Remember the infamous Hunter Biden laptop that caused such a stir during the final days of the presidential election of 2020? The New York Post wrote the original expose about emails contained on the computer, but a group of intelligence officials wrote a letter stating it was the product of Russian disinformation and should be ignored by the media and not used as a negative hit on Joe Biden. More details have emerged about why that cabal of intelligence practitioners wrote the letter, and the discovery shows how and why the missive came about.
What Is New In the Laptop Saga?
The new development started with the congressional testimony from the former acting director of the CIA Michael Morell. The Judiciary Committee interviewed Morrell about his role in the origins of the document. Morrel admitted that the impetus for the letter came from Antony Blinken who is now secretary of state. This happened around October 17, 2020.
The Post had publicized the explosive email about the president’s son Hunter introducing his father to a business partner from Ukraine. Joe Biden has routinely claimed he has no knowledge of Hunter’s overseas business activity.
Morell Wanted Biden to Win
Morell said he assembled the intelligence experts and helped draft the letter because he wanted to “help Vice President Biden … because I wanted him to win the election.” Morrell reportedly thought he would be a candidate to become CIA director in a Biden administration.
Without Blinken’s input though, Morrell said he had no plans to produce the letter. Blinken’s idea prodded Morrell to spring into action. It started with an email before a late-night phone call from Blinken. The email was an article from USA Today that said the FBI was investigating the laptop and trying to determine whether it was a Russia disinformation plant.
Morrell did some of his own research and decided to assemble a team to discredit the New York Post’s findings about the laptop. He reached out to a former colleague and retired CIA senior operations director for help in drafting the letter.
Make Sure Big Names in the Intelligence Community Sign It
Then Morrell oversaw the project to get 51 ex-intelligence officials to sign it, including four former CIA directors that counted John Brennan and Leon Panetta among them. Morrel told the signatories that he would give the letter to the campaign and to the Washington Post. This is when Brennan’s former deputy chief of staff Nick Shapiro entered the picture and the letter instead went to Politico for an exclusive story. The article was entitled, “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former officials say.”
The article said the New York Post story was actually a Russian attempt to falsely discredit Biden and should be ignored as a negative attack against him.
Letter Comes Up During Presidential Debate
The next stage in the saga was the presidential debate in which Trump charged Biden of influence peddling in which the Biden family profited off Hunter’s business connections with the Chinese and Ukrainians. Biden then referenced the intelligence letter to “deflect” Trump’s criticism – effectively neutralizing a negative attack that could have changed the trajectory of the race.
The Biden campaign contacted Morrell to thank him for writing the letter and assembling the team of signatories.
The news that Blinken was behind the letter’s origins is a new finding that shows the Biden campaign was worried about the Hunter Biden laptop and wanted to remove it as a threat to the campaign. Republicans have wondered about an alternative election outcome had the laptop’s contents been covered more extensively by the media and not covered up by social media platforms.
“It is apparent that the Biden campaign played an active role in the origins of the public statement, which had the effect of helping to suppress the Hunter Biden story and preventing American citizens from making a fully informed decision during the 2020 presidential election,” Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan and Michael Turner, chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said in a statement.
We will never know how the laptop and its contents could have changed people’s votes during the election. The letter neutralized a significant “October surprise” during the late stages of the campaign that could have flipped votes in favor of Trump. Blinken’s involvement showed just how desperate the Biden campaign was to rid themselves of the Hunter Biden laptop and to pull out all the stops to make sure it did not hurt the vice president. Blinken benefitted politically by becoming secretary of state for his troubles and Biden obviously made it to the White House. The letter from intelligence officials will not be forgotten by Republicans.
Author Expertise and Experience
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.