Several of 51 ex-intel officials who signed Biden laptop letter donated to Biden, Democrats

Democrats are "against election interference that might impact them, they're all for it when it helps them win elections," Sen. Ron Johnson said.

Published: May 13, 2023 11:25pm

Several of the 51 ex-intelligence officials who signed a letter just weeks before the 2020 presidential election insinuating the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation donated to President Joe Biden's 2020 campaign or other Democratic causes, according to Federal Election Commission filings reviewed by Just the News.

Last week, that letter burst into the news again, 30 months later, as congressional investigators uncovered evidence that it was "triggered" by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, then a Biden campaign adviser, and its organizer, former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, wanted to create a "talking point" to help Biden win the last presidential debate of 2020 and beat Donald Trump in the election. 

A joint investigative report released Wednesday by the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees cited evidence suggesting an active-duty CIA official also may have encouraged signatories to sign the letter suggesting the laptop -- now authenticated and in the possession of the FBI -- was a foreign influence operation.

According to FEC records, at least 12 of the letter's signatories appear to have donated to Biden's campaign, based on employment and location information listed in campaign finance filings.

Those include: former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director Leon Panetta, former acting CIA Director John McLaughlin, former National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen, former CIA Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash, former CIA Chief of Staff Rodney Snyder, former CIA Inspector General David Buckley, former CIA Senior Operations Officer Paul Kolbe, former CIA analyst Peter Corsell, former CIA Senior Operations Officer John Sipher, former National Intelligence Council Chair Gregory Treverton, and former CIA Senior Intelligence Officer Kristin Wood.

The former official listed as donating the most to both Biden's campaign and joint victory fund was Bash, with $18,900 in total. [An earlier version of the story erroneously attributed all those donations to Biden’s campaign when in fact the total was split between the campaign and the victory committee.]

Other signatories have names similar to those listed as donating to Democratic causes but the FEC records lacked enough location or employment data to positively identify the donor. Those with similar names in the FEC database include former CIA Director John Brennan, former General Counsel for the National Security Agency Glenn Gerstell, and former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers.

None of the signatories identified in FEC data responded to requests by email, phone, or social media messages for comment. 

The new revelations this month from the GOP-led congressional committees have led to fresh criticism that a letter portrayed in fall 2020 as an organic intelligence warning was in fact a political operation coordinated with the Biden campaign to influence the 2020 election.

Congressional investigators are demanding fresh answers from Blinken, who did not dispute Morell's testimony about the origins of the letter but tried to distance himself from it. Blinken said the letter wasn't his idea and he does not consider himself to be political.

Kash Patel, former Deputy Director of National Intelligence and former chief of staff to the acting U.S. defense secretary under President Trump, told Just the News on Wednesday that while "the campaign donations are somewhat concerning," what is "more concerning is the CIA" operating under then-Director Gina Haspel's "leadership not only participated in the intel letter," which he calls the "Steele dossier 2.0," but also "encouraged people to sign it inside the building."

"Those people need to come in and testify, and have their email and phone records subpoenaed by Congress," Patel said.

He also noted it is "illegal for the CIA to conduct operations" on U.S. soil, in addition to targeting anyone for political reasons.

Haspel didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Since the CIA's inception in 1947, its charter bars it from spying on Americans, conducting internal security functions or meddling in U.S. domestic affairs.

In March, The New York Post asked the former intelligence officials if they regretted signing the letter. While most didn't respond, some of those who commented stood by the letter, and none of them expressed regret for signing it.

Clapper told The Washington Post in February that "Politico deliberately distorted" the letter by the former intelligence officials that it had published. "All we were doing was raising a yellow flag that this could be Russian disinformation," he said. Politico stood by its report, saying, "The article fairly and accurately reported on — and summarized — the intelligence officials' letter."

Democrats are "against election interference that might impact them, they're all for it when it helps them win elections," Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Wednesday in an interview on the "Just the News, No Noise" TV show. "But no, Secretary Blinken's got a lot of explaining to do in terms of that fraudulent letter that literally was determinative in the 2020 election. Obviously, that letter interfered in our election to a far greater extent than anything Russia ever could have done."

Retired FBI intelligence chief Kevin Brock told "Just the News, No Noise" the behavior of the CIA official described in the report is "unsettling" and "crosses a little bit of a border," if it is accurate.

"I think the 51 signatories were all mostly former CIA or related to the CIA," he noted. "I think 48 or 46 of them had that kind of relationship. So it was definitely a CIA-type of effort. Or they were former. Now, if this is true, where it looks like there was involvement from some official in the agency in encouraging the promulgation of this letter, that raises a lot more questions.

"The CIA is a Cabinet-level department. It has a right to effect the policies of the sitting president, but it doesn't have the right to influence the electorate. And this is a situation where they made up information and passed it off as vetted intelligence in order to purposely deceive the American people."

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