A senior FBI official allegedly informed Twitter that the abandoned laptop believed to have belonged to Hunter Biden was real on the same day the New York Post broke news about the device’s contents in a story that Twitter went on to censor, according to newly-released testimony.
Laura Dehmlow, the section chief of the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), spoke with the House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government this week, House Judiciary Republicans announced on Thursday.
Citing her testimony, Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) said in a new letter that the FITF attended a previously scheduled meeting with Twitter on October 14, 2020 — the morning of which the Post published its “smoking-gun” email story — and during that discussion, a Twitter employee asked FITF about the authenticity of the laptop.
🚨 BIG BREAKING NEWS 🚨
Testimony reveals the FBI knew the Hunter Biden laptop was authentic, but when asked by a social media company about the laptop’s authenticity the FBI said “no further comment.”
The rest is history. pic.twitter.com/LzjS5cSBS6
— House Judiciary GOP 🇺🇸 (@JudiciaryGOP) July 20, 2023
“I remember having a conversation with or being involved in a conversation with Twitter, and I honestly can’t recall if this was repeated to me — I might have been a few minutes late to the meeting — or if — or if I was — I actually overheard it,” Dehmlow said, according to an excerpt of her testimony.
“But it was — it was relayed to me later that somebody from Twitter — I don’t recall who. I’m not sure who. Somebody from Twitter essentially asked whether the laptop was real,” she added. “And one of the FBI folks who was on the call did confirm that, ‘yes, it was,’ before another participant jumped in and said, ‘no further comment.’”
Jordan claimed Dehmlow’s testimony further showed that it was an analyst in the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division embedded in FITF who had begun to explain that the laptop was real before being cut off.
On the instruction of FBI counsel, Dehmlow refused to reveal which FBI official made the decision to stick with “no comment” going forward, but she did state that it was not her call, the chairman said. The FITF also had a meeting with Facebook later on October 14, 2020, during which the social media giant was only told “no comment” when a similar question was posed about the laptop’s authenticity, according to Dehmlow’s testimony.
Another excerpt shows that Dehmlow said she was “pretty certain” that then-FITF Section Chief Brad Benavides and individuals on the Russia unit were aware at that time the laptop was real.
In the hours that followed publication, Twitter blocked the New York Post report with details of Hunter Biden’s shady business dealings and his father’s possible ties to them from being shared, claiming the story violated its rule against sharing “hacked” materials. Facebook, too, took steps to limit the spread of the story, which came just weeks before Hunter’s father, Joe Biden, was elected President of the United States.
While Democrats in Congress have downplayed the temporary social media clampdown on the story, with Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) accusing his GOP colleagues of whipping up a “faux scandal about this two-day lapse in their ability to spread Hunter Biden propaganda on a private media platform,” Republicans have raised concerns about there being a coordinated effort involving Big Tech and government agents to suppress damaging information about the Bidens in the run-up to the 2020 election. In addition, current and former Twitter and Facebook executives have conceded that cracking down on the story was a mistake.
As Jordan contended in his letter, the same FBI personnel who were warning social media companies about a potential Russian “hack and leak” operation in the run-up to the 2020 election knew that the laptop was not Russian disinformation, as was suggested in a letter from former intelligence officials. He cited recent testimony by Internal Revenue Service supervisory agent Gary Shapley, who has emerged as a whistleblower in the Hunter Biden criminal case, asserting that the FBI verified the authenticity of the laptop in November 2019.
Hunter Biden has said in the past that he did not know whether he was the owner of the laptop abandoned at a Delaware repair shop before it was seized by the FBI, and his legal team has reportedly been looking for possible distorted or fabricated data linked to the first son.
Jordan’s letter was addressed to FBI Director Christopher Wray, requesting information and documents from the bureau, including the identities of the officials who dictated how the bureau would respond to inquiries about the laptop, with an August 3 deadline. An FBI spokesperson told The Daily Wire that the bureau received the letter, but had no further comment.
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