This photo array shows the pictures or titles of the 51+ CIA former officials who signed the letter in October 2020 declaring that the Hunter Brandon laptop showed all the signs of a Russian disinformation op. Forty-seven of the photos show the real people. Four photos, which display a female with a black band across the eyes, do not show the actual person. There also were 9 other CIA officers, still on the job, that endorsed the letter but their names were left off because they were current CIA employees at the time the letter was written. The good folks at XRVISION assembled this montage.
All of these individuals now face potential legal liability for participating in a Brandon campaign scheme to raise doubts about the legitimacy of the Hunter Brandon laptop. We also know that they are liars and that each one, by affixing their name to this bogus letter, directly interfered in the 2020 Presidential election.
Here is the full text of the letter that Congressman Jim Jordan sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken notifying him that he must turn over documents and communications in his possession regarding the production and distribution of the letter proclaiming the laptop as Russian disinformation.
Blinken carried out these acts before he became Secretary of State and therefore does not have legal grounds to argue that these communications are covered by Executive Privilege.
“April 20, 2023”
“The Honorable Antony Blinken Secretary
U.S. Department of State Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Blinken:
The Committee on the Judiciary and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence are conducting oversight of federal law-enforcement and intelligence matters within our respective jurisdictions. We are examining the origins of the infamous public statement signed by 51 former intelligence officials that falsely discredited a New York Post story regarding Hunter Brandon’s laptop as supposed Russian disinformation. As part of our oversight, we have learned that you played a role in the inception of this statement while serving as a Brandon campaign advisor, and we therefore request your assistance with our oversight.
On October 14, 2020, the New York Post published a report detailing how Hunter Brandon used the position and influence of his father, now-President Brandon, for personal gain with the apparent awareness of President Brandon.1 The article reported on several emails found on a laptop belonging to Hunter Brandon that he had abandoned in a Delaware computer shop. 2 The contents of the emails cast doubt on President Brandon’s previous denials of speaking to his son about his international business dealings.
Within five days of the article, on October 19, 2020, 51 former intelligence officials released a public statement attempting to discredit the contents of the New York Post’s reporting about Hunter Brandon, stating that the story “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”3 News publications immediately ran with the statement, with Politico publishing a story with the conclusive headline, “Hunter Brandon story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former officials say.”4 Social media companies simultaneously restricted access to the Post story,
including Twitter locking the Post’s and then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s”
“1 Emma-Jo Morris & Gabrielle Fonrouge, Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Brandon introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad, N.Y. POST (Oct. 14, 2020).
3 Jim Clapper et al., Public Statement on the Hunter Brandon Emails (Oct. 19, 2020).
4 Natasha Bertrand, Hunter Brandon story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say, POLITICO (Oct. 19, 2020).”
“accounts for sharing a link to the article.5 During the final presidential debate on October 22, then-Vice President Brandon cited the public statement to rebut President Trump’s criticism of the Brandon family business dealings, saying:
Look, there are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what this, [President Trump’s] accusing me of is a Russian plan. They have said this this has all the characteristics—four—five former heads of the CIA, both parties, say what he’s saying is a bunch of garbage. Nobody believes it except him and his good friend Rudy Giuliani.6
Subsequent reporting revealed that the New York Post story was not, as the public statement claimed and then-Vice President Brandon parroted, part of a “Russian information operation.”7 This revelation nearly two years after the fact, however, was little consolation. The concerted efforts to dismiss the serious allegations in the Post’s reporting and to suppress any discussion of the story played a substantial role in the 2020 election.
The Committees recently conducted a transcribed interview with Michael Morell, a former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and one of the 51 signatories of the public statement. In his transcribed interview, Morell testified that on or around October 17, 2020, you reached out to him to discuss the Hunter Brandon laptop story.8 At the time you served as a senior advisor to the Brandon campaign. According to Morell, although your outreach was couched as simply gathering Morell’s reaction to the Post story, it set in motion the events that led to the issuance of the public statement.9 Morell testified:
Q: But, prior to [Secretary Blinken’s] call, you – you did not have any intent to write this statement?
