May 11, 2022

Republicans hold press briefing on defunding DHS disinformation board 5/11/22 Transcript

Republicans hold press briefing on defunding DHS disinformation board 5/11/22 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsDepartment of Homeland SecurityRepublicans hold press briefing on defunding DHS disinformation board 5/11/22 Transcript

Republicans talk to the press about defunding DHS disinformation board on 5/11/22. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1: (00:00)
… time and again, why would they want to control the information? Because they don’t want you to know the truth. They don’t want you to know inflation we haven’t seen since the late 70s and 80s like this. They don’t want you to know really the truth what’s happening in COVID, the number of the mismanagement of what they have done in the deaths that are happening now. They don’t want you to know about the crime being rampant, that you’ve got DAs that won’t uphold the law. They do not want you to know what’s happening on the border. They do not want you to know that the number one cause of death between those of Americans 18 and 45 is fentanyl because it’s coming across that border. They do not want you to know who else is coming across that border, people on the terrorist watch list, and I can prove it to you.

Speaker 1: (00:47)
When we were there more than a year ago, it was first discovered that we had caught people on the terrorist watch list, not from central America, but from Yemen. When we produced that information, you know the first thing that was said to me by a member of Congress, Gallego, who serves on Armed Services, he said I was lying. That he has the same information, and entitled to the same information as I do. But then when he was given the truth, he never apologized or corrected it. You know what the administration then did? Said we were no longer allowed to have that information. That’s the basis of what they want to create this on. It’s un-American, it’s wrong, and we will do everything in our power to stop it. I thank the members behind me who have been working so hard with that. With that, let me yield it back to you. Lauren Boebert.

Lauren Boebert: (01:38)
Thank you very much, Mr. Leader.

Lauren Boebert: (01:47)
Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake. Free speech is under attack here in America. The Biden regime continuously uses different methods to try to silence dissenting voices, all a coordinated effort to keep power, silence the truth, and prevent people who disagree with them from having a voice. We know that the White House colluded with big tech to censor the American people. We know that the Department of Justice tried to silence moms and dads by calling them domestic terrorists just for having a say in their children’s education and attending school board meetings. We know that conservative journalists have been targeted by federal agencies for simply reporting the truth. This cannot continue. We’re here today to advocate for my bill, the Protecting Free Speech Act, which will terminate the new DHS Department disinformation governance board.

Lauren Boebert: (02:51)
Now the DHS, this is a militant arm of the government. They have enforcement mechanisms for their disinformation governance board. We want to ensure that no tax dollars are used for any similar government overreach. Misinformation has become a rally cry for the left to discredit facts that are inconvenient to their liberal agenda. The Russia collusion hoax, Hunter Biden’s laptop, the COVID lab leak theory were all labeled misinformation by big tech until the truth finally prevailed. Meanwhile, the Biden regime has been able to put out ridiculous statements that we all know to be lies. This includes false claims like our Southern border is secure. No, in fact, there’s a complete invasion at our Southern border. More than 2 million illegal aliens come into our country. Some 700,000 got-aways coming into our country. Our children dying from the fentanyl that is illegally coming into our country. False claims also that Republicans wanted to defund the police and that Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which the nonpartisan congressional research service estimated would cost $3 trillion over 10 years, somehow cost the American taxpayer $0. You can’t really make this stuff up.

Lauren Boebert: (04:22)
Now, because the Biden regime is afraid of Elon Musk and free speech, they want to use American tax dollars to fund this new board to continue to silence conservatives. Look, I wouldn’t trust 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. You know who I do trust? I trust the American people. They are more capable of looking at claims, researching facts, making informed decisions. Americans don’t need big tech fact checkers or this partisan board silencing free speech like communist China does. I’m calling on Congress to pass my Protecting Free Speech Act, terminate this Orwellian ministry of truth, fire Nina Jankowicz and prevent the Biden regime from silencing the American people. With that, I would like to turn this over to my good friend from Louisiana, Mr. Whip, Steve Scalise.

