Drew Angerer/Getty Images; Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
- An ex-Twitter employee said Trump’s White House asked the company to take down a tweet.
- The expletive-filled tweet, written by Chrissy Teigen, insulted Trump.
- “They wanted it to come down because it was a derogatory statement,” the ex-official said.
President Donald Trump’s White House asked Twitter to take down a 2019 tweet posted by celebrity Chrissy Teigen that insulted him, a former employee at the social media company testified before a congressional committee on Wednesday.
“I do remember hearing that we had received a request from the White House to make sure that we evaluated this tweet, and that they wanted it to come down because it was a derogatory statement directed towards the president,” Anika Collier Navaroli, previously a senior expert on Twitter’s US Safety Policy Team, told lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee.
In the September 9, 2019 tweet, Teigen called Trump “a pussy ass bitch” — an apparent response to a Trump tweet roughly an hour before deriding Teigen’s husband, musician John Legend, as “boring” and her as his “filthy mouthed wife.”
Navaroli confirmed on Wednesday that Teigen’s expletive-filled tweet was what the White House asked to be removed, though Twitter declined the request.
The revelation came as the committee’s Republicans led a hearing titled, “Protecting Speech from Government Interference and Social Media Bias,” featuring testimony from Navaroli along with three former Twitter executives.
The hearing focused on how Twitter blocked the distribution of a 2020 New York Post story about emails claimed to be retrieved from a laptop belonging to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Twitter executives had limited the story’s reach over concerns of a foreign disinformation campaign a month before the 2020 election, but later allowed the story to be shared and said the company mishandled the situation. Other news outlets, including The Washington Post and The New York Times, confirmed the New York Post’s reporting months later.
Conservatives have long claimed that social media platforms like Twitter are biased against them, censor their speech and favor liberals. At the start of Wednesday’s hearing, Chairman James Comer praised Twitter’s new CEO, Elon Musk, saying he brought to light the platform’s alleged suppression of conservative voices.
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2019
—chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) September 9, 2019
Yet the GOP’s push to discuss alleged social media bias against conservatives seemingly backfired during Navaroli’s testimony about the Trump White House seeking to remove Teigen’s tweet.
“My, my, my, what happens when you hold a hearing and you can’t prove your point,” said Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, who led the line of questioning toward Navaroli.
Three of the four former Twitter officials also testified they had no evidence that Biden’s White House had ever asked the company to remove content.
“But there’s plenty of evidence Donald J. Trump tried to do that,” Connolly said. “And if we’re gonna have a hearing about the misuse of social media and the intrusion of government in the content on social media, we’ve got an environment-rich target but it’s not Joe Biden. It’s Donald J. Trump.”
Teigen quickly reacted to the testimony on Wednesday, tweeting: “oh my god” with a laughing emoji. Trump’s office did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.