Musk fires Twitter lawyer amid Hunter Biden laptop controversy

Elon Musk has announced he fired Twitter’s deputy general counsel over concerns the high-ranking executive tried to suppress information about the Hunter Biden laptop controversy. (Photo: Susan Walsh/AP/File)

Elon Musk stated that he "resigned" from his position as Twitter's deputy general counsel due to worries that the high-ranking executive attempted to suppress facts regarding the social media platform's handling of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal.

Musk, who purchased Twitter for $44bn last month, stated in a tweet on Tuesday that he forced out James Baker, the FBI's top attorney before he joined the social media giant in 2020, over his "potential role in suppression of material vital to public discourse."

Musk stated that when confronted, Baker, who played a crucial role in the FBI investigation into allegations of Russian influence in the 2016 US presidential election, provided an "unconvincing" explanation for his actions.

Musk's announcement occurred just before journalist Matt Taibbi tweeted that the disclosure of new internal files linked to Twitter's handling of the Hunter Biden laptop incident had been delayed due to Baker's unauthorized "vetting" of the documents.

Taibbi, a former Rolling Stone journalist who now contributes to Substack, stated that he and fellow independent journalist Bari Weiss had encountered "obstacles" while searching internal documents provided by Musk. Taibbi stated that he and Weiss had resumed studying the "Twitter files" and were preparing to release the next installment.

Al Jazeera has reached out to Baker via Twitter and LinkedIn for comment.

Friday, Taibbi disclosed internal communication from October 2020 revealing how Twitter administrators decided to block the distribution of a New York Post article describing the contents of a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, the son of US President Joe Biden.

In the conversations, Twitter executives are depicted debating — and at times disputing over — whether and how to restrict the item, which suggested that Hunter Biden traded on his father's name in Ukraine and China.

Twitter executives ultimately determined that the article should be restricted by the company's policy against hacked content in response to claims by former US intelligence officials that the laptop story bore the hallmarks of Russian disinformation, even though no evidence of Russian involvement has ever been uncovered.

The documents released on Friday also purport to show correspondence from the Biden campaign requesting Twitter to remove certain tweets, including allegedly racy photos of Hunter Biden that were shared without permission. However, there is no indication that the Biden campaign, law enforcement, or any government agency specifically requested the suppression of the New York Post article.

The publication of the files by Taibbi on Friday elicited a polarized response, with media figures and politicians on the right characterizing the documents as confirmation of Twitter's liberal bias and hostility to free speech, and many on the left characterizing it as a non-story that demonstrated the platform's good-faith efforts to grapple with difficult moderation decisions.

Some former Twitter executives cited the publication of the records, which included names and email addresses, as the latest evidence of Musk's negligent management of the firm, with Yoel Roth, Twitter's former head of trust and safety, stating that the decision put employees "in danger."

A few weeks before the 2020 presidential election, Twitter's move to restrict the New York Post piece sparked a heated debate about the role of social media in controlling politically sensitive information, with conservatives accusing the platform of favoring then-candidate Biden's campaign.

The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CBS later stated that forensic investigation proved the authenticity of hundreds of papers, including those released by the New York Post.

Jack Dorsey, the former CEO of Twitter, later stated at a congressional hearing on misinformation and social media that the platform's handling of the story was a "complete error."

Publish : 2022-12-07 09:28:00

Give Your Comments