December 5, 2022
The White House denied Wednesday that it had a role in the pause of the Department of Homeland Security's Disinformation Governance Board and claimed that the board “never convened” amid “mischaracterizations from outside forces.”

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The White House denied Wednesday that it had a role in the pause of the Department of Homeland Security‘s Disinformation Governance Board and claimed that the board “never convened” amid “mischaracterizations from outside forces.”

“The board has never convened,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. “Yes, the board is pausing in the sense that it will not convene while former Secretary [Michael] Chertoff and former Deputy AG [Jamie] Gorelick do their assessment, but the department’s work across several administrations to address disinformation that threatens the security of our country is critical and that will indeed continue.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 18, 2022.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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Jean-Pierre denied that the White House had any role in the pause of the process and insisted that “neither Nina Jankowicz, nor the board, have anything to do with the censorship or removing content from anywhere.”

Instead, Jean-Pierre said Jankowicz’s position on the board was to provide information on how to combat disinformation and reiterated that the board’s mission was “never about censorship, policing speech, or removing content from anywhere.”

“It’s function was to keep Homeland Security officials aware of how bad actors — including human smugglers, transnational criminal organization[s], and foreign adversaries — could use disinformation to advance their goals,” Jean-Pierre said.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre listens as National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks to reporters in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 18, 2022.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre listens as National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks to reporters in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 18, 2022. (STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the Washington Post, DHS made the decision on Monday to pause the board’s mission and that the following morning the board’s leader, Jankowicz, had a resignation letter drafted.

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Whether Jankowicz ultimately decides to leave DHS remains up in the air, the Post reported, as the department offered to let her stay, despite the agency suspending all groups that had been focusing on what the Biden administration refers to as “mis- dis- and mal-information,” or “MDM.”

In the meantime, DHS is defending Jankowicz against attacks from the right based on her past positions and social media posts, including casting doubt on the legitimacy of the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election.

Nina Jankowicz was tapped to serve as the executive director of the Department of Homeland Security's Disinformation Governance Board.

Nina Jankowicz was tapped to serve as the executive director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board. (@wiczipedia Twitter account)

“Nina Jankowicz has been subjected to unjustified and vile personal attacks and physical threats,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement to the Post. “In congressional hearings and in media interviews, the Secretary has repeatedly defended her as eminently qualified and underscored the importance of the Department’s disinformation work, and he will continue to do so.”

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Earlier this month, the attorneys general of 20 Republican-led states threatened legal action against DHS over the board, claiming it is “un-American” and chilling to the free speech of Americans.

The White House defended the DHS board earlier this month, saying that it would operate in a “nonpartisan,” “apolitical” manner.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer, Kelly Laco, and Kelsey Koberg and The Associated Press contributed to this report.