Dems release more testimony, say no pressure from Biden campaign to discredit Hunter laptop story

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House Judiciary Committee Democrats are accusing Republicans of cherry-picking testimony from former CIA Deputy Directory Michael Morell to suggest the Biden campaign was behind the letter signed by 51 former intelligence officials to dismiss the Hunter Biden laptop story as Russian disinformation.

The lawmakers say “at no point” during Mr. Morell’s transcribed interview did he testify that Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who served at the time as a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, “directed or asked him to write any letters.”

“Mr. Morell testified that Mr. Blinken sought his advice, as many others have,” a spokesperson for Committee Democrats said. “To be clear, no part of that interview demonstrates that Tony Blinken or any other Biden campaign official asked Mike Morell to write a letter about Hunter Biden’s laptop.”

The Republican chairmen of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees released portions of Mr. Morell’s testimony in which he told lawmakers that Mr. Blinken contacted him days after the New York Post reported on emails from the discarded laptop computer.

The former CIA official told the lawmakers that he had no intention of publicly rebutting the Post’s story, but that his conversation with Mr. Blinken “triggered” the now-infamous letter.

The Post report, published on Oct. 14, 2020, weeks before the presidential election uncovered an avalanche of embarrassing emails, photos and text messages about Hunter Biden’s drug addiction, sexual behavior and his hugely profitable foreign business dealings.

The laptop also refuted Joe Biden’s claims that he never spoke with his son about overseas business deals.

The newspaper’s report also contained embarrassing photos of Hunter Biden, including one of him passed out with a crack pipe in his mouth.

Mr. Biden’s campaign branded the now-authenticated laptop as Russian disinformation, citing the open letter by more than 50 former U.S. senior intelligence officials.

Mr. Morell told lawmakers that Mr. Blinken contacted him “on or around” Oct. 17, ostensibly to garner his reaction to The Post’s story, but that conversation set in motion the letter that was released to Politico on Oct. 19.

Those portions of Mr. Morell’s testimony were unveiled in a letter in a letter on Thursday to Mr. Blinken from Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Michael Turner, both of Ohio and the respective chairmen of the House Judiciary and intelligence committees.

Mr. Morell said he had two goals for organizing the letter, one of them being to boost Mr. Biden’s chances of winning the election.

“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 Biden,” Mr. Morell testified, according to the lawmakers.

He also said that Biden campaign chairman Steve Ricchetti called to thank him personally for the letter following the Oct. 22 presidential debate. In that debate, Mr. Biden cited the intelligence officials’ claims as refuting President Trump’s criticism of the Biden family’s business dealings.

Mr. Jordan and Mr. Turner said Mr. Morell’s testimony shows “that the Biden campaign played an active role in the origins of the public statement, which had the effect of helping to suppress the Hunter Biden story and preventing American citizens from making a fully informed decision during the 2020 presidential election.”

Democrats fired back on Friday accusing their colleagues of releasing “cherry-picked excerpts” of Mr. Morell’s testimony.

“In response to questions posed by Chairman Jordan’s own lawyers, [Mr. Morell] testified that Mr. Blinken did not ‘direct, suggest, or insinuate in any way’ that he should write a letter about Hunter Biden’s laptop,” the Democratic spokesperson said in a statement accompanying the release of additional portions of Mr. Morell’s testimony. 

“Nor did Mr. Blinken—then a private citizen—try to get at the letter indirectly,” the spokesperson said. 

Hunter Biden‘s far-flung money-making schemes have raised eyebrows for years about potential influence peddling and possible crimes.

He served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company, pursued deals with Chinese Communist Party-linked energy tycoons, and reportedly pocketed more than $3 million from a Russian businesswoman who is the widow of a former mayor of Moscow.

Republicans, now in the majority in the House, have pledged to probe whether the elder Mr. Biden had any involvement in his son’s international business deals and possible influence-peddling.

Based on Mr. Morell’s testimony, Mr. Jordan and Mr. Turner say they believe Mr. Blinken possesses “material that would advance our oversight and inform potential legislative reforms.”

They are demanding that Mr. Blinken hand over documents related to the intelligence officials’ statement dismissing the Post’s story.

“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, capacity,” the lawmakers wrote.

They are requesting the material no later than May 4.

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