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Rep. Jim Jordan subpoenas government agencies in GOP-led probe on alleged censorship

The new subpoenas are part of the House Republican majority's broader investigations into the alleged 'weaponization' of the federal government against conservatives.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan speaks during a news conference at the Capitol
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan subpoenaed three federal agencies on Friday. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan subpoenaed three government agencies on Friday as part of a Republican-led investigation into allegations of censorship.

The subpoenas were sent to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Jen Easterly, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA); and James P. Rubin, Special Envoy and Coordinator for the State Department's Global Engagement Center.

Jordan, R-Ohio, is requesting they provide his committee with communications between their agencies and private companies and third-party groups to determine if the agencies "coerced, pressured, worked with, or relied upon social media and other tech companies in order to censor speech," Jordan wrote in letters announcing the subpoenas.

Jordan alleged that the agencies have failed to respond or produce any documents responsive to the committee's request for voluntary cooperation with the three agencies in March.

But that's disputed by the Department of Homeland Security, which houses CISA, and the Department of Health and Human Services, which houses the CDC, both of which suggested that the subpoenas were unnecessary.

"The Department of Homeland Security does not censor speech and does not request that content be taken down by social media companies," a DHS spokesperson told NBC News in an emailed statement. "Instead of working with the Department, as numerous committees have done this Congress, the House Judiciary Committee has unnecessarily escalated to a subpoena. DHS will continue cooperating appropriately with Congressional oversight requests, all while faithfully working to protect our nation from terrorism and targeted violence, secure our borders, respond to natural disasters, defend against cyberattacks, and more."

A source familiar with the process said that the DHS was working to gather the requested information when the committee issued its subpoena.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told NBC News in an email that HHS received the subpoena and complies with "legitimate oversight requests."

"In this case, HHS promptly responded to Chairman Jordan’s March 22, 2023, letter by the requested deadline and informed the Chairman that HHS intends to cooperate with his inquiry," the statement read. "Since then, HHS did not hear from Chairman Jordan or his staff until they informed the Department that the Chairman intended to issue a subpoena. HHS does not censor speech and as part of its mission to protect public health, HHS and CDC remain committed to sharing data and science so Americans can make informed decisions about their health.”

In response, Jordan spokesman Russell Dye said: “HHS has stonewalled legitimate Congressional oversight for over a month, and we look forward to their complete and total compliance with our subpoena."

"We gave the CDC over a month to produce documents to our committee, and unfortunately, they have not produced a single one," he added. "Any reasonable congressional committee would resort to similar measures."

The State Department did not immediately respond to NBC News’s request for comment.

In announcing the subpoenas, Jordan alleged that the "Twitter Files" exposed government collaboration with "Big Tech" to censor viewpoints, which his committee is working to provide evidence of.

Since gaining control of the House in the 2022 midterms, Republicans have used their majority to spotlight their allegations that the government unfairly targets conservatives.

The Republican-led Judiciary Committee created a new Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which is also chaired by Jordan.

In the subcommittee's first hearing in February, ranking member Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-Virgin Islands., said she was “deeply concerned about the use of this select subcommittee as a place to settle scores, showcase conspiracy theories and advance an extreme agenda that risks undermining Americans faith in our democracy.”