CEOs of Twitter, Facebook, & Google Testify Before the Senate on ‘Big Tech’ Censorship
Are you concerned about tech companies censoring or suppressing content on their platforms?
by Causes | 10.29.20
What’s the story?
- The CEOs of three of America’s largest tech companies testified before the Senate Commerce Committee in a virtual hearing on Wednesday regarding censorship on their platforms and anti-conservative bias.
- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared in the hearing, which had been scheduled before Twitter and Facebook sparked controversy by blocking and suppressing the New York Post’s coverage of Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings and their purported connection to his father, former Vice President Joe Biden.
- In the hearing, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) called out Twitter for a double standard by flagging tweets from the president but allowing Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to call for the destruction of Israel and deny the Holocaust:
“It’s strange to me that you’ve flagged the tweets from the president, but haven’t hidden the Ayatollah’s tweets on Holocaust denial and calls to wipe Israel off the map.”
- Dorsey replied, “We have a policy against misinformation in three categories, which are manipulated media; public health, specifically COVID; and civic integrity, election interference and voter suppression. We do not have a policy or enforcement for any other types of misleading information that you’re mentioning.”
- Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) stood up for the tech companies and accused committee Republicans of acting in bad faith:
“This is bullying and it’s for electoral purposes. Don’t let the Senate bully you into carrying water for those who want to advance misinformation. And don’t let the specter of removing Section 230 protections, or an amendment to anti-trust law, or any other kinds of threats cause you to be a party to the subversion of our democracy.”
- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who is leading an investigation of Hunter Biden’s business dealings as the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, asked Dorsey if he had any evidence that Hunter’s laptop or emails are misinformation. Dorsey replied, “We don’t.” Dorsey went on to explain that they initially blocked the Post’s reports because they believed the materials were hacked, which they were not, and that Twitter updated its hacked materials policy in response.
- Both the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have gone on record as stating that they have no evidence that Hunter Biden’s emails or laptop are part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
- Dorsey and Zuckerberg will appear in another congressional hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 17th. The committee authorized subpoenas for the pair of CEOs but didn’t attempt to serve them after they agreed to appear voluntarily.
What are the reports about Hunter Biden’s business dealings?
- The New York Post was first to release a series of reports detailing alleged emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop involving his business dealings in Ukraine and China and their connection to his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden. Since then, Fox News has done additional reporting, and one of Hunter Biden’s former business partners who was part of some of the correspondence has come forward to validate their authenticity. The Bidens haven’t challenged the authenticity of the emails, but dismissed them as a smear campaign and denied wrongdoing.
- An email sent to Hunter Biden and his business partner Devon Archer on May 12, 2014, by Burisma advisor Vadym Pozharskyi asked Biden for advice “on how you could use your influence” to send a message and “stop what we consider to be politically motivated actions”. The exchange occurred shortly after Biden joined the board of Burisma. Another email sent by Pozharskyi to Biden on April 17, 2015, read, “Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure.”
- In addition to business dealings in Ukraine, the emails reveal a business deal involving China that Hunter pursued with his uncle James Biden which appeared to set aside an equity stake for “the big guy”, Joe Biden. The emails show the involvement of other associates named Rob Walker, James Gilliar, and Tony Bobulinski. After coverage of Hunter Biden’s business dealings was dismissed by Democrats as Russian misinformation without evidence, Bobulinski came forward with documents and audio to demonstrate his firsthand knowledge of the Bidens’ business dealings.
Who is Tony Bobulinski?
- Tony Bobulinski is a former business associate of Hunter Biden who came forward to provide firsthand testimony that Joe Biden was involved in business deals pursued by Hunter and James Biden, and made public relevant financial documents, texts, emails, and audio of his interactions with the Bidens.
- He says that he met in person with Joe Biden on two occasions when he met the three Bidens at their request in Los Angeles for a high level discussion about a $10 million business venture they were planning with Chinese energy conglomerate CEFC China Energy Co., and their own business entities, including Oneida Holdings, LLC and Sinohawk Holdings, LLC.
