Appointee who led Trump’s tech crackdown tapped for top DOJ role – POLITICO

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The Justice Department didn’t respond to a request for comment Sunday. An NTIA spokesperson declined to comment.

Candeub has played a central role in carrying out Trump’s executive order targeting social media companies like Twitter and Facebook over allegations they censor conservative viewpoints. The executive order asked federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission, to narrow the scope of a crucial set of liability protections that shield online companies from lawsuits over the user content they host. One of Candeub’s advisers at the NTIA, Nathan Simington, was confirmed last week to a five-year term as an FCC commissioner.

Trump has taken increasing aim at the legal shield, a 1996 law known as Section 230, in the twilight of presidency, including vowing to veto a must-pass defense spending bill that overwhelmingly sailed through both the House and Senate because it does not repeal the protections. And he’s rallied his allies across federal agencies and in Congress against the law, which has been widely credited with enabling the creation of today’s thriving online industry.

Candeub, who first joined NTIA earlier this year, has a long history of bashing the social media giants over allegations of an anti-conservative bias. In 2018, Candeub represented a white nationalist in a lawsuit against Twitter alleging the social network censored him.

Candeub has long been critical of Section 230, writing in a 2019 blog post for The American Conservative website that the 1996 law enables “censorship regimes” in Silicon Valley.

The Justice Department has also taken aim at Section 230, holding a workshop on the law in February and suggesting proposed changes to Congress in September.

Candeub actively consulted with the Justice Department during this summer’s efforts to draft the administration’s social media petition to the FCC. He also ran draft copy by White House adviser James Sherk, according to emails obtained by POLITICO through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“I’m feeling heavy breathing,” Candeub wrote in one July 13 email pressing DOJ counsel Lauren Willard and DOJ’s Chris Grieco for feedback on the petition, citing pressure from Sherk.

John Hendel contributed to this report.

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