House GOP to investigate whether White House pressured tech companies to suppress conservatives

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U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (R) talks to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) as Representatives cast their votes for Speaker of the House on the first day of the 118th Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 03, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Win Mcnamee | Getty Images

House Republicans are planning to launch a new subcommittee this week that will investigate communications between Big Tech companies and the Biden administration, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to CNBC.

The anticipated launch of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, reported earlier on Monday by Axios, represents one of the many nods newly elected Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., gave to the conservative faction of the GOP caucus in his long fight to win the gavel. The Wall Street Journal’s opinion section previously reported plans for the panel.

House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who supported McCarthy in his bid for the speakership, is expected to lead the new subcommittee. The panel will investigate communications between the tech companies and the executive branch and search for signs of pressure leading to conservative censorship online.

Jordan hinted at these plans last month in a series of letters to the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta and Microsoft demanding information on what he called “the nature and extent of your companies’ collusion with the Biden Administration.” Jordan told the companies they should preserve any existing or future records related to his request for communications with the executive branch about “moderation, deletion, suppression, restricting or reduced circulation of content.”

Facebook parent Meta and Microsoft previously declined to comment on Jordan’s letters. The three other companies did not respond to previous requests for comment.

The decision to create the panel comes after Twitter owner Elon Musk’s release of the “Twitter Files” — reporting from a select group of journalists he allowed access to internal files after he took over the company — renewed fervor around the platform’s past content moderation decisions under its previous ownership.

The most scrutinized of those choices was Twitter’s decision to block links to a New York Post article ahead of the 2020 election claiming to find “smoking gun” emails related to then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter. At the time, Twitter said it believed the story violated its hacked materials policy. Twitter later reversed the decision and its then-CEO said the actions the platform took were “wrong,” changing its policies to prevent a recurrence.

The new subcommittee is also expected to look into other areas of potential influence and politicization in the government, including in the intelligence community and public health agencies.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in response to a Politico article last month describing negotiations to create the subcommittee, White House spokesperson Ian Sams wrote on Twitter, “House Republicans continue to make clear that they’re focused on pointless political stunts to get themselves booked on Tucker Carlson, instead of working with @POTUS or congressional Dems to take on the issues Americans care about like tackling inflation and lowering costs.”

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