I think it’s a safe bet that Judge Davis isn’t a Republican, but for a rarity, considering the area in question, he held the line and refused to give Psaki a pass.
Psaki and her lawyers thought she was on safe grounds getting a pass in Virginia. But instead, Davis wasn’t having any of it. Whatever his politics may be, he refused to give the former Biden spokeswoman or, implicitly, the administration a pass on social media censorship.
A federal magistrate judge in Virginia openly scoffed Friday at White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s efforts to escape a deposition in a suit over alleged pressure on social media firms to censor posts on topics like Covid-19 vaccines and election fraud.
It’s a partisan topic in an area where the power of the federal government has a community network effect. Psaki’s people expected to get a free ride, but it was not forthcoming.
Federal cases are hell to deal with, but no shortage of Trump administration people were subjected to them. And Psaki isn’t facing prosecution, just the expectation that she’ll answer questions truthfully.
Is she fighting this hard to avoid a deposition or to avoid telling the truth?
Davis also said Psaki’s claims that she doesn’t have any information relevant to the suit could make short work of the deposition. “How much does it take to prepare a witness for a deposition where she doesn’t have anything to say? That’s confusing,” the judge said.
According to Psaki, the deposition would interfere with her MSNBC gig, as if she can’t offer commentary remotely.
Psaki’s lawyers argued that the deposition would be an “undue burden” on her, in part because it would take her away from her family for several days and interfere with her new job at MSNBC. But during a series of prickly exchanges with Psaki’s lead attorney, Jeannie Rhee, Davis said the filings in the case didn’t demonstrate any unusual impact she was likely to suffer.
“I don’t see any,” Davis said. “I’m finding it difficult to see how that’s different than any other deponent.”
Rhee told Davis that Psaki would have to be prepared for the deposition by two different sets of attorneys: Rhee’s team and Justice Department lawyers. DOJ would not permit Rhee’s team to be present while the preparation with the government lawyers took place, said Rhee, a former federal prosecutor and veteran of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team.
Yes, it figures that Psaki would be getting cover from a Muellerite. But let’s save the funniest part for last.
However, Rhee argued that the concern is equally applicable to former officials.
“It’s the chilling effect,” she said, arguing that people may be reluctant to take up government service if they become embroiled in litigation after doing so.
No kidding. Wasn’t that exactly the purpose of the lawfare aimed at Trump officials?