Senate Republicans are demanding details about President Biden’s now-paused disinformation governance board.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, several senators said DHS had yet to turn in “all records related to the Board” as promised during Mr. Mayorkas’ testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee earlier this month.
They said that despite Mr. Mayorkas’ decision to put the board on ice, they still expect “immediate access to all records and communications related to the” board “so that “Congress can consider remedial legislation.”
“We were pleased to read reports that you have decided to shut down the board in response to the concerns we raised,” the lawmakers wrote. “But it is important that this mistake is not repeated. We are therefore demanding transparency into the Department’s decision-making process so that we can learn why the Department ever thought creating a disinformation board would be a good idea.”
The letter was signed by Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Rand Paul of Kentucky and James Lankford of Oklahoma.
DHS announced last week that it was pausing the launch of the board after a fierce backlash from conservatives who said the board was an Orwellian overreach by the federal government to regulate free speech.
Critics also seized on past inflammatory statements from the board’s chosen director, Nina Jankowicz, including comments that potentially spread disinformation, such as promoting former British spy Christopher Steele’s now-discredited anti-Trump dossier and casting doubt on the legitimacy of the Hunter Biden laptop computer, which has since been verified.
Ms. Jankowicz resigned from the board shortly after Mr. Mayorkas decided to pause the board, citing broad “mischaracterizations” of her views and the intent behind the board.
DHS pushed back against Republican outrage over the board and pledged to reinstate the board after a 75-day review period.
“The board has been grossly and intentionally mischaracterized: it was never about censorship or policing speech in any manner,” the department said in a statement. “It was designed to ensure we fulfill our mission to protect the homeland while protecting core constitutional rights.”
Republicans, though, say they will push back against any efforts to bring the board back to life.
Last week, Sen. Steve Daines of Montana led 17 fellow GOP lawmakers in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee pledging to defund the board.
“The federal government should never be in the business of regulating speech or being the arbiter of truth, and this latest attempt to engage in that slippery slope should be defunded.” the lawmakers wrote.
• Haris Alic contributed to this story.