Two Republican senators who launched a probe into Hunter Biden’s business dealings are demanding the right to question FBI agents who suggested that negative stories about the president’s son were ‘Russian disinformation.
Whistleblowers have come forward over the past few weeks to allege that the bureau tried to downplay concerns about Hunter Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election, even though many of the allegations made turned out to be true.
They have further claimed that the FBI purposely did not examine the contents of Hunter’s laptop and instead labeled stories about it as ‘Russian disinformation.’
Now, Senators Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, and Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, are asking that the two FBI officials who briefed Congress about Russian disinformation once again testify in September about the purpose of the briefing.
They claim in a letter sent to the agents on Thursday that it 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.’
‘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,’ they wrote.
The letter obtained by the Washington Examiner, names the FBI officials who gave the briefing on August 6, 2020 as Nikki Floris, the intelligence analyst in charge of the Washington Field Office’s intelligence division, and Bradley Benavides, deputy assistant director of the Washington Field Office’s Counterintelligence Division.
Senators Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, and Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, are asking that the two FBI officials who briefed Congress about Russian disinformation once again testify in September about the purpose of the briefing
As the senators write in the letter, Floris and Benavides tried to assure them that ‘the FBI didn’t intent to “interfere” in or investigation.’
But, they said, ‘the practical effect of such an unnecessary briefing and the subsequent leaks relating to it created interference, which frustrated and obstructed Congressional oversight efforts.’
The two senators went on to say they had repeatedly raised their concerns about the briefing with FBI Director Christopher Wray, but their concerns were ignored.
Then when they attended the briefing, the senators wrote they found it ‘consisted primarily of information that we already knew and information unconnected to our Biden investigation.’
Grassley and Johnson added they ‘made clear to you at the briefing that it was not relevant to the substance of our work.
‘We also made clear our concern that the briefing would be subject to a leak that would shed a false light on the focus of our investigation,’ they continued, claiming that a Washington Post story from the time proves their concerns were valid.
A letter the two senators sent to the agents reveal that Bradley Benavides, deputy assistant director of the Washington Field Office’s Counterintelligence Division and Nikki Floris, the intelligence analyst in charge of the Washington Field Office’s intelligence division provided the briefing on August 6, 2020
The senators also noted they have repeatedly requested ‘relevant records relating to what happened at the briefing… the intelligence basis for the briefing and the personnel involved in making the decision to brief us.’
But, they said, the FBI has ‘consistently failed to respond in full to each request and failed to provide these critical records, which casts further doubt on the true purpose for the briefing.’
Now, though, Grassley and Johnson write, the time is ripe for the FBI agents to testify about the purpose of the meeting.
They note: ‘Whistleblowers have recently alleged that in August 2020, the same month you provided the briefing to us, 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 statements echo Johnson’s former claims that whistleblowers informed him that local FBI leadership told the bureau employees ‘you will not look at the Hunter Biden laptop’ and that the FBI is ‘not going to change the outcome of the election again.’
He also said a new whistleblower revealed ‘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.’
A report from the two senators found that Hunter Biden (pictured in July) cashed in on his name in business dealings with a Chinese energy firm
Grassley and Johnson’s report on Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China — based on documents they found on his laptop — was ultimately published in September 2020.
It focused on Hunter’s work for Chinese company CEFC China Energy to invest in US energy projects, and said that Hunter Biden had ‘cashed in’ on his name.
According to the report Hudson West III, a venture funded by CEFC and its chairman Ye Jianming, paid $4,790,375.25 to Owasco P.C. over about one year.
Owasco P.C. is controlled by Hunter, according to Washington, D.C. filings, though a review of personal and corporate emails reveals little about what business Hunter conducted on behalf of Hudson West, and he hardly mentioned it in his autobiography.
In 2018 Chinese prosecutors accused Ye of ‘economic crimes’ including alleged fraud and bribery, and he has not been seen by the public since.
And a 2017 email sent by Hunter’s business associate James Gilliar said that Hunter would hold 10 percent of the equity in their multi-million-dollar deal with Chinese government-linked firm CEFC on behalf of ‘the big guy,’ a reported but unconfirmed reference to Joe Biden.
Gilliar wrote: ’10 held by H for the big guy?’
Joe Biden, though, has always insisted he had no involvement in his son’s business dealings, but he was a private citizen at the time of the email.
The senator’s request that the two FBI agents testify comes as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed how the platform used an algorithm to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story
During Thursday’s Joe Rogan Experience Zuckerberg addressed the issue of media censorship and was asked by Rogan how Facebook handles controversial news topics
The senator’s request that the two FBI agents testify comes as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed how the platform used an algorithm to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story after they received their own briefing from the FBI.
On Thursday’s Joe Rogan Experience, Zuckerberg addressed the issue of media censorship and was asked by Rogan how Facebook handles controversial news topics.
