBI’s FITF, as supervised by Laura Dehmlow, and Elvis Chan as involved in the communications between the FBI and Meta that led to Facebook’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story.”
 
Missouri and Louisiana have also provided an initial list of requested deposition subjects to the Department of Justice, and plan to file a motion asking the Court to grant deposition requests and allow Missouri and Louisiana to question, under oath, certain defendants named in the lawsuit.
 
The complaint alleges, “Such communications from the White House impose maximal pressure on social-media companies, which clearly yields the sought-after results.  And federal officials are fully aware that such pressure is necessary to induce social-media platforms to increase censorship of views that diverge from the government’s.  CISA Director Jen Easterly, for example, texted with Matthew Masterson about ‘trying to get us in a place where Fed can work with platforms to better understand the mis/dis trends so relevant agencies can try to prebunk/debunk as useful,’ and complained about the Government’s need to overcome the social-media platforms’ ‘hesitation’ to working with the government: ‘Platforms have got to get more comfortable with gov’t.  It’s really interesting how hesitant they remain.’”
 
In that same vein, the complaint notes, “In fact, such pressure from government officials on social-media companies, along with the many public statements alleged in the Complaint, have succeeded on a grand scale.  A veritable army of federal bureaucrats are involved in censorship activities ‘across the federal enterprise.’  There are so many, in fact, that CISA Director Easterly and Matthew Masterson complained in text messages that ‘chaos’ would result if all federal officials were ‘independently’ contacting social-media platforms about so-called misinformation… On information and belief, as alleged above, the ‘Disinformation Governance Board’ was created to impose a bureaucratic structure on the enormous censorship activities already occurring involving dozens of federal officials and many federal agencies.”
 
The petition can be found here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/doc-84---second-amended-complaint.pdf?sfvrsn=ddefcefa_2
 

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