Hunter Biden’s TV interview admission that a laptop filled with family secrets and shady deals “certainly” could be genuine does more than just discredit the Kremlin plot theory.
His TV appearance also underscores the intelligence community’s overall bias in favor of President Biden, conservatives say.
“Our intelligence agencies have been captured by the politically correct left, which does not tolerate dissenting views that help Republican presidents or hurt Democratic ones,” writes Fred Fleitz, president of the conservative Center for Security Policy.
Conservatives cite three recent events:
⦁ After The New York Post in October first published Hunter Biden’s laptop emails showing that he did political favors for his Ukrainian employer, high-powered intelligence community alumni published a letter blaming the disclosures on Kremlin disinformation. The letter injected influential former leaders directly into the presidential campaign and gave news media an excuse not to cover the contents of the Apple MacBook. Candidate Biden also said his son was the victim of a Russian scheme. No evidence backing the claim has materialized.
⦁ Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines released an Intelligence Community Assessment on foreign influence in the presidential election. It depicted Mr. Biden and his “family” as victims of Kremlin disinformation from its Ukrainian actors but failed to mention Hunter Biden’s financial windfall in the country.
Mr. Fleitz, who was a National Security Council senior staffer under President Trump, wrote in The Federalist: “There are good reasons to believe the new report was rigged to hurt Trump.”
⦁ The DNI’s March 1 report, “Domestic Violent Extremism Poses Heightened Threat in 2021,” dovetailed with the Biden administration’s talking points about the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, about hard-line right-wing groups and about a new Pentagon “stand down” to educate troops about extremism.
“Top layers of the IC are still thoroughly politicized,” said a Republican congressional staffer.
“They still see it as their duty to defeat Trump and vanquish his supporters. That’s why the new extremism report reads like it was written by Adam Schiff.”
This is a reference to the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who is a California Democrat and a fierce Trump opponent.
As a backdrop, another intelligence agency, the FBI’s counterintelligence unit, spent 2016 to 2018 trying to bring down Trump campaign staffers by relying on a Kremlin-sourced dossier filled with inaccuracies, federal and congressional probes later found.
Russia did it
The New York Post’s excerpts of the Hunter Biden laptop texts and emails were still being evaluated by politicians and the press when President Obama’s former intelligence officials burst onto the campaign scene. They published a letter all but blaming Russia. The story for liberal news outlets became the accusation, not the disclosure that Hunter Biden had arranged a meeting between a Burisma Holdings executive, his employer, and Vice President Biden, according to the executive’s email.
The laptop’s contents came via a Wilmington, Delaware, computer repair shop owner to Rudolph W. Giuliani to the New York Post. Mr. Giuliani, then Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, was attempting to collect dirt on candidate Biden. His source pool included Andrii Derkach, whom the Trump administration sanctioned in September 2020 as a Russian influence agent.
The Obama-era officials’ letter said: “The arrival on the U.S. political scene of emails purportedly belonging to Vice President Biden’s son Hunter, much of it related to his time serving on the Board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.
“For the Russians at this point, with Trump down in the polls, there is incentive for Moscow to pull out the stops to do anything possible to help Trump win and/or to weaken Biden should he win. A ‘laptop op’ fits the bill, as the publication of the emails are clearly designed to discredit Biden,” the letter said.
The 51 signers included Mr. Obama’s top political appointees: former DNI James R. Clapper, former CIA Director John O. Brennan and former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who advised the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016.
Mr. Clapper and Mr. Brennan were among Mr. Trump’s harshest critics on cable TV networks CNN and MSNBC. Both implied strongly that Mr. Trump was a Russian spy and/or operator.
None of the Trump-Russia federal investigations came to that conclusion. Neither Mr. Clapper nor Mr. Brennan provided direct evidence.
Mr. Trump’s director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe responded to the Oct. 19 letter by saying there was no evidence of a laptop plot. FBI counterintelligence has not disputed Mr. Ratcliffe.
While promoting his book, “Beautiful Things,” Hunter Biden emerged in two interviews with CBS News aired Sunday morning and Monday.
He did not renounce the laptop as full of fake material. Instead, he said the computer could be his. Mr. Hunter, who was fighting cocaine addiction at the time, said he did not remember dropping it off at a repair shop.
“There could be a laptop out there that was stolen from me. It could be that I was hacked. It could be that it was the — that it was Russian intelligence,” he said.
The New York Post responded in an editorial: “Oh, Hunter, you’re so full of it. The troubled son knows that he left the laptop at a Delaware repair shop and then forgot about it. How could he forget about something like that? Well, he admits that he’s relapsed on drugs as recently as last year’s presidential campaign.”
No person in the copious threads of laptop emails and texts, including Biden family members, has disputed their authenticity.
John Paul Mac Isaac, the computer repairman, said Hunter Biden dropped off the laptop for repairs in April 2019. Afterward, he notified Mr. Biden three times by phone and received no reply. Mr. Mac Isaac took possession of the computer as the contract allowed. He came to believe the information was so damning that he provided contents to the FBI and Mr. Giuliani.
Hunter Biden has acknowledged that he is under criminal investigation over federal taxes.
On a GoFundMe page, Mr. Mac Isaac sought to clear his name from the Clapper-Brennan accusations.
“To imply that I’m a hacker and that that information was hacked has had an irreversible impact on my business and my character,” Mr. Mac Isaac said in a video.
