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Twitter Sues Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Asks Court to Halt His Investigation of the Social Media Company

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Twitter sues Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, asks court to halt his investigation of the social media company” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Twitter filed a lawsuit against Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a California federal court Monday and asked a judge to halt the state’s top lawyer from investigating the company.

The social media giant’s court filings include a request for a temporary restraining order that would keep Paxton and his office from enforcing a demand that seeks documents revealing the company’s internal decision making processes for banning users, among other things.

Paxton, a fervent supporter of former President Donald Trump, sent the company a civil investigative demand after it banned Trump from its platform following January’s deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol.

Twitter wrote that it seeks to stop Paxton from “from unlawfully abusing his authority as the highest law-enforcement officer of the State of Texas to intimidate, harass, and target Twitter in retaliation for Twitter’s exercise of its First Amendment rights.” The company claimed Paxton’s “retaliatory” investigation violated the First Amendment as an inappropriate use of government authority.

A spokesperson for Paxton did not immediately respond for comment.

Before Democratic President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Paxton filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the election results in four battleground states. It was considered a long shot, but drew support from the Republican attorneys general of 17 other states before the U.S. Supreme Court briskly rejected it.

The attorney general is among Texas Republican leaders who have launched a campaign against technology and social media companies after officials and followers faced repercussions for sowing the election doubts that fueled the Capitol insurrection.

Twitter is one of five tech and social media firms to which Paxton issued civil investigative demands to learn about the procedures such companies use to regulate postings or user accounts.

Paxton, who attended the rally that preceded the attack on the U.S. Capitol, criticized companies’ moves after the siege, which included Twitter banning Trump from its platform.

“The seemingly coordinated de-platforming of the President of the United States and several leading voices not only chills free speech, it wholly silences those whose speech and political beliefs do not align with leaders of Big Tech companies,” Paxton said in a Jan. 13 news release.

Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott touted Texas legislation that seeks to crack down on social media companies’ perceived censorship of conservative voices. Senate Bill 12 would prohibit social media companies — including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — from blocking, banning, demonetizing, or otherwise discriminating against a user based on their viewpoint or their location within Texas.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Texas Senate, has identified the bill as one of his 31 priorities for this legislative session. State Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, is sponsoring the measure. He filed a similar bill in 2019 that won Senate approval, but died in committee in the state House.

In its filings Monday, Twitter detailed their suspension of multiple accounts, including Trump’s personal account, which they banned for his false claims about the presidential election and the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. Five days after the president’s Twitter account was suspended on Jan. 8, Paxton issued the civil investigative demands to Twitter and four other tech and social media firms.

In the lawsuit, Twitter said while the company “strives for transparency,” the public disclosure of such documents would “compromise Twitter’s ability to effectively and efficiently moderate content on its platform.”

Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have come under fire for enabling misinformation spread and propagating violence like the Jan. 6 attacks. Last year, Democratic lawmakers presented a Congressional bill that would hold social media companies accountable for amplifying such content, but the proposal gained little traction.

Twitter’s suit comes as Paxton faces a series of other legal issues, including claims of abuse of office and bribery. Former aides allege the attorney general used his power to assist an Austin real estate developer with legal matters after he helped Paxton remodel his house and employed a woman with whom Paxton allegedly had an affair. The whistleblowers’ allegations have reportedly sparked an FBI investigation.

Four of the former aides claim they were fired in retaliation for telling authorities they believed Paxton had done illegal favors for a political donor and are suing. During a March 1 whistleblower hearing, which Paxton did not attend, lawyers representing his office argued Paxton is not a public employee and cannot be sued under the Texas Whistleblower Act. The attorney general has previously dismissed the claims against him as “false allegations” from “rogue employees.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/03/08/twitter-texas-ken-paxton/.

 

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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Morning Joe Shames GOP Lawmakers Who Won’t Speak Up for Capitol Cops After Another Officer Takes His Life

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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough called on Republican lawmakers to stand with the Capitol police officers who defended them against Jan. 6 rioters after a fourth officer has taken his life since the violent insurrection.

Four officers have committed suicide since the riot and a fifth died from injuries shortly after Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent effort to overturn the presidential election results, and the “Morning Joe” host said Republicans need to speak out against their colleagues trying to block an investigation of the attack.

