Twitter’s overreach has caused conservative leaders to declare an all-out political and legal response.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), sent an open letter to the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury on Friday to call for a criminal investigation into Twitter for violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and Executive Order 13876.
Cruz quoted the wording of Executive Order 13876, “which prohibits ‘the making of any contribution or provision of… goods or services’ to persons designated pursuant to that order,” including Iranian leadership.
The May 29 letter explained that Cruz had previously sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey informing him “that Twitter and its principals face criminal liability and sanctions exposure for providing social media accounts” to Iranian leaders.
Cruz recounted how Twitter has defended providing these accounts for a regime with ties to a federally-labeled terror group. He quoted Twitter’s defense that “‘to deny our service to [Iran’s] leaders at a time like this would be antithetical to the purpose of our company’ and because Twitter’s ‘goal is to elevate and amplify authoritative health information as far as possible.’”
Cruz made note that while “Iranian officials ban Iranian citizens from accessing Twitter,” its leaders, such as “Khamenei and Zarif used their Twitter accounts to post anti-American disinformation and conspiracy theories, not authoritative health information.”
He hammered home his point by writing:
“They use their accounts provided by Twitter to threaten and taunt their enemies real and imagined. In any event, Twitter’s corporate values and grave misapprehension of the threat that Khamenei and Zarif pose are irrelevant.”
Cruz explained his rationale for writing the letter:
“I believe that the primary goal of IEEPA and sanctions law should be to change the behavior of designated individuals and regimes, not American companies. But when a company willfully and openly violates the law after receiving formal notice that it is unlawfully supporting designated individuals, the federal government should take action.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tweeted multiple screenshots of Ayatollah Khamenei’s tweets calling for such things as “the elimination of the Zionist regime” and asked Twitter:
“Serious question for @Twitter: Do these tweets from Supreme Leader of Iran @khamenei_ir violate ‘Twitter Rules about glorifying violence’?”
Cruz responded to the FCC Chairman’s tweet: “Exactly, @AjitPaiFCC. That’s why today I called on AG Barr & @stevenmnuchin1 to open a criminal investigation into @Twitter.”
In an appearance on Fox Business, Cruz proclaimed that Twitter should stop protecting the free speech of foreign dictators using American platforms to subvert America, and instead let Americans have free speech themselves:
"The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights to our Constitution protects Americans. It doesn’t protect the Ayatollah Khomeini. He has zero protections under the First Amendment."
Nationally syndicated radio talk show host and conservative commentator Mark Levin echoed Cruz’s sentiment by calling out Jack Dorsey, “Hey Twitter Jack, giving aid and comfort to Iran? I label that unAmerican.”