Lansing power players, secret deals draw feds' attention in marijuana probe

Trump says Facebook is trying to deny him his ‘day in court’

Erik Larson

Former President Donald Trump said his lawsuit against Facebook Inc. over its suspension of his account after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot should stay in Florida because a new state law could help his case.

Facebook and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg are trying to transfer the suit to the company’s home turf in California to dodge the new – but stalled – law that bars social media platforms from suspending accounts of political candidates, Trump said in a filing late Tuesday in federal court in Miami.

“Facebook’s goal is to wholly deprive” Trump and other plaintiffs of “their day in court,” according to the filing.

Trump sued Facebook, Twitter Inc. and Google’s YouTube over the suspension of his accounts in the days after a mob of his supporters – incited by false claims of voter fraud that were spread on social media – violently attacked the Capitol. The moves severed Trump’s access to tens of millions of voters.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a close Trump ally, responded by pushing through a new law that made such bans illegal in the state. The law was temporarily put on hold by a federal judge in June in a separate case brought by two trade associations. The state has appealed that ruling.

The companies have argued their terms of service allow them to choose which jurisdiction should handle lawsuits filed by users. Trump’s suit against Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., was transferred to California earlier this month.

Trump argued in Tuesday’s filing that Facebook can’t choose the forum for suits because Zuckerberg is also named as a defendant. The former president claims the CEO “personally and directly” decided to ban Trump.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump supporters including onetime campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Wednesday filed declarations backing Trump’s claims. Lewandowski, recently replaced as head of a Trump political action committee after he was accused of sexual assault, said Trump needs social media platforms to cheaply spread word of his endorsements in upcoming elections.

The bans are depriving Trump of a “free and passive means” to spread his political views as the “unquestioned leader of the Republican Party,” said Lewandowski. “The value of endorsements from President Trump can confidently be measured as being worth hundreds of thousands – even millions – of dollars.”