By Brian Fung, CNN
House Republicans say they will seek testimony in Congress from top Twitter employees who oversaw the company’s handling of a New York Post report on Hunter Biden’s laptop in public hearings when Republicans officially regain control of the Chamber in the next Congress, which indicates that investigations into the moderation of digital content will occupy a prominent place.
On Tuesday, Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the top Republican and likely the next chairman of the House Oversight Committee, wrote to three people who allegedly played a key role in the decision to temporarily suppress the Post’s story on the news. weeks leading up to the 2020 election, calling on them to discuss what Comer described as “Big Tech’s control of free speech and information sharing.”
The letters addressed to Vijaya Gaddeformer head of legal, policy and trust affairs at Twitter; yoel roth, your former site integrity lead; Y james baker, deputy attorney general, request that all three testify at a full committee public hearing in the next Congress. CNN has reached out to all three people for comment.
The letters warn each recipient that they “have been identified as a central figure in suppressing information about President Biden and his family ahead of the US election.”
When asked about the possibility of subpoenas for individuals, Jessica Collins, a spokeswoman for the committee, told CNN that former and current employees were expected to cooperate.
“The Committee is prepared to use any tool at its disposal to ensure your cooperation in providing transparency to the American people,” Collins said.
Comer’s letters come days after journalist Matt Taibbi reported about Twitter’s internal communications which showed the three officials debating how to handle the Post story. The posting of the logs was mocked and amplified by Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk, who promised he would reveal “what really happened” inside Twitter that day.
Taibbi presented evidence suggesting that the effort to suppress the Post story was coordinated. But reported records largely confirm existing accounts of the incident. They showed how Twitter’s legal and policy employees dealt with the decision, and faced questions from company communications officials about how to explain the move to the public. They also backed up Roth’s public statements that Twitter feared the Post report may have been the result of a Russian “hack and leak” operation, in line with general warnings that law enforcement agencies are warning of foreign election meddling. Americans had been providing to the company. . Roth has also said in December 2020 sworn testimony submitted to the Federal Election Commission that “rumors that a hack and leak operation would involve Hunter Biden” were mentioned in meetings with law enforcement.
Communications reported by Taibbi showed that Twitter employees exercised caution in suppressing the Post article for fear of spreading what they believed might have been hacked materials and internal debate over the best course of action. Taibbi also said that he has found no evidence in the Twitter logs of government involvement in the Hunter Biden story. To date, there has been no indication that the material behind the Post story was part of a Russian information operation.
Taibbi has said he received the internal communications from “sources on Twitter” and agreed to unspecified conditions with Twitter in exchange for being able to report on the records.
Twitter’s then-CEO Jack Dorsey, in separate congressional testimony, later acknowledged that the decision had been a mistake. Roth has since echoed those comments, acknowledging that it was a mistake and saying the Post story “didn’t get to a place where I felt comfortable removing it” from Twitter. (Taibbi reported that Dorsey was initially unaware of the decision.)
The CNN Wire
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