FBI Responds to Zuckerberg’s Claim It Helped Suppress Hunter Biden Laptop Story
By Tom Ozimek
August 27, 2022Updated: August 27, 2022
The FBI has responded to an explosive claim by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook algorithmically censored references to Hunter Biden’s laptop ahead of the 2020 election after receiving a warning from the agency about “Russian propaganda.”
Zuckerberg said on an Aug. 25 episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” that Facebook actively reduced the reach of social media posts discussing Hunter Biden’s laptop in response to an advisory from the FBI to some Facebook staffers to be on guard for Russian disinformation ahead of the presidential election.
“The background here is the FBI I think basically came to some folks on our team [and] were like, ‘Hey, just so you know, you should be on high alert. We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election, we have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump similar to that, so just be vigilant,’” Zuckerberg told Rogan.
Clips featuring Zuckerberg’s response to Rogan quickly went viral, prompting a flurry of takes critical of the FBI, with some accusing the agency of engaging in election interference.
“This isn’t just insane, it’s election interference,” Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) said in a statement, while calling on Zuckerberg to testify before Congress “about the FBI’s attempts to circumvent the First Amendment.”
A similarly scathing take was expressed by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
“The same FBI who lied about Russian ‘collusion’ and raided President Trump’s home asked Facebook to manipulate its feed to bury the Hunter Biden story,” Jordan said in a statement.
As the controversy swirled, the FBI issued a statement to media outlets on Friday, saying that its warning to Facebook was of a general nature and did not include a call to action.
The FBI said it “routinely notifies U.S. private sector entities, including social media providers, of potential threat information, so that they can decide how to better defend against threats” and that the agency “has provided companies with foreign threat indicators to help them protect their platforms and customers from abuse by foreign malign influence actors.”
The FBI added, however, that it “cannot ask, or direct, companies to take action on information received.”
Meta also issued a clarifying statement, saying in a Twitter post that the remarks Zuckerberg made to Rogan were basically the same as what he told Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) in 2020.
“The FBI shared general warnings about foreign interference—nothing specific about Hunter Biden,” Meta said in the statement.
Zuckerberg told Rogan as much on the podcast when asked whether the FBI specified that Facebook needed to “be on guard” about the Hunter Biden laptop story.
“No. I don’t remember if it was that specifically. But it was, it basically fit the pattern,” Zuckerberg replied.
Hunter Biden’s Laptop
The laptop of President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, became the subject of scandal and scrutiny in October 2020 after the New York Post broke the story on its contents, which included information about the younger Biden’s foreign dealings and sordid personal life.
After the story broke, much of its coverage by legacy media outlets was focused on the possibility that the laptop was Russian disinformation meant to damage Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
The laptop story was also suppressed by Facebook and Twitter, while a group of former intelligence officials came forward and said in a letter (pdf) that it had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
John Ratcliffe, then-director of national intelligence, said at the time that there was no intelligence that supported the claim that the laptop was Russian disinformation.
More recently, Ratcliffe told Fox News in an interview on Friday that, if the FBI did indeed try to suppress information about Hunter Biden’s laptop, this would amount to election interference.
“It is election interference, to the extent that these allegations are true that FBI agents were knowingly putting bad information out there, absolutely,” Ratcliffe said.
Polling has indicated that if the public had been aware of the suppressed story ahead of the election, it may have cost the elder Biden several percentage points of voters—possibly enough to thwart his bid for the White House.
Milwaukee Officials Sued in Zuckerberg-Related Election Bribery Case
By Matthew Vadum
March 27, 2022Updated: March 27, 2022
Milwaukee’s acting mayor, former mayor, and city clerk have been accused of being involved in an election bribery scheme for accepting election-assistance money from a Mark Zuckerberg-funded activist group in the 2020 election cycle, according to a legal complaint filed with the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
The 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin was heavily litigated and is being investigated by the state Legislature. Wisconsin Republicans claim the election process was corrupt and fraud-ridden and have proposed decertifying the results even though they admit that doing so would not remove Joe Biden from the presidency.
The legal action comes after 16 states have enacted legislation to ban or regulate the acceptance and use of private funds by public election officials.
