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 WydenDemocratic senator predicts Franken will resign Thursday Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Lobbying world 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.

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Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSupreme Court takes on same-sex wedding cake case House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama Trump really will shrink government, starting with national monuments MORE (R-Utah) and Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerDems look to use Moore against GOP McConnell: 'No change of heart' on Roy Moore US trade deficit rises on record imports from China 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."