House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan opened an investigation Wednesday into the intelligence community’s alleged obstruction of Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson’s 2020 investigation into Hunter Biden by casting their work as an advancement of Russian “disinformation.”
Jordan, R-Ohio, who also chairs the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines demanding information on the efforts by officials to debunk their probe.
Grassley, R-Iowa, and Johnson, R-Wis., began investigating Hunter Biden and his business dealings with Ukraine and other foreign nations in 2019.
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In August 2020, Grassley and Johnson were given a briefing by the FBI — a briefing that the senators have since called described as improper, and one that was delivered after “pressure from congressional Democrats” and ahead of the 2020 election.
The “defensive” briefing, on August 6, 2020, was delivered by FBI officials, including then-Deputy Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Nikki Floris, and the FBI’s then-Section Chief of the Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF) Bradley Benavides. The officials briefed Grassley and Johnson on the “threat of Russian disinformation.”
“Although the FBI claims that the briefing focused on Russia, the information that Floris and Benavides conveyed to the Senators ‘consisted primarily of information that [the Senators] already knew and information unconnected to [their] Biden investigation.’ The briefing, the existence of which was later leaked, hampered the Senators’ investigation into Hunter Biden’s financial connections to foreign governments and foreign nationals,” Jordan wrote to Haines Wednesday.
Jordan pointed to Grassley and Johnson’s letter to Floris and Benavides after the briefing, calling it “unnecessary,” and a briefing that “provided the Democrats and liberal media the vehicle to spread their false narrative that our work advanced Russian disinformation. Although you stated that the FBI didn’t intend to ‘interfere’ in our investigation, the practical effect of such an unnecessary briefing and the subsequent leaks relating to it created interference, which frustrated and obstructed congressional oversight efforts.”
But Jordan conducted a transcribed interview with Floris, who said that while the briefing was delivered by FBI officials, the intelligence “used to justify the Senators’ ‘defensive’ briefing did not come from the FBI, but rather from ODNI.”
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“Specifically, she testified that ‘ODNI owns this whole process…ODNI took the lead…in drafting the script’ used to brief Senators Grassley and Johnson. She further testified: ‘I would certainly defer you to ODNI as far as the specifics that were in the script. It wasn’t FBI collected information,’” Jordan wrote.
Jordan added that during a transcribed interview with Benavides in September, he testified that he and Floris had briefed Grassley and Johnson “‘at the request of the ODNI,’”
“He further testified that the script used to brief the senators had been ‘coordinated through the ODNI framework and then delivered in this instance, by Nikki Floris,” Jordan wrote.
“Floris and Benavides made it unequivocally clear that ODNI and its Notification Framework were integral to the pretextual ‘defensive’ briefing meant to frustrate and obstruct congressional oversight into the Biden family’s overseas influence-peddling operation,” Jordan wrote.
Jordan is requesting Haines and ODNI turn over “The script, including all drafts of the script, that ODNI prepared for the FBI to brief Grassley and Johnson on August 6, 2020.”
He is also requesting all documents and communications referring to the briefing; a list of intelligence community agencies that “nominated the intelligence that served as the basis” for the briefing; and a list of individuals involved in the decision to provide the briefing.
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Jordan also asked for all communications between ODNI and top Democrats like then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Mark Warner, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff. A letter they sent to the FBI in July 2020 “included a classified attachment with an unclassified element that attempted to tie Senator Grassley and Johnson’s investigation to foreign disinformation,” Jordan said.
Jordan requested the information be shared with the committee by November 15. He also requested that an official who served as the first Intelligence Community Election Threats Executive at ODNI appear for a transcribed interview. Jordan said the committee’s oversight “has revealed that she was personally involved with formulating ODNI’s Notification Framework and has relevant information relating to the intelligence and processes used to justify the August 6 defensive briefing.”
Grassley and Johnson ultimately released their Hunter Biden interim report in September 2020. The report detailed their findings, including records they obtained from the U.S. Treasury Department that “show potential criminal activity relating to transactions among and between Hunter Biden, his family and his associates with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals.”
The House Oversight is currently investigating the Biden family’s foreign business dealings and whether President Biden was involved.
Jordan’s investigation comes as the Weaponization Committee continues to investigate officials who falsely cast the Hunter Biden laptop as Russian disinformation.