House Judiciary Chair Threatens Google With Contempt Of Congress For Failure To Produce Subpoena Documents


Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, during a field hearing on April 17, 2023 in New York.

Stephanie Keith | Bloomberg | Getty Images

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, threatened enforcement action against Google That could include holding the company in contempt of Congress for failing to produce documents subpoenaed by the committee to learn about the tech company’s communications with the Biden administration.

In a letter to a Google lawyer shared exclusively with CNBC, Jordan called the company’s compliance so far “inadequate” and demanded more information be handed over. If the company fails to fully comply with its new May 22 deadline, Jordan warned, “the committee may be compelled to consider the use of one or more enforcement mechanisms.”

Jordan summons issued To the CEO of the Google parent Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, meta And Microsoft in February, seeking to hand over communications with the US government “to understand how and to what extent the executive branch coerced and colluded with companies and other intermediaries to censor speech.” Jordan requested the companies to comply by 23 March. They made the request after initially asking the companies to do so volunteer informationBut said he had not complied enough.

According to a source familiar with the matter, while several other tech giants have been summoned in connection with the committee’s investigation, other companies have so far appeared more responsive than Google.

Congress can hold persons in contempt To refuse to provide information sought by a committee. To do so requires a committee vote with a simple majority, and then a floor vote. Republicans currently hold a majority in the House 222-213,

Criminal contempt cases can be referred to the Department of Justice, or Congress can seek a civil judgment from a federal court to try to enforce the subpoena, according to a 2017 report. paper From the Congressional Research Service.

The committee could also take other actions against Google, such as removing the company’s management or attempting to restrict federal dollars from going to Google in future legislation.

In the letter, Jordan pointed out several ways that Alphabet had failed to adequately comply with the committee’s demands.

They said Alphabet “frustrated the Committee’s Responsive Content Review by unilaterally revising the context of the content and important information necessary to understand the content.”

According to Jordan, Alphabet did not claim that those corrections included privileged information, and the committee was required to hand over the declassified documents.

The company has recently placed certain documents in the “reading room,” Jordan said, “in a form and manner that inhibits and frustrates the Committee’s understanding and use of those documents and subpoenas without the Committee’s consent.” fails to comply with the conditions of

He wrote that Alphabet had produced 4,000 pages of documents in response to the subpoena. But those documents do not yet include the “appreciable amount” of the many types of communications the committee believes Google will have. These include communications with other social media platforms regarding content moderation, documents with other Alphabet subsidiaries, communications over messaging services other than email, and communications between employees regarding any contact with the executive branch of the US government. .

“The release of the Twitter files demonstrated that the executive branch communicated and coordinated extensively with technology companies regarding content moderation,” Jordan wrote. when he took over the company. “We suspect that Alphabet’s interactions with the federal government where pressure was applied were less so than Twitter’s.”

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