GOP Senators Threaten to Subpoena Heads of Twitter and Facebook Over Hunter Biden Story

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, in Washington. Lawmakers have sparred over whether a now-reversed change to auto-suggestions on Twitter had unfairly hurt Democrats or Republicans more. Dorsey isn't saying which, but tells lawmakers he'll follow up. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

 

Republican senators on Thursday demanding that the heads of Twitter and Facebook appear before the Senate to testify on its apparently biased censorship practices. They indicated that a subpoena was in the works to compel the leadership of these companies to give an account for their decision to block the sharing of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who are ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that they would vote on a subpoena for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. They hope that the committee would also vote to subpoena Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

“This is election interference and we’re 19 days out from an election,” Cruz said. “It has no precedent in the history of democracy. The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know what the hell is going on.”

The announcement comes as both Twitter and Facebook halted the dissemination of a New York Post story showing that Hunter Biden allegedly sent emails connecting his father to his job with Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. If the allegations are true, it means that Hunter used his father’s name and position as vice president to benefit his business dealings. 

The senators accused the social media companies of colluding with the Biden campaign to squash a story that could politically damage the former vice president’s chances of winning the election in November. The lawmakers also pointed out the brazen hypocrisy in this matter, noting that Twitter took no action against reporting on the debunked Steele Dossier or stories on the Russia collusion allegations. 

GOP lawmakers are addressing the concerns of many conservatives who have been railing against the anti-Republican bias that these companies have displayed in their censorious practices. They assert that these platforms have the power to influence elections based on their selection of content that is allowed to be published and shared on their sites. 

“We’re going to finally have an accounting that’s long overdue,” Graham said.“The power behind these platforms have been taken to a level that truly is dangerous.”

Twitter took extreme action to stop the spread of the Hunter Biden story. They locked the New York Post’s account on Wednesday and suspended the Trump campaign’s account for tweeting a video referencing the story. They also locked White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s account, refusing to restore it until she deletes her tweet sharing the link to the article. 

Twitter posted a series of tweets on Wednesday evening claiming that the Hunter Biden article was in violation of its “hacked materials policy.” The company said, “Commentary on or discussion about hacked materials, such as articles that cover them but do not include or link to the materials themselves, aren’t a violation of this policy.” They continued, “Our policy only covers links to or images of hacked material themselves.”

Dorsey acknowledged that its handling of the matter was flawed and “unacceptable.” 

Hawley had already invited Dorsey and Zuckerberg to testify before the subcommittee and argued that a subpoena for the Twitter CEO to appear before the full committee next week is the right move. “We believe in a free press in this country and we also believe in free elections,” he said. “The attempt to rig an election, which is what we’re seeing here by monopolies, is unprecedented in American history. They have a lot to answer for.”

The New York Post released emails that allegedly show that Hunter introduced his farther to a top executive at Burisma. The report stated that the elder Biden met with Vadym Pozharskyi, a Burisma advisor, in April 2015.

The Biden campaign insists that the former vice president participated in “no wrongdoing” and that the alleged meeting never took place. Jamal Brown, a spokesman for the campaign, told Cheddar TV on Thursday that “Twitter’s response to the actual article itself makes clear that these purported allegations are false and not true.” 

Unfortunately for the Biden campaign, Twitter’s actions might actually prove the opposite of Brown’s argument. The company has been exposed over and over again for its bias against conservatives, and many see it for what it likely is: A naked attempt to protect the former vice president from politically damaging information mere weeks before Election Day. 

However, the censoring of the article may have made things worse for the Democratic nominee; by blocking the story, it only drew more attention to it. The backlash against Twitter’s actions is all over the social media platform, which will likely compel more people to find the article on the Post’s website. 

 

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