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GOP Lies: There Is No Hunter Biden ‘Letter’ Scandal

Hunter Biden via YouTube screenshot.
Hunter Biden via YouTube screenshot.

The folly of the “Weaponization Subcommittee”’s report on the Hunter Biden letter: Rep. Jim Jordan’s committee is trying to make a massive political scandal out of the 2020 letter from 50 retired intelligence officers, claiming the Hunter Biden laptop story had the hallmarks of Russian disinformation. But there’s no scandal here at all. 

Another Day, More Hunter Biden Drama

When Republicans took over the House of Representatives in January, they created a new subcommittee, known as the “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.” A subcommittee on the House Judiciary Committee, the Weaponization panel in its opening months has looked at the “Twitter Files,” as well as other nefarious things the government is supposedly doing. 

In recent weeks, the Weaponization Subcommittee has seized on one particular thing: A letter, written in October of 2020, in which more than 50 former intelligence officers alleged that the story about Hunter Biden’s laptop “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information.” 

And then, in testimony to two Congressional committees last month, a signatory to the letter, Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell, testified that Antony Blinken, then a foreign policy adviser to the Biden campaign and now the Secretary of State, had played a part in the letter. Morrell also made it clear that his part in the letter was to help Biden defeat Trump in the election, including by helping to give Biden a talking point in the subsequent presidential debate. 


“The public statement by 51 former intelligence officials was a political operation to help elect Vice President Biden in the 2020 presidential election,” one conclusion says. “The Biden campaign took active measures to discredit the allegations about Hunter Biden by exploiting the national security credentials of former intelligence officials.”

The report also alleges that “The Committees have evidence that an employee affiliated with the CIA may have assisted in obtaining signatories for the statement.”

Just Politics? 

However, there’s not much here that shows this to be any type of major scandal, but rather political people engaging in normal politics, rather than, say, “election interference.” 

A few things must be said: It’s almost certain the signatories of the letter believed at the time that the laptop story had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” If they knew that to be wrong, and decided to say so anyway, there would likely be an email trail of participants saying just that. 

Also, open letters in politics are extremely common. On the day the letter was released, it was pretty clear to just about everyone who read it that it was a brief against Donald Trump, with several of the signatories people who had been sharply critical of Trump in other venues, such as John Brennan and James Clapper. 

Furthermore, everyone of note who participated in the letter, from Blinken to Morrell to the several former CIA directors who signed it, was out of government at the time of the letter. If Blinken had participated in the drafting of such a letter while he was the sitting Secretary of State, that might have been scandalous, but at the time he was merely a foreign policy adviser to Biden’s campaign.

And because none of the people behind the letter were in government at the time, it’s unclear where the “weaponization of government” is. House Republicans made a similar error a few months ago when they implied that the Biden campaign — which was not, of course, the government in 2020 — had “censored” tweets. 

The “employee affiliated with the CIA [who] may have assisted” with the letter is a possible avenue of investigation, but the report is vague about who that is. 

The signers of the letter may deserve some criticism for being wrong, as the laptop probably was not, in fact, Russian disinformation, even though it was known at the time that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani had been digging up dirt on Hunter Biden in Ukraine for months, which at the time made the claim look plausible. 

But it’s abundantly clear that no crime, and nothing especially scandalous, took place here. 

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Expertise and Experience:

Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.