Steve Scalise: (05:31)
Well, I want to thank Congresswoman Boebert and all of my other colleagues here who are standing up against this attempt to undermine free speech, and we’ve seen it over and over again from Joe Biden. You just think about this idea of ministry of disinformation coming from the very same people who called parents who wanted to play a role in their kids’ education domestic terrorists. What is it that Joe Biden has against people expressing their views if it goes against his far left Soviet style, radical ideology? That’s really what this is about. It’s been about government control from the beginning. They want to control what people say. They want to control what people think. They want to control the people’s ability to enjoy their own freedoms. You saw it over and over again during COVID.

Steve Scalise: (06:19)
Schools should have been open early off and the science by the way was very clear on that. And yet some of the same people that would be in charge of the ministry of disinformation were some of the people trying to keep schools shut down. When the data early off said it’s harming kids, it’s harming them emotionally, mentally, the learning that they lost, millions of kids that will never catch up because they kept schools shut down. By the way, it was the Biden administration who changed the science because the union bosses went to him and said they didn’t like the CDC guidance that was about to come out. They were actually able to get the CDC to change the science to conform to what the union bosses want so they could shut down schools easier.

Steve Scalise: (07:07)
Over and over again like my colleague Jim Jordan’s going to be talking in a moment as well, we’ve been calling for a hearing on the origins of COVID for over a year. Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, all the Soviet style leaders here in Washington will not let that debate go forward. But again, if we’re talking about ministry of disinformation, do you know it was people in the Biden administration that were saying if you suggested that COVID started in the lab in Wuhan, that you were promoting a conspiracy theory. People in the CDC actually said that. Now when you talk to most scientists who have looked at the genetic structure of COVID-19, they all say it’s highly unlikely that it was naturally created from a bat to an animal to a human. It was probably genetically manipulated and more than likely in that lab in Wuhan. Sure enough, more facts are coming out that it very well started in the lab in Wuhan.

Steve Scalise: (08:04)
They still won’t hold a hearing on this by the way. We will when we’re in the majority. We’ll get to the facts, but some of these very same people involved in this ministry of disinformation were calling it a conspiracy theory to suggest that COVID-19 started in the Wuhan lab when in fact now more and more science shows it probably did. Again, the very people that are talking about being involved in a ministry of disinformation are themselves the purveyors of disinformation. I guess if you need to find somebody who’s an expert in spreading disinformation, they found the right person because she has been a purveyor of disinformation over and over and over again.

Steve Scalise: (08:45)
But that’s not what the American people believe in. American people believe in free speech, the ability to go out and talk about your ideas, talk about your beliefs, defend them and let the facts ultimately come out. But if they don’t like the facts, they want to shut down speech. That’s not only unconstitutional, it’s un-American and we need to defund it. We’re going to continue fighting to get this bill brought up. I congratulate again, Lauren Boebert and all of my colleagues who are going to stand up for free speech and against their disinformation from the Biden administration.

Lauren Boebert: (09:21)
Mr. Whip. Now I would like to introduce the ranking member of the judiciary committee, Mr. Jim Jordan.

Jim Jordan: (09:29)
Thank you, Lauren. The biggest purveyor of disinformation’s the government. Comey McCabe told us that dossier was real. Democrats told us in the summer of 2020 that rioters and looters were peaceful protestors and 51 former government officials in the fall of 2020. Then run up to our most important election, 51 former government intelligence officials, including six CIA directors, told us the Hunter Biden story wasn’t true. Now we know that’s baloney because six weeks ago, the Washington Post said, “Oh, it is true.” Think about COVID as the whip was talking about. Joe Biden told us… Think all the misinformation we got from the government. Joe Biden said he had a plan. We know that didn’t work out. Joe Biden said that he would never impose a mandate. Well, he did so much so that the Supreme Court had to tell him it was unconstitutional.

Jim Jordan: (10:12)
Dr. Fauci said it didn’t come from a lab. It sure looks like it did. Dr. Fauci says it wasn’t gain of function research. Sure looks like it was. Dr. Fauci said our money wasn’t used… American tax dollars wasn’t used in the Wuhan Institute virology lab. Yes, it was. The head of the CDC said the vaccinated couldn’t get it. The head of the CDC said the vaccinated couldn’t transmit it, and of course they’ve been all over the place. They said, no mask, one mask, two masks, one mask, no mask, back to one mask. Now we’re finally back to normal. They’ve been all over the place there and of course, they said that natural immunity wasn’t really a thing even though it’s been a thing ever since we’ve known about viruses for hundreds of years.

