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Fauci and Others Will be Deposed

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I’ve posted before on our Missouri v. Biden lawsuit, in which the states of Missouri and Louisiana — along with four private plaintiffs (Jay Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff, the advocacy organization Health Freedom Louisiana, and yours truly) represented by the New Civil Liberties Alliance — are suing the Biden Administration for alleged free speech violations.

We now have strong evidence that the executive branch of the federal government has been colluding with social media to censor content on social media platforms — including Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram — that questions, challenges, or contradicts the government’s covid policies.

This week, the federal judge in the case granted our request to obtain deposition testimony, under oath, from the following current or former government officials:

  1. NIAID Director and White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci
  2. Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of White House Digital Strategy Rob Flaherty OR former White House Senior COVID-19 Advisory Andrew Slavitt
  3. Former White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki
  4. FBI Supervisory Special Agent Elvis Chan
  5. CISA Director Jen Easterly OR CISA official Lauren Protentis
  6. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy
  7. CDC Chief of the Digital Media Branch Carol Crawford
  8. Acting Coordinator of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center Daniel Kimmage.

It’s worth noting that Fauci (maybe?) responded to his interrogatory written questions, denying that he had any communications with social media platforms. But he also responded in a potentially slippery manner—specifically, he allowed underling Jill Harper to sign off on the NAIAD responses, even though the written questions were addressed by our attorneys to him. The judge refused to take his written-word-by-proxy as sufficient, as the court order describes:

Government Defendants have submitted to Plaintiffs interrogatory responses on behalf of Dr. Fauci, asserting that he has had no direct communications with any social-media platforms regarding censorship. Plaintiffs argue in turn that they should not be required to simply accept those blanket statements as they were submitted, and they argue three reasons why Dr. Fauci should be questioned under oath.

First, Plaintiffs assert that Dr. Fauci has refused to verify under oath his own interrogatory responses in violation of this Court’s Order. The NIAID’s responses were instead verified by Dr. Jill Harper, who was not named in the Complaint. Accordingly, Dr. Fauci has made no statements under oath regarding his communications with social-media platforms, which violates this Court’s Order regarding the discovery that instructed Dr. Fauci to provide interrogatory responses. The Court sees the importance of having Dr. Fauci make statements under oath as it relates to the issues of this matter.

Next, 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. 

The Court concluded that Fauci’s written word was not sufficient given other evidence in the record, some of which was presented in our complaint and summarized in the judge’s order:

After reviewing the Plaintiffs and the Defendants’ arguments, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have proven that Dr. Fauci has personal knowledge about the issue concerning censorship across social media as it related to COVID-19 and ancillary issues of COVID-19. The Court has considered that Dr. Fauci is a high-ranking official, especially as he is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to the President. The Court sees the only potential burden imposed on Dr. Fauci as a result of him being deposed is that of his time.

However, the Court acknowledges that any person who is being deposed must sacrifice their time, and it does not see any burden imposed on Dr. Fauci that outweighs the Court’s need for the information in order to make the most informative decision on the pending Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by Plaintiffs. Finally, the Court is aware of a number of substantive reasons why Dr. Fauci’s deposition should be taken. 

The first is the publicly available emails that prove that Dr. Fauci was communicating and acting as an intermediary for others in order to censor information from being shared across multiple social-media outlets. The second is that Dr. Fauci has yet to give any statements under oath in this matter. The third is that the Court has no doubt that Dr. Fauci was engaging in communications with high-ranking social-media officials, which is extremely relevant in the matter at hand. 

Additionally, the crux of this case is the fundamental right of free speech. Any burden that may be imposed on Dr. Fauci is wholly outweighed by the importance of Plaintiffs’ allegations of suppression of free speech. Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have satisfied their burden of proving why a deposition of Dr. Anthony Fauci is necessary in this case, and exceptional circumstance are present. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that Dr. Anthony Fauci cooperate in the Plaintiffs’ request to depose him for purposes of their preliminary injunction discovery.

There’s been some commentary in the press this week on this latest development in the case. Miranda Devine at the New York Post, for example, described the suit as already “uncovering astonishing evidence of an entrenched censorship scheme cooked up between the federal government and Big Tech that would make Communist China proud.” Her New York Post article then describes how that publication was under the thumb of this censorship regime leading up to the presidential election:

Victims of the Biden-Big Tech “censorship enterprise” include The Post, whose Hunter Biden laptop exposé was suppressed by Facebook and then Twitter in October 2020 after the FBI went to Facebook, warning it with great specificity to watch out for a “dump” of Russian disinformation, pertaining to Joe Biden, with an uncanny resemblance to our stories.

“We allege that top-ranking Biden administration officials colluded with those social media companies to suppress speech about the Hunter Biden laptop story, the origins of COVID-19, the efficacy of masks, and election integrity,” is how the lawsuit was summarized by intrepid Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is leading the action.

The censorship related to alleged “misinformation” about pandemic lockdowns, vaccines and COVID-19, and included material from the esteemed infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists associated with the Great Barrington Declaration, which proved over time to be correct and eventually much of which was adopted as official policy by the CDC.

Similarly, commenting on our lawsuit this week, the intrepid Tyler Durden over at ZeroHedge described how his publication had likewise been subjected to censorship by this regime for commentary on the origins of the virus:

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 HIVWithin 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 scientistusing publicly available information (i.e. not doxxing), who created a job posting related to his research on bat Covid. 

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.

The Epoch Times also published a detailed article this week, which included the following summary of three of the other officials that Judge Doughty ordered to be deposed:

The court also found that Flaherty, Psaki, Andy Slavitt, and other officials also have personal knowledge about the alleged censorship issues and ordered them to be deposed. Doughty said there’s 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. The plaintiffs argued that Flaherty had “extensive” oral meetings with Twitter, Meta, and YouTube on vaccine hesitancy and combatting misinformation related to COVID-19.

The judge said there’s a “substantive need” for the deposition of Slavitt, who served as the White House’s senior COVID-19 adviser. Doughty noted that Slavitt’s remarks on a podcast “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.

So it looks like this case may continue to get more interesting. Stay tuned here for more updates. And in the meantime, don’t be afraid to say what you actually think online — with decency and civility, of course, but without suppressing what you know or believe to be true.

Reposted from the author’s Substack

Author

  • Aaron Kheriaty

    Aaron Kheriaty, Senior Brownstone Scholar and 2023 Brownstone Fellow, is a psychiatrist working with the Unity Project. He is a former Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California at Irvine School of Medicine, where he was the director of Medical Ethics.


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