Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has apparently milked attempts to punish anti-Nunes parody Twitter accounts long enough.
His attorney complained in a court in Richmond, Virginia, on Friday that he and the congressman have hit a “dead end” in their bid to identify the scathing Nunes critics behind “Devin Nunes’ Cow” — and “Devin Nunes’ Mom,” The Fresno Bee reported.
Nunes sued Twitter and the parody accounts last year, claiming they defamed him. The lawsuit, seeking a total of $250 million, alleges that Twitter worked with Republican strategist Liz Mair and the two accounts to damage Nunes’s reelection bid in 2018 — which Twitter denies. Nunes was reelected.
The lawsuit triggered an explosion in the number of followers of the parody accounts — and an explosion in the number of parody accounts. The number of followers of the cow account rocketed from 1,000 initially to 700,000 today.
Twitter argued early this year that Nunes can’t sue the social media company for remarks in the parody accounts because federal law gives them “broad immunity” from liability for the comments of their users.
Twitter also refused to reveal the identities of the account holders. Virginia Judge John Marshall has not ordered the company to do so — making suing those people virtually impossible, complained Nunes’s attorney Steven Biss.
“We’re trying to figure out who they are, and we read the comments on Twitter — as painful as it is — we do that every day,” Biss said. “But we’re at a dead end.”
He added angrily: “They’re doing more than allowing Liz Mair, the cow and the mom to post a tweet. They’re censoring, they’re promoting an anti-Nunes agenda, they’re banning conservative accounts and they’re knowingly encouraging it.”
Marshall has not yet ruled on the case, but he didn’t appear particularly sympathetic to Nunes’s suit. “I don’t know of any requirement in the law that says these sites have to be neutral,” Marshall said in court Friday. “Just because you don’t like it and asked to have them take it down, doesn’t mean they’re liable if they don’t take it down.”
Devin Nunes’ Mom and the cow could not immediately be reached for comment.