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    FBI Chief Rebuts GOP Allegations, Disavows ‘Moderation’ of Social Media Platforms

    Director Christopher Wray Denies Claims of Censorship and Emphasizes Focus on Foreign Disinformation Threats

    In a fiery hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Christopher Wray categorically rejected accusations that the agency exerts pressure on social media platforms to suppress content. He emphasized that the FBI’s primary focus lies in combating disinformation propagated by “foreign hostile actors.” This high-stakes confrontation between Wray and lawmakers occurred against the backdrop of mounting criticism from Republicans, who contend that the agency has become a weapon for the Biden Administration.

    Addressing Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.), Wray adamantly declared, “The FBI is not engaged in the moderation of content or the instigation of any form of suppression or censorship within social media platforms.” He was responding to inquiries related to a preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge in Louisiana, which prohibits the Biden Administration, including the FBI, from engaging in most communications with social media companies.

    The injunction, granted by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty, a Trump appointee, was obtained by Republican attorneys general from Louisiana and Missouri. Their argument posited that the Biden Administration, with the complicity of the FBI, has orchestrated a “targeted suppression of conservative ideas” on social media. These ideas encompass opposition to Covid-19 vaccines, mask-wearing, lockdown measures, the Covid-19 lab-leak theory, and reports concerning Hunter Biden’s laptop.


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    Wray unequivocally refuted the plaintiffs’ assertions that the FBI impeded Americans’ exercise of their First Amendment rights. He clarified that the agency’s focus is not on disinformation as a broad concept but rather on identifying and countering “foreign hostile actors who clandestinely exploit our social media platforms.”

    Furthermore, Wray dismissed claims made by the Republican attorneys general that the FBI, in conjunction with other Biden administration agencies implicated in the lawsuit, had exerted pressure on social media companies to enhance censorship measures. “Ultimately, the decision to take action rests solely with the social media companies,” Wray asserted, denying any coercion on the part of the FBI.

    CHIEF CRITIC

    Representative Mike Johnson criticized the FBI, stating, “The American people have lost faith in the FBI. All of our constituents are demanding that we get this situation under control. The mounting scandals are overwhelming for the American people we represent.” Johnson then proceeded to interrogate Wray about the court order, seeking his definition of “disinformation.”


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    CONTRA

    In a rebuttal to the Republicans’ accusations, Representative Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) criticized their relentless attacks on the FBI, alleging their motive was to shield former President Donald Trump. Nadler contended that Republicans habitually avoid holding Trump accountable for problems exclusively attributable to him, stating, “They seem incapable of assigning any agency or responsibility to Donald Trump for problems that are Trump’s and Trump’s alone.” Nadler further criticized their inclination to investigate the investigators and undermine their findings whenever they were dissatisfied with the outcomes.

    KEY BACKGROUND

    During Wednesday’s hearing, led by the Republican-dominated House Judiciary Committee, Wray faced intense scrutiny as part of the committee’s wide-ranging investigations into what they perceive as the Biden Administration’s “weaponization of the federal government.” Among the topics discussed were allegations from a whistleblower that the FBI deliberately slowed down its investigation into Hunter Biden. Additionally, Democrats accused the agency of inadequate urgency in investigating Trump’s handling of classified information. Concurrently, Republicans levied accusations that the FBI acted as a “political tool of the Biden Administration” when conducting an allegedly unjustified raid on Mar-A-Lago. House Republicans have been increasingly critical of Wray, issuing multiple letters admonishing him and even introducing legislation calling for his impeachment.

    WHAT TO WATCH FOR

    In response to Judge Doughty’s order, the Justice Department has filed an appeal and requested an emergency stay from an Appeals Court to halt the injunction. The Justice Department cautioned that the order could have wide-ranging implications, potentially preventing the federal government from debunking false information in public statements disseminated on social media platforms.

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