Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2023/05/11/feds-started-a-dangerous-game-with-hunter-bidens-laptop-but-gop-lawmakers-can-finish-it/
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The interim report of the House Intelligence Committee and Weaponization Subcommittee released Wednesday established extensive coordination between the Biden campaign and those behind the statement signed by 51 former intelligence officials that painted the Hunter Biden laptop as Russian disinformation. More explosive, however, is the fact, first reported on Tuesday by The Federalist, that a Central Intelligence Agency employee solicited a former CIA officer to sign the statement.
Yet there is still much more to unravel to expose the breadth and depth of the info op painting the infamous laptop as Russian disinformation and the government actors involved. Here are five threads that will lead to the truth.
Subpoena All 51 Signatories
As its title stated, the House’s report focused on “How Senior Intelligence Community Officials and the Biden Campaign Worked to Mislead American Voters.” While the October 2020 letter signed by the former intelligence officials is only part of the scandal, it’s a solid entry point to learning the identity of many of those involved.
The report already established Secretary of State Antony Blinken — then a senior adviser to the Biden campaign — contacted Obama’s CIA acting director, Mike Morell, to discuss the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop. Morell also testified that speaking with Blinken spurred him to craft the letter in question so Biden could reference it during his final debate against then-President Trump.
The House report highlighted several other plays involved in gathering signatories for the letter and revealed that at least one CIA employee solicited an individual to sign the letter.
The House stressed its investigation is continuing but that neither Blinken nor the CIA have yet to provide documents requested by the committees relating to both the statement and the interactions between its signatories and the CIA. The committees also reportedly scheduled interviews with former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
But it is not merely Brennan and Clapper who should be interviewed. While they are two of the most prominent former intelligence officials to have signed the letter, every signatory should be questioned and asked to provide relevant communications. If they refuse, subpoenas should be served and enforced.
Specifically, Brennan, Clapper, and other signatories should be asked to identify anyone they communicated with, or tried to, about the laptop or the letter to reveal the identity of the “nine additional former IC officers” who were unnamed but represented as supporting the letter’s conclusions.
Those 60 people should be asked about everyone with whom they spoke or attempted to speak about the laptop or the letter at any time, including those connected to: 1) the Biden family, 2) the Biden campaign, 3) elected officials, 4) the Democrat Party, 5) politicians opposed to Trump, 6) the media, 7) current government officials, 8) other signatories, 9) foreign governments, and 10) anyone else. All related communications should be obtained.
Based on those findings, any individuals not previously known should be added to the list of those to be questioned and subpoenaed. Those names will likely include many members or allies of the Biden campaign. We already know former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Biden adviser Michael Carpenter and Andrew Bates, then a Biden campaign spokesman and the director of his “rapid response” team, were involved in pushing the “Russian disinformation” narrative.
Additionally, from Morell’s testimony to House investigators, we know the head of Biden’s campaign, Steve Ricchetti, was involved, given that he arranged to personally thank Morell for the letter. Morell also said Jeremy Bash, whom Morell knew through Beacon Global Strategies, arranged Morell’s conversation with Ricchetti, raising the possibility that Beacon Global Strategies played a role in the plot.
These individuals should be further questioned on their roles related to the letter: Did they draft any language? Propose revisions to the language? We know some of this already from the House report, but there’s more to probe.
Furthermore, all of the signatories should be asked: Had they read the New York Post articles? Did they know of the existence of the laptop or the FBI’s seizure of it? Why did they supposedly believe it was Russian disinformation? Did they have any doubts? Did they watch the final Trump-Biden debate and, if so, did they believe Biden had accurately described their letter? What about Politico’s infamous “Russian disinfo” article? Did they believe Biden or Politico had misrepresented their letter? If so, to whom, if anyone, did they express their concerns? If not, why not?
Probe FBI’s Involvement
The aforementioned strategy is a good starting point, but because members of the Biden campaign and others involved outside the government may not know — or be honest — about who inside the government participated in the election-interference scheme, investigators should simultaneously work from the FBI out.
Congressional oversight committees should start by interviewing and obtaining all relevant documents, voluntarily or by subpoena, from the FBI agents with knowledge of the laptop. They should begin with those who first learned of its existence when the father of John Paul Mac Isaac — the owner of the computer repair store where Hunter had abandoned his laptop — contacted the agency.
According to Mac Isaac, in October 2019, his father, a retired Air Force colonel, reported the laptop to FBI agents in the Albuquerque, New Mexico field office. Mac Isaac’s father spoke with an agent, telling him that his son had “the laptop of the son of a presidential candidate” and that it “has a lot of bad stuff on it, and he needs your help.”
Mac Isaac’s father also told the agent the hard drive contained pornographic material and content that was “geopolitically sensitive,” including “dealing with foreign interests, a pay-for-play scheme linked to the former administration, lots of foreign money.” And while Mac Isaac’s father offered the FBI a copy of the laptop, the agent instead asked to review the repair contract.
After reviewing it, the agent reportedly “consulted with a regional legal officer,” then told Mac Isaac’s father they should “lawyer up” and not “talk to anyone about this.” The agent then directed the repairman’s father to the door.
An agent later reportedly contacted Mac Isaac’s father, who provided the agent with his son’s contact information. Then, “on December 9, 2019, the FBI served a subpoena on John Paul for the computer, the hard drive, and all related paperwork,” which Mac Isaac provided.
Mac Isaac would later claim one of the two FBI agents who retrieved the laptop from his Delaware store suggested he keep quiet. According to Mac Isaac, as the agents were leaving, he quipped, “Hey, lads, I’ll remember to change your names when I write the book.”
