Federal judge grants depositions of Fauci, Biden admin officials over social media censorship
A federal judge has granted former White House chief of staff John Fauci’s and former Vice President Joe Biden’s requests for depositions, opening the door to potential testimony by former officials who faced criticism for their responses to the coronavirus crisis.
The judge’s order comes after a lawsuit by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch filed against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for failing to provide critical information about the coronavirus, the spread and containment of which has been a source of ongoing controversy.
“This is a victory for both whistleblowers and the public,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The public has the right to know how H.H.S. went about handling the coronavirus.”
The orders are temporary, while the agency tries to get more permanent orders in the Supreme Court.
The administration is now expected to argue in the Supreme Court that no rules have been violated because the public has a right to know how the government handled the virus. If they lose, a ruling could be months away.
The decision was welcomed by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a staunch defender of social media free speech.
“The judge’s order is a great step forward to getting all of the facts out through deposition and to ensure that the American people know what happened,” Meadows said in a statement. “We are committed to ensuring open and free speech on the internet, but this order opens the door for depositions to be used to expose the extent of the government’s lies, especially on social media during the coronavirus pandemic.”
The government has argued that depositions are not allowed, citing the Administrative Procedures Act, which says that “agency action shall be set aside” only when “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.”
President Donald Trump has had at least seven conversations with Fauci about the novel coronavirus, according to a report he made last week from his physician.
But the health secretary said last week that F