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Top Dem pushing to call tech execs back before Senate Intel

Top Dem pushing to call tech execs back before Senate Intel
© Greg Nash

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat is pushing for another hearing on how tech firms are dealing with Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe next pandemic may be cyber — How Biden administration can stop it Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief Social media posts, cellphone data aid law enforcement investigations into riots MORE (D-Va.) has said before that he was interested in bringing technology executives back before his committee after representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in November.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter told The Hill that Warner is now taking steps to make the hearing happen.

The focus of the hearing expected to be on how major internet platforms were manipulated during the election and the threat it could happen again.

Details of the hearing, including a date and the companies to be invited have yet to be determined, the sources said. Facebook, Twitter and Google, who all testified in the November hearing, are among the companies that could be invited back.

Tumblr, which is owned by Oath, and Reddit were also used Russian trolls attempting to interfere in the 2016 election. Warner and the Senate Intelligence Committee have shown some interest in their role in election meddling efforts, but have primarily focused on Facebook, Twitter and Google’s platforms.

A spokesperson for Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOn The Money: Biden extends eviction moratorium, student loan forbearance | Stocks hit record highs on Biden's first day as president | Justice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr The Hill's Morning Report - President Biden, Vice President Harris begin work today Justice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr without charges MORE (R-N.C.), who gets the final say in what hearings the committee holds, did not comment on Warner's efforts.

“Chairman Burr has stated that the committee is examining social media influence as part of it investigation, but we don’t have any details to announce at this time,” a spokesperson for Burr, wrote in an email.

A spokesperson for Warner, also declined to confirm or comment on the specific details of the hearing but said that Warner always intended to bring the companies in for a follow-up.

It’s unclear if technology companies would attend if invited. Representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google have shown up to hearings held by the Senate Commerce Committee as well as the House Judiciary Committee, but all three skipped a hearing on alleged anti-conservative bias in tech in April. They did, however, attend the follow-up hearing on the subject in July.

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Biden names acting chairs to lead FCC, FTC | Facebook to extend Trump ban pending review | Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler Facebook to extend Trump ban pending review Facebook has no current plan to end the Trump suspension MORE also attended two congressional hearings in April in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which it was revealed that the British research firm used by the Trump campaign improperly harvested data of 87 million Facebook users.

President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE sparked controversy last week during a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he said he believed his denials of interference despite the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community.

Trump tried to walk those remarks back the next day, saying that he misspoke and believed the intelligence community's assessment of Russian involvement. But he also added that the hacks could have been by "other people."

Harper Neidig contributed.