Skip to main content
Press Release Published: Apr 8, 2024

Comer Threatens to Subpoena Documents About DOJ’s Failure to Enforce TikTok and Al Jazeera’s FARA Compliance

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) today is threatening the compulsory process if the Department of Justice (DOJ) fails to produce documents relating to its enforcement of Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requirements with certain entities, including Al Jazeera and TikTok. In a second letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Chairman Comer is renewing his request for documents and information regarding DOJ’s FARA decision-making process and the status of FARA-related inquiries into Al Jazeera and TikTok after the Department has refused to satisfy the request in the Committee’s previous letter.

“The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is conducting oversight of the Department of Justice’s (Department) administration and enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), 22 U.S.C. § 611 et seq. On February 8, 2024, the Committee sent a letter to the Department requesting, among other things, that the Department produce documentation of the status of ‘FARA-related investigations or inquiries into TikTok and any Al Jazeera affiliated entities.’ The Committee is trying to understand whether the Department is enforcing FARA, including against entities with ties to our foreign adversaries. For eight weeks, the Department has refused to provide any substantive update or response to the Committee’s letter,” wrote Chairman Comer.

Since the Committee’s February 8 letter, the urgency for oversight into this matter has increased.  TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is a privately owned, Beijing-based company under the control of the CCP. Almost half of America’s population uses TikTok, which has been characterized as “digital fentanyl.” Just days after the February 8 letter was sent, the Biden reelection campaign joined TikTok, despite the military prohibition on government devices and the Administration’s subsequent ban on virtually all government devices. A week after the House of Representatives introduced a bill to force ByteDance to either give up control of TikTok or face a TikTok ban in the U.S., TikTok blatantly engaged in FARA-registerable political activities, by urging users to call Congress and oppose the bill. In addition, Al Jazeera has continued to skirt FARA obligations, even though its entities are funded by and act on behalf of the Qatari government. Al Jazeera journalists are increasingly being linked to Hamas-backed attacks, and Qatar has reportedly hosted a Hamas headquarters in Doha, paying the terrorist group $30 million per month since 2018.

“The evidence that TikTok and Al Jazeera are operating at the behest of foreign principals is substantial, but they continue to operate without registration,” continued Chairman Comer. “The Department has not been responsive to the Committee’s inquiries regarding both Al Jazeera and TikTok’s internal status relating to FARA registration. The Department’s lack of transparency continues to raise questions about its commitment to the objective enforcement of FARA. If the Department does not produce all documents the Committee has identified as responsive in the February 8 letter by April 15, 2024, the Committee will consider the use of compulsory process to require the Department’s production of the documents.”

Read the letter to Attorney General Garland here.