- Of particular note is an email sent by James Gilliar, an international business consultant involved in the CEFC-related venture with the Bidens, Bobulinski, and Rob Walker. Gilliar’s email stipulated the pay Hunter would receive as chair or vice chair of the venture. It also outlined a provisional equity distribution for partners, listing “20 H” in reference to Hunter, “10 Jim” for Jim Biden, and “10 held by H for the big guy?” Bobulinski was mentioned as the CEO of the venture, receiving a 20% equity stake as “20 TB” and claimed that “the big guy” is Joe Biden in his initial public statement:
“The reference to “the Big Guy” in the much publicized May 13, 2017 email is in fact a reference to Joe Biden. The other “JB” referenced in that email is Jim Biden, Joe’s brother. Hunter Biden called his dad ‘the Big Guy’ or ‘my Chairman,’ and frequently referenced asking him for his sign-off or advice on various potential deals that we were discussing.“
- Walker sent Bobulinski a text message on May 19, 2017, to explain that Hunter was referring to his dad as “chairman”:
“No. When he said his chairman he was talking about his dad and I think your dismissal of it maybe offended him a bit, but you didn’t know what he was talking about. Let’s let it go til the morning if we can.”
- In a text message from Gilliar on May 20, 2017, Bobulinski was told, “Don’t mention Joe being involved, it’s only when u are face to face, I know u know that but they are paranoid”. Bobulinski explained that eventually he became concerned with the business deal with the Chinese venture:
“I realized the Chinese were not really focused on a healthy financial ROI. They were looking at this as a political or influence investment. Once I realized that Hunter wanted to use the company as his personal piggy bank by just taking money out of it as soon as it came from the Chinese, I took steps to prevent that from happening.”
- None of the business documents indicate that Joe Biden had a financial interest in the company, but Bobulinski suggests that was by design. In his first public interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, Bobulinski said he spoke with Jim Biden after a meeting at the Peninsula Hotel about how the Bidens are doing their business without exposing Joe to political risk:
“And I’m thinking about the Biden family, like, how are they doing this? I know Joe decided not to run in 2016, but what if he ran in the future? Aren’t they taking political risk or headline risk? And I remember looking at Jim Biden and saying, how are you guys getting away this, like, aren’t you concerned? And he looked at me and he laughed a little bit and said, plausible deniability.”
- After Bobulinski unsuccessfully tried to convince the partners to establish proper corporate governance around the venture, the deal appeared to fall through in the summer of 2017, at which point Bobulinski was left out of the deal. However, the Senate Homeland Security Committee found that CEFC provided $5 million to a company called Hudson West in August 2017, which in turn paid $4.7 million in consulting fees to Hunter Biden’s law firm over the course of a year. Bobulinski was unaware of that transaction until the committee’s report was released.
- Bobulinski, a former Navy veteran who says he held a top secret security clearance, took umbrage at claims by Democrats, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), that stories about Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings were Russian disinformation. He released audio of his conversations with Walker and Gilliar, who wanted to prevent the story from gaining traction:
Walker: “I just think that if somebody comes out now and verifies the story it blows big time, that’s all.”
Gilliar: “We’ve got this situation now where it’s escalating again because somebody, allegedly one of us three, has qualified the story. Already it’s back on the front pages.”
- Bobulinski told his former business partners that if they didn’t come forward with the facts, or if Schiff didn’t publicly retract his claim, that he would go on record, to which Walker replied, “Tony, you’re just gonna bury all of us, man.”
- Bobulinski has provided electronic devices to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Senate Homeland Security Committee for their investigations into Hunter Biden’s business dealings. Federal authorities have reportedly verified the authenticity of the documents provided by Bobulinski.
What are the Bidens saying about the allegations?
- In the past, Joe Biden has denied speaking with Hunter about his son’s business dealings, and both have denied any wrongdoing. Regarding his business dealings in Ukraine, Hunter Biden said that in retrospect, he probably would not have been asked to be on the board if he wasn’t the vice president’s son.
- When the email Hunter received from the Ukrainian energy executive thanking him for allowing him to meet Joe, the Biden campaign said it had no record of a formal meeting occurring on his vice presidential schedule, but told Politico it hasn’t ruled out that a cursory, informal encounter occurred.
- After Bobulinski came forward to say that he met the former vice president through his venture with Hunter and James, Joe Biden said in the final presidential debate, “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.”
- Hunter and James Biden have so far declined to comment on Bobulinski’s allegations.
- CEOs of Twitter & Facebook Subpoenaed Over Suppression of Reporting on Hunter Biden’s Emails (10/22/20)
- DNI Ratcliffe Says Hunter Biden’s Laptop & Emails ‘Not Part of Some Russian Disinformation Campaign’ (10/19/20)
- Twitter and Facebook to Face Congressional & Regulatory Scrutiny After Platforms Blocked (10/19/20)
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / mattjeacock)
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