House Republican demands Mayorkas answer on DHS collusion with social media: ‘Who determines what’s false?’

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., demanded Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas answer for the July 4 federal court ruling that there was substantial evidence that the Biden administration agencies, including DHS, the FBI and others, may have violated the First Amendment by colluding with social media platforms to deter the protected free speech of Americans.  Johnson opened his line of questioning during the House Judiciary Committee hearing by citing the 155-page order issued on Independence Day in Louisiana by U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty restricting the communications of certain Biden administration officials with social media companies for the intended purpose of “urging, encouraging, pressuring, or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression, or reduction of content containing protected free speech posted on social-media platforms.” “Secretary Mayorkas, we have the frustrating responsibility on this committee of providing oversight of your agency. But I have to be honest and tell you I’m not sure exactly what you do at the Department of Homeland Security other than great harm. On your watch, the data is pretty clear. We’ve had record levels of illegal immigration, a rapid decline in deportations, skyrocketing fentanyl deaths across our country, and the Secret Service, which is a DHS component, can’t determine who left cocaine at the White House,” Johnson said.  “In the middle of all this, you created the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, CISA, which is a division of DHS, and it’s one of the Biden administration agencies that colluded with and coerced the social media companies to censor Americans’ protected free speech online. That’s specifically detailed in a 155-page court opinion that came out of the federal court in Louisiana, the landmark litigation of Missouri v. Biden,” Johnson continued. “Have you read that court opinion?”  NY TIMES ROASTED FOR COMPLAINING BIDEN CAN’T FIGHT ‘DISINFORMATION’ AFTER JUDGE’S RULING “Congressman no, I have not. And the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency does not censor speech,” Mayorkas responded.  “The court found otherwise. And it’s really curious to me – actually, it’s quite alarming – that you haven’t read the opinion, because your agency is listed in this opinion,” Johnson said, adding that the court found that the allegations in the case involve “the most massive attack against free speech in United States history.” “And you’re telling me this opinion issued July 4th has not reached your desk? No one’s briefed you on it?” Johnson pressed.  “Oh, I have been briefed on the Missouri litigation,” Mayorkas responded, clarifying that he had taken time to read parts of the court order himself.  “Did you read the parts where it said that this is Orwellian, dystopian and that your agency is involved in a massive cover-up of specifically conservatives free speech online?” Johnson asked.  To that, Mayorkas insisted, “Congressman, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is not involved in such conduct.”  The Republican grew testy with Mayorkas when he could not answer whether a subcommittee of CISA, known as the “misinformation and disinformation subcommittee” or MDM, still exists. “I would have to get back to you on that,” Mayorkas said.  JUDICIARY CHAIR JORDAN TELLS MAYORKAS TO ‘BE PREPARED’ AHEAD OF KEY HEARING ON BORDER CRISIS “Kind of a big deal in your agency. I’m kind of shocked that you don’t know the answer to that. Can you define what misinformation is?” Johnson asked.  “Misinformation is false information that is disseminated to…” Mayorkas began answering before Johnson interjected. “Excellent. Who determines what is false?” he asked. “Who determines is false in your agency? If you’re going to pull something off the Internet and collude with a social media platform to make sure Americans don’t see it, who determines what’s false?” Johnson pressed. To that, Mayorkas answered flatly, “Congressman, we don’t do that.”  “That’s not true. That is not true. That is not what the court has found. This is not a Republican talking point. This is what the documents show. We’ve had people testify under oath that say and you just defined the term. You’re telling me that you don’t know who determines what is false?” Johnson asked.  Mayorkas pushed back, claiming that CISA identifies “tactics that adverse nation states use to weaponize disinformation,” which he then defined as information that is “inaccurate.” Johnson then argued that there is a problem with the government getting involved in such affairs. “The reason the framers of our Constitution did not create an exception for, quote unquote ‘false information’ from the First Amendment is because they didn’t trust the government to determine what it is. And you have whole committees of people in your agency trying to determine what they determine, they define as false or misinformation.”  Johnson also disputed Mayorkas’ claim that CISA only deals with tactics of adverse nation states. “The court found specifically – it’s a finding of fact that is not disputed by the government defendants, the Biden administration, your agency, the FBI or DHS,” Johnson said. “They determined you made – you and all of your cohorts made – no distinction between, domestic speech and foreign speech. So don’t stand there and tell me under oath that you only focused adverse you know, adversaries around the world, foreign actors. That’s not true.”  Mayorkas replied that the case is still a matter of ongoing litigation.  The July 4 order specifically notes government efforts to curb the free speech of Americans.  The preliminary injunction does not restrict Biden administration officials from communicating with social media companies on postings involving criminal activity, national security threats, or criminal efforts to suppress voting, provide illegal campaign contributions, cyber-attacks against election infrastructure, or foreign attempts to influence elections. 
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