The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) both solicited signatures for and eventually approved the infamous 2020 letter claiming that the Hunter Biden laptop story was a Russian disinformation plot, recent congressional testimony suggests. According to a report to be released Wednesday by the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, multiple former U.S. intelligence officials testified under oath about the CIA’s involvement in the distribution of the letter, which was eventually signed by more than 50 former senior U.S. intelligence officials.
“One signer of the statement, former CIA analyst David Cariens, disclosed to the Committees that a CIA employee affiliated with the agency’s Prepublication Classification Review Board (‘PCRB’) informed him of the existence of the statement and asked if he would sign it,” the House investigative report notes. “The Committees have requested additional material from the CIA, which has ignored the request to date.”
The Prepublication Classification Review Board (PCRB) is tasked with reviewing statements, letters, and books published by former intelligence personnel to determine whether the material contains any classified information that would need to be removed or redacted prior to publication.
In a March 5, 2023, email to congressional investigators, Cariens stated that a CIA official tasked with reviewing and approving a memoir he planned to publish told him about the Hunter Biden laptop letter and even asked him if he would like to sign it.
“When the person in charge of reviewing the book called to say it was approved with no changes, I was told about the draft letter,” Cariens wrote. “The person asked me if I would be willing to sign.”
According to the email, the CIA official also read specific language from the letter to Cariens to convince him to sign the letter. In his email, Cariens stated that he did not remember the name of the CIA official who asked him to sign the Hunter Biden laptop letter. Cariens’ wife Janice, who retired from the CIA in 1995, also signed the letter.
The letter was first submitted to the PCRB by former CIA acting director and Joe Biden campaign surrogate Mike Morell at 6:34 a.m. on Oct. 19, 2020. The CIA review board acknowledged receipt of the letter at 7:11 a.m. the same day. Just hours later, at 10:27 a.m., former CIA official Kristen Wood bcc’ed a distribution list of former intelligence officials asking them to sign the letter, which had been drafted by Morell and Marc Polymeropoulos, who retired from the CIA in 2019. Cariens later responded to Wood’s email and agreed to sign the letter.
During his own testimony before Congress, Morell admitted he drafted and circulated the letter to give Joe Biden a talking point to use during a 2020 presidential debate against then-President Donald Trump.
Emails obtained by the House weaponization subcommittee also revealed that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who repeatedly peddled false allegations that Trump had colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin to steal the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton, had a heavy hand in the drafting of the Hunter Biden laptop letter.
“I have one editorial suggestion for the letter: I think it would strengthen the verbiage if you say this has all the classic earmarks of a Soviet/Russian information operation rather than the ‘feel’ of a Russian operation,” Clapper wrote to Morell on the evening of Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020.
Morell directed the CIA review board to quickly review his letter so it could be released and publicized ahead of the Trump-Biden debates.
“This is a rush job, as it need to get out as soon as possible,” Morell wrote in his email to the CIA on the morning of Monday, Oct. 19.
While the CIA has yet to provide House investigators with its records related to the agency review of the letter, contemporaneous communications from the letter’s drafters suggest the approval came less than 12 hours after the letter was submitted.
“All good?” Polymeropoulos asked Morell via text at 5:51 p.m. on Oct. 19. “Didn’t see response from PRB[.]”
“Yes, they cleared,” Morell immediately responded.
“Great!” Polymeropoulos texted back.
Reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop and its implications created a firestorm during the 2020 campaign and resulted in numerous publications and accounts, including the New York Post, being banned from social media for reporting on the laptop, which contained voluminous evidence of possible corruption by the Biden family. The letter from the former intelligence officials was used to justify the censorship of reporting on the laptop’s contents.
However, not only was there zero evidence showing that Hunter Biden’s laptop and the stories surrounding it were Russian disinformation, the federal government knew the laptop belonged to Hunter Biden. In fact, federal legal filings show the U.S. Department of Justice had taken possession of the computer on Dec. 9, 2019, pursuant to a federal grand jury subpoena.
Numerous polls taken since the 2020 election show that the coordinated efforts between U.S. intelligence agencies and social media tech companies, including Twitter and Facebook, may have even tipped the election to Biden by censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story and preventing voters from knowing the truth about the emerging Biden corruption scandal before they voted. A 2022 poll by TIPP Insights found that 47 percent of those polled, including 45 percent of independents, said knowing the laptop contents were real and not Russian disinformation likely would have changed their votes in the 2020 election.
Both Morell and Polymeropoulos testified that a current CIA official’s involvement in the promotion and solicitation for participation in the letter they drafted would be highly inappropriate.
“It’s inappropriate for a currently serving staff officer or contractor to be involved in the political process,” Morell testified.
“If it’s true, it would concern me, for sure,” Polymeropoulos stated. “But I just — I have a hard time believing that occurred. If it did, that’s incredibly unprofessional.”
Nick Shapiro, another Biden campaign surrogate and former CIA deputy chief of staff, also testified a CIA official actively soliciting help for a Biden campaign initiative would be beyond the pale.
“So my guess for this was that it was someone who acted inappropriately and was just stupidly outing it and asking these folks if they were going to sign it,” Shapiro said. “I can’t imagine the PRB trying to get someone to sign it by offering to clear something else. That would be really bad.”
The full House weaponization subcommittee report, which was obtained and reviewed by The Federalist, is expected to be released on Wednesday.