CIA had ‘no evidence’ Biden laptop was Russian disinformation, says top intel officer during 2020 election
EXCLUSIVE: A former top intelligence officer with oversight of threats ahead of the 2020 election said the Central Intelligence Agency had “no evidence” at the time that Hunter Biden’s laptop had anything to do with a Russian disinformation campaign, despite claims from then-candidate Joe Biden’s allies.
Just before the election, 51 former national security officials wrote a public letter claiming the Hunter Biden laptop had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” It was signed by former President Obama CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, among others.
However, in an interview with Fox News Digital, former National Intelligence Officer for Cyber Chris Porter said that claims from Biden’s supporters “did not reflect” the actual intelligence.
“As the intelligence officer in charge of U.S. intelligence community analysis of foreign threats to U.S. elections in 2020, I was concerned at the time about this letter because it did not reflect our understanding of the threat,” Porter told Fox News Digital. “Yes, it looked like the kind of thing Moscow might do, but as our unclassified report to the public later indicated, despite an extensive influence campaign there was no evidence this particular item was Russian disinformation.”
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“Any politically scandalous information from a nebulous source might be consistent with their sponsorship, but that doesn’t make it appropriate for senior officials to throw their weight into domestic politics by insinuation without clear and compelling evidence,” he added.
Porter served as a CIA analyst for nearly a decade and worked as one of the most senior cyber intelligence analysts until 2022.
Fox News Digital reported this week that former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell, who worked to write the letter and get support from ex-intelligence officials, sent a draft of the statement to the CIA’s Prepublication Classification Review Board (PCRB) before making it public.
Morell also testified to congressional committees that it was the Biden campaign that orchestrated the letter to discredit stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Morell sent the draft in an email to the PCRB, and wrote on Oct. 19, 2020, “This is a rush job as it needs to get out as soon as possible.”
Morell told the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees that the PCRB “approved” the letter “as written” the same day.
Another former senior intelligence official told Fox News Digital that the PCRB review process “could range from hours to months, depending on the length of the document being cleared and whether there are any elements that are questionable.”
“And if you’re helping get rid of Trump and you’re potentially going to be their boss after that happens, you can get it done the fastest. That’s what it looks like happened here,” he said.
In a statement to Fox News, the CIA rejected the idea that politics plays a role in PCRB decisions.
“Political considerations play no role in the CIA Pre-Publication Review Board’s established process to determine whether information submitted by current and former officers contains any classified information,” the statement said. “The PCRB is composed entirely of staff officers who conduct the reviews.”
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Three days after the letter was made public, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden used it as a talking point in the final 2020 presidential debate to rebut criticisms made by then-President Donald Trump.
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“There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what this, he’s accusing me of, is a Russian plan,” Biden said during the debate.
At the time, then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Hunter Biden’s laptop was not part of a Russian disinformation campaign. The FBI concurred.
Former U.S. intelligence official Rebekah Koffler told Fox News Digital that it is “well known among former intelligence officers that the process is biased and politicized.”
“I’m certain the purpose of the letter was to suppress the information on Hunter Biden’s corruption and to prevent Trump’s presidency, just like with the orchestrated Russia-Trump collusion,” Koffler, a former DIA intelligence officer and the author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America,” told Fox News Digital. “Look at who has signed this letter and everything will be clear.”
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Koffler, who said she has gone through the PCRB process for her own book, said “nothing gets approved in less than a day when it comes to the PRB.”
“The PRB process was weaponized in this case,” she said.
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The CIA told Fox News Digital that the role of the PCRB “is to review materials submitted by current and former officers to determine if the materials contain any classified information.”