Jan. 6 DOJ prosecutor and tech lawyer defending social media giants faced off in sealed-bid hearing: report
A federal prosecutor who led the Justice Department’s investigations into the Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol and a prominent attorney known for defending social media giants Twitter, Google and Meta recently clashed in a a hearing in Washington, DC, which remains under seal, according to a report.
DC Circuit Court of Appeals records show Ari Holtzblatt, an attorney with the law firm WilmerHale, argued last week against Justice Department attorney James Pearce.
Politico noted that Holtzblatt has represented Twitter in recent months in a Supreme Court case that resulted in a victory for the social media platform last week.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court sided with Google, Twitter and Facebook in lawsuits seeking to hold them responsible for terrorist attacks based on content posted on their platforms.
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Meanwhile, Pearce is among federal prosecutors working with Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in November to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 riot. 2021 on the grounds of the US Capitol. , along with classified documents found in former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
Politico reported that one of its reporters witnessed Holtzblatt at the DC federal courthouse, along with other WilmerHale attorneys, on Friday morning.
Aaron Zebley, a former senior deputy to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who in 2017 was tasked with investigating Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, and George Varghese, a former federal prosecutor, were among the group. , depending on the medium. Varghese’s biography on WilmerHale’s website says he joined the firm in 2019 after 14 years as a federal prosecutor in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. For the past seven years, he has served in the Massachusetts District Health Care Fraud and National Security Units.
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The nature of the proceedings between Holtzblatt and Pearce is unclear, but court records suggest the litigation has been going on for months.
Smith, meanwhile, pushed through a number of legal battles to obtain testimony regarding his Jan. 6 investigation. From former President Donald Trump’s inner circle, the special counsel has won battles to bring Mike Pence, former chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump’s social media manager Dan Scavino to testify.
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The appeals court docket shows Cornelia Pillard, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, as well as Michelle Childs and Florence Pan — both Biden appointees — as the judges who heard oral argument between Holtzblatt and Pearce on Friday . Records further indicate that the litigation was commenced on January 5 before U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell, who at the time was the chief district judge overseeing all matters related to Smith’s grand jury, according to Politico.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.