FIRST ON FOX: Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are quizzing Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over what they say are apparent contradictions in his testimony over the Department of Homeland Security’s “censorship” efforts.
Chairman Jim Jordan, along with Reps. Mike Johnson, R-La., Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Dan Bishop, R-N.C., wrote to Mayorkas about his testimony to the committee in July regarding the operation and scope of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and asking if he wishes to amend his testimony to the committee.
“Your testimony at the hearing contained a number of assertions about the Department’s censorship activities that are inconsistent with the findings of a federal court and information in the Committee’s possession. Accordingly, we write to provide you with an opportunity to correct your testimony to ensure it is accurate and complete,” they say in a letter obtained by Fox News Digital.
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Specifically, they highlighted a claim by Mayorkas that CISA, a cyber defense agency, “does not censor speech.”
Republicans on the committee have alleged that the CISA has expanded its mission to “surveil Americans’s speech on social media, colluded with Big Tech and government-funded third parties to censor by proxy, and tried to hide its plainly unconstitutional activities from the public.” They have also released a number of tranches of documents they say are “smoking gun” evidence that the Biden administration and Big Tech companies ran afoul of the First Amendment on issues including COVID-19.
Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), speaks during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
In their letter, they cite a recent court ruling, Missouri v Biden, in which a judge imposed a preliminary injunction on the administration communicating with social media heads after a lawsuit from Missouri and Louisiana.
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The federal judge cited evidence that officials “met with social-media companies to both inform and pressure them to censor content protected by the First Amendment.”
“[T]he evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth,’” Judge Terry Doughty wrote.
Mayorkas, in his testimony to the Judiciary Committee in July, was asked about claims it covered up conservative free speech.
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Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has pushed Mayorkas on a number of matters, including censorship and the southern border. (Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
“Congressman, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is not involved in such conduct,” he told Rep. Johnson. He went on to say that CISA identifies “tactics that adverse nation states use to weaponize disinformation,” which he then defined as information that is “inaccurate.”
The lawmakers say they obtained information that “misinformation” flagged by CISA included political speech of domestic origin and even social media posts by former President Donald Trump.
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They also challenge Mayorkas’ assertion that “switchboarding” — flagging misinformation and disinformation — was no longer done by CISA, with the lawmakers citing communications from 2021 that showed flagging was still ongoing.
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Finally, they accuse him of using an “elastic and Orwellian” definition of the term “malinformation,” which CISA defines as information based on fact but used to mislead, harm or manipulate. Mayorkas had called it “false information that is used for a particular purpose.
They argue, therefore, that his testimony is contradicted by the court ruling and the committee’s obtained documents and invite him to amend his testimony.
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“The Department of Homeland Security, and especially CISA, are central to the Biden Administration’s censorship efforts and the censorship-industrial complex writ large. Your testimony to the Committee was either intentionally deceptive and misleading, or the result of an unacceptable ignorance on your part regarding the activities of your own department,” they say.
It is the latest oversight move by the Committee and Republicans in the House in general aimed at Mayorkas – who has faced particular scrutiny over his handling of the ongoing crisis at the southern border.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and Liz Elkind contributed to this report.
Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Fox News Digital, primarily covering immigration and border security.