(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Little to no new evidence about Twitter-FBI collusion was revealed at Tuesday’s House Oversight Committee’s hearing into Twitter’s role in suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story.
Republicans mostly rehashed what’s been revealed in the Twitter Files—the trove of internal company records released by new owner Elon Musk—chastising former executives for their improper decision to censor the New York Post’s October 2020 expose on the Biden laptop.
The witnesses at the hearing—former Twitter chief legal officer Vijaya Gadde, executive Yoel Roth and deputy general counsel James Baker—admitted that censoring the story was incorrect. But they denied colluding with the FBI, and successfully evaded questions that would have implicated them in further wrongdoing.
For example, Baker was able to hide behind attorney-client privilege when pressured by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, about whether he advised Twitter how to respond to when the FBI sent the company lists of accounts to ban.
Likewise, he flexed attorney-client privilege when questioned by Jordan about suppressing internal Twitter records. Jordan’s questions were related to the Twitter Files revelation in December that Baker interfered with Musk’s release of the files and tried to suppress critical information from public view.
“I don’t have anything in writing that clears me in my ethical responsibilities to my client with respect to answering questions that I think fall within attorney-client privileges,” Baker told Jordan.
Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., attempted to coerce Baker into answering the question, telling him that the committee “does not recognize the common law attorney-client privilege.”
When Baker still declined to answer, Comer said, “We’ll have to deal with it after the committee hearing.” Comer, who appeared on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show after the hearing, has given no indication about what he plans to do about Baker’s refusal, nor has his press secretary responded to Headline USA’s inquiry about the issue.
Along with Baker’s refusal to answer, witnesses often pleaded ignorance about various issues of censorship.
“I’m not familiar with these particular situations,” Gadde said when grilled by Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., about censoring accurate Covid information from noted experts such as Dr. Jay Bhattacharya.
Even when Rep. Lauren Bobert, R-Colo., revealed new information that Roth signed off on shadow-banning her account for 90 days in 2021—she said she learned this from Twitter the night before the hearing—she spoke until her time was expired instead of having Roth explain himself.
Reflecting on Tuesday’s hearing, an article on The Conservative Treehouse explained why the Oversight Committee’s hearing failed to live up to its potential.
“The HOC committee assignments are selected based on the theatrical skills of each representative. This is not to say the motives of the members are sullied or impure, it is simply to point out the motive of the committee itself is to generate fundraising from the skillsets of the members on the committee,” the article said.
“If you watch the HOC Twitter hearing through the prism of expecting some form of accountability for the violations of the First Amendment, you will be frustrated and disappointed,” the article continued.
“However, if you watch the HOC Twitter hearing through the prism of how well the panelists will do at raising money from their performances, then you can evaluate the effectiveness; the proverbial winning and losing.”
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.