Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri pressed Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas Thursday over allegations the Biden administration directed social media companies to censor certain viewpoints.
“A federal judge has found a finding of fact, Mr. Secretary, that your office, and I am going to quote now, is ‘supervising the nerve center of federally directed censorship,’” Hawley said during a hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “It’s a federal judge in a federal lawsuit – you are supervising the nerve center of federally directed censorship.”
A federal judge ruled Oct. 21 that multiple current and former Biden administration officials, including President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki could be deposed about efforts to coordinate with social media companies to suppress debate about multiple issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the conduct of the 2020 presidential election.
Hawley cited an Aug. 20, 2021 email where Facebook told the Department of Health and Human Services they were “increasing
“We have example after example of this administration coordinated apparently, according to a federal court, by your agency, pressuring – coercing social media companies to engage in censorship,” Hawley said. “Is that constitutional?”
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“That is unequivocally false,” Mayorkas said, a statement he repeated after Hawley reiterated what the emails said.
The FBI reportedly faces criticism for allegedly pushing Facebook to suppress so-called misinformation, including an October 2020 New York Post report on a laptop abandoned by Hunter Biden.
Social media companies censored the story in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, but The New York Times and Washington Post confirmed the laptop’s authenticity in March 2022.
“You are not pressuring Big Tech to take down accounts?” Hawley asked. “You are not meeting with them to ask them to censor on your behalf?”
“That is correct,” Mayorkas said.