Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) has filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter and three of its users. Nunes accused Twitter of "shadow-banning conservatives," censoring opposing viewpoints, and "ignoring" complaints of abusive behavior on the social media platform. But it's his complaints about the site's users that's been garnering much of the attention.
The lawsuit names a user who goes by "Devin Nunes’ Mom." According to the complaint, this user is "a person who, with Twitter’s consent, hijacked Nunes’ name, falsely impersonated Nunes’ mother, and created and maintained an account on Twitter (@DevinNunesMom) for the sole purpose of attacking, defaming, disparaging and demeaning Nunes."
"In her endless barrage of tweets, Devin Nunes’ Mom maliciously attacked every aspect of Nunes’ character, honesty, integrity, ethics and fitness to perform his duties as a United States Congressman," the complaint continues, citing a tweet from the account that depicts the symbiotic relationship between Russian leader Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump, and Nunes in a crude drawing inspired by The Human Centipede (First Sequence).
Twitter suspended the account as of yesterday afternoon. Nunes's legal team says the account "defamed" Nunes and that Twitter did nothing to stop this until Nunes's own mother complained:
"Devin Nunes’ Mom stated that Nunes had turned out worse than Jacob Wohl; falsely accused Nunes of being a racist, having 'white supremist friends' and distributing 'disturbing inflammatory racial propaganda'; falsely accused Nunes of putting up a 'Fake News MAGA' sign outside a Texas Holocaust museum; falsely stated that Nunes would probably join the 'Proud Boys', if it weren’t for that unfortunate 'nomasturbating’ rule'; disparagingly called him a 'presidential fluffer and swamp rat'; falsely stated that Nunes had brought 'shame' to his family; repeatedly accused Nunes of the crime of treason, compared him to Benedict Arnold, and called him a 'traitor.' ...
Twitter only suspended the account in 2019 after Nunes’ real mother, Toni Dian Nunes, complained. ... Twitter permitted @DevinNunesMom, for instance, to tweet and retweet with impunity throughout 2018."
Nunes's complaint also takes aim at a user named "Devin Nunes' Cow," or @DevinCow, which posted several tweets mocking Nunes, including a couple saying Nunes is a "treasonous cowpoke" and an "udder-ly worthless" criminal. That account is still active.
“The substance and timing of the tweets, retweets, replies and likes by Mair, Devin Nunes’ Mom and Devin Nunes’ cow demonstrates that all three bad actors were and are engaged in a joint effort, together and with others, to defame Nunes and interfere” with his congressional duties, said Nunes's legal team.
The suit, if you ask many of Nunes's critics, is udder-ly ridiculous. As several noted, the lawsuit has only amplified the reach of Devin Nunes's Cow even further.
Nunes's lawsuit also names GOP communications strategist Liz Mair, the owner, founder, and President of Mair Strategies LLC, who Nunes claims published tweets that "implied that Nunes colluded with prostitutes and cocaine addicts, that Nunes does cocaine, and that Nunes was involved in a 'Russian money laundering front."
Mair has not responded to requests for comment, but Nunes's lawsuit has already opened her up to online harassment.
Mair, who has been vigorously denounced Donald Trump since the early days of his campaign, used the publicity to ask for donations to fund her legal defense team as well as the work of the Swamp Accountability Project, which she created to support Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.
Speaking to Fox News host Sean Hannity, Nunes said that his complaint “is the first of many lawsuits that are coming."
“They spread this fake news and the slanderous news,” he said of Twitter, saying that the company has purposely “proliferating out things that they agree with, with the algorithms” they've developed.
“How is it possible that I can be attacked relentlessly, hundreds of times a day by fake accounts that they claim in their terms of service should not be there? So I guarantee you if I put something out that was sexually explicit or attacked someone personally, they would stop it. They would say this is a sensitive tweet. They never did that to any of the people that were coming after me or other conservatives.”
Nunes, a hardline conservative, has been one of the president’s more vigorous defenders. In early 2018, he released the much-debated Nunes memo, which alleges abuses of covert surveillance powers by the FBI, and incited a debate as to whether its contents would vindicate the president. Multiple members of Congress, including Representative Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), himself a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, disagreed.
In 2017, Nunes temporarily stepped down while overseeing the House’s investigation into Russian election meddling amid allegations that he had improperly disclosed classified information to the public.