The attorney general and several private individuals have argued that Psaki’s statements about encouraging social media firms to spread misinformation about the coronavirus and election fraud merit his questioning, but appeals judges swiftly disagreed.
“Plaintiffs argue that, among other things, the statement is required to clarify the meaning of these statements. Much of this desired illumination, however, is clear from the record,” Written by judges Edith Clement, Leslie Southwick and Stephen Higginson in their joint order. “In a similar vein, Plaintiffs contend that they need to disclose the identities of government officials and social media platforms mentioned in Psaki’s statements. The record is already replete with such information.
The 5th Circuit panel also suggested that in the absence of evidence that Psaki herself was negotiating with the social media firms or setting policy, there was no reason to seek her testimony.
The appeals judges wrote, “As press secretary, Psaki’s role was to inform the media about the administration’s priorities, not to develop or execute policy.” “Unexpectedly, the record does not demonstrate that Psaki possessed unique firsthand knowledge that would justify the extraordinary measure of removing a high-ranking executive.”
Clement and Southwick are appointees of President George W. Bush. Higginson was appointed by President Barack Obama.
“The central concern of this Court is that absent ‘extraordinary circumstances,’ statements from high government officials should not proceed,” the appeals judges wrote. “Regardless of who the officials are, this rule has been a constant for decades.”
The federal government has turned over several records in the case and statements from other officials have come forward, including from an FBI agent, who detailed the agency’s interactions with social media companies. Last month, the FBI issued a statement defending its contacts with Twitter, among other social media firms.
“The correspondence between the FBI and Twitter illustrates nothing more than examples of our traditional, long-standing and ongoing federal government and private sector engagements, involving a number of companies across a range of sectors and industries,” the statement said. ” “The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public. It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are spreading misinformation to the American public with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.
Psaki, who left the White House in May and now works for MSNBC, declined to comment on the decision Thursday. A spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey declined to comment.
“We have no problem with the court’s request. We look forward to receiving more discovery,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office said in a statement.
The appeals court also blocked three other depositions that Doughty, appointed by President Donald Trump, made in the case. In November, the same appeals panel said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director Jane Easterly, and White House director of digital strategy Rob Flaherty did not have to submit for questioning, while an appeals court considered the issue. discussed further.
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