Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) told former Twitter officials on Wednesday that they had been “played” by the FBI when the company suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop story ahead of the 2020 election.
“I think you guys got played by the FBI, and that’s the scary part,” Jordan said, adding, “I think you guys wanted to take it down.”
His comment came during a House Oversight Committee hearing that saw three former Twitter executives and a former employee testify about temporarily blocking the New York Post’s story from being shared in October 2020.
The story contained emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop, which he left at a computer repair shop, that link him to illegal overseas business dealings, as well as vivid photos depicting his drug abuse.
Documents revealed under new Twitter CEO Elon Musk suggested that the FBI had effectively primed Twitter officials to suspect the story was Russian disinformation. FBI warnings of a potential “hack-and-leak” operation involving Hunter Biden reportedly came as the agency met regularly with Twitter officials to influence the site’s content moderation.
News outlets have subsequently verified the authenticity of at least some of the laptop’s contents.
During the hearing, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, said Twitter made a mistake in restricting the story from being shared, CNN reported.
“It isn’t obvious what the right response is to a suspected but not confirmed cyberattack by another government on a presidential election,” he said. “I believe Twitter erred in this case because we wanted to avoid repeating the mistakes of 2016.”
Jordan said he thinks “the real takeaway” from the situation lies in an open letter, signed by dozens of former senior intelligence officials after the story was published, saying they were “deeply suspicious” of Russian involvement.
“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,” Jordan said. “The information operation was run on you guys.”