Jim Jordan: (10:46)
Just this week, I think it was the Journal did a long piece on the origins of the dossier. The conclusion was basically it was completely made up, totally made up out of thin air. Just made the whole thing up. I wonder what Nina Jankowicz would’ve said back when the dossier came out. Would she have said it was disinformation? We now know it was completely made up. What would she say about that? On and on we could go. This thing is ridiculous. Everyone instinctively knows it except the lefties in the Biden administration who are now running our government. Let’s hope we end this. Let’s hope that Secretary Mayorkas has a little common sense and says this was a dumb idea and that they disband this disinformation governance board. Now turn it back over to… Oh, and I want to thank the sponsors, all our sponsors of the legislation.

Lauren Boebert: (11:34)
Thank you. Now I’d like to introduce vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, Mike Johnson.

Mike Johnson: (11:44)
Thanks, Lauren. The disinformation governance board is just a surreal idea. You’ve heard it described as Orwellian. You’ve heard it described as dystopian. Let’s just put it very clearly, very bluntly, it’s unconstitutional. There’s a reason that we all jumped immediately upon the announcement of this to file legislation to defund it. I filed a bill. Lauren filed a bill. August did. The entire conference was up in arms because this is un-American. Listen, in America, we are unique. We do not allow, we don’t trust government bureaucrats, government officials to determine what is true and acceptable speech. That is an anti-American idea. We don’t allow the government to censor and silence viewpoints that it disfavors or dislikes. That’s not what we do in this country.

Mike Johnson: (12:32)
I spent 20 years in federal courts before I got to Congress. I was a first amendment litigator. We would go to court routinely and challenge local officials on rare occasion state officials they would try to censor and silence viewpoints they disagreed with. These were slam dunk cases, right? We would win these automatically because it’s such a well-established principle of the law. This thing is blatantly… I believe the idea itself on its face is blatantly unconstitutional. That’s why it needs to be defunded. We have no confidence whatsoever that President Biden or the Democrats in charge of Congress are going to dismantle this thing. They should. We’re going to do our best to defund it, but the Republicans are going to work every day to stop this because it is a violation of the letter of the law and the spirit of the law and who we are as Americans. That’s just as plain and simple as we can say it. I’ll turn it back over to Lauren.

Lauren Boebert: (13:21)
Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. Johnson. Now I’d like to introduce the chairman of the freedom caucus, Scott Perry.

Scott Perry: (13:28)
Well, thanks, and I want to thank the general lady from Colorado for the bill. Of course, I’m a co-sponsor of it. Listen, in grade school, all of us likely have read George Orwell, whether it was Animal Farm or 1984. We thought, “What a fantastically horrific circumstance, but it’s fiction.” It’s fiction. Never believing, never imagining that somebody in our government would actually use that as the playbook, as the recipe, as the instruction manual for the United States of America. Yet, it’s right in front of us, and with all the things that the American people have to confront every day in their daily lives, the struggles that they’re having right now. If you’re a young lady, a new mother with a little baby, wondering not only if you can afford the formula, because some of that stuff is really expensive, but can you get it? Can you feed your child? Can you afford to go to work? Can you afford to farm?

Scott Perry: (14:25)
Meanwhile, the president’s out telling people that there are going to be food shortages and our farmers are wondering right now can they get the fertilizer? Can they afford the fertilizer? Can they afford to fill their skid tank with diesel? And we’re talking about this. All the time, people come up to conservatives Republicans, they say, “Well, you’re all about cutting government.” That’s all we hear from you folks. What would you cut? Ladies and gentlemen, I got something that’s pretty simple, pretty common sense. Ms. Boebert, the general lady from Colorado, has offered it and almost every single American left, right, or center agrees that this is a fool’s errand. It shouldn’t be funded. This is a ridiculous concept. On the face of it, unconstitutional. As Mr. Johnson has said, un-American. Unacceptable in every fashion, and I thank the general lady for the opportunity and for leading on this issue.

Lauren Boebert: (15:17)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Now I’d like to introduce to you my freshman colleague from west Texas, August Pfluger.

