Pro-Trump Social Media Stars Diamond and Silk Deny Payments From Trump Campaign, Despite FEC Filings

In what one lawmaker called a "stupid and ridiculous hearing," conservative vloggers Diamond and Silk appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday to testify under oath about Facebook and social media censorship.

The two social media stars, whose real names are Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, lambasted Facebook for censoring "conservative" viewpoints in what quickly devolved into a partisan squabble that lasted about two hours. At one point during the hearing, the two social media personalities, who President Donald Trump praised as "warriors" earlier in the day, denied accepting money from the Trump campaign—despite Federal Election Commission documents that show the two were paid $1,274.94 for "field consulting" in November 2016.

"No, we've never been paid by the Trump campaign," Diamond repeated several times during the hearing.

When pressed by Democratic Representative Hakeem Jeffries about the payments, the two accused the lawmaker of falling for "fake news" and floated the suggestion that they had instead been reimbursed for travel expenses.

In their prepared remarks, the duo mostly lambasted Facebook for slapping "very liberal" and "Unsafe To The Community" tags on their page, which they claimed resulted in it appearing less often in the feeds of conservative users—their target demographic. (The company has said that it was done in error and reversed the "unsafe" tag.)

"They tell us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, but how can we do that when they take our straps and hang us out to dry," the two read in prepared remarks.

Democratic lawmakers appeared to be stifling laughter at several points during the testimony. At one point, Representative Ted Lieu of California said that they were wasting time on a "stupid and ridiculous hearing." Toward the end of the meeting, a slew of lawmakers left the proceedings.

"Why are we having a hearing about regulating content?" Lieu said. "It's unconstitutional to begin with."

North Carolina natives, Diamond and Silk rose to prominence through their Facebook page, where they offered pro-Trump commentary during the 2016 campaign. The pair has since been embraced by traditional conservative media, appearing on Fox News several times and on stage with Trump during a campaign rally.

All told, the two have about 675,000 Twitter followers and more than 1.5 million followers on Facebook.

During a phone call with Fox & Friends on Thursday, Trump issued glowing praise about the women and took credit for recognizing their star power.

"They've become amazing," Trump said. "There were these two beautiful, wonderful women...It took me two seconds to say 'stardom.'"

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Diamond and Silk appear with Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 28, 2016. In April, Diamond and Silk claimed that Facebook censored them. Rick Wilking/REUTERS
Pro-Trump Social Media Stars Diamond and Silk Deny Payments From Trump Campaign, Despite FEC Filings | U.S.
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