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Top House Republicans are weighing in on reports that the Biden administration’s “Disinformation Governance Board” is being suspended after heavy criticism over free speech concerns, saying it’s the “best decision” by the Biden administration due to its clearly political purpose.
Sources told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the disinformation board was being put on hold and director Nina Jankowicz will resign.
“The suspension of the DHS Disinformation Governance Board is by far the best decision that’s been made when it comes to this Orwellian entity. From its initially botched rollout, the ‘Ministry of Truth’ lacked a defined mission or even direction. It was clear it was a political tool to be wielded by the party in control,” Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told Fox News Digital in a joint statement.
Katko and Turner continued: “This board was only successful in reinforcing that the Department of Homeland Security’s priorities are severely misplaced. When the border crisis is worsening daily, cyber-attacks from adversaries are threatening to cripple our critical infrastructure, the rise in violent crime is putting Americans across the country in danger, and disrupted supply chains are having devastating impacts on Americans, DHS is focused on policing Americans’ free speech.”
Ranking member Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, left, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
“DHS isn’t managing its current mission set, why would we trust this same Department to unilaterally expand its mission and tell the public what is or is not truth? It’s time for this administration to focus on our national security, not making itself the ultimate arbiter of truth and speech. Homeland and Intelligence Committee Republicans will continue working to ensure this Board never gets off the ground,” the Republicans concluded.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told Fox News that the board will be suspended for 75 days, pending review by a bipartisan Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC).
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “has requested the HSAC’s final recommendations within 75 days. During the HSAC’s review, the Board will not convene and its work will be paused, but the Department’s critical work across several administrations to address disinformation that threatens the security of our country will continue,” said the spokesperson, who also said has been “grossly and intentionally mischaracterized.”
In addition, the White House sharply criticized the board’s opponents while insisting that there was nothing wrong with the board’s goals.
“These smears levelled by bad-faith, rightwing actors against a deeply qualified expert and against efforts to better combat human smuggling and domestic terrorism are disgusting, and the administration has forcefully spoken out against them repeatedly,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates told Fox News on Wednesday.
“Neither Nina Jankowicz nor the board have anything to do with censorship or with removing content from anywhere. Their role is to ensure that national security officials are updated on how misinformation is affecting the threat environment. She has strong credentials and a history of calling out misinformation from both the left and the right,” Sullivan added.
Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., leaves the Capitol after the House vote on an impeachment inquiry resolution on Thursday, October 31, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Lawmakers on the right and left criticized the board and many were skeptical of Jankowicz, who previously was a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, for repeating statements dismissing the Hunter Biden laptop story “Trump campaign product” and a “Russian influence op.”
Earlier this month, Republicans on the House Homeland Security Committee wrote to Mayorkas, demanding the agency provide basic information to the committee including the disinformation board’s organization, members, schedule and recommendations. They also scolded Mayorkas for a confusing rollout of the board, according to the letter first obtained by Fox News Digital.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill, Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Mayorkas first announced that DHS had created a disinformation board to combat online misinformation during a House Appropriations Committee hearing last month.
“The goal is to bring the resources of (DHS) together to address this threat,” Mayorkas said during the April 28 hearing, adding that the department is focused on the spread of disinformation in minority communities ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Fox News’ Ronn Blizter contributed to this report.