Senior WH Staffer Rob Flaherty Is Leaving the Building

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Most of America could be forgiven for missing the news that Rob Flaherty, the Director for Digital Strategy at the White House, is leaving his post at the end of June. There have been some rather big news stories dominating the headlines of late.

The White House apparently issued a statement announcing the departure six days ago. In it, President Joe Biden praised Flaherty’s contributions and thanked him for his service:

Under Rob’s leadership, we’ve built the largest Office of Digital Strategy in history, and with it, a digital strategy and culture that brought people together instead of dividing them.

I’m grateful to Rob for his service over the last three and a half years and look forward to our continued work together in the future.

I first caught wind of the news, however, on Wednesday evening, when I saw this tweet from Alex Berenson, the former New York Times reporter infamously banned from Twitter (at the behest of the White House, it turns out), thanking my Senator, Eric Schmitt (R-MO), for the heads up.

Schmitt, of course, is one of the attorneys behind the ongoing Missouri v. Biden litigation, having initiated the suit in his former role as Missouri’s Attorney General. (His successor, Andrew Bailey, has taken up the charge.)

As Schmitt’s tweet notes, on June 16, DOJ attorneys filed a notice advising the court that Flaherty is leaving his government employment as of the end of June.

Because Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction is fully briefed and pending with the Court and seeks to enjoin defendant Rob Flaherty in his official capacity as Assistant to the President and White House Director of Digital Strategy, Dkt. 214 at 68, Defendants wish to provide advance notice that after June 30, 2023, Mr. Flaherty will no longer hold that position and will no longer be employed in any capacity by the U.S. Government. Defendants will file a notice of substitution pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(d) once his successor is named.

Schmitt helpfully included screenshots of sections of a pleading filed by the Plaintiffs pertaining to Flaherty.

Screenshot from MO v. Biden pleading. (Credit: Twitter/Eric Schmitt)
Screenshot from MO v. Biden pleading. (Credit: Twitter/Eric Schmitt)

From the selected sections (citations omitted):

Among many other things, Mr. Flaherty directly participated in the oral meeting where he and Andrew Slavitt pressured Twitter to de-platform Alex Berenson – critical information that the Government‘s discovery did not reveal. Mr. Flaherty emailed Nick Clegg, a senior Facebook executive, with a link to a Washington Post story about misinformation on Facebook, stating “not even sure what to say at this point.” Mr. Flaherty repeatedly participated in oral meetings with social-media platforms about so-called COVID “misinformation,” as documents filed by Plaintiffs repeatedly attest.

Documents cited in support of the latter allegation include:

  • A message to Flaherty from Facebook stating, “Thanks again for taking the time to meet with us on Monday…”
  • Flaherty setting up a meeting with Facebook about “mis-and-disinformation on feed and in groups” on Facebook
  • Flaherty telling Facebook he is “happy to talk about” Facebook’s misinformation problem, and demanding information about “what solutions you are implementing, and how effective they’ve been”
  • A Facebook official “circl[ing] back” with Flaherty after an oral meeting to assure him that “we’re also updating our misinformation policies” to increase censorship
  • Facebook telling Flaherty “thanks for making time” for a conversation earlier that day “related to vaccine misinformation”
  • Flaherty sending a meeting invite to seven Google officials for “YouTube Vaccine Misinfo Briefing”
  • Flaherty connecting Vivek Murthy with “a critical leader of the DNC‘s misinfo work for a long time” who “has also been helping us think through mis/dis on the COVID side”

Berenson is himself involved in ongoing litigation against the government for the alleged violation of his First Amendment rights. Flaherty is also a named Defendant in that litigation.


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