“We can’t undo the wrongs of the 2020 election,” said attorney Erick Kaardal, special counsel at the Thomas More Society, a nationwide public interest law firm that filed the complaint March 23.
“But it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the corruption that infected Wisconsin’s voting process is rooted out and that the state’s election integrity is preserved. Wisconsin’s voters deserve to know the truth and they need to be assured that the corruption has been eliminated, allowing for fair and honest elections from this point forward.”
Facebook founder Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, supporters of President Joe Biden and Democratic Party candidates, grabbed headlines during the 2020 election cycle by giving about $400 million to the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL).
In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump, a Republican, beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin by 22,748 votes. But in 2020 Joe Biden, a Democrat, beat Trump in the state by 20,608 votes, according to Ballotpedia figures. Critics claim the assistance provided by CTCL to Milwaukee and other heavily Democratic cities in the state may have put Biden over the top.
According to the Thomas More Society, the legal complaint details efforts by the Chicago-based CTCL “to usurp the administration of the election, a core traditional governmental function.”
“Under the guise of COVID-19 prevention and via the illegal dumping of private money into the municipal process, the Center for Tech and Civic Life handed control of the 2020 election in Wisconsin over to private partisan interests, in the form of its ‘partners.’”
CTCL is run and staffed by Democrats, according to the law firm.
Its president, Cristina Sinclaire, previously worked at the left-wing organizations, Catalist and the New Organizing Institute. Catalist was founded by Democrat Harold Ickes and boasts it was vital to former President Barack Obama’s victory in 2008. CTCL Executive Director Tiana Epps-Johnson previously worked for the New Organizing Institute and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
CTCL took the money from the Zuckerbergs and then distributed it in the form of grants to jurisdictions across the United States purportedly to help those governments hire more staff, buy mail-in ballot processing machinery, and pursue other measures they considered necessary to administer the elections during the ongoing pandemic. Critics complained that CTCL’s grants favored Democrats because they tended to go to the electoral apparatuses in Democratic strongholds and that the funds were part of an attempt to unfairly influence the outcome of the elections.
The complaint is cited as Engstrand v. Johnson. Complainant Jim Engstrand is a voter residing in Milwaukee. Respondent Cavalier Johnson, a Democrat, is the city’s acting mayor. Respondent Tom Barrett, a Democrat, is the city’s former mayor. Respondent Jim Owczarski is Milwaukee’s city clerk, a post he has held since 2012.
The complaint alleges that the city’s acceptance of money from CTCL to selectively facilitate in-person and absentee voting and to purchase and place absentee ballot drop boxes in Democratic Party strongholds constitutes bribery and is contrary to Wisconsin’s election bribery law known as Statute 12.11, and other state and federal laws.
The statute “is very aggressive with respect to election bribery of this type,” unlike in other states, Kaardal told The Epoch Times.
“The statute prohibits the city officials from taking anything of value to induce electors to go to the polls, whereas in other states,” the laws often specify that the voter has to be induced to vote for a specific candidate or “for one party or something.”
Specifically, the complaint states that Barrett and Owczarski made an agreement with CTCL to illegally accept $3.4 million to facilitate in-person and absentee voting in the city.
“It’s election bribery,” Kaardal said. “But what makes it more interesting now, is that one of the means for getting people out to the polls, the placement of absentee ballot drop boxes in targeted neighborhoods, has been found to be illegal by at least one court in Wisconsin.”
Zuckerberg’s money “was paying for a municipal election illegality,” Kaardal said.
“It was requiring it. It was asking the cities to do it. It was paying for the cities to do it,” he said, adding “no one’s really reported on that,” which is unfortunate, “because it really is newsworthy.”
The Epoch Times has reached out to the City of Milwaukee and CTCL for comment.
From Epoch Times: Did you know that our documentary on the irregularities of the 2020 election. Who’s Stealing America? was produced in only 40 days? We started investigating after allegations of voter fraud and irregularities began to emerge on the night of the election. And what we found alarmed us. We knew right away that the results of our research had implications for the outcome of the 2020 election.