House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is investigating whether members of the U.S. intelligence community obstructed congressional investigations into President Joe Biden and his family.
Mr. Jordan’s inquiry specifically pertains to an Aug. 6, 2020 “defensive” briefing the FBI held for Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). At the time of the briefing, the pair of Republican senators were actively investigating the business dealings of then-candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Then-FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Nikki Floris and then-FBI Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) Section Chief Bradley Benavides provided the controversial briefing.
The exact specifics of the Aug. 6, 2020, briefing are unclear, but the briefing coincided with media reports that the Republican Senators were promoting Russian disinformation. Mr. Grassley has said the so-called “defensive” briefing had been unnecessary and irrelevant to his actual investigation of Hunter Biden but had “provided the Democrats and liberal media the vehicle to spread their false narrative that our work advanced Russian disinformation.”
In a letter to Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines on Wednesday, Mr. Jordan shared his assessment that the briefing Mr. Grassley and Mr. Johnson received was indeed meant to undermine the Senators’ investigative efforts.
“Floris and Benavides made it unequivocally clear that ODNI and its Notification Framework were integral to the pretextual ‘defensive’ briefing meant to frustrate and obstruct congressional oversight into the Biden family’s overseas influence-peddling operation,” Mr. Jordan wrote.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) oversees the intelligence community and is in charge of determining whether it’s necessary to provide defensive briefings like the kind Mr. Grassley and Mr. Johnson received. In a July 19, 2023 testimony, Ms. Floris claimed any analyst within the intelligence community can submit information for a defensive briefing to the ODNI’s Credibility Assessment Group, which then decides whether the defensive briefing is warranted. From there, it becomes the FBI’s responsibility to provide the defensive briefing whether or not the underlying intelligence came from the FBI or another intelligence agency.
Both Ms. Floris and Mr. Benavides have advised House investigators to look to the ODNI for further details about the Aug. 6, 2020 briefing.
Jordan’s Questions for ODNI
In his letter, Mr. Jordan called on the ODNI to provide documents and communications relating to the controversial briefing, as well as scripts, drafts of scripts, and lists of ODNI officials involved in deciding to hold the briefing.
Mr. Jordan is also investigating whether the Aug. 6, 2020 defensive briefing had any connection to a July 13, 2020 letter from then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to the FBI. The letter by the Democratic lawmakers raised concerns about foreign powers conspiring to interfere in the 2020 election and requested a defensive briefing on the matter for all members of Congress. Mr. Jordan asked the ODNI to turn over any documents and communications referencing or otherwise related to the July 13, 2020 letter.
Mr. Jordan asked the ODNI to provide the various records by Nov. 15. Mr. Jordan also called for Shelby Pierson to appear for a transcribed interview with his committee by Nov. 15.
In July 2019, then-DNI Dan Coats named Ms. Pierson as ODNI’s inaugural Intelligence Community Election Threats Executive, making her his primary advisor on election threats and election security. The appointment came just days before then-President Donald Trump ordered Mr. Coats’ replacement as DNI, but Pierson remained in the office and.
“Our oversight has revealed that [Ms. Pierson] was personally involved with formulating ODNI’s Notification Framework and has relevant information relating to the intelligence and processes used to justify the August 6 defensive briefing,” Mr. Jordan wrote.
NTD News reached out to the ODNI on Wednesday for comment but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.