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175 House Republicans want answers on DHS disinfo board and chief

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 5/5/2022 Jerry Dunleavy
Nina Jankowicz (left) has been appointed the head of the DHS's Disinformation Governance Board; Republicans want answers from DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (right) © (Left: U.S. Embassy Vienna/Right: AP Photo) Nina Jankowicz (left) has been appointed the head of the DHS's Disinformation Governance Board; Republicans want answers from DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (right)

EXCLUSIVE — At least 175 House Republicans are demanding answers from Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas about his department's new Disinformation Governance Board as he struggles to defend the group’s creation and the choice of Nina Jankowicz as its first director.

Jankowicz, a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, will be the executive director of the Department of Homeland Security’s new anti-disinformation effort. She has a history of either labeling claims as disinformation that were later found to have credibility or giving credence to assertions that were later discredited, including those related to Hunter Biden, Christopher Steele, Iranian election meddling, the Wuhan, China, lab leak hypothesis, and more.

The House Republicans told Mayorkas in a Thursday letter they are “concerned” about Jankowicz’s appointment to head the board, in part because she has “on several occasions, displayed questionable judgment on matters of disinformation and freedom of speech.” The letter was organized by Rep. Scott Franklin (R-FL).

“The creation of this Disinformation Governance Board is an alarming attempt by the Biden administration to use the Department as a political tool,” Franklin said.

Republicans noted she expressed support for Steele even though the dossier “has long-since been discredited as one of its main sources was charged with five counts of making false statements to the FBI” and she “also cast doubt on the Hunter Biden laptop story” despite no evidence.

Jankowicz said the Hunter Biden laptop stories should be viewed as a “Trump campaign product” the day the New York Post published its bombshell stories, and she immediately cast doubt on the veracity of the October 2020 allegations. The emails have proven to be authentic, and President Joe Biden’s son is under criminal investigation.

She has also cited Steele, the author of the discredited anti-Trump dossier, as an expert on disinformation and encouraged her followers to listen to him in 2020. She also wrongly attempted to blame Republicans for the funding of his Democratic-backed dossier.

BIDEN DISINFO CHIEF IS CHRISTOPHER STEELE FAN AND HUNTER BIDEN LAPTOP DOUBTER

The House Republicans also voice their "ethical concerns about an organization charged with securing the homeland engaging in anything that could have an impact on speech.” They believe the board “could be utilized as a political tool under the guise of security” including ahead of the 2022 midterms.

The GOP also pointed out DHS’s “primary mission sets are countering terrorism, securing the border, securing cyberspace and infrastructure, upholding economic security, strengthening resilience, and strengthening DHS itself” and that combatting misinformation has largely been a U.S. foreign policy mission, not a domestic one, and so “we are concerned that DHS is overstepping its authority with the creation of this board.”

The Republicans further argued “the policies of the current administration have resulted in over 1.5 million border encounters in the last six months” and that “we are concerned that the Disinformation Governance Board will distract from this crisis.”

The Republicans asked Mayorkas for answers within a month to multiple questions, including, “Why was Ms. Jankowicz chosen to head this Board? Who were the other candidates considered for this position? What qualifications and vetting procedures did the Department utilize when determining who would head up the Disinformation Governance Board?”

“What is the Board’s specific directive and mission? ” they asked Mayorkas, adding, “Why is DHS putting valuable resources toward a mission that it appears to have no equity in when there is an ongoing crisis at our southern border?”

Mayorkas claimed during a Wednesday hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee that “this internal working group was established with the explicit goal of ensuring that the protection of free speech, privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties is incorporated into all of the department’s disinformation work.” He contended that “we’re not the Truth Police.”

“If your intent was to combat misinformation, online or in the government, why on God’s green Earth would you nominate someone who is a human geyser of misinformation?” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) asked Mayorkas.

The DHS chief said he was not aware of Jankowicz’s comments about Hunter Biden and Steele when he hired her, and he also said that he did not hold deliberations about her hiring.

“She will have an obligation to execute her responsibilities in a non-partisan way,” Mayorkas said, adding, “She has an obligation to be non-partisan and neutral. … If she fails in that obligation there will be consequences. … I am not focused on her past comments. … I am focused on the mission ahead.”

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When pressed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) about whether the Steele dossier contained Russian disinformation, Mayorkas said Wednesday he wasn't equipped to answer that question. Paul remarked: “Here’s the problem. We can’t even agree what disinformation is.”

Mayorkas later conceded “the roll-out with respect to this working group was suboptimal, and we need to provide more information not only to this committee and Congress but to the American public.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said of the letter: “I am proud to stand alongside my Republican colleagues in demanding accountability and answers on President Biden’s Orwellian Ministry of Truth.”

 

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Tags: News, Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security, Washington D.C., Biden Administration, Hunter Biden

Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy

Original Location: 175 House Republicans want answers on DHS disinfo board and chief

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