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Press Releases & News December 23, 2022 House GOP wants FBI’s Twitter censorship, reimbursement records STEVEN NELSON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2022 House Republicans sent the FBI a “preservation notice” Friday seeking records on the… More Info

STEVEN NELSON
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2022

House Republicans sent the FBI a “preservation notice” Friday seeking records on the bureau’s efforts to get Twitter to censor content like The Post’s Hunter Biden reporting — citing evidence from recent “Twitter Files” disclosures facilitated by the platform’s new owner, Elon Musk.

“Newly released information shows the FBI has coordinated extensively with Twitter to censor or otherwise affect content on Twitter’s platform,” incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote to FBI Director Chris Wray.

The letter seeks communications and details of FBI payments to Twitter.

“These documents show that the FBI maintained this relationship with Twitter apart from any particularized need for a specific investigation, but as a permanent and ongoing surveillance operation,” Jordan wrote. “These revelations sadly reinforce our deep concerns about the FBI’s misconduct and its hostility to the First Amendment.”

Other documents released in the “Twitter Files” project show close relations between the FBI and Twitter.

“Twitter’s internal documents reflect a ‘cozy relationship’ between the FBI and Twitter — numerous former FBI employees have taken jobs at Twitter — which one journalist described as a ‘unique one-big-happy-family vibe,’” Jordan writes.

“This closeness created, in the words of journalist Matt Taibbi, a ‘master-canine quality of the FBI’s relationship to Twitter.’ For example, Twitter employees ‘maintain[ed] regular check-ins’ with the FBI as they decided how to censor certain content. These communications occurred before the 2020 and 2022 elections, and at least one prominent FBI official expects that these censorship operations will continue in advance of the 2024 elections.”

Taibbi also found that a “surprisingly high number” of the FBI’s missives were requests “for Twitter to take action on election misinformation,” including obvious jokes.

The request for documents broadly seeks evidence of FBI-Twitter relations, and Republicans, who retake the House on Jan. 3, will soon have the power to compel testimony and documents.

The letter asks for “all documents and communications between or among employees or contractors of the FBI referring or relating to content moderation on Twitter’s platform.”

It also seeks “a full and complete accounting of all money transferred by the FBI to Twitter and any other social media company since January 1, 2016, for purported law-enforcement purposes, including the dates, amounts, and specific reasons for each transfer.”

An internal Twitter document published Monday by journalist Michael Shellenberger said that the FBI reimbursed Twitter to the tune of nearly $3.5 million for time spent processing law enforcement requests around the 2020 election.

In an email dated Feb. 10, 2021, an unidentified Twitter employee told then-deputy general counsel Jim Baker — a former top FBI lawyer — and then-general counsel Sean Edgett that “we have collected $3,415,323 since October 2019!”

The email explained that Twitter’s Safety, Content & Law Enforcement (SCALE) division had instituted a “reimbursement program” in exchange for devoting staff hours to “processing requests from the FBI.”

Other documents released in the “Twitter Files” project show close relations between the FBI and Twitter.

“Twitter’s internal documents reflect a ‘cozy relationship’ between the FBI and Twitter — numerous former FBI employees have taken jobs at Twitter — which one journalist described as a ‘unique one-big-happy-family vibe,’” Jordan writes.

“This closeness created, in the words of journalist Matt Taibbi, a ‘master-canine quality of the FBI’s relationship to Twitter.’ For example, Twitter employees ‘maintain[ed] regular check-ins’ with the FBI as they decided how to censor certain content. These communications occurred before the 2020 and 2022 elections, and at least one prominent FBI official expects that these censorship operations will continue in advance of the 2024 elections.”

Taibbi also found that a “surprisingly high number” of the FBI’s missives were requests “for Twitter to take action on election misinformation,” including obvious jokes.

The letter asks Wray to produce records of communications between the FBI and 23 named Twitter employees believed to be involved in censorship decisions, including former executives Vijaya Gadde and Yoel Roth, who were involved in Twitter’s October 2020 decision to censor The Post’s accurate reporting on documents from Hunter Biden’s laptop that described Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s business relationships in Ukraine and China.

Twitter cited a “hacked materials” policy despite no evidence that the documents were hacked, and also locked The Post out of its primary account.

Taibbi reported last week that “between January 2020 and November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth.”

The House demand also seeks bureau communications with Baker, who worked as Twitter’s deputy general counsel from June 2022 after previously working as the FBI’s general counsel. Musk fired Baker this month for allegedly slow-walking his efforts to release records on past censorship decisions.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, co-signed Jordan’s request for documents, which sets a Jan. 11 deadline.

The FBI did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

The letter informs Wray, “You should construe this preservation notice as an instruction to take all reasonable steps to prevent the destruction or alteration, whether intentionally or negligently, of all documents, communications, and other information, including electronic information and metadata, that are or may be responsive to this congressional inquiry.”

Some House Republicans are clamoring for the establishment of a House select committee to investigate the alleged politicization of the FBI and other federal agencies — citing 2020 election efforts to fight “misinformation” as well as misconduct in the FBI’s investigation of former President Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia, which ultimately turned up no evidence of a conspiracy.

The Twitter censorship is part of a broader controversial effort by federal authorities to police domestic speech.

The full article here.

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