Three former executives from Twitter appeared before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee to testify for the first time about the company’s decision to block from Twitter a New York Post article in October 2020 about the contents of a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., didn’t handle the oversight well.
Ocasio-Cortez called the endeavor “a whole hearing about a 24-hour hiccup in a right-wing political operation.”
“It’s just an abuse of public resources, an abuse of public time,” Ocasio-Cortez complained. “That is why we are here right now… I believe that political operatives who sought to inject explosive disinformation with The Washington Post couldn’t get away with it, and now they’re livid.”
“And they want the ability to do it again. They want the ability to inject this again,” she said. “So, they’ve dragged a social media platform here in Congress. They’re weaponizing the use of this committee so that they can do it again.”
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Ocasio-Cortez slammed the hearing for diverting attention away from her favorite issues.
“We could be talking about abortion rights,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But instead we’re talking about Hunter Biden’s half-fake laptop story. I mean, this is an embarrassment. But I’ll go into it.”
Take a look —
.@AOC "A whole hearing about a 24 hour hiccup in a right-wing political operation… we could be talking about health care, bringing down the cost of Rx drugs, abortion rights, voting rights, civil rights, but instead we're talking about Hunter Biden's half baked laptop story." pic.twitter.com/d9e3eWkaLv
— Will Ragland (@citizenwillis) February 8, 2023
.@RepAOC @AOC: "It's an abuse of public resources…We could be talking about health care…We could be talking abortion rights, civil rights, voting rights, but instead we're talking about Hunter Biden's half fake laptop story. I mean this is an embarrassment." pic.twitter.com/IrgYvhb5n1
— CSPAN (@cspan) February 8, 2023
Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t the only one. President Joe Biden also complained about the House for holding the hearing.
The White House criticized congressional Republicans just hours after Biden’s State of the Union address where he called for unity.
“This appears to be the latest effort by the House Republican majority’s most extreme MAGA members to question and relitigate the outcome of the 2020 election,” White House spokesperson Ian Sams said in a statement Wednesday. “This is not what the American people want their leaders to work on.”
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Former Twitter executives conceded Wednesday they made a mistake by blocking a story about Hunter Biden, the president’s son, from the social media platform in the run-up to the 2020 election. They denied Republican assertions they were pressured by Democrats and law enforcement to suppress the story.
“The decisions here aren’t straightforward, and hindsight is 20/20,” Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, testified to Congress. “It isn’t obvious what the right response is to a suspected, but not confirmed, cyberattack by another government on a presidential election.”
He added, “Twitter erred in this case because we wanted to avoid repeating the mistakes of 2016.”
The hearing continues a years-long trend of GOP leaders calling tech company leaders to testify about serious political bias.
The witnesses Republicans subpoenaed were Roth, Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former chief legal officer, and James Baker, the company’s former deputy general counsel.
The New York Post reported weeks before the 2020 presidential election that it had received from Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, a copy of a hard drive from a laptop that Hunter Biden had dropped off 18 months earlier at a Delaware computer repair shop and never retrieved. Twitter blocked people from sharing links to the story.
It was later verified as real, and the suppression of the story likely had an impact on the 2020 presidential election.
“You exercised an amazing amount of clout and power over the entire American electorate by even holding (this story) hostage for 24 hours and then reversing your policy,” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said to the panel of witnesses.
Months later, Twitter’s then-CEO, Jack Dorsey, called the company’s communications around the Post article “not great.” He added that blocking the article’s URL with “zero context” around why it was blocked was “unacceptable.”
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The newspaper story was originally dismissed by the mainstream media over questions about the laptop’s origins, including Giuliani’s involvement.
The issue was also reignited recently after Musk took over Twitter as CEO and began to release a slew of company information to independent journalists, what he has called the “Twitter Files.”
The documents and data largely show internal debates among employees over the decision to censor links to the Hunter Biden story. However, the tweet threads stopped short of proving any targeted influence campaign from Democrats or the FBI, which has denied any involvement in Twitter’s decision-making.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.