July 23, 2024


Step Into The Technology

Issa lays groundwork for House GOP probe into Hunter Biden laptop story

3 min read

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is spearheading an effort to investigate 2020 censorship and suppression of news coverage about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop, previewing the kind of oversight House Republicans plan to engage in if they win back the House.

Issa on Wednesday sent record and document preservation requests to several tech company executives, former intelligence officials and top White House aides relating to the initial story in the New York Post about the laptop contents belonging to President Biden’s son.

GOP leaders have already promised an avalanche of investigative and oversight activity if they are in the majority, including into Hunter Biden, the origins of the COVID-19 virus and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

“Big Tech will resist accountability like it always does — but we are more determined than ever to make certain that we get the truth of the collusion that we know occurred,” Issa said in a statement to The Hill. “We should carry with us an obligation to see this through.”

The story from the New York Post in October 2020 said “smoking gun” emails revealed a meeting between Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and Ukrainian business executives, insinuating shady dealings. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, then serving as President Trump’s personal attorney, gave the emails to the outlet, saying that they came from a laptop that Hunter Biden left at a Delaware computer repair shop. 

Other outlets, including The New York Times, have since authenticated portions of the laptop contents. But at the time, there were widespread concerns about the authenticity of the contents and how they were obtained, with some worrying that the material was hacked.

Twitter blocked users from sharing a link to the New York Post story for a little over two weeks in October 2020, at the height of the presidential race, citing violations of its policy about hacked material. Facebook did not block the link but said that it reduced the story’s distribution on the platform.

The moves enraged Trump supporters, who argued that the companies suppressed negative information about President Biden in order to protect his candidacy.

Issa has sent document preservation requests to former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and current CEO Parag Agrawal, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Meta communications director Andy Stone related to the throttling of the story.

“Material investigation is essential for Congress to conduct a comprehensive fact-finding investigation into actions by technology companies, media organization and political allies to suppress information and prevent public awareness of matters involving the Biden Family,” Issa wrote in the preservation letters shared with The Hill.

Issa also sent document preservation requests to several of the more than 50 former intelligence officials who signed an open letter stating that they were suspicious of Russian involvement related to the disclosure of the emails, writing that the disclosure of the information “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” Recipients of Issa’s letters include former CIA Directors Michael Hayden, John Brennan and Leon Panetta; former CIA deputy chief of staff Nick Shapiro; and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Issa also sent document preservation requests to current top White House officials who were working on Biden’s campaign at the time the laptop story broke: chief of staff Ron Klain, press secretary Jen Psaki and communications director Kate Bedingfield.

Psaki dismissed the New York Post story as “Russian disinfo” soon after the letter from former intelligence officials was released. 

Republicans are aiming to take on Big Tech companies in ways going beyond the Hunter Biden laptop story if they win the House majority in this year’s midterm elections. Addressing perceived censorship of conservatives is a top concern, and antitrust actions are also being discussed.

In a press conference at House Republicans’ annual policy retreat in Florida this week, Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) promised a “complete overhaul change of Section 230, the liability protection that big tech platforms now enjoy.” 

“That has to change if you can make editorial decisions,” Jordan said.

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