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The now former head of President Joe Biden’s disinformation board on Thursday night blamed disinformation and politics for her resignation and the group’s demise after just three weeks.
Nina Jankowicz told CNN Thursday night that the heavily criticized board was a victim of politics are previously saying she and her family were given death threats during her tenure.
As soon as she was announced as the head of Homeland Security’s ‘Disinformation Governance Board’, her old social media posts on Hunter Biden, Russia collusion and Donald Trump surfaced – including a video of her signing about misinformation to Mary Poppins’ song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Republicans dubbed the new board the ‘Ministry of Truth’ in reference to George Orwell’s novel 1984 and said it would be the government’s way of controlling speech.
But Jankowicz now says her work was mischaracterized, claims her critics put politics ahead of national security and the aims of the board weren’t shared quickly enough.
‘Unfortunately and ironically we were undone exactly by a disinformation campaign coming from folks who apparently want to put our national security behind their own personal political ambitions’, she told CNN.
‘I think there were other priorities that were kind of put ahead of this rollout of the Disinformation Governance Board.’
She then said others ignored her advice with how to communicate the board’s mission.
Nina Jankowicz told CNN Thursday night that the heavily criticized board was a victim of politics are previously saying she and her family were given death threats during her tenure
‘Unfortunately, the advice that I had given was not heeded about how to communicate – how to communicate openly, transparently and rapidly.’
‘We created unintentionally an information vacuum that was filled with falsehoods and frankly directed a lot of vitriol and digging into my own personal life that I think was entirely disproportionate to the amount of power I had at the department.’
Dubbed Biden’s ‘disinformation Mary Poppins’ by critics, Nina Jankowicz described in graphic detail the kind of messages her family had been subjected to just hours after the Washington Post reported the panel she was meant to head had been ‘paused’ less than a month after being announced.
‘Something like, “We’re coming for you and your family,” “Your family should be sent to Russia to be killed,” encouragement of me to commit suicide – all of those have been forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security’s security services,’ Jankowicz told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.
Jankowicz had dubbed herself ‘the Mary Poppins of disinformation’ in a TikTok video singing about fake news to the tune of ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’
She blasted those messages as ‘not American’ and dismissed accusations of partisanship against her as ‘wildly out of context.’
The controversial head of the Department of Homeland Security’s disinformation governance board resigned on Wednesday following weeks of attacks on her appointment.
Critics compared her to a ‘disinformation Mary Poppins’ after she was widely mocked for a TikTok video of her discussing misinformation to the tune of ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.’
Asked about how the whirlwind headlines have felt, Jankowicz confessed that it had been ‘really overwhelming.’
‘Frankly, I have prided myself over my career of being a really nuanced, reasonable person – again as I said, I’ve briefed and advised both Republicans and Democrats. I admire some of the steps that the Trump administration even took to combat disinformation including Senator Rob Portman and his bills against deep fakes,’ the official said.
‘To say that I’m just a partisan actor is wildly out of context. And beyond that, it wasn’t just these mischaracterizations of my work, but it was death threats against my family.’
Jankowicz revealed that she just recalled ‘one or two days’ in recent weeks that she ‘didn’t report a violent threat.’
‘That’s not something that is American. that is not how we should be acting when we have disagreements about policy in this country,’ she said.
She said her critics ‘need to learn how to be adults in the room.’
‘I don’t have time for this childishness, I’m not going to let it silence me. Im going to go forward and continue building awareness about this threat in the future,’ Jankowicz pledged.
The board she was to head was intended to combat misinformation, but Republicans quickly honed in on the role Jankowicz played – and her history fighting disinformation and extremism.
In particular, they questioned her expertise after it emerged she had dismissed the 2020 discovery of Hunter Biden’s laptop as being a ‘Trump campaign product.’
And in 2016 she spread claims about then candidate Donald Trump’s links to President Vladimir Putin of Russia, which have since been debunked.
Republicans accused Joe Biden and his Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of establishing an Orwellian ‘Ministry of Truth’
‘With the board’s work paused and its future uncertain … I have decided to leave DHS to return to my work in the public sphere,’ she said in her resignation letter, obtained by CNN.
‘It is deeply disappointing that mischaracterizations of the board became a distraction from the department’s vital work, and indeed, along with recent events globally and nationally, embodies why it is necessary.
‘I maintain my commitment to building awareness of disinformation’s threats and trust the Department will do the same.’
Earlier, multiple sources told the Washington Post that the Department of Homeland Security decided on Monday to close its Disinformation Governance Board and that Jankowicz, 33, had drafted a resignation letter.
But by the end of Tuesday the board had won a reprieve, although it could yet be shut down.
‘Nina Jankowicz has been subjected to unjustified and vile personal attacks and physical threats,’ a DHS spokesperson told The Post in a statement.
‘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.’
The Republican National Committee dubbed the committee the ‘Ministry of Truth’ in a nod to George Orwell’s novel ‘1984,’ and raised fears that the group will deem as disinformation ‘any speech we don’t like.’
But officials insisted it would protect speech.
‘The board’s purpose has been grossly mischaracterized; it will not police speech,’ the DHS spokesperson said. ‘Quite the opposite, its focus is to ensure that freedom of speech is protected.’
And White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said its role had been deliberately mischaracterized.
‘It was never about censorship, policing speech or removing content from anywhere,’ she said during the White House daily briefing.
