Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin has lashed out at his Republican colleagues for discussing Twitter’s “imaginary offenses” during a House Oversight Committee hearing.
Raskin, the ranking Democratic committee member, delivered a closing statement on Wednesday that took Republicans to task for pushing the “fallacy” of claiming the social media giant had violated the Constitution’s First Amendment by allegedly censoring conservatives and suppressing the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story prior to Elon Musk’s takeover.
Outraged Republicans admonished a selection of former Twitter executives during the hearing, with Congresswoman Lauren Boebert angrily complaining that she was “shadowbanned” for a “joke” and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene claiming that her previous suspension from the platform was “illegal.”
Representative Clay Higgins threatened the ex-executives with arrest for allegedly taking part in what he said was a criminal plot to “interfere with the United States of America 2020 presidential election,” referring to the Hunter Biden story.
Raskin, a Harvard Law School graduate who taught constitutional law for decades prior to his career in national politics, pointed out that Twitter is a private company, while the First Amendment and related claims of censorship pertain to actions by the government.
“We have members who are actually threatening witnesses with arrest and prosecution for clearly imaginary offenses, or at least offenses that might make sense in their mind,” Raskin said. “But I don’t know quite what they would be … Twitter is a private, First Amendment-protected media entity.”
“I think there is just a fundamental legal fallacy and logical fallacy that pervades most of the questioning today,” he added. “Under our First Amendment, there’s state action requirement. There is no state action here.”
Raskin noted that the same protections apply to Fox News, on which he said he had “no constitutional right” to appear. He also said that Republicans had failed to show that Twitter had done anything illegal regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story.
“Today’s witnesses, each and every one, testified no U.S. governmental official directed any of them to censor, remove or take down the New York Post story. [They] testified the Biden campaign did not direct Twitter to take action against the New York Post story,” Raskin said.
“The whole hearing was predicated on the idea that the FBI directed Twitter to take down the New York Post story to protect [future President Joe] Biden,” he continued. “Not a single witness testified the FBI even communicated with Twitter.”
Raskin concluded that the hearing had been a “wild cyber goose chase” that “turned up absolutely nothing,” while arguing that testimony from one witness did suggest that the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was “facilitated” by Twitter and other social media platforms that ignored the “clues of coming violence and the insurrectionary action.”
Newsweek has reached out to the office of Representative James Comer, the committee’s Republican chairman, for comment.