Don’t Let the House Hunter Biden Investigation Become a Russiagate-Style Search for Election Excuses
House GOP summons former Twitter execs to February hearing. Among the first orders of business in the new GOP-controlled House of Representatives is a probe related to President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden. The House Oversight Committee, chaired by Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer, is already summoning people to testify at a hearing scheduled for early February.
“This investigation is a top priority for House Republicans during the 118th Congress,” said Comer in a statement. “The investigation will inform legislative solutions to protect Americans’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech and press and prevent public officials and their family members from using public office to enrich themselves.”
Republicans have long insisted that not only did Hunter use his father’s name to secure foreign business deals for himself but that Joe Biden was in on the game. There is evidence for the former, and not for the latter. Regardless, the first people lawmakers might want to question are those intimately involved with Hunter Biden’s business dealings, right?
Apparently not. First up, per a Politico report, are three former Twitter employees.
Comer has invited former Twitter Deputy General Counsel James Baker, former Global Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, and former Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde to the hearing to testify about Twitter’s decision to temporarily block a New York Post story about Hunter Biden in 2020.
That decision was recently dissected at length in the Twitter Files, a series of reports based on internal documents that Twitter CEO Elon Musk has shared with a small group of journalists. The documents reveal Twitter executives engaged in ample deliberation and debate about how to handle the story, primed by warnings from the (Trump-era) Justice Department about the possibility of fake news being spread by foreign adversaries.
It’s pretty clear that Twitter’s decision to suppress the story—ultimately a wrong decision, albeit also a very short-lived one—was very much a product of people trying to avoid repeating the mistakes of 2016. Authorities were on high alert—perhaps to the point of paranoia—about foreign propaganda that might influence the 2020 electorate. And tech companies, having just lived through years of being excoriated for letting foreign propaganda spread in 2016, were extra sensitive to allegations that they might let it happen again.
But Republicans seem to desperately want there to be more to this story. For it to serve as a smoking gun against Joe Biden, tech companies, or both. For it to be a tidy explanation as to why Biden won in 2020.
The whole thing echoes Democratic antics with regard to Russian meddling in the 2016 election. For years following that election, Democrats were obsessed with the idea that Russians had somehow cost Hillary Clinton the election and thrown it to Donald Trump.
We all remember the seemingly endless investigations, hearings, broadcasts, and reports on whether Trump himself was involved, the role social media company algorithms played, and whether tech companies were to blame. Even after it became clear that the whole business was overblown, Democrats—in Congress, on TV, and in print media—refused to let go of narratives about Trumpian collusion and negligent tech execs. It was, apparently, too good for firing up the base. For assuring supporters and viewers that their side was righteous—and wronged—and the other side was a bunch of treasonous crooks.
I fear Republicans are now headed down the same path. Here we are more than two years out from the 2020 election, and they’re calling a congressional hearing over the fact that a private company suppressed a negative news story about the Biden family for 24 hours.
Twitter made the wrong call with the story, yes. But it did so temporarily, with much deliberation, influenced by authorities in the Trump administration, and to the effect that the Hun
Article from Reason.com