By Brooke Singman. Media: Fox News.
FIRST ON FOX: The Central Intelligence Agency “may have assisted in obtaining signatories” for the letter signed by 51 former national security officials to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop as Russian disinformation ahead of the 2020 presidential election, the House Judiciary and House Intelligence committees found.
The House Judiciary Committee, its subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, and the House Intelligence Committee are expected to release a report this week titled “The Hunter Biden Statement: How Senior Intelligence Community Officials and the Biden Campaign Worked to Mislead American Voters.”
Fox News Digital obtained an early copy of the report, stemming from the committees’ investigation into the origins of the October 2020 letter signed by 51 ex-national security officials, which claimed that Hunter’s laptop had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
The committees have been reviewing how the former intelligence officials came together to “insert themselves into the thick of the presidential campaign.”
The report states that the letter “was a political operation to help elect” Hunter Biden’s father, President Joe Biden, and claims that the Biden campaign “took active measures to discredit the allegations about Hunter Biden by exploiting the national security credentials of former intelligence officials.”
The more than 60-page report includes testimony and communications from and between former intelligence officials – including former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who worked to write the statement and get support from ex-intelligence officials.
The former officials who signed onto the letter included former Obama CIA Director John Brennan, former Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, among others.
Three days after the letter was made public, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden used it as a talking point in the final 2020 presidential debate to rebut criticisms made by then-President Donald Trump.
“There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what this, he’s accusing me of, is a Russian plan,” Biden said during the debate.
The committees, though, said they have “evidence that an employee affiliated with the CIA may have assisted in obtaining signatories for the statement.”
“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 report states.
Cariens told the committees that he had been working with the PCRB in October 2020 to review his memoir. Cariens said that during a call with a CIA employee about his memoir, the employee separately “asked” him if he would sign onto the letter.
“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. The person asked me if I would be willing to sign,” Cariens told the committees. “After hearing the letter’s contents and the qualifiers in it such as, ‘We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement,’ … I agreed to sign.”
The committees describe Cariens’ testimony as “potentially shocking.”
“As he recounted, a CIA employee informed him about the statement, the CIA employee read the text of the statement to him, and the CIA employee asked Cariens if he would like to join,” the report states.
Morell later testified before the committees, explaining that “such an action by a CIA employee would be inappropriate.”
Despite Cariens’ claim, Morell vowed that he “did not coordinate with the CIA” and said that had he “known” about Cariens’ allegation, he “would have reacted very negatively to this.”
Meanwhile, the report also states that Morell submitted a draft of the letter to the PCRB and told the committee it was “approved … as written.”
The CIA’s PCRB was created to review materials produced by CIA personnel – former and current – to determine if they contain such classified information before they are shared with the public.
Morell sent an email to the board on Oct. 19, 2020, which is included in the report.
“Attached is a statement that Marc and I drafted that many former senior and working-level officials from across the IC will sign and then be made public,” the email states. “We are 100 percent confident it does not contain classified information. Indeed, it specifically says we don’t know what the IC or the FBI knows about this.”
Morell added, “This is a rush job as it needs to get out as soon as possible.”
The committees obtained text messages between Morell and former CIA official Marc Polymeropoulos in which Polymeropoulos asks, “All good? Didn’t see response from PRB.”
“Yes, they cleared,” Morell texted.
The PCRB signed off on the release of the letter – meaning it had determined it did not contain classified information.
“The role of CIA’s Pre-Publication Review Board (PCRB) is to review materials submitted by current and former officers to determine if the materials contain any classified information,” a CIA spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
At the time, then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Hunter Biden’s laptop was not part of a Russian disinformation campaign. The FBI concurred.
Meanwhile, Morell told the committees that there were “two intents” behind pushing the letter.
“One intent was to share our concern with the American people that the Russians were playing on this issue, and two, it was to help Vice President Biden.”
When asked why he wanted to help Biden, Morell testified, “Because I wanted him to win the election.”
Fox News reported last month that Morell testified that then-Biden campaign foreign policy adviser Antony Blinken, who now serves as secretary of state, was “the impetus” behind the letter. Blinken has denied involvement.
The committees last month said it is “apparent” that the Biden campaign “played an active role in the origins of the public statement, which had the effect of helping to suppress the Hunter Biden story and preventing American citizens from making a fully informed decision during the 2020 presidential election.”
Fox News first reported the existence of some type of investigation involving Hunter Biden in October 2020, ahead of the last presidential election. It became known then that the FBI had subpoenaed the laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden in the course of an existing money laundering investigation.
Hunter Biden confirmed the investigation into his “tax affairs” in December 2020, after his father was elected president.
Fox News first reported in 2020 that the federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s “tax affairs” began amid the discovery of suspicious activity reports regarding funds from “China and other foreign nations.”
The investigation is being led by Trump-appointed Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss. Hunter Biden has been under federal investigation since 2018.
The CIA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.