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The White House is doubling down on its support for a recently-announced Department of Homeland Security initiative to combat online “disinformation” and defended the individual chosen to lead the effort whose past comments have sparked concern.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki further defended DHS’ Disinformation Governance Board and the individual chosen to serve as its director, telling Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich that the effort is a continuation of work from former President Trump’s administration.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks at a daily press conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House  on April 29, 2022 in Washington, DC.
(Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified Wednesday that the board had recently been created to combat online disinformation and it was later reported that Nina Jankowicz, who previously served as a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, will head the board as executive director.

Describing Jankowicz, Psaki claimed she is “an expert on online disinformation” and insisted she is “a person with extensive qualifications.”

White House press secretary takes questions from reporters during an April 2022 briefing

White House press secretary takes questions from reporters during an April 2022 briefing
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Psaki said the board’s efforts are part of “a continuation of work that began at the Department of Homeland Security in 2020, under former President Trump.”

Asked by Heinrich how Jankowicz can serve as an effective board leader based on prior comments, which include public support for the Democratic Party and dismissal of the Hunter Biden laptop story, Psaki reiterated that the work began under the prior administration.

“For anyone who’s critical of it, I didn’t hear them being critical of the work under the former president, which is interesting to note contextually,” Psaki said as she outlined a fact sheet released by the department that explains the board’s mission.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on the Department of Homeland Security's budget request, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2022.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on the Department of Homeland Security’s budget request, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2022.
(STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

“This is work that is helping to address unauthorized terrorism, other threats, and see how disinformation, misinformation is being pushed, to lead, to increase those, so that’s all work that we think has been ongoing for some time,” Psaki said. “This is the form it’s taking and there’s a fact sheet that details the specifics.”

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“This is an individual who will be overseeing the work of that board,” Psaki said of Jankowicz. “Personnel decisions are up to the Department of Homeland Security. I just outlined the extensive history and background this individual has, but I think what’s important to note here is doing, which is important disinformation related work that began under the former administration.”

Psaki takes questions from reporters at a daily press briefing on April 29, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Psaki takes questions from reporters at a daily press briefing on April 29, 2022 in Washington, DC.
(Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

Amid her selection to serve as executive director for the newly announced board, Jankowicz is facing renewed criticism comments she made regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story and videos she shared to TikTok criticizing political opposition.

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Jankowicz previously referred the laptop, which has been authenticated by multiple news outlets, as a “Trump campaign product” and suggested it was a “Russian influence op.”

Jankowicz attempted to clarify her October 2020 tweet this week saying that she was simply live tweeting a presidential debate.

Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this article.

 

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