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Jim Jordan subpoenas former head of DHS disinformation board

The House Judiciary Committee chairman called on Nina Jankowicz to sit for a deposition about the board that drew GOP scrutiny before it shut down last year.
Image: Jim Jordan
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Oxon Hill, Md., on Thursday. Jose Luis Magana / AP

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan on Monday subpoenaed a former Biden administration official who oversaw the Department of Homeland Security's disinformation board.

Jordan, R-Ohio, called on Nina Jankowicz to appear before the committee April 10 for a deposition as Republicans scrutinize the short-lived Disinformation Governance Board, which drew widespread GOP criticism after it launched last year.

Jankowicz “ignored voluntary requests for a transcribed interview,” Jordan said, citing two letters last year and three letters since he took the helm of the committee in January.

Jankowicz said on Twitter that she would comply with the subpoena and defended her work at the agency.

"I will happily testify to the truth of the Board under oath: That it was a working group meant to address disinformation that endangered Americans’ safety, and that — because of the Republican Party’s irresponsible lies about it — our democracy is less secure," she tweeted.

In response to a request for comment, Jankowicz said that "the abuse of congressional oversight powers is about to get wildly out of control" under Jordan.

"His 'weaponization' committee is the entity that is actually weaponizing our government, and the American people deserve better," she wrote in an email.

In a new letter to Jankowicz on Monday, Jordan said the committee is considering potential legislation that would prohibit establishing boards like the one at DHS, adding that Jankowicz was "uniquely situated" to provide information to those ends.

Before she was appointed to run the board, Jankowicz was a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, a Washington-based public policy think tank, where she studied the intersection of democracy and technology in Central and Eastern Europe.

Jankowicz resigned in May after the board was paused amid criticism from congressional Republicans, who sought to pass legislation to end it. DHS shuttered the program in August.

In an MSNBC interview after her resignation, Jankowicz argued that Republicans had mischaracterized the board and said its role was to battle disinformation while protecting Americans’ freedom of speech, privacy and civil liberties.

Jordan on Monday also subpoenaed Chip Slaven, the former interim executive director and CEO of the National School Boards Association, and Viola Garcia, the organization's former president.

Slaven and Garcia were involved in requesting federal law enforcement support in response to heated and sometimes violent local school board meetings.

In a September 2021 letter to President Joe Biden, they said public schools and education leaders were “under an immediate threat” and called on federal law enforcement for assistance in handling "the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation.”

Weeks later, Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI in a memo to hold strategy sessions with law enforcement to address threats to school board members, teachers and other public school staff members.

In response to a request for comment, the new head of the National School Boards Association appeared to distance the organization from Slaven and Garcia.

"The individuals subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee are no longer associated with the National School Boards Association," Executive Director and CEO John Heim said in a statement.

"In the aftermath of the 2021 letter sent to the White House, the NSBA has made internal reforms; reaffirmed its commitment to nonpartisanship; established in policy the importance of parental partnerships in a child’s education; and underscored NSBA’s fundamental belief in local control," Heim said.

Jordan previously subpoenaed the Justice Department, the FBI and its director, Christopher Wray, and the Education Department over their actions relating to school boards.