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Updated Nov 30, 2023, 10:32am EST
politicsNorth America

House Judiciary Committee subpoenas former White House officials

REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger
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The Scoop

The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed two former White House officials Thursday in its ongoing investigation into the executive branch’s alleged censorship of social media, according to documents obtained by Semafor.

House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, first initiated testimony of Robert Flaherty, the former White House digital strategist now serving as Biden’s deputy campaign manager, and Andrew Slavitt, a former senior advisor to the Biden administration’s pandemic response team, in June and September respectively. Flaherty is the subject of a federal censorship lawsuit brought by the state of Missouri against the Biden administration.

In the letters, Jordan called their reasons for declining to appear before the committee — the pair said lawmakers should instead contact the White House — “unpersuasive.”

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“As detailed in previous correspondence to you and your counsel, the Committee has obtained documents that demonstrate the central role you played in communicating the Biden White House’s censorship efforts to social media companies, including the White House’s demands to censor true information, memes, satire, and other constitutionally protected forms of expression,” the cover letters to the subpoenas read.

In response, White House spokesman Ian Sams accused Republicans of “issuing baseless subpoenas just to play to their far right base” and said the administration “has promoted responsible actions to protect public health, safety, and security when confronted by challenges like a deadly pandemic.”

The new subpoenas were delivered nearly a year after the “Twitter Files” were published — internal documents leaked to select journalists and published on the platform now named X that revealed the company’s content moderation process before Elon Musk’s ownership. The “Twitter Files” sparked debate around so-called liberal bias and became the basis of a congressional hearing in March where Matt Taibbi, one of three journalists given access to the social media company’s content, testified before Congress.

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Nearly nine months later, the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, chaired by Jordan, is holding a second hearing. Taibbi will testify again.

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Correction

The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Robert Flaherty was a current Biden administration official.

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