Judge orders Fauci, White House press secretary to testify in social media censorship lawsuit

"Dr. Fauci’s communications would be relevant" to allegations of federal speech suppression related to lab-leak theory, efficiency of masks and COVID-19 lockdowns, judge says.

Published: September 7, 2022 10:48am

Updated: September 7, 2022 11:31am

A federal judge has knocked down the government's objections to require White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci and press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to answer "interrogatories" in the social media censorship lawsuit by Louisiana and Missouri attorneys general Jeff Landry and Eric Schmitt.

Their First Amendment suit has already uncovered intimate cooperation between social media companies and 50-plus federal officials at a dozen agencies or components, including the White House, to flag, throttle and remove purported misinformation about COVID-19, election security and the Hunter Biden laptop story.

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty said Tuesday "the requested information is obviously very relevant" to the collusion allegations, citing Fauci's communications related to "alleged suppression of speech relating to the lab-leak theory of COVID-19’s origin, and to alleged suppression of speech about the efficiency of masks and COVID-19 lockdowns." 

According to the suit, Jean-Pierre's communications could be relevant to: "The Hunter Biden laptop story prior to the 2020 Presidential election, speech about the lab-leak theory of COVID19’s origin; speech about the efficiency of masks and COVID-19 lockdowns; and speech about election integrity and security of voting by mail."

Doughty rebuffed the government's claim that the plaintiffs, which include censored doctors represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance, should have to seek information from other sources first.

"This is the only chance Plaintiffs will have to get this information prior to addressing the preliminary injunction," the judge wrote.

Fauci is also ordered to respond to interrogatories in his capacity as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Doughty ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to provide "response discovery answers" as to several officials "identified by [Facebook owner] Meta as likely engaged in responsive communications with Meta."

The defendants have 21 days to turn over the requested communications.

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