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EXCLUSIVE: House Oversight Committee Republicans are demanding information from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas after the agency announced a new “disinformation” board, saying that it was created to discredit “legitimate criticism” and shows the Biden administration is “weaponizing” the department.
Mayorkas announced that DHS created a “Disinformation Governance Board” to combat online disinformation during his testimony Wednesday before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security. Nina Jankowicz, who previously served as a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, will head the board as executive director.
“The goal is to bring the resources of (DHS) together to address this threat,” Mayorkas said during the hearing, adding that the department is focused on the spread of disinformation in minority communities ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., organized a letter Friday to Mayorkas, obtained exclusively by Fox News Digital, to “conduct oversight” on the new board and “continued efforts within the Biden Administration to suppress free speech and discredit legitimate criticism as misinformation.” All 19 House Oversight Republicans signed the letter.
House Oversight Republicans are demanding information on MPP from DHS. (Fox News)
The lawmakers allege that the Biden administration has perpetrated “demonstrably false claims” including on the Hunter Biden laptop story, that Border Patrol agents where whipping Haitian migrants and other “false narratives” regarding the crisis on the southern border.
“The Administration continues to falsely accuse political opponents of spreading misinformation,” the congressmen state in their letter.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies during an April 2022 House hearing (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
“The United States’ internal security apparatus must serve to protect the American people from threats to the homeland, not be weaponized by an unpopular President to push false narratives and discredit lawful discourse,” write the lawmakers.
The Republicans take issue specifically with the appointment of Jankowicz, who promoted the Christopher Steele dossier, which has been widely discredited as well as promoted the narrative that Hunter Biden’s laptop was a product of a Russian disinformation campaign.
“Her many public statements undermining First Amendment freedoms further call into question the purpose of the “Disinformation Governance Board,” and signal that it is likely being set up to provide political cover for an unpopular Administration and to launder political attacks against its opponents.”
The lawmakers also accuse the Biden administration of abusing taxpayer dollars to “attack Americans who disagree with its policies” including labeling opponents of COVID-19 mandates as “domestic extremists” and smearing parents involved at heated school board meetings.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill, Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The Republicans ask DHS to provide documents and information to the committee to they can carry out their oversight capabilities by May 13.
Asked by Fox News Thursday about prior statements made by Jankowicz and how the administration can “assuage concerns” over her appointment to lead the effort fairly, White House press secretary Psaki responded, “It sounds like the objective of the board is to prevent disinformation and misinformation from traveling around the country in a range of communities. I’m not sure who opposes that effort.”
Psaki told reporters she was unsure of who the individual is that was chosen to head the initiative and did not have “any information” related to Jankowicz to discuss.
DHS did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the letter.