At that point, Mac Isaac claimed, “Agent DeMeo paused and turned to face me,” replying: “It is our experience that nothing ever happens to people that don’t talk about these things.”
After seizing the laptop, the “local FBI leadership told employees, ‘You will not look at that Hunter Biden laptop,’” according to multiple whistleblowers. The whistleblowers further alleged that “the FBI did not begin to examine the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop until after the 2020 presidential election — potentially a year after” retrieving it.
These details give congressional investigators ample leads to uncover who in the FBI knew about the Hunter Biden laptop, beginning in Albuquerque and then moving to the FBI’s Baltimore field office, which holds jurisdiction over Delaware-based investigations.
The agents involved should be questioned to learn what they knew, what they did, and with whom they spoke, including whether they communicated with any member of the Biden family, campaign, or media. Investigators should also obtain the various FBI reports, the subpoena, the warrant used to obtain the subpoena, the chain of custody for the laptop and other seized material, and all written or electronic communications.
Focusing on the FBI is especially important because the day after the Post broke the laptop story, Russia-collusion hoaxer Ken Dilanian, ran an “exclusive” at NBC, reporting that “federal investigators are examining whether emails allegedly describing activities by Joe Biden and his son Hunter and found on a laptop at a Delaware repair shop are linked to a foreign intelligence operation.” The next day, USA Today similarly reported the FBI’s supposed involvement in investigating whether a Russian influence operation was at play. On Oct. 17, 2020, USA Today reiterated that the “federal authorities” are investigating whether the laptop is “disinformation pushed by Russia.”
However, the FBI was not investigating whether the laptop was related to a “foreign intelligence operation,” but instead was investigating Hunter Biden. This FBI leak nonetheless furthered the “Russia disinformation” narrative. In fact, Blinken went on to share one of the USA Today articles with Morell. Then Morell referenced the nonexistent FBI investigation as a justification for the letter, as a text included in the House report shows.
Specifically, Morell texted Marc Polymeropoulos, a former CIA acting chief of operations, saying, “I’m thinking of writing something that says the FBI is investigating whether there is Russia involvement in this thing and that makes sense because it has the feel of a Russian op.” Morell asked Polymeropoulos if he wanted to help with the effort, leading the duo to draft the initial version of the statement together.
Questioning the FBI agents with knowledge of the laptop and obtaining relevant communications would help establish who was behind the leak and whether anyone from the FBI communicated with the Biden campaign, the CIA, or any of the letter’s signatories. Likewise, this line of inquiry would establish if anyone with knowledge of the laptop cautioned social media companies — or suggested other FBI agents warn Big Tech — to expect a “hack-and-leak” operation.
Probe DEA’s Involvement
A third line of inquiry requires looking to the Drug Enforcement Administration and its role in executing a search warrant on the Massachusetts office of Hunter Biden’s former psychiatrist Keith Ablow.
On Oct. 30, 2020, NBC News first reported that during a February 2020 DEA raid on Ablow’s office, agents reportedly recovered a second laptop belonging to Hunter Biden from a safe in Ablow’s basement. The DEA then returned the computer to Hunter’s lawyer George Mesires.
For a year, Ablow had reportedly “made repeated efforts to persuade Hunter Biden to retrieve his computer.” But then the DEA raided Ablow’s office just a few months after the FBI had seized Hunter’s other laptop from Mac Isaac.
The DEA agents involved should be asked whether they knew Ablow possessed the laptop and whether that fact motivated the execution of the search warrant. Did the DEA agents speak with any FBI agents? Did the DEA know of the Delaware U.S. attorney’s investigation into Hunter? Did agents review the laptop before returning it? If not, why not? If so, what information did they discover, and why was the laptop not retained as evidence?
This line of inquiry may prove a dead end, or it could reveal more election interferers.
Dig Into Biden Briefings
Next, investigators should review the intelligence briefings provide to Biden since October 2019 when the FBI first learned of the laptop’s existence. Given the incriminating evidence contained on it, the intelligence briefings should have alerted Joe Biden to the national security risk.
If the briefings included details about the laptop, the individuals involved should be questioned and documents subpoenaed to learn who knew what and did what with the information. But if the briefings did not mention the laptop, investigators should ask those responsible for putting together the briefings about their knowledge of the laptop and their explanation for omitting mention of it.
Investigate the Giuliani Investigators
A fifth line of inquiry should look to those behind the investigation of Rudy Giuliani.
The New York Post’s Miranda Devine previously reported: “[T]he FBI spied on the former mayor’s cloud for two years from May, 2019, a month after he began working as then president Donald Trump’s personal attorney. … So the FBI had access to all Giuliani’s emails and iMessages for two years,” meaning it’s possible the FBI saw Bob Costello’s Aug. 27, 2020, email to Giuliani “telling him of Mac Isaac’s ‘amazing discovery.’”
In that email, Costello wrote: “I am arranging to get a complete copy of the hard drive as it contains lots of materials beyond the Ukraine stuff according to the owner. … The five emails he sent show that Hunter was directly involved in orchestrating his father Joe Biden’s intervention to stop the Ukrainian investigation of Burisma.” The email continued: “I believe that we are on the verge of a game changing production of indisputable evidence of the corruption we have long suspected involving the Biden’s and Ukraine — but there is more.”
The joint committees’ investigation should run down the possibility that those investigating Giuliani had access to his emails and learned of the laptop before the Post’s stories. If so, with whom did the agents share that knowledge? Again, interviews and documents are necessary to determine if any of these FBI agents were responsible for the leaks or communicated with the Biden campaign or Big Tech.
Wednesday’s report provides crucial details about the info ops run on Americans, but there is much more left to investigate to uncover all of the players who helped interfere in the 2020 election.
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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