House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan has subpoenaed the former executive director for the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board, Nina Jankowicz, according to a copy of the document obtained by CNN.
The move is a sign Jordan intends to probe Jankowicz’s brief tenure at the now-disbanded disinformation board, which was met with intense backlash from Republican and conservative media, as part of his effort to show the federal government has been “weaponized” against conservatives. Jankowicz’s deposition is scheduled April 10.
Jankowicz responded to news of the subpoena in a statement, saying she will not be “cowed by conspiracy theories or intimidation.”
“I will happily testify to the truth of the Board under oath: That it was a working group meant to curb disinformation that endangered Americans’ safety, and that — because of the Republican Party’s irresponsible lies about it — our democracy is less secure,” she said.
Jordan had previously requested that Jankowicz appear for a transcribed interview to discuss her brief role as the executive director of the Disinformation Governance Board created by the Department of Homeland Security.
Jankowicz resigned in May 2022 after her appointment drew condemnation from GOP lawmakers and right-wing media personalities, who pointed to her past tweets and statements regarding the laptop of President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and Christopher Steele, the author of the so-called Steele dossier. When she resigned, Jankowicz responded to more of the attacks she had received, defending her work.
The Disinformation Governance Board has since been dissolved.
An interagency team, the board was intended to coordinate department activities related to disinformation aimed at the US population and infrastructure. Jankowicz, a disinformation expert with experience working on Ukraine and Russia issues, was tapped to helm the board, along with two senior DHS officials, including acting Principal Deputy General Counsel Jen Daskal.
Jordan has called the now disbanded board “an anti-democratic and un-American attempt to establish a de facto Ministry of Truth within the federal government.”
At the time, DHS and the White House defended the board and called Jankowicz “imminently qualified,” but eventually decided to pause the initiative and call for a review. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas later acknowledged the confusing rollout of the working group and in August DHS shut down the board.
More subpoenas as part of probe into Biden administration’s response to school board threats
Jordan also issued two subpoenas to individuals affiliated with the National School Boards Association who were involved in the response to protests and some violence that erupted at school board meetings across the country starting in 2021.
Jordan subpoenaed the president of the board, Viola Garcia, and its former interim executive director and CEO, Chip Slaven, for depositions as the panel continues to investigate whether a Justice Department strategy to address threats against teachers and school officials was abused to target conservative parents. The FBI has denied that it ever investigated or policed speech at school board meetings or anywhere else.
CNN has reached out to Garcia and Slaven for comment.
The committee gave Garcia a deposition date of March 16 and Slaven a deposition date of March 17.
Jordan had previously subpoenaed the Justice Department, the FBI and the Department of Education in relation to the matter.
Much of the anger at school boards came from conservative parents who wanted to repeal mask mandates, opposed anti-racism courses and had concerns about LGBTQ policies.
With that backdrop, the National School Boards Association wrote to Biden asking for federal help to address the violence and threats against school administrators. The group said that “these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism” and encouraged the Justice Department to explore which laws, possibly including the Patriot Act, could be applied.
The group soon apologized for “some of the language” in its letter. But it quickly drew backlash, particularly among conservatives.
Attorney General Merrick Garland had issued a memo in response – which didn’t cite the letter, compare parents to “terrorists” nor invoke the Patriot Act. It merely told the FBI and federal prosecutors to step up collaboration with state and local law enforcement on the issue.
According to a report Jordan released last year, emails show that the Biden White House consulted with the NSBA on the letter before the group made its letter public. An independent review by NSBA concluded, however, that there was no “direct or indirect evidence suggesting the Administration requested the Letter” or reviewed the contents before the letter was sent.
Other emails also show that the Justice Department sent an advance copy of Garland’s memo to the NSBA.
The FBI later established a “threat tag” to internally track cases about school board threats under the same categorization. Jordan said in his subpoena letters to Garcia and Slaven that whistleblowers have disclosed that the memorandum led to the establishment of a threat tag.
Republicans have seized on the “threat tag” to accuse the FBI of carrying out Biden’s desire to stomp out conservative speech at school boards. But the creation of an internal database does not mean the FBI initiated any sort of crackdown against parents.
This story has been updated with additional developments.