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House GOP wants FBI’s Twitter censorship, reimbursement records

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WASHINGTON — House Republicans sent the FBI a “preservation notice” Friday seeking records on the bureau’s efforts to get Twitter to censor content like The Post’s Hunter Biden reporting — citing evidence from recent “Twitter Files” disclosures facilitated by the platform’s new owner, Elon Musk.

“Newly released information shows the FBI has coordinated extensively with Twitter to censor or otherwise affect content on Twitter’s platform,” incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote to FBI Director Chris Wray.

The letter seeks communications and details of FBI payments to Twitter.

“These documents show that the FBI maintained this relationship with Twitter apart from any particularized need for a specific investigation, but as a permanent and ongoing surveillance operation,” Jordan wrote. “These revelations sadly reinforce our deep concerns about the FBI’s misconduct and its hostility to the First Amendment.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is asking the FBI to hand over records on Twitter censorship.
Getty Images

The request for documents broadly seeks evidence of FBI-Twitter relations, and Republicans, who retake the House on Jan. 3, will soon have the power to compel testimony and documents.

The letter asks for “all documents and communications between or among employees or contractors of the FBI referring or relating to content moderation on Twitter’s platform.”

It also seeks “a full and complete accounting of all money transferred by the FBI to Twitter and any other social media company since January 1, 2016, for purported law-enforcement purposes, including the dates, amounts, and specific reasons for each transfer.”

An internal Twitter document published Monday by journalist Michael Shellenberger said that the FBI reimbursed Twitter to the tune of nearly $3.5 million for time spent processing law enforcement requests around the 2020 election.

In an email dated Feb. 10, 2021, an unidentified Twitter employee told then-deputy general counsel Jim Baker — a former top FBI lawyer — and then-general counsel Sean Edgett that “we have collected $3,415,323 since October 2019!”

The email explained that Twitter’s Safety, Content & Law Enforcement (SCALE) division had instituted a “reimbursement program” in exchange for devoting staff hours to “processing requests from the FBI.”

Former Twitter deputy general counsel Jim Baker
Jim Baker, the FBI’s former general counsel, was fired by Twitter CEO Elon Musk this month.
Ron Sachs – CNP / MEGA

Other documents released in the “Twitter Files” project show close relations between the FBI and Twitter.

“Twitter’s internal documents reflect a ‘cozy relationship’ between the FBI and Twitter — numerous former FBI employees have taken jobs at Twitter — which one journalist described as a ‘unique one-big-happy-family vibe,’” Jordan writes.

“This closeness created, in the words of journalist Matt Taibbi, a ‘master-canine quality of the FBI’s relationship to Twitter.’ For example, Twitter employees ‘maintain[ed] regular check-ins’ with the FBI as they decided how to censor certain content. These communications occurred before the 2020 and 2022 elections, and at least one prominent FBI official expects that these censorship operations will continue in advance of the 2024 elections.”

Taibbi also found that a “surprisingly high number” of the FBI’s missives were requests “for Twitter to take action on election misinformation,” including obvious jokes.

Former Twitter executive Vijaya Gadde
Former Twitter executive Vijaya Gadde was a key figure in censorship decisions.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The letter asks Wray to produce records of communications between the FBI and 23 named Twitter employees believed to be involved in censorship decisions, including former executives Vijaya Gadde and Yoel Roth, who were involved in Twitter’s October 2020 decision to censor The Post’s accurate reporting on documents from Hunter Biden’s laptop that described Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s business relationships in Ukraine and China.

Twitter cited a “hacked materials” policy despite no evidence that the documents were hacked, and also locked The Post out of its primary account.

Taibbi reported last week that “between January 2020 and November 2022, there were over 150 emails between the FBI and former Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth.”

The House demand also seeks bureau communications with Baker, who worked as Twitter’s deputy general counsel from June 2022 after previously working as the FBI’s general counsel. Musk fired Baker this month for allegedly slow-walking his efforts to release records on past censorship decisions.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, co-signed Jordan’s request for documents, which sets a Jan. 11 deadline.

