Lauren C. Moye, FISM News
Three top Biden administration officials will no longer be required to testify in the government-tech collusion probe after a U.S. district judge ruled on Thursday that he failed to originally consider less intrusive means to obtain information.
The lawsuit in the matter was brought forth by the attorneys general of Lousiana and Missouri, who allege that government leaders either colluded with or coerced Big Tech companies like Facebook and Twitter to suppress certain viewpoints, including COVID-19 information and the Hunter Biden laptop story.
On Dec. 12, District Judge Terry A. Doughty from the Western District of Louisiana sided with Biden officials in his appellate court-ordered rehearing of arguments. Now, oral depositions will no longer occur of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly, and Rob Flaherty, who serves as a deputy assistant to President Joe Biden.
Doughty ruled on Oct. 21 that these officials, along with others in the Biden Administration like White House chief medical advisor Dr. Antony Fauci, would have to provide testimony. He was asked on Nov. 21 by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider his earlier order on how depositions could be taken.
The district judge ultimately found he had failed to consider if the depositions “could be addressed through less intrusive, alternate means” since the individuals involved are top government officials.
Instead, it was ordered that Flaherty be served with a written discovery. The attorney generals argue that Flaherty, as the Director of Digital Strategy for the White House, was a key official in the government’s “pressure campaign on social-media companies,” particularly where COVID-19 censorship is a concern. Flaherty met extensively with Twitter, Meta, and Youtube during that period.
Meanwhile, the deposition of Brian Waldo, Murthy’s chief of staff, will first be taken to determine if the surgeon general’s deposition will still be necessary. According to the Oct. 21st court order, plaintiffs established Murthy’s knowledge of collusion and his having personally demanded greater censorship efforts to be placed on COVID-19 “misinformation.”
In place of Easterly, the court orders Brian Skully, CISA’s chief of the “Mis-Dis-Mal-information” team, will provide information instead of Easterly. This name refers to a team meant to investigate misinformation, disinformation, and “malinformation.” Each delineates different scenarios in which untruths circulate, including both accidental and intentional.
The Intercept’s investigative report on years of government involvement in social media censorship named this mis-dis-mal information team as being key in suppression efforts.
Doughty was also asked to reconsider if it was necessary for former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki to be deposed. However, he ruled that no suitable alternates existed to provide the same knowledge that Psaki possesses regarding the identity of federal officials frequently referenced in her press conferences.
The lawsuit was brought by the attorneys general on May 5. They originally requested the depositions on Oct. 10.