House Republicans announced they would seek testimony from top Twitter employees when the House regains control. The New York Post reported that Hunter Biden was using Twitter to handle the matter. This indicates that digital content moderation investigations will be prominent.
Rep. James Comer from Kentucky, the top Republican and most likely next chairman, wrote Tuesday to three people who reportedly played key parts in the decision not to publish the Post story temporarily in the weeks prior to the 2020 election. Comer asked them to discuss what Comer called “Big Tech”‘s control over free discourse and information sharing.
The letters to Vijaya Gadde (Twitter’s former head, legal, policy and trusted); Yoel Rich, Twitter’s former site integrity leader; and James Baker the deputy general counsel request that these three individuals testify in a public hearing of the full congressional committee. CNN reached out directly to each individual in search of comment.
The letters warn recipients that they have been “identified as a central figure to suppress information about President Biden and his families prior to an American Election.”
Jessica Collins, a spokesperson for the committee, answered CNN’s questions about subpoenas. Collins said former and current employees would cooperate.
Collins stated, “The Committee is ready to use every tool at its disposal in order to ensure their cooperation to provide transparency to American people.”
Comer’s letters are coming days after Matt Taibbi published on internal Twitter communication which showed three officials debating the Post story. Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk promised that the records would reveal what really happened that day.
Taibbi presented evidence indicating that efforts to suppress the Post story were coordinated. However, the reports confirm existing accounts. They provided evidence of how Twitter’s policy-making and legal staff dealt with the decision. The company’s communications officers also asked questions about the explanation for the move to the general public. They also confirmed Roth’s claims that Twitter was concerned that the Post report might be the result of Russian “hack-and leak” operations. This was consistent with US law enforcement’s general warnings about foreign election meddling. Roth also claimed in December 2020 sworn testimonysubmitted the Federal Election Commission that during meetings with law enforcement, there was talk of “rumors” that Hunter Biden would be a part of the hack-and-leak operations.
Taibbi’s communications showed that Twitter employees took care to suppress the Post article in fear of spreading hacked materials. There was also internal discussion about the best course of action. Taibbi stated that there is no evidence to suggest government involvement in the Hunter Biden case. The Post story that inspired it has so far not been linked to any Russian information operation.
Taibbi claimed that he received internal communications from Twitter sources and that he had agreed to certain conditions with Twitter to be able report on the records.
Separate congressional testimony later revealed that Jack Dorsey was the CEO of then-Twitter and acknowledged that it had been a mistake. Roth has since repeated those comments, acknowledging that it was an error and saying that the Post story didn’t reach a level where he was comfortable removing from Twitter. (Taibbi said that Dorsey didn’t initially know about the decision.