This week, reports revealed that prosecutors working for former President Donald Trump's Justice Department sought to unmask the identity of @NunesAlt, a Twitter account that posted satirical content making fun of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
But that was not the whole story. According to CNN, the unmasking attempt grew out of an investigation into threats against then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
"The discovery almost immediately prompted critics of the Justice Department to question if prosecutors were overstepping to pursue politically motivated complaints, especially at the end of the Trump administration," reported Katelyn Polantz and Evan Perez. "But, according to a person familiar, the @NunesAlt request grew out of a US Capitol Police investigation regarding threats made toward Republican Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell. As part of the probe, investigators sought out information about several online accounts, the source told CNN."
"Twitter, in its fight to keep the user's information secret, suggested the subpoena may be part of a government attempt — from either Nunes, a California Republican, or the Justice Department — to unmask Nunes' critics and chill their speech," continued the report. "A week after Twitter protested to a federal judge in March, the Justice Department withdrew the @NunesAlt grand jury subpoena, according to another court filing released on Tuesday, effectively dropping the pursuit through the social media behemoth."
Nunes, the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee and an ally of the former Trump administration, has frequently used the courts to attempt to intimidate critics.