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 — Sponsored by PCMA — Abortion rights group plans M campaign to flip the House The federal judiciary needs more Latino judges Senate Dems to Mnuchin: Don't index capital gains to inflation 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 LeeTrump has exposed Democratic hypocrisy on prison reform Denial of services to same-sex couples can harm their health GOP Senate primary heats up in Montana MORE (R-Utah) and Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Trump makes Manchin top target for midterms Wyden: I object to Trump’s DHS cyber nomination over demands for Stingray information 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."