‘Its function was to keep Homeland Security officials aware of how bad actors including human smugglers, transnational criminal organizations and foreign adversaries could use this information to advance their goals. ‘
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was grilled about the board and its personnel during an appearance before senators.
‘Do you think the American people are so stupid they need you to tell them what the truth is?’ asked Sen. Rand Paul.
‘You can’t even admit what the truth is with the Steele Dossier. I don’t trust government to figure out what the truth is.
‘Government is largely disseminating disinformation.’
Republicans introduced a bill to dissolve the board. The effort was led by Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana and includes signatures from dozens of other Republican lawmakers
Other critics have seized upon Jankowicz’s past comments – noting that she described Hunter Biden’s laptop as ‘the laptop from hell’ and echoed the opinion of national security experts at the time that the laptop was part of a Russian influence operation.
It has since been confirmed by multiple news organizations, including DailyMail.com, as authentic.
She also shared several claimed from from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign on Twitter, including allegations that are now being looked into by special counsel John Durham.
In November 2016, Jankowicz, a Russian misinformation ‘expert,’ tweeted: ‘Husband texted me ‘you have news to wake up to.’ Never thought it would be this. Confirms our worst fears about Trump. I am horrified.’
She was reposting Clinton’s tweet claiming ‘it’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia,’ along with a screenshot showing that the then-candidate had a ‘secret service’ he used to privately communicate with Putin-tied Russian Alfa Bank.
‘Trump had not one, but two secret email servers to communicate with influential Russian bank. Unbelievable,’ she followed up in another tweet with a link to an article by someone to whom opposition research firm Fusion GPS was feeding stories related to alleged ties between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.
Durham’s team has cast doubt on Alfa Bank claims – as has the FBI, CIA, special counsel Robert Mueller and a Senate Intelligence Committee probe.
Democratic cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann has been indicted by Durham for concealing the identity of his clients, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign, when he reported the now-debunked Alfa Bank claims to the FBI.
Former President Donald Trump was among the conservatives leading attacks on the disinformation board.
At a recent rally in Pennsylvania he said one of the highest priorities for Republicans elected to Congress should be dissolving the board.
‘We will immediately terminate Joe Biden’s so-called disinformation governing board, how about that one?’ Trump said. ‘A chilling and un-American power grab that we will not allow to stand.’
Donald Trump said during a rally in Pennsylvania that a top priority for Republicans is dissolving the DHS Disinformation Governance Board
Timeline of claims pushed by Joe Biden’s new Disinformation Governance Board head Nina Jankowicz
June 2016 – Shared a linked to a now-deleted Medium post featuring a mural of Donald Trump kissing Russian President Vladimir Putin. ‘Putin’s Russia is not a country that any American voter would seek to emulate. The United States should not elect a demagogue who intends to do exactly that,’ she wrote at the time.
July 2016 – Jankowicz linked to a Foer piece titled ‘Putin’s Puppet,’ and tweeted: ‘But do we want a president that has so many shady and cozy ties with Russia? No. So yeah, this piece is a must-read.’
August 2016 – ‘Manafort not Trump’s only connection to #Russia and #Putin,’ she tweeted while sharing a statement from DNC national press secretary Mark Paustenbach claiming: ‘Trump’s campaign still maintains strong ties to Russia and pro-Kremlin elements.’
– She also shared a link to a Clinton campaign article along with the comment’: ‘Trump’s bizarre relationship with Russia … Foreign policy matters.’
September 2016 – ‘Trump’s Kremlin ties don’t end at Manafort. This is serious people,’ she warned in a tweet.
November 1, 2016 – ‘Husband texted me ‘you have news to wake up to.’ Never thought it would be this. Confirms our worst fears about Trump. I am horrified, Jankowicz tweeted. Came in response to a tweet from Hillary Clinton’s campaign claiming Trump has a ‘secret server’ he uses to ‘communicate privately with a Putin-tied Russian bank called Alfa Bank.’
November 6, 2016 – Jankowicz said that ‘what started months ago as me making jokes about Donald Trump’s ‘bromance’ with Putin has actually become an existential threat to our country’.
– She said that after Trump lost ‘we never have to talk about him again (until Putin grants him Russian citizenship)’
December 2016 – Called Trump ‘Pinocchio’ in response to a Biden official writing ‘it is not at all far-fetched to ask whether Trump is indeed the ‘puppet’ Secretary Clinton mockingly named him.’
March 2017 – Months after Trump took office, Jankowicz tweeted ‘Preach’ in response to a screenshot from a Washington Post article titled ‘The Clinton campaign warned you about Russia. But nobody listened to us’ and written by Clinton campaign communication director Jennifer Palmieri.
– Former Russia ambassador Michael McFaul tweeted that Rep. Adam Schiff ‘gives a terrific statement’ after reading discredited Steele Dossier allegations into the congressional record. Jankowicz tweeted in response, ‘Agree, and more importantly — explains why Congressional investigation into Trump-Russia ties is an integral part of our democracy.’
June 2020 – Jankowicz directly cited Steele Dossier claims in her book How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict
October 15, 2020 – Jankowicz told the Associated Press that there were questions about whether the infamous laptop belonged to Hunter Biden.
‘We should view it as a Trump campaign product,’ Jankowicz said at the time of the interview and pointed to involvement from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Trump associate Steve Bannon.