Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan told former Twitter executives, including ex-Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, they “got played by the FBI” regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story.
Jordan on Wednesday confronted Roth about Twitter suppressing the New York Post’s (NYP) Oct. 14, 2020 report on the laptop, as well as the suspension of accounts belonging to the NYP and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. The laptop story was deemed Russian disinformation until The New York Times and other corporate outlets confirmed the authenticity of the reports.
The Ohio representative presented a photograph of an email, sent the night before the NYP article’s publication, from FBI special agent Elvis Chan, who messaged Roth a “heads-up” that he would be sending the former executive a link to download 10 documents.
Roth said the documents “did not relate to Hunter Biden,” but were connected to “malign foreign interference” surrounding foreign nations’ attempts to interfere in U.S. elections. He added the FBI did not tell Twitter the Hunter Biden laptop story had any relation to “hack-and-leak” content, which the agency had warned the platform about prior to the 2020 election.
“Did the story violate your policies?” Jordan asked Roth.
“In my judgement at the time, no it did not,” Roth responded.
“Yeah, that’s what you said, ‘It isn’t clearly a violation of our hacked materials policy, nor is it clearly a violation of anything else. So I think what a lot of people are wondering is, if it didn’t violate your policies, and they didn’t tell you faked, didn’t tell you it was hacked, why did you take it down?
Twitter got played by the FBI. pic.twitter.com/78O2fbzWK9
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) February 8, 2023
“The company made a decision that found that it did violate the policy,” he answered. “It wasn’t my personal judgement at the time that it did, but the decision was communicated to me by my direct supervisor and ultimately, I didn’t disagree with it enough to object to that.” (RELATED: Rep. Jim Jordan Calls For Investigation Into FBI’s Alleged Role In Hunter Biden Laptop Story Suppression)
Jordan accused the Twitter executives of getting “played” by the FBI by attending weekly meetings with Chan and receiving emails and documents in relation to the hack-and-leaks. The agency warned Twitter executives of a “hack-and-leak” by “state actors” to interfere in the 2020 election.
“Do you know what I think happened, Mr. Roth? I think you guys got played. I think you guys wanted to take it down, I think you guys got played by the FBI, and that’s the scary part,” Jordan said. “This to me is the real takeaway: 51 former intelligence officials, five days after you guys take down the Hunter Biden story and block the New York Post’s account, five days later, 51 former intel officials send a letter and they say, ‘the Hunter Biden story has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.’ The information operation was run on you guys, and then by extension then run on the American people. And that’s the concern.”
Twitter CEO Elon Musk organized the disclosure of Twitter executives’ handling of the Hunter Biden laptop story in what he called the “Twitter Files,” which revealed the correspondence between Twitter executives and FBI officials in the days leading up to the suppression of the story.
Internal documents published Monday found the FBI paid Twitter nearly $3.5 million between October 2019 and February 2021 as compensation for the employees who processed the agency’s financial requests.
Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi, who took part in the “Twitter Files,” reported he found no evidence the FBI had involvement in Twitter’s suppression of the New York Post’s report on Hunter Biden’s laptop, though new reports released by author Michael Shellenberger indicated the agency may in fact have been involved.
Former FBI Deputy General Counsel James Baker reportedly argued Twitter’s then-Head of Trust and Safety Roth’s claim that the New York Post’s Oct. 14, 2020 report did not violate the social media site’s policies. The agency had been in possession of the laptop since December 2019, suggesting it knew the NYP reported the story accurately.
The FBI accused the “Twitter Files” of attempting “to discredit” the agency in a Dec. 21 statement.