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Monday, February 19, 2024

Sen. Johnson blasts DHS’s new ‘Orwellian’ misinformation board

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., blasted the Department of Homeland Security’s new Disinformation Governance Board to combat online disinformation on Sunday, calling it “Orwellian.”

Johnson made the comment on Sunday during an interview with “Sunday Morning Futures,” adding that the “outlandish” and “unconstitutional disinformation governance board” should never have been established.  

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced during testimony Wednesday before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security that DHS had created the Disinformation Governance Board.

“The goal is to bring the resources of (DHS) together to address this threat,” Mayorkas said during the hearing, adding that the department is focused on the spread of disinformation in minority communities ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Federal and state lawmakers, including Johnson, constitutional scholars and other experts are expressing concerns with the Department of Homeland Security’s new misinformation board, which they argue is the Biden administration’s attempt to stifle free speech.

Sen. Ron Johnson blasted the Department of Homeland Security's new Disinformation Governance Board to combat online disinformation.

Sen. Ron Johnson blasted the Department of Homeland Security’s new Disinformation Governance Board to combat online disinformation.
(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Johnson, who is a member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Mayorkas on Wednesday, requesting information on DHS’s plans to create the disinformation board.

“In my letter I asked Secretary Mayorkas, under what authority are you with establishing this governance board?” he told host Maria Bartiromo. “But, they are brazen. They do what they accuse others of doing. They flood the town square with all kinds of information repeatedly, time and time again, and it’s all about covering up.”

He argued the Biden administration is “fundamentally destroying this country with open borders, 40-year high inflation, record gasoline prices, and now something to abridge the freedom of speech.”

“Every American should awaken to the urgency of the moment,” he warned. “Every American should be frightened about what Democrat governance and what Democrat policies are doing to destroy this nation.”

“They are fundamentally destroying America,” Johnson continued.  

Sen. Johnson blasts DHS's new misinformation board as 'Orwellian' Video

He also slammed the choice for disinformation chief Nina Jankowicz on Sunday. 

Jankowicz is in charge of the Department of Homeland Security’s governmental effort to fight online disinformation on such issues as elections and coronavirus. The board also hopes to counter misleading information used by human smugglers to target migrants trying to cross into the United States, according to the DHS.

Jankowicz has a history of being a partisan actor, having openly supported Biden and Hillary Clinton in the past two elections. She’s praised Christopher Steele on Twitter as an expert on the origins of disinformation and she’s called the Hunter Biden laptop story “alleged” and likely part of a Kremlin influence operation.


In an October 2020 Washington Post op-ed, she touted the testimony she had just given before the House Intelligence Committee about the threat of online disinformation, where she suggested the laptop had “illicit provenance.”

“The person they’ve [DHS] appointed is a Democrat propagandist,” Johnson argued. “She pushed the Russian collusion with the Trump campaign hoax. She pushed the hoax that the laptop was some form of Russian information campaign. Those are probably two of the most egregious and, I would say, effective pieces of disinformation.”

“They had more impact on our body politic, on our elections than anything else I can think of,” he continued. “It certainly had greater impact than anything Russia ever could have dreamed of, and she was leading the charge on that disinformation.”

Sec. Mayorkas: 'I'm looking forward to testifying before the US Senate' Video

When FOX News reached out to DHS for comment on Sunday, a spokesperson pointed to Sec. Mayorkas’s comments on “Fox News Sunday.”

Mayorkas acknowledged that there is “no question” that the department “could have done a better job in communicating” what the board does.

“This is a working group that takes best practices to make sure that in addressing disinformation that presents a threat to the homeland, does our work, does not infringe on free speech. Does not infringe on civil rights, civil liberties,” Mayorkas added. “It’s not about speech. It’s about the connectivity to violence.”


“That is what we need to address,” he continued. “An individual has the free speech right to spew anti-Semitic rhetoric, what they don’t have the right to do is take hostages in a synagogue. And that’s where we get involved.”

Fox News’ Kelly Laco and David Rutz contributed to this report. 

Talia Kaplan is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @taliakaplan

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