WASHINGTON — The House oversight committee’s Republican majority plans to press hard for evidence of “collusion” between the FBI and Twitter to censor The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story when three former executives of the social media company appear at the Capitol Wednesday morning.
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) laid out the goal in the prepared version of his opening remarks, excerpts of which were released ahead of the 10 a.m. hearing.
“Twitter, under the leadership of our witnesses today, was a private company the federal government used to accomplish what it constitutionally cannot: limit the free exercise of speech,” Comer will say.
“We owe it to the American people to provide answers about this collusion to censor information about Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s business schemes.”
Comer is holding the hearing as one of his first acts since taking power last month as other committees prepare for related investigations of possible FBI and intelligence-community misconduct.
Although little is yet known about the FBI’s direct role in the laptop story’s censorship by platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, Comer will lay out what information has already been made available, some of which was released by new Twitter owner Elon Musk.
“In the months leading up to the laptop story, the FBI advised senior Twitter executives to question the validity of any Hunter Biden story. We also know that one of the witnesses before us today participated in an Aspen Institute exercise in September 2020 on a potential ‘hack and dump’ operation relating to Hunter Biden,” Comer’s prepared remarks say.
“Other Big Tech companies and reporters attended as well. This exercise prepared them for their future collusion to suppress and delegitimize information contained in Hunter Biden’s laptop about the Biden family’s business schemes.”
Comer will add, “On October 14, 2020, the New York Post published its first story based on information contained in Hunter Biden’s laptop … Immediately following the story’s publication, America witnessed a coordinated campaign by social media companies, mainstream news, and the intelligence community to suppress and delegitimize the existence of Hunter Biden’s laptop and its contents.”
Democrats are expected to play defense at the hearing.
White House spokesman Ian Sams tweeted last week that the hearing was “a political stunt.” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) said in a recent prebuttal, “If you’re so interested in what was on Hunter Biden’s laptop, you should do that in your private time, not on the taxpayer’s dime.”
But Republicans are expected to pressure the former executives on breadcrumbs left by Musk’s so-called “Twitter Files” disclosures after he took over the platform in October.
The FBI paid Twitter $3.5 million from October 2019 to February 2021 to process its moderation requests, according to a document released by Musk.
San Francisco-based FBI agent Elvis Chan used a special transmission platform called Teleporter to send Roth and at least one other person 10 documents on the night of Oct. 13, 2020, just hours before The Post’s initial laptop stories were published at 5 a.m. on Oct. 14, according to Musk-released evidence.
In July 2020 — three months before The Post broke the laptop story — Chan emailed Roth suggesting that beginning 30 days before Election Day, Twitter executives would be granted temporary security clearances to discuss threats with FBI officials, according to Musk’s disclosures.
The laptop revelations attracted questions about possible corruption and conflicts of interest in foreign affairs.
The Post’s first laptop article revealed that Vadym Pozharskyi, an executive at the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, emailed Hunter in 2015 to thank him for the “opportunity to meet your father” — contradicting Biden’s September 2019 claim that he’d “never spoken” with his son about “his overseas business dealings” and his August 2019 claim that “I have never discussed, with my son or my brother or with anyone else, anything having to do with their businesses.”
Hunter earned up to $1 million per year to serve on the Burisma board from 2014 to 2019, beginning when his father was put in charge of the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy.
A second October 2020 bombshell from The Post described Joe Biden’s alleged role in Hunter Biden and his uncle Jim Biden’s business venture with the company CEFC China Energy, which was reputed to be part of Beijing’s “Belt and Road” foreign influence campaign.
A May 13, 2017, email from the laptop said the “big guy” would get 10% of the deal. Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski alleges that he discussed the CEFC partnership with Joe Biden in May 2017 and both Bobulinski and another former Hunter Biden partner, James Gilliar, identified Joe Biden as the “big guy.”
Hunter and James Biden earned $4.8 million from CEFC China Energy in 2017 and 2018, according to the Washington Post’s later review of Hunter Biden laptop documents and an October 2017 email identifies Joe Biden as a participant in a call about CEFC’s attempt to purchase US natural gas.