House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan slapped the heads of the FBI and Justice Department with a pair of subpoenas Thursday over their agencies’ work with Big Tech companies to limit the spread of unpopular speech.
Jordan (R-Ohio) demanded that the FBI and DOJ fork over a slew of documents, specifically communications with private companies and third parties pertaining to “content moderation and the suppression of disfavored speech online.”
“It is necessary for Congress to gauge the extent to which DOJ officials have coerced, pressured, worked with, or relied upon social media and other tech companies to censor speech,” Jordan wrote in separate letters to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Jordan previously wrote to Garland and Wray on April 18, asking for voluntary cooperation with his panel’s wide-ranging inquiry.
In response, the chairman said, the law enforcement agencies submitted a transcript of a deposition given by San Francisco-based FBI agent Elvis Chan as part of a civil lawsuit filed against the Biden administration by the attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri.
“Through its investigation, the Committee has uncovered evidence that contradicts several statements in Agent Chan’s deposition, particularly as they relate to his communications with social media platforms,” Jordan said.
“This production is woefully inadequate and omits voluminous responsive material, including communications between [DOJ/FBI] and tech companies, internal communications, and communications between [DOJ/FBI] and other executive branch entities.”
Earlier this month, Jordan’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government threw its weight behind the suit brought by Louisiana and Missouri, alleging the Biden administration trampled on First Amendment rights with its content-flagging apparatus.
Jordan and a handful of other Republicans filed an amicus brief backing the states’ argument that the administration unlawfully colluded with tech giants to limit Americans’ speech.
In his subpoena cover letters, Jordan cited that lawsuit, which references The Post’s bombshell story on Hunter Biden’s laptop that was throttled by social media behemoths in the final weeks of the 2020 election campaign, despite an FBI official confirming its legitimacy to Twitter the day the story broke.
“The Committee’s investigation, along with other public reporting, and publicized discovery in an ongoing federal court case, Missouri v. Biden, have exposed how the federal government has pressured and colluded with Big Tech and other intermediaries to censor certain viewpoints,” Jordan wrote.
Louisiana US District Judge Terry Doughty enacted a preliminary injunction July 4 barring the Biden administration from certain content-moderation communications with the social media giants while court proceedings play out.
That order was later put on hold by the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals while the White House appeals Doughty’s initial order.
“The Department, including the FBI, does not censor content on social media platforms,” a DOJ rep told The Post.
“Private companies have the sole authority to make decisions to protect their platforms and users,” the spokesperson added. “As with all the Committee’s various requests, the Department remains committed to working with the Committee to fulfill their informational needs.”
In a separate statement, the FBI told The Post that it is “committed to cooperating with the committee in good faith.”
“The FBI does not censor content on social media,” it went on. “We are a law enforcement and intelligence agency responsible for working with companies in a lawful way to protect our communities from child predators and terrorists, as well as hostile foreign countries like China, Russia, and Iran who are looking to exploit social media platforms to commit crimes or threaten national security.
“When the FBI identifies information that a hostile foreign actor is behind a social media account, we share that information with the company. Social media companies independently decide what, if any, action to take on their own platforms for their own customers.”