Senators seek to grill FBI officials over testimony in 2020 calling Hunter exploits ‘Russian disinformation’

Two top Senate Republicans are seeking to publicly grill a pair of FBI officials over their 2020 testimony that the then-emerging information about Hunter Biden’s shady business exploits was nothing but “Russian disinformation.”

In a letter addressed to the pair, Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley and Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations ranking member Ron Johnson demanded they re-testify in front of Congress to explain themselves.

“The FBI answers to Congress and the American people; therefore, we request that you appear before us for a transcribed interview on these and related matters no later than September 8, 2022,” the letter to FBI officials Nikki Floris and Bradley Benavides reads.

“These and related matters” refers to the since-confirmed discovery that the information about the current president’s crack-smoking son was not, in fact, “Russian disinformation.”

The letter also references recent whistleblower allegations “that in August 2020, the same month [the two officials] provided the briefing to [Congress], FBI officials initiated a scheme to downplay derogatory information on Hunter Biden for the purpose of shutting down investigative activity relating to his potential criminal exposure by labeling it ‘disinformation.'”

“Whistleblowers have also alleged that local FBI leadership instructed employees not to look at the Hunter Biden laptop immediately after the FBI had obtained it,” the letter continues.

All these findings starkly contrast with what Floris and Benavides said when they testified before Congress on Aug. 6th, 2020.

Grassley and Johnson make it a point to note that the pair’s testimony at the time was completely unnecessary.

“[T]he briefing was unnecessary and was only done because of pressure from our Democratic colleagues, including Democratic Leadership, to falsely attack our Biden investigation as advancing Russian disinformation,” the letter reads.

And indeed, after the briefing — during which Floris and Benavides claimed the information coming out about Hunter Biden was “Russian disinformation” — the pair’s testimony was leaked to the press.

Grassley and Johnson believe this was no coincidence.

“Simply put, the unnecessary FBI briefing provided the Democrats and liberal media the vehicle to spread their false narrative that our work advanced Russian disinformation,” their letter continues.

“Although you stated that the FBI didn’t intend to ‘interfere’ in our investigation, the practical effect of such an unnecessary briefing and the subsequent leaks relating to it created interference, which frustrated and obstructed congressional oversight efforts.”

Dated Aug. 25th, the letter was sent two days after Johnson submitted a separate letter to Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz detailing the accusations made by the most recent group of whistleblowers.

“[W]histleblowers have come forward to Congress alleging that FBI officials
intentionally undermined efforts to investigate Hunter Biden. Recently, my office heard from individuals with knowledge of the FBI’s apparent corruption,” this letter reads.

“After the FBI obtained the Hunter Biden laptop from the Wilmington, DE computer shop, these whistleblowers stated that local FBI leadership told employees, ‘you will not look at that Hunter Biden laptop’ and that the FBI is ‘not going to change the outcome of the election again.'”

The whistleblowers also claimed “that the FBI did not begin to examine the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop until after the 2020 presidential election—potentially a year after the FBI obtained the laptop in December 2019.”

In addition to detailing the latest accusations, Johnson also urged Horowitz to not repeat the mistakes of the past.

“In October 2020, I called on the FBI to explain what actions it took after receiving the
laptop. The FBI failed to respond to my questions and I led the call for you to examine whether the FBI took appropriate and necessary investigative steps after receiving Hunter Biden’s laptop. Four months later, in February 2021, you informed me that your office would not take any actions that could interfere with an ongoing investigation,” the letter reads.

“While I understand your hesitation to investigate a matter that may be related to an
ongoing investigation, it is clear to me based on numerous credible whistleblower disclosures that the FBI cannot be trusted with the handling of Hunter Biden’s laptop. I hope you understand that the longer your office stands on the sidelines and delays investigating the FBI’s actions, the harder it will be for you to uncover the truth and hold individuals accountable for wrongdoing.

Johnson concluded the letter by demanding Horowitz cut the crap and “immediately investigate the FBI’s handling of Hunter Biden’s laptop.”

All this is happening during the same week that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the FBI had essentially pressured him to censor reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop in the days preceding the 2020 presidential election.

“[T]he FBI basically came to us, some folks on our team. They were like, hey, just so you know, you should be on high alert. We thought there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. We have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump that’s similar to that, so just be vigilant,”  he told podcaster Joe Rogan.

Listen:

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Vivek Saxena

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