An interim report released by the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on Wednesday has revealed that the Biden campaign coordinated with organizers of the infamous letter calling the Hunter Biden laptop story "Russian disinformation" to get the statement out to the media, specifically to the Washington Post first.
According to the report, testimony provided to the committees revealed that former CIA acting director Mike Morell worked with Nick Shapiro, his former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor at the CIA, to disseminate the letter signed by more than 50 former intelligence officials to the press.
Morell testified that, "in terms of getting [the statement] to the media, that was entirely Nick Shapiro’s responsibility here. So he took that responsibility on."
Email correspondence obtained by the committee "between Morell and Shapiro, Shapiro and journalists, and Shapiro and the Biden campaign reveal the extent of this effort."
On October 19, the same day Morell had sent the letter to the Prepublication Classification Review Board (PCRB) and recruited former intelligence officials to sign on to the statement, he emailed Shapiro that he "[s]hould have something to give to the media through you tomorrow afternoon."
Later that day, he sent Shapiro "some thoughts when dealing with reporters."
Morell told Shapiro that "between us," the Biden campaign had preferred a specific Washington Post reporter to run the statement first, and also sent a lengthy script of information to share at various levels of sourcing: on the record, off the record, and on background.
"Between us, the campaign would like [redacted] to go first. Please share with the campaign when you share with [redacted]. But by all means, get it to other reporters as well," the 8:21 pm email read.
Off the record information given in the email read: "Make sure reporters know that we are not making a call on whether the materials are true or not, just that Moscow played a role in getting the information out. I’m afraid people might miss the point and say we are saying this is all disinformation."
Information on background Morell gave to Shapiro to tell reporters stated, "Why Michael [Morell]? In talking to people, outside of government, who he worked with and who know Russia, he was struck by the fact that all of them thought Russia is involved here. Michael [Morell] thought people should know that."
The report called the assertion "disingenuous for several reasons," stating that "First, Morell admitted in testimony to the Committees that he spearheaded the effort to publish the public statement for overtly political reasons—to help Vice President Biden in the debates and ultimately win the election."
The report added that Morell testified that he hadn’t spoken to anyone about potential Russian involvement in the Hunter Biden laptop story, other than collaborating with retired CIA employee Marc Polymeropoulos, Morell rather researched the issue following a conversation with now-Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
"The first thing I did when Mr. Blinken called me is I did some research. I had not read The New York Post article. I went and read it. I did some internet searches. I did a little bit of research here before I reached out to [Polymeropoulos]," he testified.
When asked if he had contacted any individuals between speaking with Blinken and Polymeropoulos as part of his research, Morell replied, "I did not."
"Finally, Morell’s claim is undercut by his disclosure that a majority of the people who he asked to sign the statement declined to do so," the report stated, adding that "these facts cast doubt on Morell’s intended perception that a groundswell of Russia experts organically concluded that the Hunter Biden laptop was a Russian intelligence operation."
Shapiro emailed the Washington Post reporter at 9:25 pm on October 19, including a statement from himself as well as the off the record and background information given by Morell. Included in the email was off the record information given by Morell which stated: "We are not making a call on whether the materials are true or not, just that we believe Moscow played a role in getting the information out."
The report stated that Shapiro appeared to not "to receive a favorable response from their preferred Washington Post journalist," and then sent an identical email to an Associated Press reporter two hours later.
The Biden campaign was updated by Shapiro, specifically Director of Rapid Response Andrew Bates, after the two emails were sent, with Shapiro writing "This is what I gave them."
After receiving an unfavorable response from the AP reporter, the same email was sent to Politico an out later, who eventually published the story.
In an interview with congressional investigators, Shapiro testified that he went to the Washington Post reporter first because he was told to, then AP because it’s "a really good outlet you want stories in," and finally Politico, stating "I don’t know why I went to Politico after that."
The report has also revealed that the CIA solicited signatures for the letter, with a former CIA employee telling congressional investigators that when he was on the phone with the PCRB in regard to the review of his then-upcoming book, the person on the phone asked if he would be willing to sign it.
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