U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, attends a briefing in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 9, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, attends a briefing in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 9, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan has subpoenaed the former head of a defunct Biden administration advisory board on disinformation, which was disbanded just months after being formed amid public backlash.

The subpoena for writer and researcher Nina Jankowicz to sit for a closed-door deposition on April 10 was one of three Jordan issued Monday tied to investigations by his subcommittee on the alleged "weaponization" of federal agencies.

"As the former Executive Director of the Board, you are uniquely situated to provide information that is relevant and necessary to inform the Committee's oversight and potential legislative reform," Jordan wrote in a letter accompanying the subpoena.

The "Disinformation Governance Board" was established a year ago under the Department of Homeland Security. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas described it as an attempt to counter false claims that encourage migrants to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as to confront the threat of Russian disinformation campaigns.

"The spread of disinformation can affect border security, Americans' safety during disasters, and public trust in our democratic institutions," the department said at the time.

The creation of the board immediately triggered criticism. Jordan and some other Republicans characterized it as anti-democratic and un-American. GOP Senator Mitt Romney said it was "a terrible idea" that communicated the U.S. was going to be spreading propaganda.

Jankowicz resigned in May, just weeks after being picked as director. Mayorkas disbanded the disinformation board in August.

Jordan also subpoenaed Chip Slaven, a former interim executive director and chief executive of the National School Boards Association, and Viola Garcia, who sits on the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for testing in schools, to sit for closed-door depositions on March 17 and March 16, respectively.

Slaven and Garcia had signed a letter sent to President Joe Biden urging him to take action against parents protesting local school boards because "education leaders are under an immediate threat."

Attorney General Merrick Garland, citing intimidation and threats of violence against school board members, teachers and workers, called on the FBI to investigate local threats against school boards. That has been become a particular flashpoint for Republicans, who contend it's an example of government overreach and the targeting of conservative voices.

In a letter accompanying the Slaven and Garcia subpoenas, Jordan likened Garland's action to "directing federal law enforcement to investigate parents."

"Whistleblowers have disclosed that this memorandum resulted in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) establishment of a 'threat tag' and the Justice Department has confirmed that the FBI investigated at least 25 incidents as a result of the NSBA letter you co-signed," Jordan wrote.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.


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