Elon Musk has hinted at changes that may be in store for Twitter after commenting on censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story and the role the social media giant's current deputy general counsel played in the Russia collusion saga.
Twitter General Counsel Vijaya Gadde played a key role in setting up the site's content moderation rules, which were used to block the New York Post's story about Hunter Biden shortly before the 2020 presidential election.
Separately, James Baker, who is now at Twitter as the deputy general counsel, was the FBI general counsel under James Comey and was involved with the bureau’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation, passing along Trump-Russia collusion claims pushed by the Clinton campaign in September 2016.
Musk, who bought Twitter this week for $44 billion, lightly criticized both.
Saagar Enjeti, the co-host of Breaking Points, said Tuesday that Gadde was the “top censorship advocate” at the company and censored the laptop story. Enjeti also shared an article saying Gadde cried during a Twitter staff meeting after learning about the Musk takeover.
ELON MUSK CALLS TWITTER'S HUNTER BIDEN LAPTOP CENSORSHIP 'INCREDIBLY INAPPROPRIATE'
Musk replied, “Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate.”
Suspending the Twitter account of a major news organization for publishing a truthful story was obviously incredibly inappropriate— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 26, 2022
Mike Cernovich, a right-wing social media personality, also said Baker “facilitated fraud” by agreeing to a meeting with Democratic cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann less than two months before the 2016 election, when the Clinton campaign lawyer pushed debunked claims of a secret backchannel between Russia-based Alfa-Bank and the Trump Organization.
Musk replied Tuesday that that “sounds pretty bad.”
Sounds pretty bad …— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 27, 2022
Gadde wrote in July 2018 that Twitter does not "shadow ban" and that “we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”
She wrote in early 2020, “Twitter has a critical role to play in protecting the integrity of the election conversation ... We will have teams around the world working to monitor the integrity of the conversation and take action when needed.”
BEZOS GOES AFTER MUSK ON CHINA, BUT THEY BOTH DO BUSINESS THERE
When the New York Post attempted to post Hunter Biden laptop articles on Twitter on Oct. 14, 2020, the social media company claimed the outlet violated its rule against sharing "hacked" materials. Twitter and Facebook limited users from sharing the story for a time.
The day after Twitter blocked the New York Post's stories, then-CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, "Straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix.”
Twitter continued to lock the outlet's account, however, insisting that it delete tweets related to the story, despite the story no longer apparently violating any Twitter policies. The ban lasted two weeks.
Gadde shared a lengthy Twitter thread on Oct. 15, 2020, saying the company had made changes to its "hacked materials policy" after receiving "significant feedback."
The laptop was given to a computer shop in Delaware for repair in April 2019, according to the store's owner. The laptop and hard drive were reportedly seized by the FBI through a grand jury subpoena in December 2019. One copy of the hardware's contents was obtained by Rudy Giuliani, then a personal lawyer to Trump, and the data were shared with various media outlets.
Hunter Biden has never denied the authenticity of the computer materials that have since been published, although Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign and many in the media dismissed the laptop story as part of a Russian disinformation operation. However, then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said there was no intelligence indicating the laptop was part of a Russian disinformation effort.
Dorsey testified about the controversy before the Senate Judiciary Committee in November 2020 after Biden defeated Trump, admitting Twitter made a mistake to ban the story so quickly.
Gadde’s legal team includes Baker, who was general counsel at the bureau from 2014 to 2018 and who special counsel John Durham says will take the stand in the May trial against Sussmann.
Baker previously defended the Russia investigation and the FBI’s handling of Christopher Steele’s discredited dossier. He was involved in the sign-off process of at least the first Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant application that targeted former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
Baker was a subject in the report about the FBI's Russia investigation released in December 2019 by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to FISA warrants against Page in 2016 and 2017 and for the bureau's reliance on Steele’s dossier.
John Durham released a potential smoking gun in the case against Sussmann in April, as he published documents showing that Sussmann messaged Baker that he was not working on behalf of any client when, in fact, he was working for the Clinton campaign.
Sussmann was indicted last September for allegedly concealing his clients — Clinton's presidential campaign and “Tech Executive-1,” known to be former Neustar executive Rodney Joffe — from Baker when he pushed now-debunked claims of a secret backchannel between the Trump Organization and Alfa-Bank.