The House Judiciary Committee sued FBI agent Elvis Chan on Tuesday for flouting a subpoena to answer questions about the federal government’s alleged collusion with social media companies to censor online speech.
“Chan has violated and continues to violate his legal obligations by refusing to appear before the Judiciary Committee as required by the Subpoena, and by refusing to answer questions when there has been no assertion of privilege by the Executive Branch,” attorneys for the House’s Office of General Counsel wrote in a 46-page complaint filed in Washington, DC, federal district court.
Entered on behalf of panel chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the suit says that the bureau agent is a “pivotal figure” in its probe of federal agencies’ efforts to censor or suppress protected speech — especially his firsthand knowledge of The Post’s bombshell 2020 election stories based on emails obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Chan — who worked on the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force in the San Francisco field office as a liaison to companies such as Facebook and Twitter — had previously defied a subpoena to appear before the committee on Oct. 5.
The congressional attorneys argue that there is “no lawful basis” for him to evade the subpoena, which he has chosen to do over a disagreement about what counsel he should be afforded.
The House Judiciary Committee allows witnesses to appear with either a personal or government attorney present, but Chan has insisted on appearing with both.
“Despite the Constitution’s clear command that each chamber of Congress ‘may determine the Rules of its Proceedings,’ DOJ contends that a subpoena compelling testimony about an agency employee’s official duties, without agency counsel present, is unconstitutional and thus unenforceable,” they wrote.
The Post has reached out to the FBI for comment.
In a statement last year, the bureau revealed that Chan refused to participate in his Oct. 5, 2023, interview with the Judiciary Committee because “he was denied the right to have his chosen legal counsel accompany him.”
Chan also was a key witness in the federal court case Missouri v. Biden, which will be taken up by the Supreme Court later this year, and in a deposition claimed he had “no internal knowledge” of The Post’s suppression.
Jordan’s committee said in September 2023 that it had “uncovered evidence” that Chan gave contradictory testimony as a part of that case regarding his “communications with social media platforms.”
That investigation includes rooting out the federal agencies responsible under both President Donald Trump and President Biden for “moderating” American’s online speech — including posts about the origins of COVID-19 and vaccinations.
The first reports on the FBI’s participation in this effort was revealed in the so-called “Twitter Files” in which internal company records showed Chan informed content moderators at the social media giant that The Post’s Oct. 14, 2020 scoop on Hunter’s emails were a Russian “hack and leak” operation.
Another FBI agent on a phone call told Twitter employees the same day that the report on the laptop was legitimate, according to a House Judiciary deposition conducted last July with the section chief of the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force, Laura Dehmlow.
A Facebook employee on Oct. 15, 2020, message also confirmed having spoken with Chan, according to records obtained by the Judiciary Committee, and that he had said “there was no current evidence to suggest any foreign connection or direction of the leak.”
Chan in his sworn deposition on Nov. 29, 2022, twice claimed he never communicated with Facebook beyond a one conference call with the FBI task force.
Last October, the Louisian-based US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the FBI — along with the White House, the US Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) — had likely censored Americans’ free speech by having “likely coerced or significantly encouraged social-media platforms to moderate content.”
That decision sided in part with a July 2023 ruling by a Louisiana federal judge that barred the executive branch agencies from contacting social media platforms due to evidence presented of the censorship.