Secretary of State Antony Blinken denies soliciting what became a letter signed by 51 former intelligence officials suggesting the Hunter Biden laptop story could be part of a Russian disinformation operation just weeks before the 2020 election.
The topic came up after the GOP-led House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees disclosed portions of a transcribed interview in which former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell talked about putting together the letter following a conversation with Blinken in October 2020.
“With regard to that letter, I didn’t – it wasn’t my idea, didn’t ask for it, didn’t solicit it,” Blinken said during a Monday interview with Fox News. “And I think the testimony that the former deputy director of the CIA, Mike Morrell, put forward confirms that.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken denies that he asked for the letter to be written claiming the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian Disinformation and when asked if he accepts that the laptop isn’t Russian Disinformation, he says “I’m not engaging in politics”. pic.twitter.com/2spkML1B9M
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) May 2, 2023
A portion of the transcript shows Morell said “yes” when asked if a call around mid-October 2020 from Blinken, who was then an adviser to President Joe Biden’s campaign at the time, triggered the letter. This led Republican leaders to raise concerns about a “concerted effort to minimize and suppress public dissemination of the serious allegations about the Biden family” during the height of campaign season.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee say Republicans released cherry-picking excerpts from the interview with Morell. They disclosed a different part of the transcript showing Morell said he could not remember Blinken asking or even suggesting that a statement about the laptop be put together.
“To be clear, no part of that interview demonstrates that Tony Blinken or any other Biden campaign official asked Mike Morell to write a letter about Hunter Biden’s laptop,” said a statement from a spokesperson for the Judiciary Democrats.
The October 19, 2020, letter signed by 51 intelligence veterans said the laptop’s alleged contents have “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” After POLITICO, the news outlet that first reported the statement, published a headline that said the former intelligence officials were claiming the story was “Russian disinfo,” then-candidate Joe Biden, Hunter’s father, used the statement to cast doubt on the laptop story during one of his debates with then-President Donald Trump weeks before the election.
The laptop became a subject of interest after the New York Post began reporting on details of Hunter Biden’s shady business dealings and personal life that it contained. Over the past two years, many of the contents of the laptop, which was seized by the FBI, have been analyzed and shown to be authentic. Hunter Biden is under investigation by federal prosecutors looking into potential crimes related to his tax affairs, foreign business dealings, and a gun purchase. The president’s son has said he expects to be cleared of wrongdoing.
Among the signees on the letter, beyond Morell, were former CIA Directors John Brennan, Leon Panetta, and Michael Hayden. Another of the letter’s most prominent signees, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, in February accused POLITICO of “deliberately” misrepresenting its message. POLITICO defended its reporting about the letter.
Dan Hoffman, the CIA’s former Moscow station chief, recently came forward to say that he and “many others” were asked to sign the letter but declined to do it.
“I remember I got the letter, October 18, 2020, and at first glance, it seemed natural to lay the blame at the Kremlin’s doorstep. Remember, Vladimir Putin is in the Kremlin and he’s well known for cloak-and-dagger espionage operations,” Hoffman told Fox News. “But at the same time, there was no evidence and the letter noted there was no evidence. And I just felt like we needed to do the forensics.”
Asked if he accepts that the Hunter Biden laptop story was not Russian disinformation, Blinken said he would not be “engaging in politics” while focused on the job of being the nation’s top diplomat.
After Congress released portions of Morell’s testimony about Blinken, Republicans began to call for the Secretary of State to resign. Meanwhile, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have accused Blinken of providing false testimony to Congress regarding his communications with Hunter Biden over the years. They have demanded records for an investigation.
When The Daily Wire reached out for a response to the false testimony claim, the State Department declined to say anything beyond referring to a recent statement by an agency spokesperson refusing to get into what is “not a State Department issue.”