Former Twitter executives are set to testify next month before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee about the social media platform’s decisions surrounding a 2020 news story on President Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
Republicans have argued that Twitter suppressed circulation of a 2020 New York Post article about Hunter Biden in the weeks before the presidential election, in which now-President Biden was a candidate, for political reasons.
“Our first hearings will be next week. We’re going to talk to Twitter employees, because I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about the laptop. And we’re going to talk about that laptop,” Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said in remarks at the National Press Club’s Headliners Newsmaker talk on Monday.
The newly GOP-controlled Oversight panel is planning to probe the Biden family on a number of issues, and Hunter Biden’s business ties have long been a Republican area of focus.
“… We’re investigating the Biden family for influence peddling. We want to make sure that our national security is not compromised. … Maybe there’s nothing there. We’ll see,” Comer said.
The New York Post story included allegations about President Biden and Ukraine that relied on information reportedly gleaned from a laptop hard drive that Hunter Biden had allegedly dropped off at a Delaware computer repair shop.
Twitter was among platforms that briefly stifled users from sharing links to the story, citing violations of its hacked materials policy.
There were also concerns about potential Russian disinformation in the wake of evidence the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 presidential contest.
The Oversight Committee chairman on Monday suggested that the FBI directed Twitter to suppress the story for political gain, though no public evidence has backed up that claim.
“Who’s to say that opinion doesn’t flip and then you have a Republican president that comes in and they’re ultra wight-wing, and they get government officials to go in and then suppress liberal free speech, suppress MSNBC, suppress The Associated Press, whoever,” Comer said, though he conceded that, if authorities “genuinely” held concerns about disinformation in the article, “then that’s a different story.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) confirmed Monday that three former Twitter employees are scheduled to testify at the hearing on Feb. 8.
“The accountability begins,” Boebert said.
House Judiciary Committee Republicans, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), have also been highly involved in helping Oversight probe whether Twitter censored the New York Post story.
House Republicans on both panels are also looking into recent discoveries of a handful of classified documents from Biden’s time as vice president and senator found in his Delaware home and at an old office.
Comer earlier this month sidestepped why the Oversight Committee isn’t probing former President Trump for the same problem after more than 300 classified documents were found in an FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home last year.
Comer met with Twitter CEO Elon Musk last week in the Capitol, though neither disclosed details or discussion points from the meeting.