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GOP Congressmen Warn They May Subpoena DOJ for TikTok Documents

Department of Justice (Credits: VOA)

House Republicans on the Oversight Committee are intensifying their scrutiny over TikTok and Al Jazeera, threatening to subpoena the Justice Department for failing to provide documents related to investigations under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., expressed frustration over the Justice Department’s delayed response to inquiries concerning whether these companies are acting on behalf of foreign principals without proper registration.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Comer cited a memorandum of understanding between TikTok and the Qatari Ministry of Communications as evidence of foreign influence.

Merrick Garland (Credits: CNBC)

This agreement, signed in February, reportedly aims to expand Qatar’s digital footprint, raising concerns about transparency and compliance with U.S. laws. Comer argues that such arrangements might allow these entities to operate in the U.S. without adequate oversight, potentially advancing foreign agendas.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has been under continuous scrutiny by U.S. lawmakers. Comer’s letter highlights TikTok’s alleged engagement in “political activities,” which he believes should require registration under FARA, especially noting the platform’s content as potentially promoting a pro-Communist China Party agenda.

Banning TikTok (Credits: Reason Foundation)

This comes despite broader legislative moves, including a House vote last month aiming to possibly ban TikTok in the U.S. unless it severs ties with ByteDance.

Comer’s criticisms extend to Al Jazeera, suggesting that despite its claims of independence, it operates under the influence and funding of the Qatari government, thus potentially violating FARA.

If the Justice Department does not comply by the set deadline of April 15, the committee plans to issue subpoenas to obtain the necessary documentation. This action underscores the committee’s resolve to ensure compliance with FARA and highlights ongoing concerns regarding foreign influence through media and technology platforms operating within the United States.

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