By Samantha Flom
Former CIA Director John Brennan privately testified before a House Judiciary Committee panel that the letter he and 50 other current and former intelligence officials signed suggesting that Hunter Biden’s laptop could be Russian disinformation had a political motive, according to committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
“He Brennan sat for a four-hour interview … and he further confirmed that this thing was all political,” Jordan told Fox News’ Jesse Watters on May 11 after Brennan completed his interview with the committee’s Weaponization of the Federal Government panel.
Jordan alleged that it was Secretary of State Antony Blinken, then a senior adviser to President Joe Biden’s campaign, who set the wheels in motion for the open letter (pdf) by reaching out to the letter’s eventual author, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, to discuss the laptop story.
“And then Blinken, later that same day, Oct. 17, 2020, sends Mike Morell the USA Today article, the story,” Jordan noted, referencing an article that suggested the laptop was being investigated as potential Russian disinformation.
“That story gets put in the very letter that John Brennan, Mike Morell, and 49 other intel officials sign on to.”
Blinken has denied having any role in the letter’s publication.
Morell, however, drafted the letter to “give the [Biden] campaign … a talking point to push back on Trump” during an upcoming debate, according to emails between Morell and Brennan released on May 10.
The email exchange also showed that Brennan was not only aware that the letter was a political effort but was also eager to participate.
“OK, Michael, add my name to the list,” he wrote. “Good initiative. Thanks for asking me to sign on.”
As first revealed through a bombshell New York Post report published weeks before the 2020 election, the laptop in question contained emails to and from Hunter Biden that many have interpreted as evidence he was using his father’s position and power as vice president for personal gain.
But while Brennan, Morell, and dozens of other intelligence community members signed their names to the view that the laptop had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” the laptop has since been widely verified as authentic.
Noting that the intelligence officials who signed on to the letter did so leveraging their titles for credibility, Jordan said, “We expect public servants not to use their title to influence an election.”
According to a report (pdf) from the Weaponization panel, Morell sent the letter to the CIA’s Prepublication Classification Review Board on Oct. 19, 2020, as a “rush job” seeking approval for its publication, and within hours, it was published by Politico.
Noting this, Jordan said the panel had learned that the review board was also involved in soliciting signatures for the letter.
“Mr. David Cariens, another individual who signed that letter who had a different matter pending in front of that review board, gets called in October by that review board, and they said, ‘Your book is fine. Oh, by the way, would you like to sign on to this letter?’ he recounted.
“So, a current employee of the CIA was actively soliciting people to sign on to this letter that was used in a total political fashion with all their names associated so Joe Biden would have a talking point in the debate,” Jordan said.
Biden, he added, behaved as if his campaign had nothing to do with the letter’s publication.
“He presented it as if it was all organic. … It just happened out of the goodness of all these individuals’ hearts—they wanted to do this as if there was no political motivation whatsoever. And we know that was not accurate.”