Democrats attempted to a derail a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday on social media censorship to discuss alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to discuss Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube’s social media censorship practices. Ms. Monika Bickert, the head of Global Policy Management for Facebook; Juniper Downs, the global head of Public Policy and Government Relations for YouTube; and Nick Pickles, the senior strategist for Public Policy for Twitter served as witnesses for the hearing.
Ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-NY) took his opening time to derail the hearing and move into an executive session in which the committee would discuss the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Yesterday in Helsinki, president Trump said he does not believe it. He sided with Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence community and he continues to undermine American law enforcement, proclaiming on the world stage that our laws are meaningless, our laws are worthless, and we should not take the Special Counsel seriously. This is a catastrophe in the making.
Nadler said, “I move that the committee now to go into executive session for the purposes of discussing evidence in our possession that speaks directly to the Special Counsel’s indictment and to the president’s apparent submission to the Russian government.”
The motion to go into executive session did not pass. Instead, Nadler moved to ask the social media executives about how whether Russia attacked “our democracy.”
Nadler asked the panel, “Do you agree that the Russian government exploited the social media platforms your companies have provided to attack our democracy.”
The YouTube executive said:
We did find limited activity on our services, limited because of the strong security controls we had in place leading up to the election but we found two accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency that had a total spend of less than $5,000 on our advertising products and 18 YouTube channels, containing a thousand videos, we terminated all of those accounts pursuant to our investigation.
Pickles said, “We removed those accounts linked with the Internet Research Agency. We also removed Russian Today and other associated entities from our advertising products worldwide.”
Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) called Trump’s comments during the Helsinki summit a “moment of great national peril.” Johnson added that suggested that the Judiciary Committee should not focus on Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s (R-TN) censorship on Twitter, or conservative icons Diamond and Silk’s censorship. Instead, the Georgia Democrat suggested that the committee should look into what the Russian will do to hack the 2018 midterm elections.
Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) asked whether China or North Korea attempted to hack or use their platforms inappropriately, to which the representatives from YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter could not say whether they found evidence that other countries took advantage of their platforms.