An email suggests the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) encouraged the creation of a “disinformation” group that House Republicans believe was used by the federal government to quietly censor free speech in the lead-up to the 2020 election, according to congressional investigators.
An interim staff report from the GOP-led House Judiciary Committee and its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government released on Monday said it was “understood” that the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) was created at the behest of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within DHS.
The report includes a July 31, 2020, email, obtained via subpoena, in which the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab senior director Graham Brookie told colleagues, “We just set up an election integrity partnership at the request of DHS/CISA.”
EIP, led by Stanford University’s Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), has attracted scrutiny from House Republicans who suspect it was a conduit through which federal agencies could submit “misinformation reports” that fostered recommendations to Big Tech companies for censoring posts and users on social media platforms.
Among the targets were many prominent Republican officials and conservative figures — including former President Donald Trump, GOP lawmakers, and even The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens — for such things as “true information, jokes and satire, and political opinions.”
In an X thread commenting on the staff report, Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) said Stanford University only produced information under threat of contempt — something which The Daily Wire first reported in June of this year. “The American people deserve to know if they were targeted by their own government and so-called ‘disinformation’ experts,” Jordan added.
Other emails highlighted by the staff report discuss coordinating with CISA to combat “misinformation” or “disinformation.”
The report also explores various claims about who actually originated the EIP idea. EIP said in a post-election report that four interns came up with the “initial idea.” SIO Director Alex Stamos claimed in testimony that he came up with the idea. He also acknowledged “probably” consulting with then-CISA Director Christopher Krebs about the partnership in the summer of 2020.
The Daily Wire reached out to DHS, CISA, and Brookie seeking comment, particularly on whether Brookie’s July 2020 email did indeed confirm that EIP was created at the request of the federal agencies.
A spokesperson for the Atlantic Council, a think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C., told The Daily Wire that Brookie has nothing to add.
“Graham and the Council have cooperated fully throughout the process and are proud of the vital work the DFRLab does to counter disinformation attacks on the United States and its friends and allies around the globe,” the spokesperson added.
CISA executive director Brandon Wales told The New York Post that his agency “does not and has never censored speech or facilitated censorship.”
He also said, “In response to concerns from election officials of all parties regarding foreign influence operations and disinformation that may impact the security of election infrastructure, CISA mitigates the risk of disinformation by sharing information on election literacy and election security with the public and by amplifying the trusted voices of election officials across the nation.”
The staff interim report comes after a Senate hearing last week in which Biden administration officials offered insight into how agencies now approach Big Tech amid the Missouri v. Biden case over alleged collusion between the federal government and social media companies to censor speech in violation of the First Amendment. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified that his agency does not meet with social media companies “for the purpose of instructing them to take down content.”