Former Twitter executive Yoel Roth
Former Twitter employee Yoel Roth also was prominent in making moderation decisions.
Knight Foundation

The FBI did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

The letter informs Wray, “You should construe this preservation notice as an instruction to take all reasonable steps to prevent the destruction or alteration, whether intentionally or negligently, of all documents, communications, and other information, including electronic information and metadata, that are or may be responsive to this congressional inquiry.”

Some House Republicans are clamoring for the establishment of a House select committee to investigate the alleged politicization of the FBI and other federal agencies — citing 2020 election efforts to fight “misinformation” as well as misconduct in the FBI’s investigation of former President Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia, which ultimately turned up no evidence of a conspiracy.

The Twitter censorship is part of a broader controversial effort by federal authorities to police domestic speech.

Then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last year that the Biden administration was “flagging” alleged COVID-19 misinformation to Facebook for removal. The Intercept reported Oct. 31 that content flagged by the Department of Homeland Security through a special portal included “parody accounts or accounts with virtually no followers or influence.”

The American Civil Liberties Union said following the Facebook-portal revelation, “The First Amendment bars the government from deciding for us what is true or false, online or anywhere.”



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The F.D.A. Now Says It Plainly: Morning-After Pills Are Not Abortion Pills

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The F.D.A. said it made the change now because it had completed a review of a 2018 application to alter the label that was submitted by Foundation Consumer Healthcare, a company that in 2017 bought the Plan B brand from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Agency officials said the pandemic delayed the review process and that the timing was not motivated by political considerations.

A spokeswoman for the company, Dani Hirsch, said in an interview that for its 2018 application, the company had not conducted any new studies but had submitted “what was already out there.”

In a statement, the company’s marketing director, Tara Evans, said “the misconception that Plan B works by interfering with implantation can present barriers to broader emergency contraception access. The Plan B labeling correction will help protect continued over-the-counter emergency contraception access and reduce confusion about how Plan B works and further clarify that Plan B does not affect implantation.”

Plan B One-Step and its generic versions — including brands like Take Action, My Way and Option 2 — contain levonorgestrel, one of a class of hormones called progestins that are also found at lower doses in birth control pills and intrauterine devices. The pills are most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, although they can sometimes work if taken within five days.

Another type of morning-after pill, marketed as Ella and containing a compound called ulipristal acetate, is only available by prescription and is not affected by the F.D.A.’s label change. There has been less research on this type of pill, but studies suggest that it is highly unlikely to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. In 2009, after months of scrutiny, Ella was approved for sale in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, where laws would have barred it if it had been considered to induce abortions.

According to data published in 2021 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-quarter of women of reproductive age who have sex with men answered yes to the question: “Have you ever used emergency contraception, also known as ‘Plan B,’ ‘Preven,’ ‘Ella,’ ‘Next Choice,’ or ‘Morning after’ pills?” The agency did not break down the data by the type of pills taken.

As far back as the 1999 approval process, the maker of Plan B — Barr Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by Teva — asked the F.D.A. not to list an implantation effect on the label, The Times reported in 2012.

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Who are Caroline Ellison’s parents? Fraudster’s mom and dad are MIT economists

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This apple fell far from the tree.

Caroline Ellison — who pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to her role in the FTX cryptocurrency scandal, which led to the extradition of Sam Bankman-Fried this week — is the daughter of high-profile economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to his curriculum vitae, Ellison’s father, Glenn Ellison, was educated at Harvard, Cambridge and MIT before becoming the Gregory K. Palm (1970) Professor of Economics at the latter. 

In addition to coaching youth softball and his daughters’ middle school math teams, he writes “Hard Math,” a series of textbooks and workbooks about teaching arithmetic to younger students.

Glenn Ellison is also an Elected Fellow of the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory and American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Caroline Ellison’s parents, Glenn and Sara Ellison, outside their Newton, Mass., home in early December.
Robert Miller

Ellison’s mother, Sara Ellison, is also an accomplished academic. Armed with an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a mathematical statistics diploma from Cambridge University, her profile shows she completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993. 

Sara Ellison is currently a senior lecturer in the department alongside her husband.

