CIA Official Helped Recruit Signers for Letter Calling Hunter Biden Laptop Stories Russian Disinformation: House Report

Mark Tapscott
By Mark Tapscott
May 10, 2023Politics

A member of the internal board that reviews materials written for publication by present and former employees of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) helped solicit signatures for the October 2020 letter claiming the Hunter Biden laptop story “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” according to a new congressional report.

The letter was signed by 51 former intelligence officials and appeared five days after the New York Post described in a news story based on materials found on a laptop once owned by Hunter Biden how President Joe Biden knew that his son was using access to his father’s position and influence to generate wealth for the family.

The letter was repeatedly cited by Biden and his surrogates during the concluding weeks of the 2020 presidential campaign against then-President Donald Trump and was used by social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and others to justify censoring the New York Post story and favorable responses to it.

Post-election research suggested that as many as one in five of Biden’s voters may have not voted for him had they known about the information reported by the New York Post and the Hunter Biden laptop.

The new congressional report adds important details to those already reported about the genesis of the letter, including the role of an unnamed member of the CIA’s Prepublication Classification Review Board (PCRB) in obtaining signers.

“When the person in charge of reviewing the book called to say it was approved with no changes, I was told about the draft letter. The person asked me if I would be willing to sign. … After hearing the letter’s contents, and the qualifiers in it such as, ‘We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement …’ I agreed to sign,” former CIA analyst David Cariens told congressional investigators, according to the interim staff report for the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

Hatch Act Bars Feds From Partisan Politicking

Federal employees are explicitly barred by the Hatch Act from using government resources of any kind to help a partisan political campaign. The PCRB employee who told Cariens about the letter and encouraged him to sign it knew the purpose of the letter was to help Biden defeat Trump.

The report is to be made public May 10. A copy of it was obtained by The Epoch Times.

Cariens’s wife, Janice, also a former CIA employee, joined her husband in signing the letter.

Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell was recruited during the 2020 race by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken—then working for the Biden campaign—to manage the production, solicitation of signers, and media distribution of the letter, according to the report. Blinken has denied that he had a role in the letter effort.

“On October 19, 2020, at 6:34 a.m., Morell sent the final version of the statement to the CIA’s Prepublication Classification Review Board (PCRB) for review. According to Morell, the PCRB consists of CIA officers—’not contractors’—and their sole function is to determine whether former and current CIA personnel are disclosing classified information in any materials they may release publicly,” the report said.

This is because ‘[a]ll CIA officers, as a condition of employment, sign the standard CIA secrecy agreement when entering on duty … [and this] lifelong obligation which exists to help avoid the damage to national security’ requires they submit any materials they intend to publicize to the PCRB for approval. Morell directed the PCRB that ‘[t]his is a rush job, as it need to get out as soon as possible.’ Morell wanted the public statement released before the October 22, 2020, presidential debate.”

Morell told the signers that the PCRB had cleared the letter for publication, but the report notes that, “Notably, none of the former intelligence officials who signed the letter and produced documents to the Committees, including Morell, have produced the PCRB’s email approving the statement.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on Dec. 12, 2020. (Al Drago/Getty Images)

The new report also observes that during the same period as Morell was managing the letter project to publication, former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe told the nation that the Biden laptop was not the product of Russian disinformation efforts.

“On October 19, while Morell and others worked procuring more signatories for the statement, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe—who, unlike the statement’s signatories, was in government as the top intelligence official in the United States and privy to all classified information—stated publicly that ‘Hunter Biden’s laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign. He further stated: ‘Let me be clear: The intelligence community doesn’t believe that because there is no intelligence that supports that,’” the report said.

The report also provides new information on the origin of the letter’s description of the source of the New York Post story as bearing the “classic earmarks of a Russian information campaign.” The phrase was suggested to Morell by James Clapper, Ratcliffe’s predecessor as DNI.

“I have one editorial suggestion for the letter: I think it would strengthen the verbiage if you say this has all the classic earmarks of a Soviet/Russian information operation rather than the ‘feel’ of a Russian operation,” Clapper told Morell in an Oct. 18, 2020, email.

Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan are scheduled to appear before the weaponization panel later this month.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the CIA for comment.

From The Epoch Times

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