A pair of Russiagate all-stars will testify before the House Weaponization Committee this month over signing the infamous 2020 letter in which former intelligence officials claimed the Hunter Biden laptop was an instrument of Kremlin disinformation.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan will sit for transcribed interviews after House Republicans revealed Secretary of State Antony Blinken was behind the operation to discredit the laptop. Brennan will testify next week on May 11 and Clapper will appear before lawmakers on May 17, according to a source familiar with arrangements.
Weeks before the 2020 election, 51 former intelligence officials signed a letter published in Politico that smeared blockbuster stories sourced to an abandoned Delaware laptop as a Russian interference campaign. Emails recovered from the laptop hard drive belonging to Hunter Biden implicate President Joe Biden in global influence peddling schemes that appear to be at the center of Hunter’s potentially criminal enterprises.
“If we are right,” they wrote, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.”
Former Vice President Biden exploited the fabricated narrative on the presidential debate stage, using the letter to dismiss the allegations of corruption that surfaced from the computer. Biden perpetuated the claim of Kremlin interference despite the FBI, the Department of Justice, then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, and then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo debunking the popular Democrat talking point before the prime-time event.
Clapper defended attaching his signature to the letter last fall in an interview with New York Magazine.
“Clapper was not pleased to be asked about the letter two years after its release,” the magazine reported.
“What are you trying to get me to say, that I screwed up and I shouldn’t have signed the letter? I’m not going to say that,” Clapper told the paper. “As far as I was concerned, we were waving the yellow flag. At the time, it was fishy to me. It had the characteristics of a Russian disinformation campaign.”
In February, Clapper accused Politico of misleading the public about the letter published in full.
[READ: James Clapper Can’t Stop Lying]
“There was message distortion,” Clapper told The Washington Post. “All we were doing was raising a yellow flag that this could be Russian disinformation. Politico deliberately distorted what we said.”
The letter’s signatories are still conducting damage control three years later as congressional Republicans probe the origins of the letter. On Tuesday, following the news that Blinken was involved in the letter’s creation, Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa demanded Blinken turn over his communications with Hunter Biden and accused the secretary of state of lying to Congress, a federal crime.
“It is now evident that your apparent willingness to deceive the public continued through December 2020 when you failed to tell the whole truth to congressional investigators about your contacts with Hunter Biden,” the senators wrote.
New allegations of presidential corruption surfaced Wednesday when Grassley joined House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer of Kentucky in sending a subpoena to the FBI for documents related to a criminal scheme involving Joe Biden and a “foreign national.”
“We believe the FBI possesses an unclassified internal document that includes very serious and detailed allegations implicating the current President of the United States,” Grassley said. “What we don’t know is what, if anything, the FBI has done to verify these claims or investigate further. The FBI’s recent history of botching politically charged investigations demands close congressional oversight.”
The House Weaponization Committee will bring Clapper and Brennan to Capitol Hill for sit-down interviews, following hearings the panel has held on federal censorship. In March, lawmakers heard from Substack reporters Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger who detailed the government’s wide-ranging effort to cultivate careful regulation of speech in partnership with Silicon Valley tech giants.