Senior officials in Donald Trump’s Home Office have been directly involved in a short-lived campaign to detonate the agency’s criticism of an unclaimed troll Twitter account, according to internal documents obtained by HuffPost.
The @NoBullBison Twitter handle appeared quietly in April 2019 and began to turn against criticism from the administration. “Bison bringing the facts – calling the bull,” read the profile’s biography, a reference to the federal agency’s bison seal.
In its first profile post, the Ministry of the Interior blasted to the left-wing Center for American Progress on a report the group produced that found that a quarter of all new oil and gas leases approved by the department were in migration corridors for big game species like elk and mule deer – habitats the Trump administration was committed to identifying and better protecting.
Documents the HuffPost obtained last week in connection with a Freedom of Information Act request show that Daniel Jorjani, the agency’s top lawyer, and Todd Willens, then the secretary’s acting chief of staff then-Interior David Bernhardt were among those involved in crafting the initial rebuttal. of the CAP report.
Willens forwarded the CAP report without comment to two colleagues on April 18, 2019. Casey Stemler, senior advisor at the US Fish and Wildlife Service, responded later in the morning, writing that he had “become sick and tired of various people. and groups claiming the Order is doing this or that or that will lead to this or that, ”referring to a secretarial order that Bernhardt’s predecessor, Ryan Zinke, signed in 2018.
“It would be great if we had a communication effort to [sic] so I can lay out the facts, ”Stemler added.
Willens forwarded Stemler’s lengthy response to Home Office communications staff, urging them to “get down to it and reveal the truth.”
Faith Vander Voort, the main spokesperson for the Home Office, used her official government email account to create the No Bull Bison account. She quickly interjected, “I think that would make a fantastic ‘No Bull from the Bison’ first tweet.”
Vander Voort wrote a series of tweets using Stemler’s email and forwarded them to Jorjani. After some confusion – “?? Jorjani replied first – he signed the thread.
“The team,” Vander Voort wrote to his colleagues in the secretary’s office. “I wanted to let you know that I received the Golden Thumb of Compliance from Dan (see below). Unless I hear the opposite from one of you before 4:30 pm, I will leave it log out of the Bison account.
“I’m fine,” Willens replied approvingly, noting that a retweet from Bernhardt would be “likely.”
Vander Voort then emailed Bernhardt asking if she could retweet the post from her account. The documents do not include any response from the secretary, but his official government Twitter account retweeted him later today.
It wasn’t until the next day, April 19, and only after the HuffPost revealed that the @NoBullBison profile was created using the government email address of Vander Voort, that the Home Office recognized the account like his.
As HuffPost previously reported, @NoBullBison’s social media run has been brief and insignificant. In the six months he was active, he only posted five times and garnered little engagement.
In its final tweet, the handle then targeted Rep. Deb Haaland (DN.M.), one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, for having apparently inaccurate the number of federally recognized tribes in the United States during a congressional hearing. But instead of a fair and accurate fact-check, Trump Interior officials used their troll accounts to twist Haaland’s words.
In March, Haaland was confirmed as the 54th secretary of the Home Office, the massive federal agency that oversees about a fifth of all land in the United States.
The @NoBullBison, thankfully, has stopped flattering online.
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