Gabbard told the panel her own Google Ads account was temporarily shut down during her presidential campaign and then reinstated with “no explanation” or apology.
George Washington University Law Center Professor Jonathan Turley testified about the threat to free speech from government officials overstepping their bounds.
He said if an official calls an employer to get someone fired over speech, “that is government action [and] that is a violation of the First Amendment.” Because online speech has become “much of what is the marketplace of ideas,” this relationship is one of the “most serious threats against free speech.”
There was also a discussion of allegations that the federal government targeted parents who protested at school board meetings. Last week, Jordan issued subpoenas to the FBI, the DOJ, and the Education Department related to these accusations.
Rep. Elise Stefanik said the FBI is “illegally targeting the American people [and] parents” and equating them with “domestic terrorists.”
Democratic committee members pushed back against some of their Republican colleagues and some of the panelists. Several, including Ranking Member Stacey Plaskett, D-Virgin Islands, said the FBI did not target parents but instead investigated threats of violence.
Plaskett also questioned the usefulness of the subcommittee, which she said seems like “little more than a political stunt.”
She said “congressional oversight can serve to protect … integrity,” but that Republicans want people to believe these agencies are “part of a deep state cabal” when they are simply “doing their best to protect us from sliding into chaos.”
Democrats, Plaskett added, will not allow Republicans to prevent “ongoing legitimate investigations into President Trump, any other president, and others in his orbit.”
Jordan said in subsequent hearings several FBI whistleblowers will address the weaponization of the agency. He said they are expected to testify on the bureau’s leadership, which he said is “rotten at its core.”
The whistleblowers, he said, have information showing “the FBI accepts private user information from Facebook without the user’s consent.” Others are expected to testify about being fired after filling out anonymous surveys from their managers.
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