House Republicans issued a subpoena threat to the CIA, escalating their investigation into a letter used to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop story weeks before the 2020 presidential election.
Committees “may resort to compulsory process” if the intelligence agency does not fully comply with a prior documents request, Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) wrote to CIA Director William Burns on Wednesday.
The GOP investigators, who are following up on last week’s staff report that revealed an active CIA employee may have helped gather the signature of at least one former intelligence official, set a May 30 deadline for the records to be produced “in unredacted form.”
The laptop letter, which ultimately boasted the signatures of 51 intelligence veterans, warned the “arrival” of a laptop full of emails purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” Then-candidate Joe Biden, Hunter’s father, used the statement to cast doubt on the laptop story during a debate against former President Donald Trump.
Jordan and Turner said the CIA made a “minimal production” of documents on May 9 in response to their March request for records concerning the laptop letter. They also said the CIA “admitted” that it did not perform a complete search and afterward “committed” to conducting various sweeps for relevant information.
Besides looking for CIA phone records and communications from October 2020 with any of the 51 former intelligence officials who signed the letter, the chairmen wrote that the agency pledged to search for all documents related to the approval of retired CIA analyst David Cariens’ memoir by the agency’s Pre-Publication Classification Review Board (PCRB), the very same team that reviewed the letter before it got published.
Cariens told congressional investigators in a written statement that an active CIA employee involved in reviewing his memoir “asked” if he would sign the letter in October 2020, which he agreed to do after hearing the letter’s contents, per the staff report. Multiple former intelligence officials involved in spearheading the letter, including former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, conceded that an active CIA official recruiting signatures would be improper.
House Democrats accused their GOP colleagues of releasing a “cherrypicked” report, stating there “is substantial reason to question Mr. Cariens’ recollection of what happened, given the evidence and testimony on hand.” They published a bullet-point list that noted Cariens received the same invitation email from a former CIA official as other signatories and concluded that Republicans “are making expansive claims that CIA ‘promoted’ the letter without hearing Cariens’ testimony or taking any steps to corroborate or refute the single email they received from the witness directly.”
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The Daily Wire reached out to the CIA for comment on the new letter from Jordan and Turner. The agency did release a statement last week but did not address the allegation about the PCRB official.
“The role of CIA’s Pre-Publication Review Board is to review materials submitted by current and former officers to determine if the materials contain any classified information,” a CIA spokesperson said. “In the case of the referenced letter, it was submitted to the PCRB in October 2020 and was reviewed only for classification, as is standard practice.”