Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan sparred with Democratic Virgin Islands Rep. Stacey Plaskett over the Twitter Files hearings on Thursday.
The House Judiciary Committee was holding a hearing on the Twitter Files, where journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger testified on their reporting of the FBI’s alleged ties with Twitter. Jordan, the committee chairman, and ranking member Plaskett clashed after their opening statements, in which Jordan pointed fingers at the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) letter demanding that journalists with access to Twitter’s records be publicly named.
“The idea that I believe both of these individuals [Taibbi and Shellenberger] who are getting ready to testify, I believe that they are both Democrats,” Jordan said. “The idea that two journalists who happen to be Democrats … I don’t think they’re here to help us politically, I think they’re here to tell us the truth. And oh, by the way, the first FTC letter to Twitter after the first set of Twitter Files, the very first question was ‘who are the journalists you’re talking to?’ And you guys don’t care. You don’t care.”
“You care about the 2011 dissent decree?” Plaskett asked.
“You don’t want people to see what happened,” Jordan continued. “The full video, transparency. You don’t want that, and you don’t want two journalists who have been named personally by the Biden administration, the FTC in a letter. They say they’re here to help and tell their story, and frankly, I think they’re brave individuals for being willing to come after being named in a letter from the Biden FTC.”
“Is this your question time now?” Plaskett asked.
“No, I’m responding to your ridiculous statements you made in your opening statement,” Jordan pushed back.
The FTC has been investigating Twitter’s security practices for over six months following a whistleblower’s complaint that the company allegedly violated a 2011 settlement that required it to implement privacy safeguards. Plaskett defended the FTC in her opening statement by accusing Republicans of promoting a false narrative, and added that Twitter CEO Elon Musk is helping the party “politically.” (RELATED: Reps. Jim Jordan, Goldman Spar Over Information On Whistleblowers)
Jordan argued that his staff handed Democrats the full FTC letters to review before the hearing, but Plaskett said the Republicans on the committee did not give her a chance to look at them until 8 p.m. before the hearing.
Tensions between the two representatives continued as Plaskett demanded the hearing proceed.
“Oh now we want to get on with it, so you can say all the things you want and not put out the facts,” Jordan said.
“I did in my opening statement as well as you had an opening statement, you said what you needed to say in your opening statement, and I, as the ranking member, have used my time,” Plaskett said.
Jordan then introduced Taibbi, who released the first batch of the Twitter Files in early December to detail Twitter’s alleged role in suppressing the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story. He also disclosed how the FBI warned Twitter of a potential “hack-and-leak” by “state actors” surrounding the laptop story to influence the 2020 presidential election.
Shellenberger disclosed in mid-December that the FBI paid Twitter nearly $3.5 million between October 2019 and February 2021 to compensate for the time employees managed the agency’s requests.
The FBI called the Twitter Files an attempt to “discredit the agency” by disclosing its correspondence with Twitter in the lead-up to the election, in a Dec. 21 statement.