Jordan Subpoenas Former Biden Administration Officials Over Alleged Government Censorship Efforts

Jackson Richman
By Jackson Richman
November 30, 2023Congress

House Judiciary Committee and Weaponization Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) announced on Nov. 30 he has subpoenaed two former Biden administration officials for their alleged roles in what he said were government censorship efforts.

Mr. Jordan subpoenaed Andy Slavitt, who was the White House senior adviser for the COVID pandemic response, and Rob Flaherty, who was the White House’s director of digital strategy and is now on President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign.

During a Weaponization Subcommittee hearing on Nov. 30, Mr. Jordan said that the two were “directly implicated in emails between the White House and tech companies.”

For example, Mr. Jordan cited that Mr. Slavitt allegedly told Twitter, now X, to take down a post related to COVID-19.

Witnesses at the hearing included journalists Matt Taibbi, Michael Shellenberger, Rupa Subramanya, and Olivia Troye, who was a homeland security and counterterrorism adviser for former Vice President Mike Pence and is a critic of former President Donald Trump.

The House Judiciary Committee requested the two appear before the House Judiciary Committee on June 29—which they did not do—and on Sept. 29, when they again did not comply.

In Nov. 30 letters to Mr. Slavitt and Mr. Flaherty, Mr. Jordan wrote that the House Judiciary Committee “obtained documents that demonstrate the central role you played in communicating the Biden White House’s censorship efforts to social media companies, including the White House’s demands to censor true information, memes, satire, and other constitutionally protected forms of expression.”

The White House—and attorneys for Mr. Slavitt and Mr. Flaherty—cited issues from possible confidentiality matters; to current litigation over committee oversight business; to the committee needing all materials before asking for information from the executive branch which controls the items it gives to Congress.

In his letters, Mr. Jordan said these excuses did not hold water.

“While we have more information forthcoming, it’s impossible to get a full accounting of the government censorship efforts when the government actors involved will not participate with our constitutional duty to do oversight,” said Mr. Jordan during the hearing.

The Epoch Times asked Mr. Slavitt and Mr. Flaherty for comment about being subpoenaed.

This development comes as Mr. Jordan revealed in a thread on X that Mr. Flaherty “emailed Google wanting to know how Google could better ‘crack down on vaccine misinformation’ and to discuss ‘ways the White House [and our COVID experts] can partner in your product work.'”

Mr. Jordan said that Google, which owns YouTube, and the Biden White House were in contact.

The subcommittee hearing comes a year after “The Twitter Files” were published by journalists Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and Michael Shellenberger, showing alleged collusion between the U.S. government and Big Tech.

For example, Mr. Taibbi revealed on March 17 alleged collusion between Stanford University’s Virality Project and Twitter to censor what they deemed misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Virality Project (VP) also colluded with the U.S. government, Mr. Taibbi alleged.

“Though the Virality Project reviewed content on a mass scale for Twitter, Google/YouTube, Facebook/Instagram, Medium, TikTok, and Pinterest—it knowingly targeted true material and legitimate political opinion, while often being factually wrong itself,” posted Mr. Taibbi on Twitter.

Mr. Taibbi called the project “a smash success” as “government, academia, and an oligopoly of would-be corporate competitors organized quickly behind a secret, unified effort to control political messaging.”

Additionally, he said: “It accelerated the evolution of digital censorship, moving it from judging truth/untruth to a new, scarier model, openly focused on political narrative at the expense of fact.”

On Feb. 17, Twitter agreed to partner with the VP, which went on to inform Twitter that, regarding the vaccines, there is “true content which might promote vaccine hesitancy” including “stories of true vaccine side effects.”

The VP said such content should qualify under Twitter’s censorship of COVID-19 posts.

Twitter’s censorship rules on such content required it to be “demonstrably false or misleading” and that misleading claims “must be an assertion of fact [no opinion].”

The VP partnered with “[Department of Defense]-funded Graphika, the National Science Foundation-funded Center for an Informed Public, the GEC-funded DFRLab, and the NYU Center for Social Media and Politics, or CSMaP,” according to Mr. Taibbi.

He added that the Virality Project would later say it “partnered with several government agencies,” including the Office of the Surgeon General and the CDC. It reportedly also worked with the Department of Homeland Security’s CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency) and Government Engagement Center, “among others.”

The Government Engagement Center is part of the State Department and reportedly funded the United Kingdom-based Global Disinformation Index to recommend censoring conservative outlets over claims they spread disinformation.

During the committee hearing, Mr. Jordan cited numerous examples of alleged government censorship and intimidation.

He noted that while Mr. Taibbi was testifying in front of the Weaponization Subcommittee in March, FBI and IRS agents visited his home.

Mr. Jordan remarked that the visit was not a coincidence and instead was “intimidation from our federal government.”

The IRS subsequently announced it would no longer make unannounced visits to people’s homes.

From The Epoch Times

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