Judge rejects Jen Psaki’s bid to quash subpoena about blocking conservatives on social media
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When Jen Psaki sat down with National Journal on Dec. 3, 2012 to discuss a contentious episode in her time as a White House communications aide to President Barack Obama, she said she was “frustrated” when she was blocked by Twitter users who disagreed with her message that a proposed Islamic center near a mosque in New Jersey should be removed from a federal grant application.
Psaki, 42, is facing a subpoena from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after a federal trial judge ruled that her request to quash a subpoena from the committee was not frivolous. The decision by Judge Jed Rakoff of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., came one day after the committee issued a subpoena seeking her email account and communications with private companies related to her employment with the White House, including Twitter.
The committee’s investigation began in July 2012 after a conservative blogger named Charlie Warzel published an article on Huffington Post about a $23.9 million federal grant to build a mosque and Islamic cultural center on land located in a section of Maplewood, New Jersey.
In her testimony, Psaki insisted in January 2012 that the center would improve the local community’s quality of life, but she also said the mosque is not in alignment with Islamic tradition. She also said she didn’t believe the project would be detrimental to an area that has seen increased Muslim immigration.
Her views sparked a protest in the form of a petition organized on Change.org. The petition gathered more than 15,000 signatures and eventually led to the mosque’s removal from the grant submission.
In a statement released by the committee on Oct. 15, 2012, Psaki told the committee she was not involved in drafting the application, despite the fact that she received emails from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development outlining plans to use the site “for public use.” The application cited no potential impacts from the mosque.
Shortly after Psaki spoke with National Journal, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) took to the House floor to denounce Psaki. “The administration and Ms. Psaki have both lied to and misled the American people