A hilarious Twitter account mocking Donald Trump disciple Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) apparently so upset him and the Trump administration that the Justice Department mobilized its mighty public resources to hunt down the account holder.
The account “NunesAlt,” known as “Devin Nunes’ Alt-Mom,” is one of a number of Twitter accounts mocking Nunes. The lawmaker tried in court last summer to determine the identities of the people behind “NunesAlt” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow” to sue for defamation. Instead, Nunes was scorned by a judge and managed to make the parody accounts far more popular.
The profile of the “Devin Nunes’ Mom” account describes the “author” as the “not-so-proud alt mom of Libel tourist and part-time Congressman Devin Nunes. (Yes, it’s a parody.) Probably hammered.”
After Nunes failed to win a court order to expose his critics’ identities, the U.S. Justice Department astonishingly stepped in during the last month of Trump’s presidency and used a secretly obtained grand jury subpoena to demand the identity of whoever was behind @NunesAlt, according to court filings unsealed this week, The Washington Post reported. The Department of Justice also sought a gag order to prohibit Twitter from talking about the action. (“Devin Nunes’ Alt-Mom” described the revelation about the court action as the “closest thing I’m gonna get to a Mother’s Day card.”)
Twitter filed a motion to quash the subpoena, portraying it as a federal department’s attempt at an end run around court rulings against Nunes.
Twitter reviewed the @NunesAlt account and found that it was “devoted entirely to political parody” and had a large audience, suggesting that the owner of the account was using the “First Amendment right to anonymously criticize a politician.”
The DOJ had argued that officials needed the identity of the account holder because it was part of an investigation into “threatening communications in interstate commerce.” Yet it was incapable of producing a single threat when Twitter demanded an example.
The subpoena had been obtained by the office of the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, then run by Michael Sherwin, who had been installed by Barr.
The Department of Justice withdrew the subpoena this spring, The New York Times reported.
“Devin Nunes’ Alt-Mom” now has 127,000 followers. Another favorite Twitter account of Nunes haters is “Devin Nunes’ Cow,” which started out with 1,000 followers and zoomed to more than 770,000 after it was sued by Nunes.
The name itself mocks Nunes’ portrayal of himself as a farmer whose family has collected U.S. agricultural subsidies. The Nunes farm is in Iowa, half a nation away from the lawmaker’s California home.
The account profile describes the “author” as “hanging out on the dairy in Iowa, looking out for the lil’ treasonous cowpoke.” The cow has blasted the Republican lawmaker as “udderly worthless.”
The Justice Department has not commented on the court action.