An agency employee helped to collect signatures for a letter calling the scandal “Russian disinformation,” a report says
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) may have been instrumental in downplaying the Hunter Biden laptop scandal ahead of his father’s election as president in 2020, a new interim report by the House Judiciary Committee suggests.
It says the agency may have particularly assisted in garnering support for an open letter authored by a host of former intelligence officials, which falsely claimed the whole affair was a Russian disinformation operation.
The report, which was released on Wednesday, cites one of the letter’s signatories, former CIA analyst David Cariens, who said he was approached by an employee of the intelligence agency and “asked” if he would sign the document.
Cariens was in contact with the CIA’s Prepublication Classification Review Board (PCRB) about his own memoir in October 2020, when he was made aware of the letter, which was also reviewed by the PCRB at the time.
“I was told about the draft letter. The person asked me if I would be willing to sign,” the former intelligence analyst told the committee in a written statement, adding that he agreed to this request after hearing the letter’s contents.
“The CIA – or at least an employee of the CIA – may have helped in the effort to solicit signatures for the statement,” the committee said in a statement accompanying the interim report.
The letter, which was endorsed by five former CIA directors and a litany of other former senior officials, claimed the Hunter Biden laptop story had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” Although it acknowledged there was no evidence of Russian involvement, the Republicans then argued that it helped discredit the laptop story just before the presidential election that ended in Joe Biden’s victory.
Subsequent investigation has revealed the reports were based on genuine documents obtained from the younger Biden’s laptop, which he supposedly abandoned at a Delaware laptop repair shop.
First published by the New York Post, a series of leaked emails from the laptop suggested that Biden Jr. may have involved his father, who was then vice president, in personal business dealings abroad. Multiple Biden family members and associates are under investigation by the House Oversight Committee for taking payments from Chinese companies in exchange for undefined services.
The House Committee report also extensively cited former acting CIA director Michael Morell, who testified in April that Biden’s presidential campaign had played a role in the creation of the letter. The report says Morrell admitted that one of the letter’s purposes was to “help Vice President Biden” to win the election. It also says the former CIA director had wanted to give Biden “a talking point to push back on” then-President Donald Trump during debates.
Morrell also secured quick approval of the letter from the CIA by calling it a “rush job” that needed “to get out as soon as possible,” the committee document said.
The committee has now requested that the CIA disclose further information on its interactions with the signatories of the statement, but the intelligence agency “has so far failed to comply with this oversight request,” the report said.
May 10, 2023 at 11:53PM