An internal Twitter email claims that the office of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, requested that Twitter ban New York Post columnist Paul Sperry and others and heavily censor information about House Committee Staffers.
The November 2020 email was published by journalist Matt Taibbi as part of a Twitter Files thread detailing censorship pressure and requests from the federal government and other elected officials.
According to the email, Schiff's office had claimed that Sperry and “many” other accounts had “repeatedly promoted false QAnon conspiracies,” accused these accounts of harassing an unnamed staffer, and requested that the accounts be banned from Twitter.
The email also notes that Schiff's office had requested that Twitter:
- “Remove any and all content” about House Intelligence Committee staffers from Twitter including quotes, retweets, and reactions to any content about them
- “Suppress any and all search results” about House Intelligence Committee staffers
- “Stop the spread of future misinformation” about House Intelligence Committee staffers and “other Committee staff who are not public figures and who were not central actors in impeachment inquiry or the 2020 presidential election”
- “Label and reduce the visibility of any content” about an unnamed staffer that isn't removed
Twitter declined most of the censorship requests by stating “no” or “we don't do this” and Sperry wasn't banned at the time. However, in August 2022, Twitter banned Sperry after he criticized the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) raid on former President Donald Trump's Mar-A-Lago resort.
Schiff made these purported censorship requests after Sperry had published several articles that named Eric Ciaramella, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whistleblower whose complaint started the first impeachment inquiry against former President Trump. In one article, Sperry reported that Ciaramella was overheard talking to Sean Misko, a staffer from former President Barack Obama's administration, in the White House. Sperry also reported that Misko subsequently left the White House to join the Schiff-led House Intelligence Committee.
In a statement to the New York post, Sperry wrote: “I have never promoted any ‘QAnon conspiracies.' Ever. Not on Twitter. Not anywhere. Schiff was just angry I outed his impeachment whistleblower and tried to get me banned. I challenge Schiff to produce evidence to back up his defamatory remarks to Twitter.”
Sperry also questioned whether Schiff's office was behind his August 2022 Twitter ban.
“Looks like Schiff's office initially got friction from Twitter gatekeepers. Still, I was banned just a few months after this ‘request,'” Sperry said. “Were there subsequent demands from Schiff? May explain why Twitter would never give me a reason for banning me.”