What if we told you the Trump Justice Department, under the leadership of Bill "Dumpy Roy Cohn" Barr, used good time and resources to go after and try to "unmask" a fake Twitter account that hurt GOP Rep. Devin Nunes's feelings? That's right, it's not just about the congressman filing lawsuits against imaginary cows, this was OFFICIAL BSNS.

In case you did not just hear us, we just said THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION USED THE FORCE OF BILL BARR'S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO TRY TO UNMASK A FAKE TWITTER ACCOUNT FOR HURTING DEVIN NUNES'S FEELINGS. Was this at Devin Nunes's direct behest, or ... who? Who wanted this? WHO?

Or should we say ... moo?

You know, because unmasking is BAD when it involves Obama administration officials catching Trump associates doing improper things with Russian officials and spies, but it is GOOD when it's getting to the bottom of which Twitter accounts are making Devin feel like less of a man that day.


Here's how the New York Times sets it up:

The Justice Department under President Trump secretly obtained a grand-jury subpoena last year in an attempt to identify the person behind a Twitter account dedicated to mocking Representative Devin Nunes of California, according to a newly unsealed court document.

But Twitter fought the subpoena, as well as an associated gag order barring the company from talking about it publicly. Twitter executives raised skepticism about whether the Justice Department might be abusing federal criminal law-enforcement power to retaliate against a critic of Mr. Nunes, a Republican who is a close ally of Mr. Trump, in violation of the First Amendment.

Ultimately, according to a person familiar with the matter, the Justice Department withdrew the subpoena this spring, after President Biden took office.

Wow, elections really do matter.

The Barr DOJ was trying to force Twitter to unmask an account called @NunesAlt, which is different from the @DevinCow one y'all may be more familiar with. However, just like the Cruelty Cow, @NunesAlt makes fun of Devin Nunes a whole lot.

In Twitter's motion to quash the subpoena, unsealed Sunday by District Court Judge Beryl Howell, the company argued why the only appropriate answer to Barr's DOJ was "fuck off," though they said it nicer than that.

They laid out Rep. Nunes's sad and pathetic and frivolously litigious patterns of going after all the mean accounts on Twitter what make fun of him and make him cry sad moo tears. Wonkette has made fun of a few of those failed and failing lawsuits in our time! Hey, remember that time he sued his own constituents, including an innocent real farmer, because they were calling him a fake farmer? As Twitter noted, "In each of these cases, Congressman Nunes sought damages for what he believes were targeted attacks against his reputation, by being called names such as a 'treasonous cowpoke' on Twitter." In other words, DEVIN SAD!

From Twitter's filing to quash the subpoena:

It appears to Twitter that the Subpoena may be related to Congressman Devin Nunes's repeated efforts to unmask individuals behind parody accounts critical of him. His efforts to suppress critical speech are as well-publicized as they are unsuccessful. He recently sued Twitter, attempting to hold it liable for speech by the parody Twitter accounts @DevinCow, @DevinNunesMom, @fireDevinNunes, and @DevinGrapes, and asking the court in that case to order Twitter to disclose information identifying those accounts. Each of these accounts were engaged in anonymous political speech critical of Congressman Nunes. That suit was dismissed against Twitter in June 2020 because Twitter cannot be liable for information originating with a third-party user of its service, but it appears to still be an active lawsuit against the Twitter users @DevinCow and @DevinNunesMom. Shortly thereafter, Twitter received the Subpoena. Public Tweets posted by the Account indicate that it may be operated by the same user as @DevinNunesMom. Congressman Nunes's attorney also sought third-party discovery from Twitter to unmask the @DevinCowaccount in an entirely unrelated case.

Twitter received this grand jury subpoena on November 24, just a few weeks after Donald Trump lost the election. And from what grand jury? Oh, the DC US Attorney's office, which the Times helpfully reminds us was then run by Michael Sherwin. If that name sounds familiar, he was the Barr lackey (acting) US attorney who was running the investigation into the DC Trump terrorist attack until March, immediately after which he went on "60 Minutes" and blabbed about details of the investigations he shouldn't have been blabbing about, immediately leading some to suspect he was trying to throw a poison pill into the works. Oh yeah, and he's also the one who torpedoed in to blow up the prosecution of Michael Flynn.

He's a best people ass.

Anyway, DOJ filed a gag order telling Twitter not to say anything about the subpoena to the person who runs the mean account, for surely very important reasons. And per the Times, when Twitter asked DOJ what exactly the fuck DOJ thought it was doing here, Barr's DOJ said it was "part of a criminal investigation into a possible violation of a federal statute that makes it a felony to use interstate communications to threaten to injure someone. But the government refused to point to any particular tweet that made a threat." Sure.

Considering how we are dealing with Barr's DOJ, we'll just assume the threat of injury was TO DEVIN'S HEART FEELINGS.

The company's filing asked the judge overseeing the matter to take a searching look at the basis for the Justice Department's motivations in going after the user.

"As the custodian entrusted with the private identifying information that the government seeks, Twitter is concerned the subpoena may not be supported by a legitimate law enforcement purpose, and that therefore, there cannot be any need — let alone a compelling need — for the government to unmask the user," a lawyer for Twitter wrote in the court motion.

It continued: "As such, Twitter asks that the court engage in a searching analysis of the government's bases for issuing the subpoena in order to determine whether the subpoena violates the First Amendment and should be quashed."

This really happened. Really. And now, in May, it's been unsealed, by order of Judge Howell.

The @NunesAlt account has responded, appropriately, without even making any cow jokes about Devin Nunes:

As per Judge Howell, the DOJ has until Wednesday (tomorrow) to let the public see its response to Twitter's motion to quash the subpoena, specifying that the "name and contact information of the government attorney" who signed it be redacted. According to law-type websites, that's weird. Also might be some information we the public would like to know.

Guess we'll have to see what happens tomorrow.

[New York Times / Twitter filing]

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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the managing editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

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