On Thursday, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding information as to the number of FBI agents who knew that the Hunter Biden laptop was real and who advised social media outlets that the story was Russian disinformation.
Jordan stated that on July 17, 2023, the Committee conducted a transcribed interview with Laura Dehmlow, the Section Chief of the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF).
"During her transcribed interview, Dehmlow revealed that the same FBI personnel who were warning social media companies about a potential Russian 'hack and leak' operation in the run-up to the 2020 election knew that the laptop belonging to Hunter Biden was not Russian disinformation," Jordan wrote.
Following the release of the New York Post story on the infamous Hunter Biden laptop in October 2020, "the FBI made the institutional decision to refuse to answer direct questions from social media companies about the laptop’s authenticity—despite months of constant information sharing up to that time."
"Put simply, after the FBI conditioned social media companies to believe that the laptop was the product of a hack-and-dump operation, the Bureau stopped its information sharing, allowing social media companies to conclude that the New York Post story was Russian disinformation," Jordan wrote.
Jordan said the information available to the Committee indicated that the FBI knew of the laptop’s authenticity in November of 2019.
"In the nine months leading up to the 2020 election, the FBI met over 30 times with social media platforms—all while in possession of Hunter Biden’s laptop."
FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan scheduled, on behalf of the FITF prior to the election, at least five meetings with Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, as well as multiple meetings with Twitter and Reddit.
Between May and November of 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) hosted at least nine “USG-Industry” meetings, including four meetings in October 2020 alone. FBI representatives, including Agent Chan, "routinely participated in these 'USG-Industry’ meetings," Jordan wrote.
In one October 7, 2020 meeting, which occurred just one week before the New York Post broke the laptop story, "Hack/Leak Concerns" was listed as an item of discussion.
"The Committee recently conducted a transcribed interview of current FITF Section Chief Laura Dehmlow who testified that, by October 14, 2020—the day the Post published its story on the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop—the individual then-serving as FITF Section Chief, Bradley Benavides, as well as individuals assigned to FITF’s Russia Unit knew that Hunter Biden’s laptop was real," Jordan wrote.
"Dehmlow also testified that the FBI could—and did—share information with companies regarding foreign malign influence operations, like hack-and-leak operations, including those conducted by Russia-aligned actors."
The New York Post published the story by Emma-Jo Morris on October 14, and representatives from the FITF attended a previously scheduled meeting with Twitter the same day.
During the meeting, a Twitter employee asked the FITF about the authenticity of the laptop.
Dehmlow testified that an FBI Criminal Investigative Division analyst embedded in the FITF began to respond that the laptop was real, when an FBI lawyer interrupted to say that the FBI had 'no further comment,' regarding the laptop’s provenance," Jordan wrote.
Dehmlow said, "Somebody from Twitter essentially asked whether the laptop was real. And one of the FBI folks who was on the call did confirm that, 'yes, it was,' before another participant jumped in and said, 'no further comment.'"
"Following the meeting with Twitter, FBI personnel immediately deliberated internally about what information about the laptop the FBI would reveal to social media companies when asked in upcoming meetings," Jordan wrote.
"According to Dehmlow, during these internal deliberations the decision was made that FITF would say 'no comment’ going forward."
Later on October 14, 2020, the FITF met with Facebook, during which Dehmlow responded to a similar question asking about the authenticity of the Hunter Biden laptop, to which she stated the FBI had "no comment."
"The FBI made this decision despite being in possession of the laptop and having confirmed its authenticity. According to Dehmlow, multiple personnel on FITF knew that the laptop was real," Jordan wrote.
"In the hours following publication of the Post’s story, Twitter blocked the story from being shared, while Facebook deamplified the story, significantly reducing its circulation and prevalence in users’ newsfeeds. As the federal court in Missouri v. Biden explained in damning language, the FBI’s actions prevented millions of Americans from having a clear understanding about a salient issue in the 2020 presidential election."
Jordan noted that before the election, the FBI never formally revealed that the laptop was authentic.
"As Dehmlow testified to the Committee, had the Hunter Biden story been a product of an actual Russian disinformation campaign, FITF would have been fully authorized to warn the companies of such a campaign: 'But if there is a foreign malign influence operation and we’ve got specific details about how those actors are propagating information operations, influence operations on platforms, that’s something we could share the specific details of.'"
"Instead, the refusal of FBI officials—the very officials who knew the laptop was real—to verify the authenticity of the laptop allowed widespread censorship about an otherwise accurate news story," Jordan wrote.
Jordan demanded to know the name of the FBI official with the FITF that initially responded to the authenticity question from Twitter, the FBI official affiliated with the FITF that said "no further comment" during that meeting, a list of FBI employees that participated in the deliberations following the meeting on how to respond to the questions, a list of FBI employees that were aware that the FBI was in possession and/or confirmed the authenticity of the Hunter Biden laptop, the name of the official that decided the FITF must respond no comment, as well as additional records, notes, and documents.
Jordan said the FBI has until 5pm on August 3, 2023 to provide the information.
During Thursday’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government hearing, attorney John Sauer stated that "the evidence in our case strongly supports that, it strongly supports and actually we have judicial findings now that the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story was done at the instigation of federal officials in the FBI at a very high level of that organization."
"It was an orchestrated campaign of deception that was anticipatory. It was planned in advance. And it was, I think, consummated with the testimony that I hadn't seen before that's been put up today from Ms. Dehmlow, characterizing how at the very end of the FBI then clammed up at the last minute after spending months of seeding the record in these endless ceaseless meetings with social media platforms about there's a hack and dump coming, it's going to involve Hunter Biden."
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