It’s a good thing that the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in the current 118th Congress and with a more aggressive Republican House speaker in Kevin McCarthy. Under McCarthy, the Republican House is pursuing desperately needed and long-neglected investigations into the deep corruption of the D.C. Swamp that the Democrat-allied mainstream media refuses to cover. One important House investigation pertains to the infamous Oct. 19, 2020, public statement in Politico by the 51 retired U.S. intelligence officials that the Hunter Biden influence peddling story reported by the New York Post on Oct. 14, 2020, was Russian disinformation.
The joint committees have exposed shocking information that an active CIA official was also involved in recruiting signers.
A key player in the drafting and publication of the statement was Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA in the Obama administration. Morell helped draft the statement and recruit signers to the statement. However, according to testimony given by Morell to joint committees (the Committee on the Judiciary, the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) last month on April 20 and as compiled in a May 10 interim joint committees staff report, new information was revealed that neither Morell nor any of the other signers of the statement initiated the idea of producing a public statement. Morell testified that current U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was the instigator behind the statement. At the time, Blinken was a senior adviser to the Joe Biden presidential campaign. (READ MORE: Don’t Trust the FBI. They’re Liars.)
According to Morell’s testimony, he was contacted by Blinken on or around Oct. 17, 2020, to discuss the New York Post Hunter Biden story. On that date, Blinken “emailed Morell a USA Today article alleging the FBI was investigating” whether the Hunter Biden story was part of a disinformation campaign. At the end of Blinken’s email was “the signature block of Andrew Bates, then-director of rapid response for the Biden campaign.”
Morell admitted that his motivation in helping the Biden campaign with the public statement was to assist candidate Biden in his upcoming debate with President Donald Trump on Oct. 22, 2020, and to ultimately win the election. Morell also stated that he received a call after the debate from Steve Ricchetti, chairman of the Biden campaign, to thank him for writing the statement. This was a clear indication of the Biden campaign’s involvement with the public statement.
Following the press release by the House Judiciary Committee of Morell’s testimony on April 20, Antony Blinken was questioned on May 1 by Fox News reporter Benjamin Hall about his role in the public statement. Blinken answered with a complete denial of any role in the statement and even claimed that Morell’s testimony supported his denial. However, Morell testified that the public statement was a direct result of his interactions with the Biden campaign and that it was Blinken’s call to him that triggered his interest in preparing the statement. Based on the provision of emails to the joint committees involving Morell and others involved in this case, it appears that Blinken was not being truthful about his role in his Fox News interview.
Separate from the apparent involvement of Blinken and the Biden campaign in generating the public statement, the joint committees have exposed shocking information that an active CIA official was also involved in recruiting signers. Before Morell could generate a statement in the public domain about Russian disinformation in a news story, he needed to clear it with the CIA. Former CIA employees such as Morell are required to submit any intelligence-related material that they intend to make public to the CIA’s Prepublication Classification Review Board (PCRB) to ensure that classified information is not being exposed.
In order for the statement to be made public prior to the Biden–Trump debate, Morell would need the PCRB to review and approve his drafted statement within a couple of days of his receipt of Blinken’s email, which initiated the idea for a public statement. Such a rushed review by the PCRB would seem to be impossible given the language on the PCRB’s own website:
The Board makes every effort to accommodate tight deadlines for items such as academic papers, op-eds, and the like, but a review may require several weeks to months, even for what may appear to be routine requests, such as resumés and cover letters.
But Morell’s request for such an extraordinarily rushed review was accommodated. Based on emails obtained by the joint committees, Morell submitted his review request at 6:34 a.m. on Oct. 19, 2020, and it was reviewed and approved the same day, possibly even the same morning.
As shown in the joint committees report, a written statement was provided by former CIA official David Cariens, informing that a CIA employee may have helped in the effort to solicit signatures for the public statement: “Cariens explained that he spoke with the PCRB in October 2020 regarding the review of his memoir,” but that the CIA employee he spoke with also told him about the proposed statement. Cariens recalled that the CIA employee informed him about the statement, read the text of the statement to him, and asked Cariens if he would like to join in the signing of the statement.
Morell testified to the joint committees that “such an action by a CIA employee would be ‘inappropriate’” and that he “did not coordinate with the CIA.” Nonetheless, any CIA employee engaging in partisan activities while on CIA duty to assist the campaign of a presidential candidate should be grounds for termination, especially considering that the subject CIA employee should have known that the claims in the statement were dubious and being made for purely political reasons.
Furthermore, on that same day, Oct. 19, 2020, the then director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, appeared on the Fox Business show Mornings with Maria with Maria Bartiromo and stated, “Hunter Biden’s laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.” According to the report:
He further stated: “Let me be clear: The intelligence community doesn’t believe that because there is no intelligence that supports that.” Director Ratcliffe issued this statement in response to Congressman Adam Schiff’s claim that Hunter Biden’s laptop and emails came “from the Kremlin.”
An important note in the report about the public statement that was organized by Morell and signed by 50 of his former intelligence colleagues: Morell had approached 36 former intelligence officials to sign the statement, but 26 declined. Thus, the statement did not have the widespread support within the intelligence community that was being portrayed in the media.
But the fact that such an efficient, organized effort by former senior-level intelligence officials with high name recognition engaged in a blatant public effort to affect a presidential election not only is an affront to U.S. election integrity but also raises urgent concerns about the politicization of our federal agencies and the potential for more political interference by our intelligence community.
Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal highlighted these concerns in her May 11 op-ed “Biden’s CIA Assist in the 2020 Presidential Election”:
Such reckless disregard for rules raises the legitimate question of what other ways the CIA may have been tilting the political scales in 2020. Predictably, the agency is ignoring a request by the committees for documents related to the board’s clearance of the letter and any interactions it had with former employees (like Mr. Cariens) about the letter. There’s no excuse for such stonewalling, especially given the board itself has declared the whole issue nonclassified.
Fortunately, we now have a Republican-controlled House under McCarthy that is taking necessary actions to expose the dangerous politicization and weaponization of our federal agencies to the American public. However, the drastic reforms that are needed to de-politicize and downsize an all-too-powerful D.C. Swamp can only happen with a similar drastic change in the next presidential administration. Hopefully, it’s not too late.
Steve Dewey is a retired federal financial regulator and managing director of the Bastiat Society of Washington, D.C. He is also founder of GeoFinancial Trends, LLC, and writes on Substack.