According to newly revealed information, the Justice Department under Trump era Attorney General Bill Barr issued a subpoena demanding the identity of the individual behind a certain Twitter account that has been critical of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a close Trump ally.
The subpoena — with which Twitter never complied as the Justice Department demanded and which was eventually dropped following the transfer of power to the Biden team — appears to have been a possible direct favor for an ally of the then-president. Attorney Daniel Goldman, who was a former lead lawyer involved in the first impeachment proceedings against Trump, said that Barr should lose his law license over the subpoena.
Twitter fought the subpoena, although there was a gag order in place that was originally preventing the company from discussing their fight publicly. Now, after the revelation of the stunning situation, Goldman commented on Twitter as follows:
‘What possible basis could Barr’s DOJ have to issue this subpoena? This appears to be Barr using the awesome power of a grand jury subpoena as a personal favor to a political ally. Barr should not have a law license anymore.’
What possible basis could Barr’s DOJ have to issue this subpoena? This appears to be Barr using the awesome power of a grand jury subpoena as a personal favor to a political ally. Barr should not have a law license anymore. https://t.co/8womLNdtFo
— Daniel Goldman (@danielsgoldman) May 17, 2021
Originally, Twitter noted in a previously private court filing that, according to their estimation, the subpoena “may be related to Congressman Devin Nunes’s repeated efforts to unmask individuals behind parody accounts critical of him.” Using the powers of the Justice Department to go after a private critic of a politician seems, of course, like a galling abuse of power that fits right in with other efforts by Trump and his allies to target their critics. At one point, Trump even suggested that protesting itself should be illegal after high-profile shows of opposition to his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh.
In their previously private court filing, Twitter added that they were “concerned that this Subpoena is but another mechanism to attack its users’ First Amendment rights.” Former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Richard Signorelli insisted that the Justice Department official who signed off on the subpoena targeting the Nunes critic should face investigation.
This outrageous subpoena was issued by AUSA Michael J. Friedman. He should have refused the assignment. Instead, he now needs to be investigated. https://t.co/JLghuylbMX
— Richard Signorelli (@richsignorelli) May 18, 2021