“We were definitely exposed to a lot of economics [growing up],” Ellison, 28, once told Forbes.

Ellison, 28, plead guilty to fraud this week.
Ellison, 28, pleaded guilty to fraud this week.
Twitter / @AlamedaResearch
Caroline Ellison's sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
Caroline Ellison’s sister, Anna, now lives in the West Village.
BRIGITTE STELZER

Glenn and Sara Ellison were photographed by The Post outside their home in Newton, an affluent Boston suburb, earlier this month. Armed with several bags, they told reporters they were too “busy” to comment on the FTX scandal.

The eldest of three sisters — including Anna, 25, who now lives in Manhattan’s West Village — Ellison distinguished herself as a precocious math whiz at a young age. 

When she was just 8 years old, she reportedly presented her father with a paper analyzing stuffed animal prices at Toys ‘R’ Us.

Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday.
Sam Bankman-Fried leaving Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
Matthew McDermott
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Both Glenn and Sara Ellison are economists at MIT.
Robert Miller

She went on to compete in the Math Prize for Girls while at Newton North High School before studying mathematics at Stanford University, where former professor Ruth Stackman described her to Forbes as “bright, focused, [and] very mathy.”

Ellison and Bankman-Fried, 30, crossed paths at the Wall Street trading firm Jane Street. Bankman-Fried’s parents are also both university lecturers, at Stanford in California. They became good friends and she joined Alameda Research, the hedge fund arm of the FTX crypto exchange, in 2018. She then became CEO in 2021. However, the company remained owned 90% by Bankman-Fried and 10% by another member of his circle.

In addition to documenting her supposed foray into polyamory on Tumblr, Ellison once boasted about drug use on social media.

Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Sara Ellison completed a doctorate at MIT in 1993.
Robert Miller

“Nothing like regular amphetamine use to make you appreciate how dumb a lot of normal, non-medicated human experience is,” she tweeted in 2021.

Ellison reportedly admitted to Alameda employees that FTX had used client funds to bail out the fledgeling hedge fund during a video call in November. She was eventually terminated as CEO by insolvency professional and current FTX CEO John J. Ray III after FTX and Alameda filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

She pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, and has subsequently been released on $250,000 bail.

Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Ellison was spotted getting coffee in New York City on Dec. 4.
Twitter / @AutismCapital

Although she could be sent to jail for up to 110 years for her part in the FTX-Alameda scandal — which has been said by federal prosecutors to have lost between $1 billion and $2 billion of customers’ cash — she is thought to have struck a deal with the feds for a much lighter sentence in return for her cooperation.

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Iran condemns Zelensky’s remarks to Congress as ‘baseless.’

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Iran has condemned President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks to the U.S. Congress, warning the Ukrainian leader against further accusing Tehran of supplying weapons to Russia for use in the war.

Mr. Zelensky told Congress on Wednesday that Iranian-made drones “sent to Russia in hundreds” had been threatening Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, a view shared by American and European officials. In Iran, he said, Russia had found an “ally in its genocidal policy.”

A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, called Mr. Zelensky’s comments “rude” and “baseless.”

“Mr. Zelensky had better know that Iran’s strategic patience over such unfounded accusations is not endless,” Mr. Kanaani said in a statement on Thursday.

Although Iran has officially denied supplying Russia with the weapons since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials have said that the first shipment was delivered in August.

Mr. Zelensky has said that drones used in Monday’s wave of predawn attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities were from a batch recently delivered to Russia by Iran. The strikes came after Biden administration officials said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a “full-fledged defense partnership.”

The European Union last week condemned Iran’s military partnership with Russia as a gross violation of international law and announced new sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities over their roles in supplying the drones that Moscow has used to attack Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. That followed a round of sanctions on Iranians over the drone deliveries in October.

Mr. Kanaani “once again emphasizes” that Iran has not supplied military equipment for use in Ukraine, the statement issued on Thursday added, and urged Mr. Zelensky to learn “the fate of some other political leaders” who were happy with U.S. support. It was not clear which other leaders the statement was referring to.

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