August Pfluger: (15:31)
I’d like to thank Congresswoman Boebert and Congressman Johnson. It’s sad that we’re here. It really is sad that we have to actually say and reaffirm what the first amendment says to us. It’s the first amendment for a reason. It’s the most important amendment and it protects the speech that makes this country unique in so many different ways. You know what? It makes me wonder, and I wish that… it’s sad that we don’t have Democrats here. Sad that we don’t have the entire committee of Homeland Security, which I am a member of, standing up here to talk about what the job of Homeland Security is and that’s to keep our country safe. But it makes you wonder if you have to form a ministry of truth, what exactly are they hiding? What are they hiding from the American public? Is it 700,000 known got-aways? Is it 100,000 fentanyl deaths? We know that. We know that they’re trying to hide that.

August Pfluger: (16:33)
It makes you wonder what else they’re hiding from us in order to spin the narrative. This country, the very founding of this country was on the right of free speech like I mentioned the first amendment. That’s why we’re here. We’re standing on the side of freedom and free speech in the Department of Homeland Security, of which Secretary Mayorkas is championing, this particular office was formed after an attack on our free speech. 9/11 was an attack on the first amendment. It was an attack on the freedom of speech, the ability to have freedom to worship, and that’s what DHS was formed on. For Secretary Mayorkas to then claim the things that he has said, I’d like to start a ministry of truth for his statements to come to Congress and to testify in front of us saying that they have operational control of the border, that the border is secure. Let’s start with that when it comes to truth and falsehoods.

August Pfluger: (17:36)
He’s completely focused on a diversion away from the truth, and that’s why it makes me wonder what they have to hide. It’s clear that his priorities are not in line with the security and the safety of every American. They should be focused on securing this country from every threat around the world. Our founders set up the constitution with checks and balances. One of those is the legislative branch to check the president. That’s why we’re here today. If you’re media, just show of hands today. Anybody want the first amendment to go away of those show of hands?

August Pfluger: (18:15)
When you have a ministry of truth in that Orwellian state that Mayorkas and Biden are trying to create, it’s going to affect you guys first. This is completely unconstitutional. The government should not be in the business of telling you what your truth is. You have your journalistic standards and everybody’s responsible for what they say. I’d like to see Secretary Mayorkas come back up to Congress to testify in front of us again to tell the parents of those 100,000 kids that died from fentanyl the truth, the truth that he has opened the borders to let those drugs in and that we don’t need to be diverting our attention away from that truth. Again, thank Congresswoman Boebert and Congressman Johnson, and so many others for standing up for this truth.

Lauren Boebert: (19:15)
Thank you very much, Mr. Pfluger, and I’m happy to take any questions you may have.

Speaker 7: (19:21)
Please state your name and the media organization you’re with before asking your question.

David: (19:26)
Congresswoman, I’m David [inaudible 00:19:28] Fox News. Thank you. Taking the board out of the mix because I know you don’t like the board, you want to defund the board, do you believe that there is a disinformation problem in the United States? You believe disinformation in general is a problem, and if you say yes, what methods do you have to help combat it? What do you suggest if you want to get rid of it?

Lauren Boebert: (19:46)
I do believe that we have a disinformation problem in America and it starts with our government. The government pushes disinformation on the American people to control what the American people are doing, to lock down our schools, to keep our children out of our schools, to shut down small businesses and not allow them to freely operate. We heard Whip Scalise talk about CDC changing their science, their scientific data to match what lobbyists want it to match, what the unions want it to say. There is a problem with this information, but it’s the American people who give government that power, right?

Lauren Boebert: (20:28)
Government derives its powers from the American people. We give consent to be governed and so it’s the American people that truly are the arbiters of truth and they are the ones that need to be able to have that freedom to speak out and hold government accountable, hold the press accountable. How many times do we turn on the news and hear misinformation, hear propaganda, whether it’s COVID-19 or the Southern border saying that it’s secure and there is operational control that our economy is doing well, that inflation is not skyrocketing. This is the kind of false information that the American people are hearing on a daily basis and we need to combat that with truth. This board is not the answer because that continues to stifle the truth and prevents people from actually speaking out and holding government and media accountable. Yes?

David: (21:22)
You’re saying it needs to be an organic experience to combat misinformation from the public. What about some of the misinformation from the former President Trump as far as saying that he won the election, saying that the election [crosstalk 00:21:34].

