Latest News 26-06-2024 21:01 11 Views

Trump CIA chief knew about infamous letter dismissing Biden laptop as propaganda before publication: report

Active Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contractors 'colluded' with the Biden campaign when releasing a statement dismissing Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop as Russian disinformation ahead of the 2020 election, and the then-CIA chief was in the loop before the statement's release, according to a joint report released by three House panels. 

'We knew that the rushed statement from the 51 former intelligence officials was a political maneuver between the Biden campaign and the intelligence community. Now with this interim report, we reveal how officials at the highest levels of the CIA were aware of the statement and CIA employees knew that several of the so-called former officials were on active contract with the CIA. The report underscores the risks posed by a weaponized federal government,' House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in a press release Tuesday.

The House Judiciary Committee, its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a report Tuesday titled, 'The Intelligence Community 51: How CIA Contractors Colluded with The Biden Campaign to Mislead American Voters.' 

The report found that active CIA contractors 'coordinated' with the Biden campaign just weeks ahead of the 2020 election 'to discredit serious allegations about Biden family influence peddling' connected to Hunter’s laptop when 51 alleged former intelligence officials released a statement dismissing the laptop. 

The former intelligence officials released a statement on Oct. 19, 2020, discounting the laptop as having 'all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,' in a bid to discredit the New York Post’s bombshell report on the laptop at the time. 

'The report reveals new information detailing how the highest levels of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), up to and including then-CIA Director Gina Haspel, were made aware of the 'Public Statement on the Hunter Biden Emails' by 51 former intelligence officials prior to its approval and publication,' the press release says, outlining of Haspel's likely knowledge of the letter. Haspel served as CIA director from 2018 to 2021 during the Trump administration. 

The CIA’s chief operating officer, Andrew Makridis, testified that he informed Haspel or Deputy Director Vaughn Frederick Bishop about the statement ahead of its release, and the report indicates that CIA chiefs had the opportunity to vet the validity of the statement discrediting the laptop of Russian disinformation. 

The report also included internal CIA emails where intelligence officers lamented the political nature of the statement. 

'This frustrates me. I don’t think it is helpful to the Agency in the long run. Sigh,' one unnamed CIA official said in an email on Oct. 20, 2020, a day after Politico published the statement discounting the laptop as disinformation.  

Another unnamed colleague responded to the email, noting that some of the signatories were current CIA contractors. 

'I also love that at least a few of the random signatures belong to individuals currently working here on contracts…,' the emailed response reads. 

The 2020 statement was signed by former CIA directors such as John Brennan and Leon Panetta, as well as former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper, in addition to former CIA acting director Michael Morell and former CIA inspector general David Buckley. 

Morell – who helped draft the statement and said it would provide President Biden with a 'talking point' in a 2020 presidential debate – was actually a contractor with the CIA when the letter was issued, according to the report. While Buckley was also a contractor at the time of the letter, according to the report, citing CIA documents. 

'It is extremely concerning that signatories of the Hunter Biden statement were on contract with the CIA at the time of the statement’s drafting, review, and publication. This revelation shows that Morell, Buckley, and likely other signatories were receiving U.S. taxpayer funds while engaged in a politicized project to mislead American voters on behalf of the Biden campaign. Such an overtly political action would be illegal under the Hatch Act for a permanent CIA employee. Congress ought to consider whether to extend this important prohibition to CIA contractors as well,' the report states. 

The Hatch Act is a federal law that forbids most civilian federal employees, including intelligence community operatives, from engaging in partisan political activities. 

Fox News Digital reached out to the White House Wednesday morning regarding the report's findings, but did not immediately receive responses. The CIA told Fox News Digital after this story's initial publication that the former intelligence officers who signed the letter 'were not speaking for CIA.' 

'CIA officers, as a condition of their employment, are required to sign a secrecy agreement that includes a lifelong obligation to submit any and all intelligence-related materials to CIA’s Pre-Publication Review Board (PCRB) before they are published,' a CIA spokesperson told Fox News Digital on Wednesday. 'That process was followed in this case.  The PCRB reviews material to determine if they contain any classified information.  The PCRB’s confirmation that information is unclassified is never an endorsement of the reviewed content or its veracity.  These former officers were not speaking for CIA.'

Biden did use the statement as a 'talking point' during his final 2020 debate against President Trump, claiming that the dozens of signatories proved the laptop was Russian propaganda.  

'There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what he’s accusing me of is a Russian plant,' Biden said at the time of Trump. 'Five former heads of the CIA, both parties, say what he’s saying is a bunch of garbage. Nobody believes it except his good friend Rudy Giuliani.'  

The New York Post’s 2020 bombshell report on the contents of Hunter’s laptop was overwhelmingly dismissed by the media in 2020 as 'Russian disinformation.' But liberal media outlets changed their tune in 2022 after newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times authenticated thousands of his emails. The laptop hit the public view after Hunter left it at a Delaware repair shop ahead of the 2020 presidential election. 

The laptop re-emerged earlier this month when the first son faced a criminal trial in Delaware over his purchase of a firearm in 2018 while he was reeling from a crack cocaine addiction. The trial, which found Hunter guilty on all counts, formally entered the laptop into evidence and was confirmed by the FBI as legitimate. 

'The House Intelligence Committee's work provided us with solid direct evidence that in the final weeks before the 2020 presidential election, 51 former intelligence officials coordinated with the Biden campaign to falsely cast doubt on an explosive New York Post story and label Hunter Biden's abandoned laptop as 'Russian disinformation.' The Committee worked to obtain classified documents from the CIA, including emails, and fought to include evidence of these materials in our report,' House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said in a statement on the report.

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