Senators question Trump admin's alleged attempt to unmask Twitter account

Senators question Trump admin's alleged attempt to unmask Twitter account
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Several senators pressed the Trump administration on Friday for details after reports that U.S. officials tried to get Twitter to unmask an anonymous account that published tweets critical of President Trump.

“I am gravely alarmed by the summons that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) transmitted to Twitter on March 14, 2017, regarding the Twitter account @ALT_USCIS," Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care: Trump eases rules on insurance outside ObamaCare | HHS office on religious rights gets 300 complaints in a month | GOP chair eyes opioid bill vote by Memorial Day Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare Grassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees MORE (D-Ore.) wrote in a letter to federal officials.

"Not only was the summons blatantly inconsistent with the cited investigatory authority … it appeared to be a distributing threat to free speech and whistleblower protections,” he added.


Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework Prison sentencing bill advances over Sessions objections Grassley ‘incensed’ by Sessions criticism of proposed sentencing reform legislation MORE (R-Utah) and Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerThe siren of Baton Rouge Senate confirms John Demers to head DOJ national security division Senate rejects bipartisan measure as immigration votes begin MORE (R-Colo.) sent a separate letter on Friday to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly inquiring about the administration’s alleged attempts to gain information on the anonymous Twitter.

The senators asked Kelly for details into what sorts of actions CBP and the Department of Homeland Security took regarding the account and noted their concern for potential violations of free speech.

Twitter filed a lawsuit against the government on Thursday in response to the administration’s attempts to unmask a CBP parody account.

Twitter then dropped the suit on Friday after the CBP withdrew its summons regarding the account, according to Twitter lawyers.

Wyden requested that Kevin McAleenan, acting commissioner of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to investigate the matter further.

The Democratic senator said the Trump administration's effort may have violated the “First Amendment right to comment on U.S. policy, and to make those comments anonymously."