Russian election meddling
The DNI in January released an extensive Intelligence Community Assessment that was favorable to the Bidens.
The analysts who crafted the assessment concluded that Mr. Biden was the victim of a Kremlin-directed disinformation campaign headed in Ukraine by Mr. Derkach, a parliament member whose network was able to plant stories in U.S. conservative news media. Not mentioned directly was the role Mr. Giuliani played.
The DNI report said: “The primary effort the IC uncovered revolved around a narrative — that Russian actors began spreading as early as 2014 — alleging corrupt ties between President Biden, his family, and other U.S. officials and Ukraine.”
The “family” is a reference to Hunter Biden.
The report also said: “Russian state media, trolls, and online proxies, including those directed by Russian intelligence, published disparaging content about President Biden, his family, and the Democratic Party, and heavily amplified related content circulating in US media, including stories centered on his son. … Throughout the primaries and general election campaign, Russian influence agents repeatedly spread unsubstantiated or misleading claims about President Biden and his family’s alleged wrongdoing related to Ukraine.”
Republicans dispute the DNI’s clean bill of health on the matter. Hunter Biden’s hiring by an oligarch-owned gas firm was a conflict of interest because his father’s goal in Ukraine was to reduce such cronyism and corruption, Republican senators said in an investigation report on Hunter Biden’s financial gains from oligarchs in Moscow and Ukraine, and from communist-linked billionaires in China.
The DNI report lacked any context to the broader question.
What attracted press scrutiny was then-Vice President Biden’s role. Hunter Biden and his business associate Devon Archer won lucrative spots on natural gas firm Burisma Holdings’ board in the spring of 2014, shortly after the vice president was named White House overseer for Ukraine.
The Senate Republican report said Hunter Biden and Archer were paid more than $4 million in five years. The State Department viewed Burisma as corrupt.
The DNI did not mention Hunter Biden’s laptop, which held emails confirming that the vice president’s son was working to gain Washington access for Burisma.
Overall, the DNI election interference report downplayed China’s role in using the internet to boost the Biden candidacy.
Dissent came from the national intelligence officer for cybersecurity who spearheaded the entire 15-page assessment, but the National Intelligence Council relegated his analysis to a short “minority view.”
The council’s institutional watchdog issued a report criticizing the DNI’s political bias. The ombudsman’s findings were not included.
Mr. Fleitz, a former National Security Council staffer, wrote in The Federalist that the actions hurt Ms. Haines’ credibility.
“The ICA’s failure to mention these issues, which affect the truthfulness of its analysis, or the analytic ombudsman’s report are serious omissions,” Mr. Fleitz said. “The fact that such a deeply flawed report critical of Trump was issued after Joe Biden took office and by a DNI named by Biden completely undermines the credibility of the ICA.”
In a report sent to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the ombudsman said the CIA pressured the National Intelligence Council not to alter the view that Russia tried to get Mr. Trump reelected.
“NIC officials reported that CIA officials rejected NIC coordination comments and tried to downplay analysis of alternatives in their own production during the drafting of the [National Intelligence Community Assessment],” the report said.
The Biden administration’s first DNI report of significance was a four-page outline on extremist groups in America.
Here, too, Republicans see bias.
The DNI almost exclusively confines a predicted increase in attacks to the political right.
“The IC assesses that several factors could increase the likelihood or lethality of [domestic violent extremists] attacks in 2021 and beyond, including escalating support from persons in the United States or abroad, growing perceptions of government overreach,” the report said in a description often applied to militias.
The report added: “The IC assesses that racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs) and militia violent extremists (MVEs) present the most lethal DVE threats, with RMVEs most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians and MVEs typically targeting law enforcement and government personnel and facilities.”
All Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence sent a letter to Ms. Haines questioning the need for such a report. They suggested the findings were hasty because they did not go through the more elaborate National Intelligence Community Assessment process.
“We are concerned that IC elements and personnel acted beyond their legal authority in its production,” said the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican.
Since the report was issued, there have been three notable attacks in the U.S.: a disgruntled Muslim is accused of killing 10 people at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado; a Hispanic man is accused of killing four people at a business park in Orange County, California; and a Black follower of the Nation of Islam rammed his car into a U.S. Capitol barricade, killing a police officer and wounding another before he was fatally shot.
Conservatives say that preceding the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion by Trump supporters, the nation suffered through a summer of riots that destroyed billions of dollars in property by supporters of Black Lives Matter and Antifa, a violent anarchist group. The Democratic mayor of Portland, Oregon, said in January, as Antifa rioted nightly, that the black-clad street marauders wanted to destroy his city.
Michael Johns, a speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush and a tea party co-founder, said intelligence analysts are “close-minded.”
“President Trump was right to run on a ‘drain the swamp’ agenda, but draining the swamp starts with personnel and operational processes, and U.S. intel agencies have become very entrenched, very set in their ways and often their views, and generally close-minded as it relates to constructive change,” Mr. Johns told The Times.
“China’s Communist Party will prove the biggest security threat of the 21st century. It also has a vast and still underestimated intelligence operation in just about every segment of U.S. society that needs to be rooted out, including in the private sector and academia. A lot of this starts with having a DNI who has the authority, fortitude and insight necessary to really execute reform,” he said.
The DNI’s public affairs office declined to comment on conservatives’ criticisms.
• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at email@example.com.
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