Records obtained by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) show that Nina Jankowicz – the executive director of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) now-terminated Disinformation Governance Board – and other DHS officials planned to meet with Facebook (now known as Meta) Head of Security Nathaniel Gleicher, who served under that title when the company suppressed the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s “laptop from hell” in the lead-up to the 2020 election.
Hawley recently obtained DHS documents showing email correspondence among employees, including Jankowicz, regarding the Disinformation Governance Board and its steering group. While Hawley noted in a letter to Mayorkas that previous whistleblower documents “revealed that the Board was engaging with Twitter on possible censorship activities,” the trove of heavily redacted documents he obtained last week indicates Jankowicz and officials from other groups within the DHS planned to meet with Gleicher this past April.
On March 31, Sandra Luff – a registered lobbyist for Facebook, per Open Secrets, and its director of Executive Branch Public Policy, according to Legistorm – emailed DHS Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans Robert Silvers about setting up a meeting. Though the unredacted parts of the email do not explicitly say who from Facebook would be involved in such a meeting, she concluded the email with a short biography about Gleicher.
On April 4, a woman named Becky Moore emailed Silvers on behalf of Facebook “regarding potentially finding time on your calendar” when Gleicher was to be in town later that week and the early part of the following week.
Silvers copied Jankowicz, Principal Deputy General Counsel for cyber issues Jen Daskal, and Brandon Wales, who Silvers identified as the “response coordinator for the Ukraine crisis,” on the email.
Daskal then emailed Moore, stating that she was removing Silvers from the email correspondence “given the conflict” and expressed her, Jankowicz, and Wales’s desire to meet with Gleicher. The three officials were set for a meeting with the Facebook head and other DHS staff on the afternoon of April 7 – and even communicated about it the day of. While it appears as though the meeting most likely materialized based on the information available, it is not clear if it actually occurred.
According to Gleicher’s LinkedIn, he has served as Facebook’s head of security policy since January 2018. His employment timeline shows he was serving in the capacity of head of security when the company limited the distribution of the Post’s Hunter Biden “laptop from hell” story in October 2020.
As Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast over the summer, the FBI sounded the alarm to Facebook over the potential for “Russian Propaganda” ahead of the election:
“The FBI, I think basically came to us — some folks on our team — and was like, ‘Hey, um, just so you know, like, you should be on high alert,” said Zuckerberg. “There was the — we thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump of — that’s similar to that. So just be vigilant.’”
On October 14, 2020 – the day the post’s reporting was published – Gleicher retweeted a thread he posted in August regarding the company’s recent “Coordinated Inauthentic Takedowns” that were “linked to Russian actors.”
“This is a good reminder that threat actors — including from Russia — will continue to try to manipulate public debate globally and in the US, including by trying to trick journalists into doing their amplification for them,” read the specific tweet he quoted on October 14.
“Given this morning’s news cycle, feels like a good time to reboost this,” wrote Gleicher in the retweet, seemingly alluding to the Post’s reporting on the “laptop from hell.”
Given this morning's news cycle, feels like a good time to reboost this: https://t.co/qMQLksPKwk
— Nathaniel Gleicher (@ngleicher) October 14, 2020
As tech news company Protocol reported on October 14, 2020, in the lead-up to the election, Gleicher was warning of potential Russian “‘hack and leak’ operations to anyone who [would] listen.”
It is unclear if the communication between the FBI and Facebook occurred prior to Gleicher’s August warning. On October 19, 2020, a number of ex-intelligence officers penned an open letter asserting that the laptop story had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” but Breitbart News Politics Editor Emma-Jo Morris, who broke the story at the New York Post, had already verified the laptop contents before the story was published, as Breitbart News reported.