Trump Says ‘Twitter Files’ Bolster Case Jan. 6 Ban Was Illegal

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump says Elon Musk’s release of internal files at Twitter Inc. show it was illegal censorship when he was banned on the platform for stoking the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Most Read from Bloomberg

The ex-president said in a court filing Wednesday it’s not enough that Twitter, under the new ownership of Musk, welcomed him back onto the platform late last year — an invitation he so far has snubbed.

He’s now asking the judge who threw out his legal challenge to the ban to reopen the lawsuit in light of “new evidence” — and validate his claim that he never should have been kicked off two days after his supporters stormed the US Capitol.

Trump’s lawyers are pinning their argument on a tranche of internal Twitter documents that Musk gave to two conservative journalists, who published a series called the Twitter Files. The internal communications showed Twitter employees discussing the removal of Trump from the platform and handling right-leaning accounts that spread misinformation.

Trump’s Twitter Legal Battle Lingers After Musk Allows Him Back

The files and the deposition of an FBI agent in an unrelated case are being offered by the ex-president’s attorneys as proof of what he’s claimed all along: that government agencies were behind his ouster from the platform and thereby violated his free speech.

“The Twitter Files show that the FBI and other federal agencies, the White House, leading members of Congress, and congressional staff collaborated with and pressured Twitter to remove politically disfavored content,” according to the filing.

In the dismissal of Trump’s suit a year ago, US District Judge James Donato in San Francisco agreed with Twitter’s position that the company, as a private actor, can decide who gets to use its platform and isn’t violating the Constitution when it bans users. Donato called Trump’s suit “a grab-bag of allegations” related to how lawmakers reacted to Trump’s tweets around Jan. 6.

Trump’s Censorship Attack on Twitter Fails to Get Ban Lifted

After Trump appealed Donato’s ruling, Twitter’s lawyers argued to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the fight is moot because Musk reinstated Trump’s account.

Musk, who vowed when he took over Twitter to champion free speech, has said the Twitter Files revealed the platform’s bias against conservative viewpoints.

The first installment of the Twitter Files detailed how the company “handled” tweets flagged for content moderation review “from the Biden team.”

“If this isn’t a violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment, what is?” Musk tweeted in December.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.