Trump-Loathing Ex-CIA Chief Is Latest Intelligence Grandee Hauled Before Congress About Notorious Hunter Biden ‘Disinformation’ Letter
GOP representatives on the ‘weaponization’ committee are trying to ascertain who was behind the now discredited letter, and who is now dissembling to wriggle out of accountability.
A fiercely anti-Trump former CIA director, John Brennan, is the latest Obama-era national security official to sit before Congress for its inquiry into the notorious October 2020 letter seeking to discredit press reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Released just weeks before the 2020 presidential election, the letter claimed that articles about Mr. Biden’s laptop had “all the classic earmarks” of Russian disinformation. It was signed by 51 former intelligence officials, including Mr. Brennan.
He is the second high-ranking intelligence official to speak with the committee about the letter. A former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, will sit before the committee on May 17.
Mr. Brennan’s remarks were delivered behind closed doors. After his hearing, one member of the panel, Congresswoman Kat Cammack, told Fox News that it is “irrefutable … that the intelligence community — along with the law enforcement agencies, the DOJ and others, at the highest levels — have been working to weaponize their agencies against the American people and certainly for political gain.” She cautioned, though, that the investigation is in its “fact-finding phase.”
A report released Wednesday from the House Judiciary Committee found that these 51 officials with “national security credentials came together to insert themselves into the thick of the presidential campaign.”
The first signatory of the letter to sit before Congress was Mike Morrell, who led the CIA in an acting capacity during part of President Obama’s tenure. In mid-April, Mr. Morrell told Congress that no other than Antony Blinken was the Biden presidential campaign’s liaison to former intelligence community officials, seeking signatures for the letter.
In 2020, Mr. Blinken was a senior foreign policy adviser to the Biden campaign and was eyeing the ultimate diplomat job were Mr. Biden to defeat President Trump. Despite Mr. Morrell’s testimony, the secretary continues to deny his involvement and has been accused of lying.
In a May 1 interview with Fox News, Mr. Blinken was pressed about where the idea for the letter came from. “One of the great benefits of this job is that I don’t do politics and don’t engage in it,” he said. “But with regard to that letter, I didn’t — it wasn’t my idea, didn’t ask for it, didn’t solicit it.”
The escalating affair is again raising questions about the level of access the younger Mr. Biden, with his scant resume, had to Obama officials at the highest level when his father was vice president, including questions about why a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, would have put him on its board.
The signatories to the letter based their claims on the fact that the laptop story originated with Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, Mayor Giuliani. They state that Mr. Giuliani’s ties to a Ukrainian businessman, Adriy Derkach, invalidated any claims of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden because Mr. Derkach “passed purported materials on Burisma and Hunter Biden to Giuliani,” referring to the energy company that had paid Mr. Biden.
Mr. Biden’s access to his father’s official staff goes beyond the 2020 campaign, though. Mr. Blinken has been wedded to the president ever since Mr. Biden was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee back in the early aughts. Mr. Blinken later went on to serve as Mr. Biden’s national security advisor during his time as vice president and then as Mr. Obama’s deputy secretary of state.
On May 2, it was disclosed that Mr. Blinken and his wife, Evan Ryan, had corresponded with Mr. Biden about his involvement with Burisma while Mr. Blinken was serving as the state department’s second-in-command.
In July 2016, the younger Mr. Biden had reached out to Mr. Blinken and his wife about connecting the then-deputy secretary to Blue Star Strategies, the lobbying outfit that represented Burisma in Washington. At the time, Ms. Ryan served as an assistant secretary of state under her husband.
Ms. Ryan is now the president’s Cabinet secretary, a senior White House staff position.
Senators Johnson and Grassley have accused Mr. Blinken of perjury, saying that he lied to Congress during his confirmation hearings in 2021 when he said he had no knowledge of the younger Mr. Biden’s involvement with Burisma.
Claiming that Mr. Biden’s laptop was a Russia disinformation plot would then make sense for Mr. Blinken and other aspirants to a Biden administration, considering how much suspicious and, at the least, embarrassing information the laptop contained. A former Moscow station chief for the CIA, Daniel Hoffman, told Fox News that he refused to sign the letter because there was “no evidence” that Russia was involved in the release of the laptop.
“It seemed natural to lay blame at the Kremlin’s doorstep,” Mr. Hoffman said. “Remember, Vladimir Putin is in the Kremlin and he’s well-known for cloak-and-dagger espionage operations. But at the same time, there was no evidence. And the letter noted that there was no evidence.”
The letter had a chilling effect during the campaign. The mainstream press did not cover the laptop story until well after Mr. Biden won the election. During the campaign season, Twitter deleted the New York Post’s laptop article from the platform, something that the company’s founder later called a “total mistake.”