Perspectives; Thoughts; Comments; Opinions; Discussions

BY: MARGOT CLEVELAND | DECEMBER 20, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/12/20/latest-twitter-files-bombshell-shows-fbi-neck-deep-in-russian-disinformation-lie-to-kill-hunter-biden-laptop-story/

Hunter Biden in interview
New materials released Monday as part of the ‘Twitter Files’ suggest the FBI was extensively involved in crafting the Russian disinformation narrative to kill the Hunter Biden laptop story.

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MARGOT CLEVELAND

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The night before the New York Post published emails recovered from an abandoned Hunter Biden laptop that established Joe Biden’s connections with his son’s business dealings, the FBI used a private communications channel to send 10 documents to a top Twitter executive. While those documents and others remain cloistered at Twitter headquarters — likely because they are designated as classified — additional materials released Monday as part of the “Twitter Files,” part seven, suggest the FBI was extensively involved in crafting the Russian disinformation narrative to kill the Hunter Biden laptop story.

The Latest

“Heads up,” FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan opened an Oct. 13, 2020 late-evening email to Yoel Roth, the then-head of site integrity for Twitter. Chan’s email alerted him to a “Teleporter link” that would allow Roth to download 10 documents. “It is not spam!” Chan stressed, asking Roth to confirm receipt of the link. Two minutes later, at 6:24 p.m., California time, Roth acknowledged he had received the message and downloaded the files.

Chan’s Oct. 13, 2020, email was one of several internal communications published Monday by Michael Shellenberger in his thread on part seven of the “Twitter Files.” While the email contained no further details about the content of the 10 documents provided to the top Twitter executive, that Chan sent the email the evening before the New York Post’s story on the Hunter Biden laptop hit and mere hours after a lawyer for the Biden son had contacted John Paul Mac Isaac, the owner of the computer repair store where Hunter had abandoned his laptop, proves suggestive.

That the email came after normal business hours, via the private one-way communications channel used by the FBI, and included an alert to Roth to watch for the communication all also indicate that the message and the attached 10 documents concerned a matter of urgency. And what could be more urgent than the laptop October surprise?

By 9-something in the morning of Oct. 14, 2020, Jim Baker, the now-former deputy general counsel of Twitter, had already “seen some reliable cybersecurity folks question the authenticity of the emails,” as he told Roth and 11 other colleagues in an email. “The formatting looks like they could be complete fabrications,” Baker explained. Another email also showed Baker had arranged a phone conversation with Matthew Perry in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel for that same day.

For his part, by 10:00 a.m., Roth wrote some 15-plus colleagues that they had decided to block the Post’s Hunter Biden story as hacked material, explaining that a “key factor informing our approach is consensus from experts monitoring election security and disinformation that this looks a lot like a hack-and-leak that learned from the 2016 Wikileaks approach and our policy changes.

The suggestion from experts — which rings true,” Roth continued, “is there was a hack that happened separately, and they loaded the hacked materials on the laptop that magically appeared at a repair shop in Delaware (and was coincidentally reviewed in a very invasive way by someone who coincidentally then handed the materials to Rudy Giuliani).” 

Those “reliable cybersecurity folks” and “experts monitoring election security and disinformation,” of which Baker and Roth spoke, might not have been connected to the FBI, or the documents Chan sent the prior evening. But if they are, which seems possible — if not likely — the evidence implicating the FBI in lying to interfere in the 2020 election just multiplied exponentially.

Prior to Monday’s “Twitter Files” dump, Roth acknowledged in a statement to the Federal Election Commission that “since 2018 he had regular meetings with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and industry peers regarding election security.” “During these weekly meetings, the federal law enforcement agencies communicated that they expected ‘hack-and-leak operations’ by state actors might occur in the period shortly before the 2020 presidential election, likely in October,” Roth said. Roth further explained that from those meetings he learned “that there were rumors that a hack-and-leak operation would involve Hunter Biden.”

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg likewise confirmed during an interview with Joe Rogan that the tech giant’s decision to censor the Hunter Biden story stemmed from the FBI basically telling his team, “Hey, just so you know, you should be on high alert.” “[W]e thought there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election” Zuckerberg recalled the FBI warning his tech company, adding that the agency told them, “We have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump similar to that so just be vigilant.

So, when the New York Post broke the Hunter Biden laptop story on Oct. 14, 2020,” Zuckerberg noted, “Facebook treated the story as potentially misinformation, important misinformation for five to seven days while the tech giant’s team could determine whether it was false.

Of course, the Hunter Biden laptop story was not false and was not part of a “hack-and-leak” operation, and the FBI knew it, having seized the laptop from Mac Isaac in December of 2019. Thus, these statements from Roth and Zuckerberg establish the FBI lied to the tech giants, prompting them to censor the New York Post’s reporting and thereby interfere in the election.

Roth and Zuckerberg’s statements should be enough to cement the FBI’s peddling of false intel to interfere in a presidential election as one of our nation’s worst political scandals. But if the FBI’s Oct. 13, 2020 Teleporter message and documents provide further concrete evidence that the FBI fed Twitter the opinion of supposed experts that the laptop was hacked or fake, it will be difficult for even the propaganda press to keep ignoring the story.

It’s Classified

Unfortunately, Shellenberger references neither the underlying Teleporter message from Oct. 13, 2020, nor the content of the 10 documents. Matt Taibbi — who in his coverage of part six of the “Twitter Files” on Friday also referenced a Chan email from Oct. 16, 2020, directing two high-level Twitter executives to monitor their Teleporter messages for two important documents — likewise did not make any mention of the content of the Teleporter message or the two important documents attached. Why is that?

Another email released in Shellenberger’s thread on Monday provides a clue. 

On July 15, 2020, Chan wrote to Roth and another individual at Twitter whose identity was redacted. In that email, Chan proposed “30 days out from the election,” providing Twitter temporary clearances, with Roth and his colleague picking who would receive clearances. And by Sept. 15, 2020, the FBI was adamant that “no impediments to information sharing exist,” including of classified information. 

Given that Taibbi and Shellenberger make no mention of the content of the Teleporter messages and attachments and given that Teleporter served as a one-way communications system from the FBI, it seems likely the FBI used Teleporter to transmit classified materials to the select Twitter employees provided temporary security clearance. That possibility would also account for the cryptic way Baker and Roth describe the supposed experts’ view of the authenticity of the Hunter Biden laptop to other Twitter employees who likely lacked clearance. 

So, once again, it appears the FBI will hide behind classification markings, just as it did to mask its malfeasance in obtaining four FISA surveillance warrants for Carter Page. But Republicans now hold the majority in the House, meaning there is a chance for the country to learn what Elon Musk can’t tell us. 


Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.

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