Republicans want to know two things from former Twitter executives: Why they suppressed a news report critical of Joe Biden prior to the 2020 election, and whether Democrats pressured them to do so.
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, signaled those objectives when announcing the Feb. 8 committee hearing at which three former Twitter executives are scheduled to testify.
“Americans deserve answers about this attack on the First Amendment and why Big Tech and the Swamp colluded to censor this information about the Biden family selling access for profit. Accountability is coming,” Comer wrote on Feb. 2.
Twitter’s former Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde, former Deputy General Counsel James Baker, and Yoel Roth, former Head of Global Trust & Safety, were invited to appear voluntarily and offer testimony.
The alleged act of censorship occurred on Oct. 14, 2020, less than a month before the general election, and came to light two years later at the release of the so-called Twitter Files.
The Twitter Files are documents provided to two journalists by Elon Musk, who acquired Twitter in October 2022.
On Dec. 2, 2022, one of the journalists, Matt Taibbi, released a story about the files on Twitter.
Excerpts from the files displayed by Taibbi appear to reveal internal discussions at Twitter involving Gadde, Baker, and Roth about a decision to prevent the dissemination of a story published by the New York Post on Oct. 14, 2020.
The story drew on information obtained from a laptop alleged to have belonged to Hunter Biden to challenge Joe Biden’s assertion he had never used his public office to further his family’s financial interests.
The day Taibbi’s report appeared, Comer took to Twitter, vowing to hold to account those responsible for suppressing the Post story.
“In January, I can promise you this. Every @Twitter employee involved in suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story will have an opportunity to come before @GOPoversight and explain their actions to the American people.”
Comer issued letters to the three former executives four days later, inviting them to testify.
In the letter of invitation to Gadde, Comer alleged that she prevented the circulation of the Post story on Twitter without the knowledge of Twitter’s founder Jack Dorsey, who was then in control of the company, and over the objection of Roth.
Comer further alleged that “the Biden team” directed the removal of some stories from Twitter in the days before the 2020 elections.
“The Biden Administration’s penchant for censorship under the guise of suppressing ‘misinformation’ raises questions as to whether individuals within the Administration compelled companies such as Twitter and Facebook to censor Americans,” Comer said in a Twitter post on Dec. 27.
The Federal Election Commission concluded in September 2021 that Twitter “acted with a bona fide commercial purpose and not an electoral one” in its handling of the New York Post story, and that there is “no information indicating that Twitter coordinated its activities with the Biden Committee.”
Baker is alleged to have played a key role in the decision to suppress the Post story. Roth has been invited to provide context for the decision.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-N.Y.), who sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, is named in the Twitter Files, where documents appear to show that he warned Gadde against suppressing the story based on First Amendment grounds.
“Technically, they’re private actors, but they’re effectively a modern public square, and they should not be engaged in censorship,” Khanna said in a televised interview in December.
The Epoch Times was unable to reach Gadde, Baker, or Roth for comment. The offices of Reps. Comer and Khanna did not reply to requests for comment.