The FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force used a sham assessment opened by FBI headquarters to cull reporting from confidential human sources (CHS) throughout the country related to the Biden family and then falsely brand the intelligence as “foreign disinformation,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, revealed Wednesday.
Wednesday’s explosive news suggests the DOJ and FBI’s Biden-family protection program encompassed many more players than previously known. But it is the involvement of the Foreign Influence Task Force that demands an immediate response by the House, namely the launching of an impeachment inquiry of FBI Director Christopher Wray, under whose watch this task force abused its power — and interfered in a presidential election.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Grassley released a seven-page letter that, while addressed to Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland, spoke to the American public, telling them of evidence of “significant political bias infecting the decision-making of not only the Attorney General and FBI Director, but also line agents and prosecutors.”
Grassley’s letter summarized the evidence he has gathered over the last two years, with the assistance of Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and multiple whistleblowers. There are several significant strands to pull from the Iowa senator’s latest missive, but none more important than the details he revealed about the assessment opened by FBI headquarters’ Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten.
In July of last year, Grassley went public with a whistleblower’s “allegations that the FBI developed information in 2020 about Hunter Biden’s criminal financial and related activity but ultimately shut it down based on false assertions that it was subject to foreign disinformation.” According to Grassley’s source, “the basis for shutting the investigative activity down was an August 2020 assessment created by FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten,” which an FBI HQ team used “to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation and caused investigative activity to cease.”
In his Wednesday letter to Garland and Wray, Grassley expanded on the whistleblower’s claims, writing: “In August 2020, and possibly earlier, Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten opened the aforementioned assessment, which was used by the Foreign Influence Task Force to seek out CHS holdings at FBI Field Offices across the country relating to the Biden family and falsely discredit them as foreign disinformation.”
The timing of Auten’s opening of this assessment is hugely significant because it followed a month — or maybe less — after the FBI’s June 30, 2020, interview of the “highly credible” CHS who reported that the owner of Ukrainian energy company Burisma had claimed he paid Hunter and Joe Biden each $5 million in bribes. The June 30, 2020 interview, which was memorialized in the infamous FD-1023 Grassley released earlier this year, only came about because the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania had asked the FBI to search its records for documents potentially relevant to the vesting of information related to Ukraine.
At that time, the U.S. attorney for the Pittsburgh-based office, Scott Brady, was serving as a clearing house for evidence related to Ukraine and claims of corruption by the Biden family. According to Grassley’s letter, during Brady’s assessment, FBI officials located an earlier FD-1023 from March 1, 2017, that related to an investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of Burisma. That FD-1023 included a reference to Hunter Biden being on Burisma’s board of directors, which prompted Brady to request the FBI re-interview the CHS to probe for any relevant information connected to the Bidens. The FBI reportedly fought that request for a month before conducting the June 30, 2020, interview of the CHS.
It cannot be a coincidence that a month later Auten launched an assessment that the Foreign Influence Task Force then used “to seek out CHS holdings at FBI Field Offices across the country relating to the Biden family and falsely discredit them as foreign disinformation.” After all, if one U.S. attorney’s office undertaking a serious assessment of claimed corruption by the Biden family would think to task the FBI with searching its database for potentially relevant CHS reporting, other offices or other investigators might do so as well. And who knows then what derogatory information might be uncovered — which is precisely what FBI headquarters sought in searching the field offices, namely “derogatory information about Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.”
It is unclear how many confidential human sources, or how many of their reports, were categorized as disinformation by the Foreign Influence Task Force, but the whistleblower told Grassley that the FBI’s improper branding of the information as “disinformation” “caused investigative activity to cease.”
We also know from Grassley’s letter that Brady vetted the FD-1023, corroborated some details of the CHS’s reporting, and coordinated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York to assess whether it might be Russian disinformation: The U.S. attorneys “found no hits to known sources of Russian disinformation.”
Nonetheless, 11 days after Brady officially closed the assessment, having concluded his vetting of the FD-1023 and other relevant evidence, and before the Pittsburgh-based U.S. attorney’s office could even brief Delaware on the FD-1023 and the need for a further investigation, the Foreign Influence Task Force on Sept. 14, 2020, communicated with the CHS’s handling agent. According to the whistleblower, “the Foreign Influence Task Force attempted to shut down” the CHS’s “reporting by falsely saying it was subject to foreign disinformation.”
“It should be emphasized that the basis for trying to shut down the Biden family 1023 has been described to my office as highly suspect and is contradicted by other documents my office has been told exist within the Foreign Influence Task Force, FBI Seattle Field Office, FBI Baltimore Field Office, and FBI HQ holdings,” Grassley stressed.
While it does not appear the Foreign Influence Task Force succeeded in shutting down the CHS behind the FD-1023, the task force’s inability to scuttle the FD-1023 proved irrelevant. That’s because, according to IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley, Delaware Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf, who was overseeing the Hunter Biden investigation, had already written off any evidence coming out of Pittsburgh as disinformation.
The Foreign Influence Task Force succeeded in scuttling other confidential human sources, however, including one opened by the Washington field office. That CHS’s reporting connected to the Hunter Biden investigation, thus the D.C. field office provided the CHS’s reporting to the Delaware field office.
Timothy Thibault, the former FBI assistant special agent in charge of the Washington field office, revealed that fact during this transcribed interview before the House Judiciary Committee some two weeks ago. In his testimony, which The Federalist has reviewed, Thibault explained how he received a call out of the blue from FBI headquarters’ Public Corruption Unit chief to discuss the CHS. According to Thibault’s testimony, FBI headquarters arranged for Thibault to meet with the Foreign Influence Task Force to learn of its concerns about the CHS, whom Thibault later closed.
It’s unknown how many other confidential human sources were closed or whose reporting FBI headquarters or the Foreign Influence Task Force falsely branded as misinformation. But Grassley stressed in his Wednesday letter that “at one point in time the FBI maintained over 40 Confidential Human Sources that provided criminal information relating to Joe Biden, James Biden, and Hunter Biden.”
Did the FBI investigate the evidence provided by those sources, Grassley asked? Or were those sources improperly shut down?
To learn the answers to those questions and others, Grassley notes he has a list of some 25 DOJ and FBI personnel to be interviewed. Let’s hope the House is listening.
But the House needs to do more than question the personnel Grassley identified in his letter. The House must first open a long-overdue impeachment inquiry into FBI Director Wray because the latest revelation of the Foreign Influence Task Force’s interference in the investigation into the Bidens establishes the director cannot control his swamp creatures.