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The Trump Justice Department tried forcing Twitter to reveal the identity of a Devin Nunes parody account

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AP21004507382996
In this Oct. 19, 2018 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to sign a "Presidential Memorandum Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West," Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz.. Standing behind the president is Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
  • The Trump Department of Justice tried to force Twitter to say who was behind the account, @NunesAlt.

  • The account makes fun of Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican and Trump loyalist.

  • "I'm learning about this just as everyone else is," the person behind @NunesAlt told Insider.

  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

The US Department of Justice tried to use its subpoena power to reveal the identity of a person on Twitter who made fun of one of former Donald Trump's top allies in Congress, according to a court document revealed Monday.

According to the document, first reported by The Wall Street Journal's Kevin Poulsen, the department - then under the control of former Attorney General William Barr - last year sought to compel Twitter to reveal who was behind the account, @NunesAlt.

The action came months after a judge threw out a lawsuit from Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican and Trump loyalist, which had alleged that the account and others like it were guilty of defamation.

Specifically, the Justice Department sought all "customer or subscriber account information" for @NunesAlt, beginning October 1, 2020. It also fought to prevent the demand from being made public, claiming that doing so could lead to the destruction of evidence.

Twitter, however, noted the timing in its response to the Justice Department's demand. In the filing, which had been kept out of the public eye until now, the company said the subpoena "may be related to Congressman Devin Nunes's repeated efforts to unmask individuals behind parody accounts critical of him." Twitter characterized those efforts as an attempt "to suppress critical speech."

The subpoena was withdrawn soon after President Joe Biden took office, The New York Times reported. It was originally obtained by a US attorney, Michael R. Sherwin, who had been installed on an acting basis by Attorney General Barr.

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A spokesperson for Nunes did not immediately return a request for comment. After losing the 2020 election, Trump gave Nunes the Presidential Medal of Freedom, thanking the lawmaker for his steadfast commitment to defending him.

The person behind @NunesAlt, meanwhile, told Insider they were befuddled by the latest development, which came as a total shock.

"I'm learning about this just as everyone else is," they said.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

Read the original article on Business Insider

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