The Industry

Did Diamond and Silk Actually Lie Under Oath?

FEC records appear to show that the campaign paid the two pundits, but they claim otherwise.
FEC records appear to show that the campaign paid the two pundits, but they claim otherwise. Rick Wilking/Reuters

Pro-Trump pundits Diamond and Silk faced questions about their relationship to the Trump campaign at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, and their answers led to suggestions they had lied under oath.

The duo may not have been forthcoming in their answers—and they may have yelled a lot—but there looks to be more nuance to the situation than it initially appeared.

The hearing, titled “Filtering Practices of Social Media Platforms,” was called to discuss accusations that Facebook and other social media platforms suppress conservative content. Diamond and Silk’s Facebook page had briefly been labeled “unsafe to the community,” which many Republicans took as proof of censorship despite the company saying it was simply a mistake. That made the duo a popular subject during Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony earlier this month and got them invited to testify on Thursday.

During the hearing, Texas congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee asked whether Diamond and Silk had ever received money from the Trump campaign.

Diamond, whose real name is Lynnette Hardaway, said five times under oath that she had not.

Later, New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries pointed to FEC records that showed the campaign had paid them $1,274.94 for “field consulting.” He reminded them that they would be committing perjury if they lied under oath.

Silk, whose real name is Rochelle Richardson, responded, “We’re familiar with that particular lie. We could see that you do look at fake news.”

She then went on to claim that the payment was actually a reimbursement for plane tickets they purchased to fly to a Women for Trump event in Ohio and suggested that the campaign may have made a mistake in their FEC filings.

Trump campaign treasurer Bradley Crate sent Slate a statement that supported their version of events:

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. 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.

It’s unclear whether other parts of their testimony were accurate, such as their claims that YouTube had demonetized their videos or that Facebook had intentionally censored them for being conservative, but the discrepancy around payment could reasonably have been caused by the nuances of campaign finance laws.