Twitter’s decision in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election to suppress a New York Post article about content attributed to a laptop abandoned by Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, led to some fierce backlash against the social media platform.
Behind the scenes, however, it has since become apparent that U.S. intelligence sources were pulling the strings in order to essentially censor coverage of what dozens of officials determined was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
Now that Republicans have control of the House of Representatives, the chamber’s judiciary and intelligence committees are calling for testimony from 29 CIA officials who attached their names to a letter discrediting the Hunter Biden story.
If the “intel” officials have nothing to hide, then they’ll voluntarily talk to us.
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) March 1, 2023
In addition to allegedly exposing sordid details from the younger Biden’s personal life, the files reportedly recovered from the laptop pointed to questionable foreign business deals that at least tangentially involved the current president.
As the Republican leaders of both panels wrote to the intelligence officials: “This request, to include a request for a transcribed interview before the Committees, remains outstanding. These documents and your testimony are necessary to further our oversight.”
The advisory also included a similar request sent in April by the House Judiciary Committee with which the addressees have not yet complied.
“Accordingly, we reiterate our requests and ask that you comply promptly,” the GOP lawmakers concluded.
In addition to reports that Twitter was pressured to downplay the laptop story, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted in an interview last year that officials similarly exerted influence on Facebook staffers.
He paraphrased what the FBI told his team at the time: “Hey, you should be on high alert. We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on a notice that there is about to be some kind of a dump that is similar to that, so just be vigilant.”
Zuckerberg expressed regret over limiting access to a report that was never proven to be false, but explained that Facebook did go as far as Twitter to throttle access to the story.
“Our protocol is different than Twitter’s,” he said. “What Twitter did is they said you can’t share this at all. We didn’t do that.”