Musk lauded by House Oversight Chair Comer ahead of Twitter hearing

U.S. Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, speaks at a media event at the National Press Club on January 30, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., effusively praised Twitter owner Elon Musk on Wednesday, saying Musk was “being transparent” about the tech platform.

“God bless Elon Musk,” Comer said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” He called the controversial tycoon “a great American.”

Comer’s comments came just days after Musk visited Washington and met for over an hour with House Republican leaders, a group that included Comer.

They also came just a week before Comer is set to chair the first big congressional hearing on Twitter since Musk bought the company in October and since Republicans took control of the House.

On Feb. 8, the House Oversight Committee will hear from three former Twitter executives about what Comer called “the role the government played in suppressing the Biden laptop story.”

Notably, Comer did not say he would be investigating Twitter’s role in the alleged suppression.

Musk’s charm offensive on Capitol Hill appears to have been limited to Republicans and White House officials.

Musk initially claimed that he “met with” Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, of New York.

“Just met with @SpeakerMcCarthy & @RepJeffries to discuss ensuring that [Twitter] is fair to both parties,” Musk tweeted Jan. 26.

But an aide to Jeffries later said that this is not what happened.

Jeffries had merely bumped into Musk on his way out of McCarthy’s office and been introduced to him, the aide said. So while McCarthy and Republicans met with Musk for over an hour, Jeffries literally just “met” him.

Twitter’s decision-making during the 2020 presidential campaign has been a key subject of the so-called “Twitter files,” a series of unprecedented exposes of Twitter’s internal corporate communications that were authorized by Musk himself.

Musk hand-picked a group of independent journalists and gave them a curated set of Twitter’s internal messages from before Musk bought the company. The emails and Slack chats appeared to show Twitter executives debating how to handle the laptop story and other politically sensitive events.

Comer lauded Musk’s decision to publicize his company’s internal deliberations, saying Wednesday that “he’s done a great service to every American who cares about free speech.”

Republicans have been up in arms over Twitter’s decision in 2020 to limit the distribution of a New York Post story published in October 2020, claiming that a “Smoking-gun” email proved then-Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had once been introduced to a Ukrainian energy executive by his son, Hunter.

The Post said its reporting was based on data recovered from a laptop that Hunter Biden had dropped off at a Delaware computer repair store but never picked up.

The Biden campaign emphatically denied the Post report, saying Biden’s official schedules from the time of the alleged meeting showed nothing about it “ever took place.”

Facebook and Twitter both limited distribution of the story, with Twitter taking the highly unusual step of blocking links to the article altogether. At the time, the company said the article violated its hacked material policy.

The decision caused an uproar among Republicans who blasted Twitter, saying it censored conservatives, a claim they have long maintained despite the company’s denials.

Twitter later backtracked on the decision, allowing links to the Post story. Then-CEO Jack Dorsey called the initial choice to block links with little explanation “not great.” Twitter also updated its hacked materials policy to only remove hacked content if it is shared directly or in concert with hackers.

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