An attorney for a Democratic political strategist on Tuesday defended parody Twitter accounts that criticize GOP Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), arguing that the accounts promote satire and that “no reasonable person” would believe that it shared “serious facts.”
The argument came in a new filing in a case associated with Nunes and a couple of parody Twitter accounts named “Devin Nunes’ Cow” and “Devin Nunes’ Mom,” according to The Sacramento Bee. Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, sued Twitter and the anonymous users operating the accounts earlier this year, asserting that the social media platform was “facilitating defamation” by allowing the accounts to share “libelous” statements about him.
Nunes’s lawyer reportedly issued a subpoena last month to obtain records from Adam Parkhomenko, a former Democratic National Committee employee, about the operators of the accounts.
In a filing to nullify the subpoena, Parkhomenko’s attorney said that the parody accounts’ behavior did not constitute defamation. He also emphasized that courts were responsible for protecting anonymous speech, The Bee noted.
“No reasonable person would believe that Devin Nunes’ cow actually has a Twitter account, or that the hyperbole, satire and cow-related jokes it posts are serious facts,” the filing read. “It is self-evident that cows are domesticated livestock animals and do not have the intelligence, language, or opposable digits needed to operate a Twitter account.”
“Defendant ‘Devin Nunes’ Mom’ likewise posts satirical patronizing, nagging, mothering comments which ostensibly treat Mr. Nunes as a misbehaving child.”
Nunes’s lawsuit, which is seeking $250 million, also accused GOP strategist Liz Mair of working with Twitter and the satirical accounts to negatively impact his 2018 reelection efforts.
The subpoena issued by Nunes’s attorney Steven Biss sought emails, text messages and direct Twitter messages between the operators of the accounts and Parkhomenko. Parkhomenko worked for the DNC in 2016 and a public relations firm that advised Nunes’s Democratic opponent in the 2018 midterm elections. It is unclear how he figures into the case.
“Proud to have the backs of @DevinCow, @NunesAlt and @LizMair. Devin Nunes won’t be scaring or intimidating anyone. The only thing he’s getting is more of the same,” he said on Twitter on Tuesday.
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) November 27, 2019
Twitter has also refused to disclose the identities of the people operating the “Devin Nunes’ Cow” and “Devin Nunes’ Mom” accounts.
“Defending and respecting the user’s voice is one of our core values at Twitter,” the company said in a statement in September. “This value is a two-part commitment to freedom of expression and privacy.”