Lauren Boebert: (21:34)
Well, I think that we need to have hearings to that. We are certainly here to talk about this board, but we need to have hearings and that’s what I’m looking forward to in a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Have hearings into the 2020 election. I hope that you’ve seen 2000 Mules. I would like to investigate if any of that is provable, if we can have geo-tracking when it comes to January 6th and come to people’s homes who were holding a sign outside of the Capitol and interview them, have the FBI interview them, interrogate them. Well, I certainly think we could use that same technology to look at people who may have been harvesting ballots illegally and possibly potentially even paid to do so by nonprofit organizations.

Lauren Boebert: (22:16)
We need to have real hearings into that. That is the role, that is our check as the legislative branch to have those hearings, to have those investigations. Unfortunately, in Pelosi’s majority, we aren’t able to have those real hearings and bring forth the witnesses that we would like to interview on so many different subjects. We want to hear about the origins of COVID-19 and the Southern border and what’s happening with that. I think we all want Secretary Mayorkas back in here to talk about Nina Jankowicz and her role as the executive director of the disinformation governance board. She certainly should not be in charge of that, but thank you very much. Yes?

Olivia Beavers: (22:57)
Congresswoman, Olivia Beavers with Politico. At the moment, Republicans don’t have the majority in the House, and I know that there’s skepticism about this board and being able to control disinformation as you’ve all been pointing out. But are there areas that you’re willing to work with the board on maybe disinformation that cartels are pushing and other situations that you say, “Okay, we’ll work with you now until we have the majority?”

Lauren Boebert: (23:24)
I don’t see anything that we need to work with and codify this board and give them credence. This board needs to be defunded. It needs to be dismantled because this is not a tool to go after the cartels. We have plenty of tools that we could use to go after the cartels. In fact, I’ve talked to the border patrol agents and they’re not even wanting more resources of funding, personnel, infrastructure. They just want the policies to be able to do their job to secure the Southern border. We have many tools already available to combat the cartels, but the Southern border is wide open and this right here, it seems like it was created to terrorize the American people rather than to prevent terrorists from engaging in our country. I would not give any credence to this disinformation governance board, this department of propaganda. This is an attack on the American people.

Scott Perry: (24:18)
Can I add to that?

Lauren Boebert: (24:18)

Scott Perry: (24:20)
To both of your questions, let’s take a look at the start of the invasion in Ukraine and it was released just prior to the invasion that there would be a false flag operation that Russia would use. We know that Russia and China and other malign actors around the world do use information as a tool of warfare. Our intelligence community very aptly identified that and fought back against the misinformation. I think that’s to both of the first two questions, that’s the right place and the right time and the right method to fight against the misinformation.

Scott Perry: (24:58)
They, the Russians, have used this tactic before. They’ve used it in Eastern Europe. Obviously, it’s something that we have to watch in the United States. When it comes to a tool warfare, I think we’re seeing the right way to fight back against it, but not to turn it into a use for domestic purposes and especially not to get to this point so quickly without having gone through any committees or any debate and to bring it up as something that’s going to be policy without having the American public weigh in on it. This is the foul that continues to be committed time and time again.

Lauren Boebert: (25:41)
Okay. We’ll take one more.

Joe Clark: (25:43)
Yeah. Joe Clark from the Washington Times. Really appreciate your time. Last week in testimony before the Senate, Secretary Mayorkas was trying to explain further what the intent behind the board was. He said, “The intent of the board is to gather together best practices in addressing the threat of disinformation from foreign state adversaries, the cartels and disseminate those best practices to the operators that have been executing and addressing this threat for years.” Is your concern with the board or is it with the operators that have been operating for years and what would your bill do to address that? Lastly, who are these operators?

Lauren Boebert: (26:26)
My bill simply defunds this board, and it prevents the federal government from using tax dollars to form any similar boards in the future. I think that’s pretty plain and simple.

Joe Clark: (26:38)
Does that remove oversight from the operators that have been “executing and addressing this threat for years?”

Lauren Boebert: (26:48)
DHS has plenty of ways to combat these bad actors to have oversight over them. This board won’t be used for that. This is for the American people and to combat disinformation. If you look at Nina Jankowicz and the positions that she’s taken on free speech on the American citizen, it is not an accident that she was named the executive director of this board. Her vendetta is against the American people and free speech and that’s why this board needs to be defunded and no other board created. Anyone else? Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

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