An preliminary report by the GOP-led House Judiciary and Intelligence committees claims that the statement’s spread was planned via the Biden campaign and was intended to promote Joe Biden’s presidential run.
CBS News has confirmed that all 51 former officials received letters from House investigators requesting “relevant documents and testimony.” The report includes excerpts from interviews with witnesses as well as emails.
The New York Post initially reported on the alleged contents of his son’s laptop, and the report claims that emails from former intelligence officials, such as former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, a former CBS News contributor, show the statement was meant to help candidate Biden in the final weeks of his 2020 campaign. The proprietor of a computer repair shop in Delaware obtained access to the device and handed over the data on it to federal investigators and a lawyer for Trump friend Rudy Giuliani.
The GOP report states that “contemporaneous emails show the organizers’ intent in drafting and releasing the statement: ‘[w]e think Trump will attack Biden on the issue at this week’s debate and we want to offer perspectives on this from Russia watchers and other seasoned experts, and we want to give the [Vice President] a talking point to use in response.'”
At the 2020 presidential debate on October 22nd, in response to Trump’s taunts that “it’s the laptop from hell, it’s the laptop from hell,” Biden said, “There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what this — he’s accusing me of is a Russian plan — they have said that this has all the characteristics — four — five former heads of the CIA — both parties, say what he’s saying is a bunch of garbage.” Only he and his buddy Rudy Giuliani think that’s true.
The interim report claims that the Biden campaign “coordinated dissemination of the statement to members of the media” and “took active measures to discredit the allegations about Hunter Biden by exploiting the national security credentials of former intelligence officials.”
Researchers on the committee also claimed to have proof that a working CIA agent “may have assisted in obtaining signatories for the statement.”
An ex-CIA analyst who signed the letter allegedly told the committee that he learned of the statement and the request to sign it from a phone call from a CIA employee associated with the Prepublication Classification Review Board (“PCRB”).
On a separate note, the report claims that Morell told a CIA pre-publication review board, “[t]his is a rush job, as it need to get out as soon as possible.” Morell, the committee alleges, wanted the public statement released before the October 22, 2020, presidential debate.”
According to the Democrats on the committee, Morell said he was the only one who had spoken with the PCRB about the proposed letter and had supplied a full copy of his interaction with the PCRB. If others working on the letter had contacted the PCRB, the Democrats said, Morell would have known.
The objective of the CIA’s pre-publication review board is, according to an agency spokeswoman, “to review materials submitted by current and former officers to determine if the materials contain any classified information.” The official spokeswoman said, “it was submitted to the [review board] in October 2020 and was reviewed only for classification, as is standard practice.”
Democrats also suggested that the former CIA analyst who claimed to have spoken with the current CIA employee about the letter was mistaken, and they produced the email he received from one of the letter organizers, which was identical to the one sent to all the former national security officials.
Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Jim Himes (D-CT) released a joint statement condemning Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R) for a report that, they say, unfairly attacks former national security officials who voiced concerns about a possible Russian operation against the United States.
Citizens who wanted to use their First Amendment rights in response to what they saw as a potential Russian assault on our democracy would be “chilled” by Mr. Jordan’s defence of President Trump, they wrote. That’s something that should worry Republicans and Democrats equally, the speaker said.
In a deposition last month, according to the House GOP-led committees, Morell claimed that Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who had previously served as a Biden campaign adviser, had contacted him in October 2020 and “set in motion the events that led” to the intelligence officials’ public statement.
Republicans, the Democrats in the House of Representatives said, had “cherry picked excerpts” from the Morell interview in order to “smear Secretary Blinken.” The Democrats on the committee asked Morell in April if Blinken “directed, suggested, or insinuated in any way that you should write a letter or statement” regarding the laptop during their phone conversation. I don’t think he did,” Morell chimed in. He asked me what I thought, in my recollection.
In addition, the committee pressured him, saying, “It wasn’t — the campaign could use some help on this — could you…cook up something that we could use?” Morell retorted, “I don’t remember him saying that,”
The Republicans in the House of Representatives said that the Biden administration “declined to cooperate with this oversight.” There has been no progress since the CIA has “failed to comply” and Blinken has “provided none of the documents that Committees requested.” “Secretary Blinken did not dispute that his communication was the impetus for the statement,” the report said, “although he (Blinken) denied asking Morell to write the statement.”
A CIA spokesman told CBS, “The House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) made an inquiry of multiple [intelligence community (IC)] elements with respect to signatories of the public statement, and [Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI)]provided an initial response to the HPSCI on behalf of the IC.” The CIA helped the ODNI come up with their answer.
A CIA statement said that the agency has “provided requested information” to the heads of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. The GOP committees provided a partial transcript in which Morell said, “I did not coordinate with the CIA,” but Morell did not address CBS News’ queries. Had I been aware (of the accusations that a CIA employee may have enabled signatures), my reaction would have been quite negative.
White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations Ian Sams responded to CBS’s questions by saying, “Instead of working with President Biden on the issues that matter most to the American people, House Republicans are weaponizing their power to go after their political opponents and re-litigate the 2020 election with misleading claims.” All this is taking place while they press on with their risky plan to plunge the American economy into debt and turmoil.