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Journalist Matt Taibbi threatened with prison time for perjury by top Democrat over Twitter Files testimony

Independent journalist Matt Taibbi is being threatened with jail time by a top Democrat on Capitol Hill over testimony he gave about his reporting on the Twitter Files

Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, sent a letter to Taibbi regarding a comment he told lawmakers, which she alleged included an error that was previously propped up by MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan in a tense interview exchange regarding the name of one of the federal agencies swept up in the Twitter Files. 

The error was a specific reference to CISA, the government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, when he meant to refer to CIS, the Center for Internet Security, which is a private organization. Taibbi later addressed and corrected the error in his reporting.

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Matt Taibbi sits in chair during interview

Journalist Matt Taibbi has become a frequent target of government officials ever since he began reporting on the Twitter Files. (Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage)

Plaskett pointed to Taibbi’s statement, saying it is “contradicted by your own admission.”

“This mistake is important because, by adding an ‘A,’ you weren’t making a harmless spelling error. Rather, you were alleging that CISA — a government entity — was working with the EIP [Election Integrity Partnership] to have posts removed from social media,” Plaskett wrote to Taibbi, according to a letter obtained by journalist and fellow Twitter Files reporter Lee Fang on Thursday. “When presented with this misinformation, you acknowledged you had made ‘an error’ by intentionally altering the acronym CIS and you subsequently deleted your erroneous tweet.”

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Plaskett continued, “Prior to your appearance before the subcommittee on March 9, you signed the Judiciary Committee’s Truth in Testimony form, certifying that you understand that ‘knowingly providing material false information to this committee/subcommittee or knowingly concealing material information from this committee/subcommittee, is a crime (18 U.S.C. 1001). In addition, at the beginning of the March 9 hearing, you swore ‘under penalty of perjury that the testimony you [were] about to give [was] true and correct to the best of your knowledge, information, and belief.’ Under the federal perjury statue, 18 U.S.C. 1621, proving false information is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.”

But as Fang noted in his reporting, the specific comments Taibbi told Congress that Plaskett cited “were correct” despite the original error in his Twitter Files reporting. 

Neither Taibbi nor Plaskett’s office immediately responded to Fox News’ request for comment. 

Taibbi testified about CISA during the March 9 House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Twitter Files.

“Twitter executives did not distinguish between DHS or CISA, and this group EIP [Election Integrity Project],” he said. “For instance, we would see a communication that said ‘from CISA, escalated by EIP.’ So they were essentially identical in the eyes of the company. EIP by its own data… they significantly targeted more what they call disinformation on the right than on the left by a factor of about 10-to-1. I say that not as a Republican at all, it’s just a fact of what we’re looking at. We have come to the realization that this bright line we imagine exists between, say, the FBI or DHS or the GEC and these private companies is illusory, and what’s more important is this constellation of quasi-private organizations that do this work.”

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Hasan tweeted a clip of the testimony and noted Taibbi was under oath when he said it. The two have exchanged a war of words in recent weeks since a contentious interview earlier this month on Hasan’s MSNBC program. Taibbi’s critics have said the error is a crucial one that undercuts the significance of his reporting on the government’s influence over Twitter. 

Matt Taibbi responds after being called a 'so-called' journalist Video

Hoewver, Fang noted in a recent Substack report that the EIP listed CISA as one of its major government stakeholders.

The EIP said it was “formed to enable real-time information exchange between election officials, government agencies, civil society organizations, social media platforms, the media, and the research community. It aimed to identify and analyze online mis- and disinformation, and to communicate important findings across stakeholders.”

Plaskett, a non-voting Democratic delegate from the Virgin Islands, had a contentious exchange with Taibbi at last month’s hearing, referring to him as a “so-called journalist” and grilled him to reveal his source for his Twitter Files reporting, who she suspected was Twitter owner Elon Musk. Taibbi refused to answer. 

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Rep. Stacey Plaskett at hearing

Democratic Rep. Stacey Plaskett is threatening journalist Matt Taibbi with jail time over an allegedly erroneous statement he made to Congress about his Twitter Files reporting. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Taibbi, who was granted access by Musk to Twitter’s archives last year, has been under a microscope by government officials since he began his reporting in December. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Musk to “identify all journalists” who had access to the Twitter Files. 

It was also revealed that the IRS visited Taibbi’s home as he was giving his March 9 testimony to Congress about the Twitter Files. According to a letter sent by House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, Taibbi was allegedly told that both his 2018 and 2021 tax returns were rejected due to “concerns over identity theft.”

Matt Taibbi at hearing

The IRS allegedly showed up at Taibbi’s home on the same day he gave his testimony to Congress about his findings from the Twitter Files. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

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Taibbi, who had emerged as the most prolific Twitter Files reporter, had a falling out with Musk after the billionaire tech tycoon cracked down on content from the subscription newsletter platform Substack, which Taibbi publishes his work on.

Taibbi indicated he would dump Twitter and share his future reporting on other social media platforms. Despite the dustup with Musk, Taibbi teased that more Twitter Files reporting is in store. 

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