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Sen. Ted Cruz. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has said it won't accept the witness Google offered for a Wednesday subcommittee hearing on free speech online, according to multiple sources.

Why it matters: Facebook and Twitter will be represented at the hearing, chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), but Google may not be there to respond to expected criticism that it is biased against conservatives.

Details:

  • A source familiar with the matter said that Google had offered to send Max Pappas, a staffer focused on conservative outreach with a long career in right-wing politics, to the hearing, entitled "Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse." (His expected attendance was reported on Tuesday morning.)
  • But the committee had rejected him as a witness, according to the source and Will Dempster, the spokesperson for Sen. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), the top Democrat on the subcommittee hosting the hearing. Dempster said that while the committee's Republican majority rejected Pappas, she would have "welcomed" his testimony.
  • Facebook and Twitter are both sending witnesses to the hearing.

Pappas is himself a former Cruz staffer and before that held positions at different conservative groups.

What they're saying: "The committee negotiated with Google to send a more senior representative from Google comparable to the representatives that Facebook and Twitter committed to send," said a committee staffer. "Google was unable to provide someone in time so the subcommittee will be hosting a hearing with Google only in the coming weeks."

  • Both Facebook and Twitter's witnesses have "director" in their title. Pappas's LinkedIn says his job title changed this month from "Manager, External Outreach and Public Policy Partnerships" to "Acting Director, Political & Stakeholder Outreach."

A Google spokesperson said in a statement, "We are happy to testify and have offered the most qualified subject matter expert for the hearing. We stand ready to continue working with the Committee."

The big picture: Cruz and others have long alleged that major web platforms are biased against conservatives, with a regular focus on Google and its subsidiary YouTube.

  • Research and reporting has not proven an active, systemic effort on the part of the platforms to dampen the reach of conservative voices, despite the persistent allegations.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comment from Sen. Mazie Hirono's office.

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - World

Skripal poisoning suspects linked to Czech blast, as country expels 18 Russians

Combined images released by British police in 2018 of Alexander Petrov (L) and Ruslan Boshirov, who are suspected of carrying out an attack in the in the southern English city of Salisbury using Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, and also the2014 Czech depot explosion. Photo: Metropolitan Police via Getty Images

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbětice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two with the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

Marion County Forensic Services vehicles are parked at the site of a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two "assault rifles" believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI told news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.

U.S. and China agree to take joint climate action

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry waves as he arrives at the Elysee Presidential Palace on March 10, 2021 in Paris. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Despite an increasingly tense relationship, the U.S. and China agreed Saturday to work together to tackle global climate change, including by "raising ambition" for emissions cuts during the 2020s — a key goal of the Biden administration.

Why it matters: The joint communique released Saturday evening commits the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases to work together to keep the most ambitious temperature target contained in the Paris Climate Agreement viable by potentially taking additional emissions cuts prior to 2030.

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