Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) got his feelings hurt on Twitter.
That’s the gist of the arch-conservative’s lawsuit against Twitter, a Republican operative and two parody Twitter accounts, which was filed in Virginia late Monday. Nunes has positioned the suit as an effort to stand up to supposedly liberal social media platforms, companies that many conservatives — like the President’s son — agree are out to get far-right thinkers.
From memes illustrating a “Human Centipede”-style relationship between President Trump, President Vladimir Putin and Nunes, to tweets about a “treasonous cowpokes,” here’s a look at the greatest hits of this befuddling lawsuit, a complaint that even President Trump’s BFF Sean Hannity said would be hard to prove, given Nunes’ status as a public figure.
‘Dirty Devin’: Opposition researchers nickname for Nunes apparently goes too far.
Outside the obviously laughable parody accounts named in Nunes’ $250 million complaint, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is also specifically targeting Liz Mair, a firebrand Republican communications consultant who has handily earned a reputation as a strategist who blatantly smears her client’s opponents online. Mair has not tried to hide her distaste for Nunes, whom she has given the moniker “Dirty Devin” and openly admitted she “dumped a lot” on the congressman on behalf of her clients.
But that nickname was a bridge too far for Nunes.
In the lawsuit, Nunes cites some of Mair’s tweets in the suit, one in which she posted a link to a story from the Fresno Bee newspaper about Nunes’ links to a winery tied to “underage hookers.”
“At all times relevant to this action, Mair harbored spite, ill-will, actual malice and demonstrated desire to injure Nunes’ good name and reputation,” the suit says. “Mair’s tweets about Nunes, for example, referred to the Congressman with disdain as ‘Dirty Devin.'”
Mair isn’t talking about the lawsuit right now and said she needs some time to review the case before she comments to the media. In a auto-reply email sent from her company account, Mair directed reporters to her legal defense fundraising page.
Devin Nunes’ Mom: Tweets about Jacob Wohl, Putin sex jokes and a ‘lying piece of shit’
In the complaint, Nunes tries to tie Mair to two specific troll accounts: “@DevinNunesMom” and “DevinNunesCow,” a play on the congressman’s dairy farm roots.
The “mom” account posted some of the more absurd tweets, which were all listed in the complaint. Nunes claims the account, which is clearly not run by the congressman’s mother, was created with “Twitter’s consent” and “hijacked Nunes’ name, falsely impersonated Nunes’ mother and created and maintained” the account for the “sole purpose of attacking, defaming and demeaning Nunes.”
The complaint describes a series of inane tweets, in which Nunes is described as “worse that Jacob Wohl;” suggested Nunes had a “Human Centipede”-style relationship with Putin and Trump; and that the lawmaker would “probably join the ‘Proud Boys,’ ‘if it weren’t for that unfortunate no masturbating rule.'”
From the complaint, here are descriptions of the very serious tweets:
“Devin Nunes’ Mom stated that Nunes had turned out worse than Jacob Wohl; falsely accused Nunes of being a racist, having “white supremist friends” and distributing “disturbing inflammatory racial propaganda”; falsely accused Nunes of putting up a “Fake News MAGA” sign outside a Texas Holocaust museum; falsely stated that Nunes would probably join the “Proud Boys”, “if it weren’t for that unfortunate ‘no masturbating’ rule”; disparagingly called him a “presidential fluffer and swamp rat”; falsely stated that Nunes had brought “shame” to his family; repeatedly accused Nunes of the crime of treason, compared him to Benedict Arnold, and called him a “traitor”,“treasonous shitbag”, a “treasonous Putin shill”, working for the “Kremlin”; falsely stated that Nunes was “100% bought and sold. He has no interest remaining for his constituents”; falsely accused Nunes of being part of the President’s “taint” team; falsely stated that Nunes was unfit to run the House Permanent Select Committee onIntelligence; falsely accused Nunes of “secretly hat[ing] the people he’s supposed tos erve”; falsely accused Nunes of being a “lying piece of shit.”
A ‘treasonous cowpoke’: Farm jokes and investigation memes
The “cow” parody account may have upset Nunes because it poked fun at his humble farming roots. The account regularly uses farm puns to insult Nunes and tweet fake content about the lawmaker being under investigation.
It also referred to Nunes as a “treasonous cowpoke.” Biting stuff.
“Like Devin Nunes’ Mom, Devin Nunes’ cow engaged a vicious defamation campaign against Nunes that lasted over a year. Devin Nunes’ cow has made, published and republished hundreds of false and defamatory statements of and concerning Nunes, including the following: Nunes is a “treasonous cowpoke”; “prosecutors” were “investigating Devin Nunes”; “Nunes needs to be investigated. He knew the truth, yet conspired with a criminal, @realDonaldTrump, to conceal the facts from the investigation. Nunes is a criminal too”; “718 more days until your term is up,Devin. Unless Mueller indicts you first”; “724 more days, Devin, unless the indictment comes first”; “It’s on, Ranking Member Nunes. #nunesindictment”; “Devin Nunes is a traitor”; “Devin Nunes used Leadership PAC funds on luxury vacay in his family’s nativePortugal”; Nunes hung out with the Proud Boys at a private invite-only fundraiser; “Devin’s boots are full of manure. He’s udder-ly worthless and its pasture time to move him to prison”; “Devin is whey over his head in crime … I bet @DevinNunes’ cocaineyacht and underage prostitutes won Trump over #AlphaOmega!”.
There’s more: ‘Devin Nunes’ Grapes’
It’s not just the cow account eating at Nunes.
“In addition to @LizMair, @DevinNunesMom and @DevinCow, between2018 and the present, Twitter authorized the creation and operation of many other incendiary accounts whose sole purpose was (and is) to publish and republish (tweet and retweet) false and defamatory statements about Nunes. Among these additional Twitter accounts are ‘Fire Devin Nunes’ (@fireDevinNunes) and ‘Devin Nunes’ Grapes’(@DevinGrapes). The additional Twitter accounts followed the same pattern as @DevinNunesMom and @DevinCow, and published the same false and defamatory statements Nunes was involved in underage prostitution, etc. Fire Devin Nunes published memes of Nunes in prison attire.”
Nunes may be using the courts to make a political statement
Nunes was an early perpetuator of the conservative myth that social media companies, like Twitter, are not only biased against Republicans, but also actively create algorithms that curb conservative commentators’ social influence.
During an appearance on Hannity’s show on Monday evening, shortly after filing his suit, Nunes raised his frequent complaint alleging Twitter “shadow-banned” him last summer. The term “shadow-ban” is used to imply social media companies are deemphasizing conservative accounts but not making it so blatant that those users notice anything awry.
Nunes expanded on that claim in the lawsuit:
“The Twitter attacks on Nunes were pre-planned, calculated, orchestrated and undertaken by multiple individuals acting in concert, over a continuous period of time exceeding a year. The full scope of the conspiracy, including the names of all participants and the level of involvement of donors and members of the Democratic Party, is unknown at this time and will be the subject of discovery in this action.”
While Twitter declined to comment to CBS on the new lawsuit from a sitting member of Congress, a spokesperson pointed to the company’s repeated denials of claims that it shadow bans users.
“We do not shadow ban,” a spokesperson has said. ” … And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”
The conspiracy has been given renewed attention in recent months, even since President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. has taken up the cause personally, leading a crusade against social media platforms that he feels silence conservative voices.