There’s been another development in the lawsuit filed by Missouri and Louisiana against the Biden Administration. The suit, initially filed in May in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, names numerous Biden Administration officials and agencies as Defendants, alleging that they colluded with social media companies to suppress and censor free speech on several topics, including Hunter Biden’s “laptop from hell” and the Wuhan lab leak theory surrounding the origins of COVID-19. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has since been substituted as a Defendant for her predecessor, Jen Psaki. Dr. Anthony Fauci is also a named Defendant.
As we reported last week:
Missouri and Louisiana are detailing in a joint statement some of what they have uncovered in the suit so far, and it spells big trouble for the Biden Administration, according to Missouri Attorney General Eric 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,” Schmitt said.”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.”
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The joint statement called it a vast “Censorship Enterprise.” It explained that the DOJ provided the two states with information pursuant to the suit, identifying 45 federal officials who have interacted with social media companies on misinformation. But on top of that, Meta identified 32 additional federal officials, including White House officials, who communicated with them; YouTube also identified 11 federal officials, including White House officials, many of whom were not disclosed by the DOJ.
On Tuesday, Judge Terry A. Doughty issued an Order directing both Dr. Fauci and Jean-Pierre to respond to discovery requests directed to them within 21 days.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt shared news of the ruling on Twitter:
Judge Doughty had previously granted Plaintiffs’ request for expedited discovery. However, ongoing discovery disputes that the parties had not been able to resolve required an additional ruling by the court. At issue were the following:
1. Whether Plaintiffs should be allowed leave of court to file a Second Amended Complaint adding as defendants newly identified federal officials and agencies, and obtain expedited discovery against them;
2. Whether Government Defendants should be required to identify federal officials and agencies they know of outside of their own agencies who have or are engaged in communications with social-media platforms about misinformation, disinformation, or malinformation, and/or censorship or suppression of speech or social-media, and produce such communications in their possession;
3. Whether Government Defendants should be allowed to seek reciprocal discovery against Plaintiffs;
4. Whether the White House Defendants, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (“Jean-Pierre”), and Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci (“Dr. Fauci”) should be compelled to respond to Plaintiffs’ interrogatories and document requests;
5. Whether Dr. Fauci, in his capacity as National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (“NIAID”) Director, should be required to provide additional responses to Plaintiffs’ interrogatories and document requests.
In a nutshell, the Court ruled:
Yes as to adding additional Defendants; no as to expediting discovery directed to the newly added Defendants;
No (as to the expedited discovery – this does not prejudice any request for merits-based discovery in the event it is ordered);
No (as the Government Defendants have not filed a Motion requesting or setting forth a legal basis for it);
Yes – within 21 days;
Yes – as to specific Interrogatories (written questions).
Schmitt’s office issued the following statement regarding the ruling:
Sep 6, 2022, 15:18 PM by AG Schmitt
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced today that, in his lawsuit against top-ranking Biden Administration officials for allegedly colluding to suppress freedom of speech, the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted Missouri and Louisiana’s request to compel the federal government to produce records from top-ranking White House and Health and Human Services (HHS) officials. This ruling specifically allows the attorneys general to collect the communications between key White House and Department of Health and Senior Services officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, and Twitter, Meta, and others.
“Up until this point, the Department of Justice has refused to cooperate with our requests for discovery from top officials in the Biden Administration under the guise of ‘executive privilege.’ Today, the Court entered an order that requires that the federal government turn over the records we’ve long requested,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “The American people deserve answers on how the federal government has colluded with social media companies to censor free speech on these major platforms. We will continue to fight to uncover more of this vast censorship enterprise.”
The original lawsuit was filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry on May 5, 2022. Missouri and Louisiana filed a Motion for Expedited Preliminary Injunction-Related Discovery on June 17, 2022, and that motion was granted on July 12, 2022, clearing the way for Missouri and Louisiana to gather discovery and documents from Biden Administration officials and social media companies.
The attorneys general filed a Joint Statement on Discovery Disputes, asking the federal District Court to compel the Department of Justice to turn over communications between high-ranking Biden Administration officials from the White House, HHS, and others and major social media companies. That request was granted today, specifically for the communications of Dr. Anthony Fauci and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre with social-media platforms.
Assuming they comply with the ruling and do not request/obtain an extension, the responses from Fauci and Jean-Pierre are due on or before September 27th. Obviously, there has already been some eyebrow-raising information revealed. No doubt, AG Schmitt’s office will announce additional information as it becomes available and we’ll continue to update the story here at RedState.
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