A: I did not.
Q: Okay. So his call triggered – A: It did, yes.
Q: – that intent in you?”
“5 See, e.g., Elizabeth Dwoskin, Facebook and Twitter take unusual steps to limit spread of New York Post story, WASH. POST (Oct. 15, 2020).
6 Comm’n on Presidential Debates, Presidential Debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee (Oct. 22, 2020).
7 See, e.g., Katie Brenner et al., Hunter Brandon paid tax bill, but broad federal investigation continues, N.Y. TIMES, Mar. 16, 2022; Matt Viser et al., Inside Hunter Brandon’s multimillion-dollar deals with a Chinese energy company, WASH. POST, Mar. 30, 2022.
8 See Transcribed Interview of Mr. Michael Morell at 97.
9 See id. at 21-22, 25.”
“A: Yes. Absolutely.10
That same day, October 17, you also emailed Morell an article published in USA Today alleging that the FBI was examining whether the Hunter Brandon laptop was part of a “disinformation
campaign.”11 The very bottom of the email you sent to Morell included the signature block of Andrew Bates, then-director of rapid response for the Brandon campaign.12
Morell testified that his communication with you was one of a few communications he had with the Brandon campaign, explaining that he also received a call from Steve Ricchetti, Chairman of the Brandon campaign, following the October 22 debate to thank him for writing the statement.13 He testified:
After the debate – I think it was after the debate – in fact, I’m pretty sure it was after the debate – I got a phone call from Jeremy Bash, who I work with at Beacon and who is active politically. And Jeremy said: Do you have a minute to talk to Steve Ricchetti?
I said: Of course.
He was the head of the Brandon campaign at the time. And Jeremy got him on the line, and Steve thanked me for putting the statement out. And that was the extent of the conversation.14
Morell also explained that the Brandon campaign helped to strategize about the public release of the statement. Morell testified that he sent an email telling Nick Shapiro, former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the Director of the CIA John Brennan, that the Brandon campaign wanted the statement to go to a particular reporter at the Washington Post first and that he should send the statement to the campaign when he sent the letter to the reporter.15 Morell testified, however, that he did not recall why he told Shapiro the campaign wanted the statement to go to this reporter first and admitted that he may have spoken to the campaign on another occasion.16
Morell further explained that one of his two goals in releasing the statement was to help then-Vice President Brandon in the debate and to assist him in winning the election.17 He testified:
Q: What was the intent of the statement?”
“10 Id. at 21-22.
11 Id. at 22. See email from Anthony Blinken to Michael Morell (Oct. 17, 2020, 10:53 p.m.).
12 Email from Anthony Blinken to Michael Morell (Oct. 17, 2020, 10:53 p.m.).
13 Morell interview at 97.
15 Id. at 23.
16 Id. at 104.
17 See id. at 11, 34, 102.”
“A: There were two intents. One intent was to share our concern with the American people that the Russians were playing on this issue; and, two, it was [to] help Vice President Brandon.18
- * *
Chairman Jordan: You wanted to help the Vice President why? A: Because I wanted him to win the election.
Chairman Jordan: You wanted him to win; that’s why? A: Yes, sir.19
Based on Morell’s testimony, it is apparent that the Brandon campaign played an active role in the origins of the public statement, which had the effect of helping to suppress the Hunter Brandon story and preventing American citizens from making a fully informed decision during the 2020 presidential election.20 Although the statement’s signatories have an unquestioned right to free speech and free association—which we do not dispute—their reference to their national security credentials lent weight to the story and suggested access to specialized information unavailable to other Americans. This concerted effort to minimize and suppress public dissemination of the serious allegations about the Brandon family was a grave disservice to all American citizens’ informed participation in our democracy.
