The Biden campaign "coordinated" with a former CIA official to give the discredited Hunter Biden letter to hand-picked media outlets, according to a report from the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.
According to the report, former CIA senior adviser Nick Shapiro apprised Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign operative who now works at the White House, of his efforts to give reporters a letter signed by 51 former spies that falsely suggested that Hunter Biden’s laptop was part of a Russian disinformation campaign. The New York Post had published a story about Biden’s laptop days earlier.
"This is what I gave them," Shapiro wrote to Bates in an Oct. 19, 2020, email summarizing his outreach to journalists. Shapiro shared the letter with reporters from the Washington Post, Associated Press, and Politico. Politico published the letter on Oct. 21, 2020.
Republicans said the emails show the Biden campaign "took active measures" to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop by coordinating with former intelligence officials to provide the Hunter Biden laptop letter to reporters.
The letter comes as House Republicans are dialing up oversight on both the Biden family and misuse of government agencies. The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday held a hearing to discuss the Biden family's foreign business dealings and last week subpoenaed FBI director Christopher Wray related to a whistleblower's claim that President Joe Biden had illegal dealings with a foreign national while serving as vice president. And the House Weaponization subcommittee is probing possible corruption within agencies like the FBI and CIA.
Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell testified that he organized the letter after a conversation on Oct. 17, 2020, with Biden adviser Tony Blinken, who now serves as secretary of state. Blinken said he did not ask Morell to write the letter, but the former spymaster said the conversation with Blinken "triggered" him to write the letter in order to give Biden a "talking point" to use in his debate with former president Donald Trump. The ploy worked, as Biden cited the letter in the debate.
Morell recruited former CIA officer Marc Polymeropoulos to draft the letter and Shapiro to pitch it to journalists. They solicited signatures from a network of former intelligence officials.
Morell’s emails suggest he had other contacts with the Biden campaign beyond Blinken, though he told lawmakers that he could not recall who else he spoke to.
"Between us, the campaign would like [Washington Post reporter] Shane Harris to go first. Please share with the campaign when you share with Shane," Morell wrote Shapiro on Oct. 19, 2020.
The report does not say how Morell learned how the campaign wanted to release the letter.
Polymeropoulos testified that he and Morell initially intended to write an op-ed about the Biden laptop, but that they decided on a more ambitious public letter. The Washington Free Beacon reported that Morell was at the time a contributing columnist at the Washington Post, where he co-authored a piece with Polymeropoulos in August 2020 that claimed Russians "infiltrated" Trump’s campaign in 2016.
Shapiro and Bates did not respond to requests for comment.