Congress probing if FBI used ‘Russian disinformation’ claim to shut down Biden inquiries
FBI produced an intel analysis that lawmakers believe it dubious that suggested Biden family allegations during the 2020 election were Russian disinformation.
The FBI travels to Capitol Hill on Monday to show House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer a confidential informant memo from summer 2020 alleging that Joe Biden was involved in a foreign bribery scheme, but the contents won’t be a surprise to Republicans. Both Comer and Sen. Chuck Grassley have already read the memo.
The larger question for Teams Comer and Grassley is whether the FBI sidelined the allegation of a $5 million bribery involving U.S. policy – which came from a confidential human source with a trusted track record – during the height of the 2020 election.
Congressional investigators have gathered substantial evidence that a dubious intelligence analysis inside the bureau was used to shut down several other avenues of investigation in the Biden family corruption probe ahead of the presidential election, including in the FBI’s Washington field office. It also was used to thwart a Senate probe led by Sens. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
Grassley actually divulged the dubious Russian disinformation analysis and its impact on Biden-related probes inside the FBI during February 2023 testimony to a House committee, though that angle did not get much public attention.
“Whistleblowers approached my office with allegations that the FBI created an assessment in August 2020 – the same month that the FBI briefed me and Senator Johnson,” Grassley testified at the time. “According to these whistleblowers, that assessment was used by FBI Headquarters to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation. This scheme allegedly caused investigative activity then to entirely cease.”
Hunter Biden is the son of President Joe Biden.
Congressional investigators say they now want to know whether the Joe Biden bribery information allegation – contained in a FD-1023 informant report – also was sidelined by the Russian disinformation analysis.
That makes Monday’s briefing by the FBI to Congress all the more important since lawmakers will be able to probe how the bribery allegations were handled.
Grassley has pointed out another peculiarity during the 2020 election: FBI brass took the Biden family allegations and the assessment of their credibility and stored them in a restricted database that kept them from being seen by many agents and analysts.
“It’s been further alleged to me that in September 2020 – the same month Senator Johnson and I released our first report – those FBI Headquarters personnel began placing their analysis of the credibility of reporting related to the Biden family in a restricted access sub-file,” the senator testified 4 months ago.
“Further allegations to my office involved FBI personnel at the Washington Field Office who improperly ordered information to be closed by the FBI related to Hunter Biden’s potential criminal conduct in October 2020 – just before the election – even though it was verified or verifiable.
“Other whistleblower disclosures to my office make clear that the FBI has within its possession very significant, impactful and voluminous evidence with respect to potential criminal conduct by Hunter and James Biden,” he also said. “These disclosures also allege that Joe Biden was aware of Hunter Biden’s business arrangements and may have been involved in some of them.”
James Biden is the president's brother.
The alliance of Grassley, who has relentlessly stayed in touch with and investigated FBI whistleblowers claims though he is in the Senate minority, and Comer, who as a House majority chairman has subpoena power, has brought the FBI to the moment that will unfold in a secure conference room on Capitol Hill on Monday.
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., a freshman lawmaker on the House Oversight Committee, said Sunday that the congressional investigation has advanced significantly in recent weeks, and much of the evidence that has not been made public yet points to a pay-to-play scheme in which the Biden family received money as Joe Biden oversaw U.S. policy affected by the then-vice president during the Obama years.
“We've actually been able to provide evidence. You know, before there was speculation on the Ponzi scheme for influence peddling and also the personal enrichment of the Biden family. And now what we're finding is that these are no longer allegations and we're creating a hard case,” Luna told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo.
“In my opinion, Maria, what we're seeing right now, if this is true, which I do believe that it is true in regards to Joe Biden receiving bribery and Hunter Biden, I do believe that this is grounds for impeachment,” she also said.
The White House scoffs at such talk, dismissing the GOP investigations as nothing more than politics even though key tenets of Joe Biden’s claims when he ran for office in 2020 have been contradicted by new evidence.
“The president has spoken to this and there's nothing to these claims,” White House spokesman John Kirby said last week. “And as for the whistleblower issue that you talked about and in the document – I believe the FBI has spoken to that, and you're going to have to go to them on that.”
The FBI says it believes the Monday session, approved by Director Christopher Wray, will move the ball forward and give Congress insights into the whole controversy.
“Director Wray offered to provide the committee’s chairman and ranking member an opportunity to review information responsive to the subpoena in a secure manner to accommodate the committee, while protecting the confidentiality and safety of sources and important investigative sensitivities,” the bureau said.
Meanwhile, a review of two years of Sen. Grassley’s statements provides lots more tantalizing questions.
The Iowa senator, for instance, has suggested several times there is new information about Hunter Biden’s dealings with the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings and its owner Mykola Zlochevsky, including the possibility that Joe Biden was involved.
FBI evidence and memos “shed light on Hunter Biden’s business and financial relationship with Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky,” and those “documents include specific details about conversations by non-government individuals relevant to potential criminal conduct by Hunter Biden,” the senator has said. He has specifically asked for any “recordings of verbal communications.”
Monday’s session may begin to provide answers to questions just like that.