OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
House Republicans have launched an oversight probe into U.S. intelligence agencies over allegations they obstructed a GOP-led 2020 Senate investigation into Biden family financial activities.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), the chairman of the House Weaponization Select Subcommittee, wrote a letter to National Intelligence Director Avril Haines last week stating that the House Judiciary Committee he leads and its subcommittee “are investigating allegations that the U.S. Intelligence Community obstructed a congressional inquiry in 2020 by falsely alleging that the work of two U.S. Senators was advancing Russian ‘disinformation.'”
Three years ago, Senators Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) launched a congressional investigation into allegations of influence peddling implicating President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. On August 6, 2020, two FBI officials provided the Republican lawmakers with a “defensive” briefing as part of their inquiry, describing the claims as misinformation originating from Russia.
As reported by National Review, Senators Grassley and Johnson were in the final stages of completing their September 2020 report, which delved into the alleged influence-peddling activities of Hunter Biden in China and Ukraine.
Jordan is requesting that Haines provide “all drafts of the script” that were used to brief the two senators, demanding information about that “so-called ‘defensive’ briefing,” the outlet said.
“The Senators’ investigation into Hunter Biden’s financial connections to foreign governments and foreign nationals was hampered by the briefing, the existence of which was later leaked,” Jordan noted in his letter.
In a letter addressed to Nikki Floris, the then-Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence, and Bradley Benavides, the then-Section Chief of the Foreign Influence Task Force, Grassley and Johnson clarified that the Russian disinformation briefing by the two FBI officials “consisted primarily of information that [the Senators] already knew and information unconnected to [their] Biden investigation.”
In August 2022, the two senators wrote: “The unnecessary FBI briefing provided the Democrats and liberal media with the vehicle to spread their false narrative that our work advanced Russian disinformation. Even though you claimed that the FBI didn’t intend to ‘interfere’ with our investigation, the practical effects of such an unnecessary briefing and the subsequent leaks related to it frustrated and obstructed congressional oversight efforts.”
Shortly after the New York Post published evidence of alleged influence peddling by the Biden family on Hunter’s abandoned laptop, 51 current and former intelligence officials signed an open letter, strongly suggesting the device was a product of Russian disinformation.
Earlier this week, Jordan announced that the House Judiciary Committee has begun looking into reports that the Justice Department spied on members of Congress and their staff.
“We now know that they spied on congressional staffers,” Jordan said in an appearance on Fox Business’s “The Evening Edit” with Elizabeth MacDonald. “We want to know, how far does it go? Were they spying on members? Were they spying on other staffers? Keep this in mind, Liz: We know they spied on President Trump’s campaign. We know all that from the FISA Court and what they did with Carter Page and Papadopoulos—everything else. Now we’ve learned that they spied on one of Sen. Grassley’s staff members, Jason Foster.”
“We want to know, does it go further?” he stressed. “So we’ve sent letters not only to the Department of Justice but to all these carriers that the Department of Justice worked with to get the phone records and the email records from congressional staffers like Mr. Foster. How far does this go? Were they spying on members and other staff?”
Jordan wrote to Alphabet, Apple, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon’s CEOs, as well as Attorney General Merrick Garland, requesting information about the DOJ’s alleged attempts to obtain the private communications of members of Congress and their staff as part of the investigation.
“The Justice Department’s efforts to obtain the private communications of congressional staffers, including staffers conducting oversight of the Department, are wholly unacceptable and offend fundamental separation of powers principles as well as Congress’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight of the Department,” the letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook read.