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Rand Paul Spars With FBI Director On Pressuring Social Media Companies To Censor Speech

(Screenshot, Rumble, CSPAN)

James Lynch Investigative Reporter
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Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul sparred with FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday about the FBI’s meetings with social media companies and how the bureau changed its behavior in response to the Missouri v. Biden lawsuit.

During Wray’s testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Paul asked him a series of questions related to the FBI’s contacts with social media companies documented by the “Twitter Files” documents and the House Judiciary Committee.

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“Director Wray … is the FBI still meeting with social media companies?” Paul asked.

“We’re having some interaction with social media companies but all of those interactions have changed fundamentally in the wake of the court’s rulings,” Wray answered.

Paul followed up by asking Wray whether he was acknowledging that the FBI’s meetings with social media companies included discussions of constitutionally protected speech.

Wray said the FBI changed its behavior “out of an abundance of caution” to comply with an injunction from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals preventing the Biden administration from working with social media companies to censor speech. The Supreme Court issued a stay on the Fifth Circuit injunction as it prepares to hear the Missouri v. Biden First Amendment case.

“Did anybody from the FBI ever discuss constitutionally protected speech with social media organizations?” Paul continued.

“Not to my understanding,” Wray said, adding that the FBI did not discuss any posts related to COVID-19 vaccine efficacy.

Wray also touted the FBI’s assessment that COVID-19 most likely came from a lab in Wuhan, China, where bat coronaviruses were being researched. (RELATED: CIA Gave Financial Rewards To Six Analysts Who Covered Up Lab Leak Investigation, Whistleblower Alleges)

“The ‘Twitter Files’ and other indications as well as Missouri v. Biden list many cases of both DHS and FBI discussing constitutionally protected speech, vaccine efficacy, mask efficacy, people who said ‘my brother got the vaccine and died yesterday’ and the brother actually did die … But taking down posts like that was part of the discussion in these meetings,” Paul pressed Wray.

“Not by the FBI. We would not have been engaging with social media companies about vaccine efficacy, to my knowledge, certainly” Wray asserted.

The “Twitter Files” reports revealed the FBI’s efforts to coordinate with social media companies to censor speech ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The documents were reported on by a group of independent journalists after Elon Musk purchased Twitter and pledged to make the platform a haven for free speech.

In a court filing for the Missouri v. Biden lawsuit, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said that about half of the FBI’s attempts to censor speech were successful.

The House Judiciary Committee is also investigating coordination between the federal government and social media platforms to censor stories like the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop reporting.

The Judiciary Committee is still seeking testimony from FBI agent Elvis Chan because of the central role he appeared to play in coordinating online censorship.