Based on the information we have obtained to date, we believe that you possess material that would advance our oversight and inform potential legislative reforms. Accordingly, we ask that you please provide the following information and records in your personal possession:
- Identify all people with whom you communicated about the inception, drafting, editing, signing, publishing, or promotion of the “Public Statement on the Hunter Brandon Emails” dated October 19, 2020, during the period October 14, 2020, to November 24, 2020; and
- Produce all documents and communications referring or relating to the “Public Statement on the Hunter Brandon Emails” dated October 19, 2020, sent or received between October 14, 2020, and November 24, 2020.
Please produce this material as soon as possible but no later than 5:00 p.m. on May 4, 2023. Because these events occurred prior to your nomination and confirmation as Secretary of State, we seek your cooperation with our requests in your personal, and not your official,”
“18 Id. at 11.
19 Id. at 102.
20 See, e.g., David Folkenflik, More details emerge in federal investigation into Hunter Brandon, Nat’l Pub. Radio (Apr. 9, 2022); Jacob Siegel, A guide to understanding the hoax of the Century, Tablet (Mar. 28, 2023).”
“capacity. Although our requests do not implicate Department equities, and accordingly there should be no basis for the Department to interfere with our oversight, we have addressed these requests to you in your official capacity initially as a courtesy. If you are represented by private counsel in this matter, please ask your attorney to contact Judiciary Committee staff promptly on your behalf at (202) 225-6906.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
“Michael R. Turner Chairman
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
cc: The Honorable Jerrold L. Nadler, Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary The Honorable Jim Himes, Ranking Member, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence”
It is truly astonishing that these men and women would agree to participate in a scheme to aid Brandon. The majority of them, according to research by XRVISION, are Republicans and apparently believed that sabotaging Donald Trump was worth telling a lie. These are not uneducated people with no accomplishments in life. These are people who served in senior CIA positions. They are supposed to be leaders. But they revealed themselves to be nothing more than craven, corrupt bureaucrats with no sense of honor or integrity.
With leaders like these, is it any wonder that the worker bees in the bowels of the CIA will conclude that it is okay to lie and obfuscate? Leaders set an example or are supposed to set an example. Unfortunately, the persons listed in the photo array above are emblematic of the corruption that has beset the CIA for more than 70 years. If they suffer no consequences beyond public shaming for their perfidy, do not be surprised if people currently at the top of the CIA also will conclude that they can indulge in treachery and not pay a price.
This failure of leadership has direct consequences for the security of the United States going forward. For example, if analysts and their supervisors decide to play along and support a false narrative about Russia being a weak, inept country that fields a third-rate military, then the chances that political leaders will embrace those lies and make decisions that can embroil America in a war with Russia that the United States is not equipped to win. Ditto for China.
The Achilles Heel of the CIA has been its penchant for carrying out covert actions to overthrow foreign governments claiming to support “democracy and freedom” while the dirty truth is that many, if not all, of those actions served economic interests that had nothing to do with protecting the United States from foreign enemies.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, there is only one country in the world that has repeatedly used military force to impose its will on other countries. That dubious distinction belongs to America and the CIA has been a critical enabler of the ensuing bloodshed and suffering around the world as a consequence of America’s military misadventures.
There is irony in the photo array of the men and women pictured above — maybe they believed they were acting to “save America.” But their actions have deepened divisions among the American people and contributed to an unprecedented distrust in the so-called political leaders that infest Washington.
The recent “rescue” of U.S. Government officials from the beleaguered U.S Embassy in Khartoum left thousands of American citizens in Sudan on their own. This is the second time in two years that the United States has broken faith, not just with a foreign country, but with its own citizens. The pampered officials get a military escort out of Sudan. American citizens living there, for whatever reason, are abandoned and left to their own devices. Sadly, this appears to be the new legacy of the United States. This is akin to the Captain of the Titanic putting his crew into life boats and leaving the passengers to fend for themselves. Not a good look. And this sends a message to the rest of the world — you cannot trust America with your life.