Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California accused a reporter of spreading “conspiracies” and asked Twitter to suspend him months before the reporter was booted from the platform.
Real Clear Investigations journalist Paul Sperry was targeted by Schiff’s office as deserving of suspension, according to a November 2020 email revealed in the latest “Twitter Files” drop on Tuesday. Schiff is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and led the House team during former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial in the Senate.
Twitter denied Schiff’s request to suspend Sperry after the November 2020 request. The social media platform did eventually suspend Sperry several months later in February 2021. The suspension on Sperry’s account has since been lifted after Elon Musk bought the platform last year in a $44 billion deal.
27.They also received an astonishing variety of requests from officials asking for individuals they didn’t like to be banned. Here, the office for Democrat and House Intel Committee chief Adam Schiff asks Twitter to ban journalist Paul Sperry: pic.twitter.com/SXI1ekqi13
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 3, 2023
“How is a Congressional leader demanding the banning of a veteran journalist from the nation’s digital town square not state censorship?” Sperry asked in a Twitter post on Tuesday, one of the first tweets he has written since his 2021 suspension.
“It’s now clear my two-year ban was political,” he added.
According to the email, which was reported by journalist Matt Taibbi, Schiff’s office wanted action taken against Twitter accounts that were engaged in conduct “related to alleged harassment from QAnon conspiracists” against Schiff’s staff. Schiff requested the platform “remove any and all content about [Sean Misko] and other Committee staff from its service.”
Schiff’s office also demanded Twitter “[s]uspend the many accounts, including @GregRubini and @paulsperry_, which have repeatedly promoted false QAnon conspiracies” and harassed staff members, the email said, along with several other requests.
In response, a Twitter official responded that the platform would “review these accounts again,” suggesting that the request from Schiff’s office was made more than once. The Twitter official responded to several requests to deamplify or suppress certain content with “we don’t do this.”
In January 2020, Sperry reported on Misko and conversations the then-Schiff staffer had with Eric Ciaramella, a CIA analyst who allegedly acted as a whistleblower over Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that served as the basis for Trump’s first impeachment. Misko and Ciaramella reportedly had conversations years earlier about “plotting to actually have [Trump] removed from office,” a colleague who claimed to have overheard the conversations told Sperry.
At the time, Schiff reportedly dismissed the allegation against Misko as “attacks” and “smears on my staff.”