“Look at the Trump signs everywhere,” Scarborough said. “Donald Trump trying to deny that this wasn’t his riot, this wasn’t his insurrection when, in fact, he was cheering it on from the White House, according to Republican senators and, of course, called up [House minority leader] Kevin McCarthy and Kevin McCarthy asked him, begged him to shut it down, and he told McCarthy it wasn’t his people, even while he was cheering them on. McCarthy shouted at him, swore at him, called him a liar — how stupid do you think we are? Everybody knows. Look at the Trump signs. These are all Donald Trump supporters in there.”

Four law enforcement officers testified last week before the House select committee investigating the riot, which Republicans have downplayed as a minor event, and some conservative media figures mocked their pain in describing the brutal violence they faced.

“Let’s be clear about it,” Scarborough said. “Republicans, they have a choice to make, it’s a simple choice. You can either be on the side of American terrorists, that’s what the cops called them, that were getting brutalized with American flags. You can either be on the side of American terrorists or you can be on the side of law enforcement officers, of police officers. It’s that simple. Terrorists or cops, pick a side, and if you decide that you do want to support law enforcement officers, if you do want to protect those who have protected you every day inside the United States Capitol, if you are a Republican, could you please, please offer your support publicly for law enforcement officers today in the Capitol, D.C. Metro force?”

“Please let them know how much you appreciate what they do for you every day, and specifically what they did to save your life on Jan. 6,” he added. “Because right now, they obviously aren’t feeling that. They’re hearing a lot of Republicans undermine them and attack them and claim that they’re actors, and claim that this was just another day on the Hill, and so, when Republicans come out and say that, or when carnival barkers come out and say that and you say nothing, as a Republican members of Congress, you’re sort of endorsing that.”

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention LIfeline at 1-800-273-8255

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‘Very Selfish People’: Exhausted Louisiana ICU Nurse Shames Americans Who Refuse Vaccinations

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An intensive care unit nurse in Louisiana told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that she’s exhausted dealing with patients who haven’t gotten vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

During a lengthy interview, Cooper asked ICU nurse Felicia Croft to describe the conditions she’s seeing at her hospital at the moment.

“Right now, we’re seeing a lot of patients, number one. and patients that are sicker and patients that are closer to my age, which just brings it to a whole new level,” she explained. “I’m 34 years old.”

Cooper then asked her how she felt about people who complained about being asked to get vaccinated or wear face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, which so far has killed more than 600,000 Americans.

“So we have become… a very selfish just group of people,” she said. “This pandemic — and masks and vaccines — this is not about you and this is not about what always makes you feel good! And it’s about, you know, the cashier at your local gas station. and it’s about your local baker. and you know, your neighbor and your cousin’s friends.”

She then explained how she believed that COVID-19 vaccinations were a divine blessing and that it is arrogant for people to turn them away.

“God gave somebody a whole lot smarter than me… the knowledge to develop this vaccine,” she said.

Watch the video below.

 

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‘Milquetoast’: Some Slam Graham for Not Strongly Urging Americans to Get Vaccinated After Announcing He Has COVID

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U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham Monday afternoon announced he has tested positive for the coronavirus. The South Carolina Republican and top Trump ally says he was vaccinated, but like a minuscule percentage of Americans – less than 1% – who were inoculated he contracted the virus after being vaccinated.

Graham did credit the vaccine for his mild symptoms, but some believe he should have taken this opportunity to urge other Trump-loving Republicans to get vaccinated, rather than just mention that he was vaccinated. The vaccine is credited with keeping those who contract the virus after being fully inoculated alive and out of the hospital. Many, like Graham, report only mild symptoms.

“I was just informed by the House physician I have tested positive for #COVID19 even after being vaccinated. I started having flu-like symptoms Saturday night and went to the doctor this morning,” Graham tweeted.

“I am very glad I was vaccinated because without vaccination I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now,” he added. “My symptoms would be far worse.”

But, like many noted, Graham offered up no direct plea to get vaccinated.

Earlier Monday the CDC announced that 70% of eligible Americans have had at least one dose of the vaccine, but Republicans are the largest group who are refusing to get inoculated, thanks in large part to anti-vaxx disinformation coming from Fox News, other far right media outlets, and lies posted on social media.

Some used Graham’s tweets as an opportunity to explain that vaccinated or not the virus can be transmitted and that’s why masks are still necessary in most parts of the country.

Some felt he struck an appropriate tone:

Others just blasted him for not going far enough and insisting others get vaccinated:

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