U.S. Rep. James Comer (R-KY), chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, speaks at a media event at the National Press Club on January 30, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Kevin Deitch | Getty Images
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., on Wednesday praised Twitter owner Elon Musk for being “transparent” about the technology platform.
“God bless Elon Musk,” Comer said in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” He called the controversial tycoon a “great American.”
Comer’s comments came days after Musk visited Washington and met for more than an hour with House Republican leaders, including a group that included Comer.
They also come just a week before Comer will preside over Twitter’s first major congressional hearing since Musk bought the company last year and after Republicans took control of the House of Representatives.
On Feb. 8, the House Oversight Committee will hear from three former Twitter executives about what Comer called “the government’s role in suppressing the Biden laptop story.”
Notably, Comer did not say he would investigate Twitter’s role in the alleged crackdown.
Musk’s charm offensive on Capitol Hill appears to have been limited by Republicans and White House officials.
Musk initially claimed to have “met” with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.
“Just met with @SpeakerMcCarthy and @RepJeffries to discuss ensuring that [Twitter] it’s fair for both parties,” Musk tweeted on January 26.
But Jeffries’ assistant later said that didn’t happen.
Jeffries just bumped into Musk on his way out of McCarthy’s office and was introduced to him. So while McCarthy and the Republicans met with Musk for over an hour, Jeffries literally just “met” with him.
Twitter’s decision-making during the 2020 presidential campaign was a key topic in the so-called Twitter Files, a series of unprecedented revelations of internal corporate Twitter communications that were authorized by Musk himself.
Musk handpicked a group of independent journalists and gave them a curated set of internal Twitter messages that predated Musk’s purchase of the company. In emails and Slack chats, Twitter executives appeared to be discussing how to handle the laptop story and other politically sensitive developments.
Comer praised Musk’s decision to release his company’s internal discussions, saying on Wednesday that he “did a great service to every American who cares about free speech.”
Republicans were outraged by Twitter’s decision in 2020 to restrict distribution of a New York Post article published in October 2020 that claimed a “Smoking-gun” email proved that then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden had once been introduced to a Ukrainian leader energy to his son Hunter.
The Post said its report was based on data obtained from a laptop Hunter Biden left at a computer repair shop in Delaware, but never picked up.
Biden’s campaign strongly denied the Post’s report, saying there was nothing in Biden’s official schedules since the alleged meeting that it “ever took place.”
Facebook and Twitter restricted the distribution of the story, and Twitter took the highly unusual step of blocking links to the article entirely. At the time, the company said the article violated its hacked content policy.
The decision sparked an uproar among Republicans, who accused Twitter of censoring conservatives, a claim they continued to make despite the company’s denials.
Twitter later reversed the decision, allowing links to the Post story. Then – the general director Jack Dorsey called the original choice to block links with little explanation “not great”. Twitter has also updated its hacked content policy, removing hacked content only if it is shared directly or in collaboration with hackers.
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