Conservative GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert is taking the lead on an effort to defund and dismantle the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board.
At a press conference Wednesday, she was joined by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise and other Republican congress members who have introduced similar legislation to call for the House to vote to end the new board.
Democratic House leaders are unlikely to heed that call.
The board has become a lightning rod for controversy since it was announced a week ago, with Republicans contending its real aim is to silence Americans who don’t agree with the Biden administration.
“They will manipulate the facts and discredit the truth when it's inconvenient for their narrative,” said McCarthy. He criticized the board’s head, Nina Jankowicz, and pointed to such issues like Hunter Biden’s laptop or COVID-19 lockdowns, before quickly leaving the press conference.
Boebert called on Congress to pass her bill to terminate the board.
“I wouldn't trust [President Joe] Biden and his incompetent misfits to take care of one of my goats. And I certainly don't trust them to be the arbiters of truth,” Boebert said. “I trust the American people. They are more capable of looking at claims, researching facts, (and) making informed decisions.”
The DHS said the board is a working group that will look for best practices when it comes to fighting disinformation that threatens national security, such as from Russia and China, or promotes criminal activity, such as human smugglers spreading misinformation about crossing the border.
DHS Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas told the press previously he could have done a better job explaining what the board does. And he told NBC that it will not inference on free speech of civil liberties.
Boebert, however, said it is the U.S. government that pushes disinformation on the public, citing pandemic closures, which she defied as a restaurant owner before being elected to congress.
But when pressed on former President Trump’s false claims that he won the 2020 election, Boebert refused to call those claims misinformation. She said she thinks if Republicans take back the House, they need to hold hearings on the 2020 election, citing a film that alleges election fraud, but is based on faulty assumptions and improper analysis of cellphone location data, according to experts.
Texas Republican Rep. August Pluger acknowledged that foreign countries, like Russia and China do use information “as a tool of warfare” but argued that the new board is not the way to counter that. He used the Biden administration’s warning that Russia might try to use a false flag operation to invade Ukraine as an example.
“Our intelligence community, very aptly, identified that and fought back against misinformation,” he said. “That's the right place, and the right time, and the right method, to fight against the misinformation.”
Pluger added it should not be used for domestic purposes.
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