A federal judge on Friday ordered Dr. Anthony Fauci, former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, and other officials from the Biden administration and the FBI, to testify under oath at depositions in a lawsuit over alleged collusion to censor information on social media during the pandemic.
District Court Judge Terry Doughty granted a request by the National Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) for depositions in the lawsuit, State of Missouri ex rel. Schmitt, et al. v. Biden, et al.
🚨 🚨🚨 The court has granted our request to depose Dr. Anthony Fauci, former White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki, FBI Supervisory
Special Agent Elvis Chan, and other Biden Administration officials relating to collusion with social media to suppress free speech.
— AG Jeff Landry (@AGJeffLandry) October 21, 2022
The NCLA joined the states’ lawsuit in August, representing renowned epidemiologists Drs. Jayanta Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff, as well as Dr. Aaron Kheriaty and Jill Hines.
Earlier interrogatories in this lawsuit identified 45 federal officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the CDC, Dr. Fauci’s NIAID, the Office of the Surgeon General, and others who communicated with social media companies about “misinformation” and censorship.
The plaintiffs believe those named have specific individual details by virtue of their position. For example, CDC Chief of the Digital Media Branch Carol Crawford leads the agency’s digital media activities. Interrogatory responses revealed Crawford was holding regular “Be On the Lookout” meetings with staff from the social media companies. In these meetings, attendees reviewed specific social media posts containing “misinformation.” –PJ Media
For example, a look at the timeline shows that in February of 2020, Fauci, former NIH Director Francis Collins, and several other advisers were discussing a ZeroHedge article on a pre-print paper out of India suggesting that Covid-19 had similar features to HIV. Within a day, Twitter suspended us for publishing evidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology – which was conducting NIH-funded experiments to make bat Covid more transmissible to humans – might have something to do with the exotic new Covid-19 strain that broke out across town at a wet market.
Twitter’s excuse? That we ‘doxxed’ a Chinese scientist, using publicly available information (i.e. not doxxing), who created a job posting related to his research on bat Covid.
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) October 21, 2022
And then of course there’s the case of Alex Berenson, who sued his way back onto Twitter and obtained evidence of top-down censorship of his opinion (and receipts) that mRNA vaccines were a failure.
Also notable is that Peter Daszak, head of New York-based nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, was both deeply involved in manipulating bat Covid at the WIV – and also wanted to create ‘chimeric viruses, genetically enhanced to infect humans more easily,’ but his $14 million request to DARPA was declined for being too risky.
And after Sars-CoV-2 broke out in the same town where Daszak was manipulating bat Covid, The Lancet published a screed by Daszak (signed by over two-dozen scientists), which insisted Covid could have only come from a natural spillover event, likely from a wet market, and that the scientists “stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.” The Lancet only later noted Daszak’s conflicts of interest.
Did Fauci or the NIH play a role in Daszak’s attempt at damage control and narrative-shaping?
In the case of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the plaintiffs seek specific underlying information regarding some communications that are already public. Younes cited the email exchange between Fauci and former NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins discussing a takedown of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration and NCLA clients Drs. Jayanta Bhattacharya and Martin Kulldorff. Fauci also did not complete or sign his own interrogatory as is customary.
Judge Doughty noted this breach of custom in his ruling (emphasis added): “Lastly, Plaintiffs argue that Dr. Fauci’s credibility has been in question on matters related to supposed COVID-19 ‘misinformation’ since 2020. Specifically, Plaintiffs state that Dr. Fauci has made public statements on the efficacy of masks, the percentage of the population needed for herd immunity, NIAID’s funding of ‘gain-of-function’ virus research in Wuhan, the lab-leak theory, and more. Plaintiffs urge that his comments on these important issues are relevant to the matter at hand and are further reasons why Dr. Fauci should be deposed. Plaintiffs assert that they should not be required to simply accept Dr. Fauci’s ‘self-serving blanket denials’ that were issued from someone other than himself at face value. The Court agrees.” -PJ Media
“For the first time, Dr. Fauci and seven other federal officials responsible for running an unlawful censorship enterprise will have to answer questions under oath about the nature and extent of their communications with tech companies,” NCLA attorney Jenin Younes told the Epoch Times.
Fauci’s ‘Self-Serving Blanket Denials’
In his ruling, Doughty said he agreed with plaintiffs that Fauci’s previous “self-serving blanket denials” about his role in censoring views on social media couldn’t be taken at face value.
“Plaintiffs argue that even if Dr. Fauci can prove he never communicated with social media platforms about censorship, there are compelling reasons that suggest Dr. Fauci has acted through intermediaries, and acted on behalf of others, in procuring the social-media censorship of credible scientific opinions.
“Plaintiffs argue that even if Dr. Fauci acted indirectly or as an intermediary on behalf of others, it is still relevant to Plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction motion. The Court agrees.
“Lastly, Plaintiffs argue that Dr. Fauci’s credibility has been in question on matters related to supposed COVID-19 ‘misinformation’ since 2020. Specifically, Plaintiffs state that Dr. Fauci has made public statements on the efficacy of masks, the percentage of the population needed for herd immunity, NIAID’s funding of ‘gain-of-function’ virus research in Wuhan, the lab-leak theory, and more.
“Plaintiffs urge that his comments on these important issues are relevant to the matter at hand and are further reasons why Dr. Fauci should be deposed. Plaintiffs assert that they should not be required to simply accept Dr. Fauci’s ‘self-serving blanket denials’ that were issued from someone other than himself at face value. The Court agrees,” Doughty said in his ruling (pdf).
Censoring Lab Leak Theory
The plaintiffs argued that Fauci allegedly insisted on the censorship of “speech backed by great scientific credibility and with enormous potential nationwide impact” that contradicted Fauci’s views.
Fauci, for example, communicated in a long-shielded phone call with some scientists to discredit any theory that COVID-19 was the result of a “lab leak” in Wuhan, China. The scientists went on to write a paper severely reprimanding others who were open to the theory.
If the lab leak theory were true, in turn, it would mean Fauci could be potentially implicated in funding the research on viruses that caused the pandemic which killed millions worldwide, plaintiffs argued. This is because Fauci funded risky “gain-of-function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology through intermediaries such as EcoHealth Alliance.
In late January 2020 and early February 2020, Fauci was also in touch with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in oral communications about the government’s COVID-19 response. Facebook then allegedly went on censor the lab leak theory, plaintiffs argued.
‘Overwhelming’ Need to Depose Officials
The court also found that Flaherty, Slavitt, Psaki, and other officials also have personal knowledge about the alleged censorship issues and ordered them to be deposed.
Doughty said there is an “overwhelming” need for Flaherty to be deposed to determine whether fundamental rights to free speech were “abridged” as a result of alleged collusion between senior Biden administration officials and Big Tech.
Plaintiffs argued Flaherty had “extensive” oral meetings with Twitter, Meta, and YouTube on vaccine hesitancy and combatting misinformation related to COVID-19.
The judge said there is a “substantive need” for the deposition of Slavitt, who served as the White House’s senior COVID-19 advisor. Doughty noted Slavitt’s remarks on a podcast which “showed he has specific knowledge as it relates” to the issues in the lawsuit.
The court order cited a series of public comments made by Psaki when she served as White House press secretary, including calling on social media platforms for consistency in banning disfavored speakers.
“Psaki has made a number of statements that are relevant to the Government’s involvement in a number of social-media platforms’ efforts to censor its users across the board for sharing information related to COVID-19,” Doughty said in his ruling.
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Of course, nothing like a realist to put things in perspective.