Democrat lawmakers on the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government sought to disrupt Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s testimony in the committee’s hearing on censorship Thursday.
Early in the proceedings, Florida Democrat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz introduced a motion to move the hearing into an “executive session” — indicating that Kennedy’s testimony would be likely to “defame, degrade, or incriminate” — and transfer testimony to behind closed doors. Wasserman Schultz cited recent controversial comments by Kennedy claiming the novel Wuhan coronavirus may have been “ethnically targeted” to “attack Caucasians and black people” more than “Jews and Chinese people.”
“Mr. Kennedy has repeatedly made despicable antisemitic and anti-Asian comments as recently as last week,” the congresswoman said before she was interrupted by a rival motion to table.
The Republican majority on the committee ultimately voted to table Wasserman Schultz’s motion while Democrats opposed the delay.
Wasserman Schultz’s failed effort to censor Kennedy’s testimony followed demands from House Democrats that Republicans rescind Kennedy’s invitation to testify altogether. Kennedy was invited to testify at the censorship hearing after the recent Missouri v. Biden lawsuit noted he was part of a group of social media users — dubbed by federal officials the “disinformation dozen” — whose posts bureaucrats routinely flagged for censorship.
Without a formal measure to censor the Democratic primary candidate, Democrats on the weaponization committee interrupted Kennedy multiple times before lawmakers even convened their first recess.
The Democrats’ ranking member on the committee, Virgin Islands Delegate Stacey Plaskett, cut into Kennedy’s opening statement to complain the witness went over time. Witnesses are “usually” given five minutes for an opening statement, but Kennedy’s lasted for more than 10.
“We’re pretty relaxed with this,” explained GOP Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, noting that witnesses often take the time they need for opening statements.
Plaskett bizarrely suggested Jordan “threaten the witness so that they can not want to be a witness.”
Democrats again sought to censor Kennedy in Thursday’s censorship hearing when he responded to accusations from Plaskett that he has espoused racist, anti-vaccine conspiracies.
“Virtually everything, every statement that you just made about me, is inaccurate,” Kennedy told the ranking member. “I have never advised black Americans not to receive vaccines. At one point you say I’m anti-vax, and that’s a bad thing. The other moment you point out that all my children are vaxxed. I’m fully compliant with the vaccine schedule myself, except for Covid. … I have never told the public to avoid vaccination.”
While Kennedy refuted Plaskett’s claims, the ranking member interrupted the candidate and drew accusations from Republicans on the panel of censoring the witness.
“I’m not censoring him,” Plaskett insisted.
The House weaponization committee planned Thursday’s hearing to “examine the federal government’s role in censoring Americans, the Missouri v. Biden case, and Big Tech’s collusion with out-of-control government agencies to silence speech.” In addition to Kennedy, the witness panel features Breitbart journalist Emma-Jo Morris and Special Assistant Attorney General D. John Sauer of Louisiana testifying about the government’s abusive censorship regime.
Since the probe was established at the start of the new Congress this year, the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government has focused on the government’s efforts to collude with Silicon Valley tech giants to censor American speech. Democrats on the committee exposed their open disregard for free speech in the committee’s second hearing four months ago that featured two journalists behind the “Twitter Files,” Substack reporters Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger.
Earlier this month, the weaponization panel published a preliminary report exposing the FBI’s collaboration with a Russian-infiltrated intelligence agency in Ukraine to flag online posts for censorship. Among those targeted for censorship were the accounts of an American journalist and a verified profile run by the U.S. State Department.
The Biden administration is currently appealing the injunction handed down by a federal judge last month in Missouri v. Biden at the center of Thursday’s hearing. The judge found the evidence presented by the plaintiff attorneys general in Missouri and Louisiana so overwhelming that it warranted a preliminary ruling to bar federal officials from colluding with tech giants to implement a censorship regime until litigation concludes.