The billionaire explained how even though the platform did not completely block the story like Twitter, it was still pushed down users newsfeeds for as long as a week until more information came down that would indicate whether the story was true or not.
He said the platform decided to limit sharing on the story but not ban it entirely.
‘So we took a different path than Twitter. Basically the background here is the FBI, I think basically came to us — some folks on our team and was like, ‘Hey, um, just so you know, like, you should be on high alert. There was the — we thought that 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 of — that’s similar to that. So just be vigilant.”
Zuckerbeg said that if something is reported as misinformation, it has a third-party fact-checking team that determines if it’s is misinformation.
‘So our protocol is different from Twitter’s. What Twitter did is they said “You can’t share this at all.” We didn’t do that,’ Zuckerberg said. ‘If something’s reported to us as potentially, misinformation, important misinformation, we also use this third party fact-checking program, cause we don’t wanna be deciding what’s true and false,’ he continued.
‘I think it was five or seven days when it was basically being determined, whether it was false. The distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people were still allowed to share it. So you could still share it. You could still consume it,’ he said.
Rogan then asked Zuckerberg what he meant when using the terms ‘decreased distribution’ to which he explained how it meant the story would appear lower down on people’s newsfeeds.
Rogan asked the percentage of the decrease in distribution.
‘I don’t know off the top of my head, but it’s meaningful,’ he said. ‘But basically, a lot of people were still able to share it. We got a lot of complaints that that was the case.’
‘We weren’t, sort of, as black and white about it as Twitter. We just kind of thought if the FBI, which I still view as a legitimate institution in this country, it’s a very professional law enforcement. They come to us and tell us that we need to be on guard about something. Then I wanna take that seriously,’ Zuckerberg said.
‘Did they specifically say you need to be on guard about that story?’ Rogan asked.
‘I don’t remember if it was that specifically, but it basically fit the pattern,’ Zuckerberg explained.
But Rogan then pushed further asking about the aftermath of suppressing the story which turned out to be factual.
‘Yeah. I mean, it sucks, it turned out after the fact. The fact-checkers looked into it, no one was able to say it was false, right. So basically it had this period where it was getting less distribution,’ Zuckerberg said.
‘I think it probably, it sucks though, I think in the same way that probably having to go through like a criminal trial, but being proven innocent in the end, sucks. Like it still sucks that you had to go through a criminal trial, but at the end you’re free,’ he added.
‘I don’t know if the answer would’ve been don’t do anything or don’t have any process. I think the process was pretty reasonable. We still let people share it, but obviously you don’t want situations like that,’ he explained.
AUTHENTICATING THE LAPTOP
DailyMail.com commissioned cyber forensics experts at Maryman & Associates to examine the hard drive to determine its authenticity.
The firm’s founder, Brad Maryman, was a 29-year veteran of the FBI, served as a Chief Information Security Officer and founded the bureau’s cyber forensics unit. His partner, Dr. Joseph Greenfield, is an associate professor at the University of Southern California and helped write their degree program in intelligence and cyber operations.
After an extensive analysis of the hard drive, Greenfield and Maryman produced a report for DailyMail.com detailing their findings.
Using the same forensic tools as federal and state law enforcement in criminal investigations, they found a total of 103,000 text messages, 154,000 emails and more than 2,000 photos.
– They found emails for multiple accounts on the laptop dating back to 2009, and other data which ‘appears to be related to Mr. Biden’ between 2016 and 2019.
– The report’s findings were consistent with the known timeline for the hard drive. A Wilmington, Delaware computer store work order with Hunter’s signature shows he left his 2017 MacBook Pro laptop there on April 12, 2019.
– The Maryman & Associates report said the original ‘Macintosh HD’ drive was created on March 28, 2018
– Hunter’s iCloud email address was added to the laptop’s system on October 21 2018, as well as his work email at his firm Rosemont Seneca on February 2 2019.
– The same day, a Gmail address he used to log onto sex cam sites, and another personal Gmail address belonging to Hunter, were also added.
– Beau Biden’s old Gmail account was added on February 7 2019.
– Emails addressed to Hunter’s various email addresses dating from December 2009 to December 2020 were found on the system.
– An iPad with the name ‘Hunter’s iPad’ and three email addresses associated with the Biden family was backed up on the laptop and on iCloud in January 2019 and again a month later.
– Greenfield found 818 call logs in this iPad backup with timestamps from June 2016 to February 2019.
– There were 8,942 entries in the iPad’s contacts book, created between April 2016 and January 2019.
– In February 2019 an iPhone XS was also synced with the laptop. Its serial number was consistent with the timestamps of the data on the phone.
In conclusion, ‘The operating system timestamps appear to be authentic, and no evidence was found to suggest that the timestamps or data were altered or manufactured,’ the report said. ‘No indications were found that would suggest the data was manufactured.’