Judge rules FBI official must sit for deposition in big tech misinformation collusion case

In late October, Doughty ordered the depositions of a host of officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, in relation to the same case.

Updated: November 14, 2022 - 6:00pm

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A federal judge has rejected a bid from the Biden administration seeking to block the deposition of an FBI official in connection to a probe exploring bureau efforts to pressure Big Tech companies to censor alleged misinformation.

Republican attorneys general for Missouri and Louisiana had sought the testimony of FBI supervisory special agent Elvis Chan due to his being the "principal point of contact between social-media platforms and the FBI Section that combats so-called 'disinformation' on social media," per the Epoch Times.

He also "routinely organizes and participates in oral meetings with social-media platforms about election-related disinformation and... has openly boasted about coordinating with social-media platforms to combat misinformation and disinformation," they asserted.

The Biden administration attempted to block Chan's deposition, pointing to a letter from Meta indicating he played no role in the firm's decision to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story, a New York Post article detailing damaging information on the Biden family recovered from the future first son's laptop. That story was widely panned as disinformation and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the FBI had pressured the company to censor it. The story was later confirmed.

Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee, took issue with the administration's argument, asserting that "[i]f Chan played no role in the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story, then such information will be made clear in his deposition."

"Chan had authority over cybersecurity issues for the FBI in the San Francisco, California region, which includes the headquarters of major social-media platforms and played a critical role for the FBI in coordinating with social-media platforms related to censorship," Doughty wrote. "Even if Chan played no role in the Hunter Biden laptop communication issue, he may have knowledge of who did, and his deposition is nonetheless warranted."

The ruling comes the same day that Doughty rejected partial stay requests to block the depositions of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly and White House Digital Strategy Director Rob Flaherty.

In late October, Doughty ordered the depositions of a host of officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, in relation to the same case.

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