Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey of Missouri said that his office would use “every tool” at its disposal to “root out” an “enterprise of censorship” built by the Biden administration, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Bailey’s remarks came just weeks after he was sworn into office on Jan. 3 to replace former Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who now represents the state in the U.S. Senate, according to the Missouri Independent. A military veteran, Bailey served as the counsel to Missouri Governor Mike Parson prior to his appointment to the attorney general’s office.
The new attorney general inherited several cases from the outgoing Schmitt, most notable among them a lawsuit against the Biden administration that alleges that the White House and other federal agencies — including the FBI and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — violated the First Amendment by pressuring social media companies to censor “disfavored” speech.
Documents that have already been released through the discovery process, in addition to public statements by the administration, indicate that the federal government took advantage of its position of power over social media platforms to silence people, Bailey said.
“It’s not just collusion between federal bureaucrats and big tech social media cronies, it’s coercion,” Bailey told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The Biden administration bullied and coerced big tech social media into censoring their disfavored speech. They did this by threatening sanction against big tech social media in the form of antitrust suits and in the form of a repeal of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is the gravy train for these big tech social media companies.”
Schmitt — alongside Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who is also a plaintiff in the case — in October sought the deposition of former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, alongside several other top administration officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci, former chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden.
While Fauci was deposed, Psaki’s deposition was halted by an appeals court in early January, which found that since her role in the administration was not involved in policy-making, there was no evidence suggesting that she had “unique first-hand knowledge” justifying the “extraordinary measure” of deposing a high-ranking former member of the executive branch, The Hill reported.
“We have no problem with the court’s request,” Landry said in response, according to The Hill. “We look forward to obtaining more discovery.”
Speaking with the DCNF, however, Bailey took a different tack than his colleague. When asked if he planned to appeal the decision, Bailey said that “all options are on the table.”
“We are using every tool at our disposal to ensure that we have rooted out this enterprise of government censorship … and we will take as long as it takes to do it, and we will take any deposition that’s needed,” said Bailey.
PART TWO: Our office has even more hard evidence that President Biden’s Administration has been working with social media to suppress free speech. (1/10) 🧵
— Attorney General Andrew Bailey (@AGAndrewBailey) January 10, 2023
Bailey noted that, in some instances, social media companies resisted the federal government’s requests to remove content by citing company policies. Bailey argues that those policies were already “pernicious enough … but then when you got the federal government pushing big tech social media beyond those policies, you get some really dangerous censorship.”
Beyond his involvement in the censorship lawsuit, Bailey told the DCNF that the states are the “vanguard” in the fight against the “federal grant state,” and that “state attorneys general are the tip of the spear.”
“I intend to lead that fight,” Bailey said. “There is no sanction for the administrative state in the United States Constitution.”
In terms of consumer protection, Bailey also said that his office was going to “go after ESG,” referring to an investment technique that considers the “environmental, social and corporate governance” impacts of investments. Republican attorneys general and state officials have widely criticized asset manager BlackRock, alleging that the investing titan is failing to uphold its fiduciary duty to its customers by investing with ESG techniques, something BlackRock has denied.
Bailey also expressed optimism about joining Nebraska and four other states in challenging President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program in the Supreme Court in February.
“There’s nothing free in this world,” said Bailey, who said he paid for his college education via an Army scholarship. “And this is an unconstitutional redistribution of wealth and we’re gonna fight back against it.”
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