- Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, the vloggers known as Diamond and Silk, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday about allegations of political bias and suppression from tech companies like Facebook.
- The hearing quickly devolved into shouting matches and suggestions that the two could have committed perjury.
WASHINGTON – Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, the vloggers known as Diamond and Silk who often voice support for President Donald Trump in their videos, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday about accusations of political bias against and suppression of conservatives by large tech companies like Facebook.
As Hardaway and Richardson came under scrutiny from lawmakers, the hearing quickly got out of hand.
At first, Democrats on the committee, including Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Zoe Lofgren, avoided questioning Hardaway and Richardson, opting to go to the other witness, who represented trade associations for journalists and tech companies.
The hearing was full of fireworks
A shouting match ensued during Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson’s questioning of Hardaway and Richardson, who exclaimed that they were being “censored” by Facebook and accused the platform of limiting their reach.
“Rather than diamonds, you’re seeking money from Facebook,” Johnson told Hardaway.
“This is a stupid and ridiculous hearing,” said Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu.
During the hearing, Democrats questioned Richardson and Hardaway about their practices and theories, and the two would often respond by shouting and interrupting.
At multiple points, Democrats and Republicans on the committee could be seen laughing, rolling their eyes, and shaking their heads in disbelief.
Dispute over campaign finance records
The chaos continued when Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee asked Hardaway whether the duo had ever been paid by the Trump campaign, something Hardaway denied.
Federal Election Commission records show they were paid $US1,274.94 in November 2016 for “field consulting.”
Jackson Lee wanted to continue questioning, but her allotted time had expired. She pressed on while Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert, who was standing in for the chairman, banged his gavel and told the committee to move on.
But Rep. Hakeem Jeffries brought the topic back up, arguing that Hardaway and Richardson could be subject to perjury charges.
“I’m just trying to figure out who is lying here,” Jeffries said. “Is it the Trump campaign, or is someone not telling the truth?”
“Nobody is lying,” Richardson replied.
She attempted to explain the payment.
“Actually, this was for because we was asked to join the ‘women for Trump’ tour back in 2016,” Richardson said,” and Mrs. Lara Trump asked that our airline tickets be refunded back to us because we paid for those tickets when we went from New York to Ohio.”
A representative for the FEC told Business Insider: “The information and data available through campaign finance reports on FEC.gov originate from the filing committee.”
In a statement, the Trump campaign’s treasurer Bradley Crate said, “The issue regarding Diamond and Silk is merely one of semantics, resulting from a reasonable misunderstanding of the Campaign’s reporting obligations.”
“The Campaign’s payment to Diamond and Silk for field consulting was based on an invoice they submitted reflecting their costs for air travel to a Campaign event,” Crate added. “The invoice was not supported by accompanying receipts, so as a technical matter, could not be reported as a reimbursement even though its purpose was to make them whole for their out-of-pocket costs.”
Labelled ‘very liberal’ by Facebook
Hardaway and Richardson said they were labelled “very liberal” by Facebook despite their ardent support for Trump and the GOP.
Facebook says that it does not manually classify pages and that its classifications are based on a user’s behaviour, including pages they like and engage with.
Hardaway and Richardson also said they were Democrats until they switched parties to support Trump in the 2016 North Carolina primary.
After the hearing, several members of Congress posed for photos with Hardaway and Richardson, including Republican Rep. Jason Smith, who is not on the committee but sat in the audience.
“A thorn between two roses,” Smith said as he posed between the duo.
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