EXCLUSIVE: The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed the Justice Department and the FBI for documents related to its investigation into Big Tech censorship, Fox News Digital has learned.
Fox News Digital exclusively obtained and reviewed the subpoenas Thursday, which compel the DOJ and FBI to turn over responsive documents and communications to the House Judiciary Committee by Sept. 18 at 9:00 a.m.
‘The Committee on the Judiciary is conducting oversight of how and the extent to which the Executive Branch has coerced and colluded with companies and other intermediaries to censor speech,’ House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan wrote in letters to both Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray Thursday.
Jordan, R-Ohio, and committee Republicans have asked for communications between the Justice Department, private companies and other third-party groups in addition to other information for months, requesting the agencies to voluntarily cooperate with its oversight probe back in April.
‘Your response without compulsory process has, to date, been woefully inadequate,’ Jordan wrote.
Jordan said the committee’s ongoing investigation, along with publicized discoveries out of the ongoing federal court case Missouri v. Biden, has exposed how the federal government ‘has pressured and colluded with Big Tech and other intermediaries to censor certain viewpoints on social and other media in ways that undermine First Amendment principles.
‘The First Amendment prohibits government officials from imposing viewpoint-based censorship restrictions,’ Jordan wrote, saying that documents that are already publicly-available ‘reflect the weaponization of the federal government’s power to censor speech online directly and by proxy.
‘It is necessary for Congress to gauge the extent to which DOJ officials have coerced, pressured, worked with, or relied upon social media and other tech companies to censor speech,’ Jordan wrote.
Jordan said the Justice Department has produced ‘only a single document: a publicly available transcript’ of a civil deposition of FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Elvis Chan from Missouri v. Biden.
‘Through its investigation, the Committee has uncovered evidence that contradicts several statements in Agent Chan’s deposition, particularly as they relate to his communications with social media platforms,’ Jordan wrote. ‘This production is woefully inadequate and omits voluminous responsive material, including communications between DOJ and tech companies, internal communications, and communications between DOJ and other executive branch entities.’
Citing the federal Missouri v. Biden case again, Jordan said that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana found that government defendants ‘jointly participated’ with social media companies so that they had become ‘pervasively entwined’ in the companies’ workings ‘to such an extent as to blur the line between public and private action.’
‘The Department, including the FBI, does not censor content on social media platforms,’ a DOJ spokesman said. ‘Private companies have the sole authority to make decisions to protect their platforms and users. As with all the Committee’s various requests, the Department remains committed to working with the Committee to fulfill their informational needs.’
Jordan earlier this year subpoenaed the chief executive officers of Google, Amazon, Facebook and others for documents related to the government’s alleged collusion with Big Tech companies to suppress free speech.
Meanwhile, last month, the federal judge presiding over Missouri v. Biden blocked key Biden administration agencies and departments from communicating with social media companies to avoid potential First Amendment violations. The Biden administration is asking a court to stay a preliminary injunction.
In the ruling, the court found that ‘‘Domestic disinformation’ was also flagged by the FBI for social media platforms. Just before the 2020 election, information would be passed from other field offices to the FBI 2020 election command post in San Francisco. The information sent would then be relayed to the social-media platforms where the accounts were detected.’
Last week, Republicans on the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Government Weaponization filed an amicus brief in the case of Missouri v. Biden.
Jordan has released several tranches of internal company emails, court records and various documents related to Facebook that Republicans are pointing to as ‘smoking gun’ evidence that the Biden administration and Big Tech firms ran afoul of the First Amendment.
Revelations from those ‘Facebook Files’ were included in the amicus brief, which accuses the Biden administration of exerting ‘direct and coercive’ pressure on social media companies.
The Justice Department and the FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.