Three former intelligence officials who signed the debunked letter asserting the Hunter Biden laptop was a Russian disinformation plot have landed senior intelligence positions in the Biden administration.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday appointed former CIA director John Brennan, former national intelligence director James Clapper, and former CIA officer Paul Kolbe to the 17-person Homeland Intelligence Experts Group, which will "provide advice and perspectives on intelligence and national security efforts," according to a press release from the agency. The new committee will focus on "foreign nation-state adversaries, domestic violent extremists, cyber criminals" among other issues, according to Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Ken Wainstein, who served as an attorney for Brennan and Clapper.
The department’s choices to lead its initiative are sure to garner controversy. Neither Brennan, Clapper, nor Kolbe have expressed any contrition for their role in the now-infamous letter released on Oct. 19, 2020, which alleged the trove of incriminating emails found on Hunter Biden’s laptop "has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation."
The three former spies signed the letter at the behest of former CIA deputy director Michael Morell, who told Congress he spearheaded the letter in order to help Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and to provide Biden with a "talking point" to use in his upcoming debate with Donald Trump. Morell initially contacted Brennan, his former boss at the CIA, to sign the letter. Brennan immediately agreed, writing in an email to Morell that the letter was a "good initiative."
There is no evidence that Russia was involved in the release of Biden’s laptop, which contains emails and other correspondences about foreign business dealings that are at the center of House Republican investigations. FBI analysts authenticated Biden’s laptop in November 2019, according to an IRS agent who investigated the younger Biden for unpaid taxes.
Brennan and Clapper have defended signing the letter, even after a variety of independent cybersecurity experts authenticated the laptop’s contents.
"No, I don’t regret it," Clapper said in June. "I thought, at the time, it was appropriate to sound a warning about ‘Watch out for the dark hand of the Russians.’"
Mayorkas has rewarded skeptics of Hunter Biden’s laptop in the past. Last year, he launched the ill-fated Disinformation Governance Board, which was purported to track disinformation related to the Russian war in Ukraine and human smuggling over the U.S.-Mexico border.
The board came under intense scrutiny amid revelations that its chairwoman, Nina Jankowicz, pushed the discredited theory about Hunter Biden’s laptop. Mayorkas later disbanded the disinformation board.
Other familiar faces appear on the list of appointments to the DHS committee as well, including left-wing pundit and Brookings Institution fellow Benjamin Wittes. Wittes, who was banned from X, formerly Twitter, for impersonating the Russian embassy on the platform, wrote in 2018 that the "Republican Party, as an institution, has become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy."
Another member of the DHS intelligence experts group, Tashina Gauhar, was a part of the Justice Department team that approved fraudulent applications for surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Gauhar, an inspector general’s report alleged, reviewed applications for the warrants, which relied heavily on the faulty Steele dossier, during her time in former president Barack Obama’s Justice Department. The report said Gauhar was one of "the first to review the draft Carter Page application." She told the inspector general that renewals of the surveillance applications were "significant" because "the surveillance [of Page] yielded relevant and useful information."
Contrary to those claims, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reprimanded the Justice Department and FBI for "significant" errors in the applications for the surveillance warrants. Investigators withheld information that undermined the credibility of the Steele dossier, and failed to disclose that the Hillary Clinton campaign funded the infamous document, subsequent non-partisan investigations concluded.