ICYMI: The Federal Bureau of Inaction
In the closing days of the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes, the New York Post has dropped a bombshell into this race. Whether Democrats or the mainstream media want to admit it, serious concerns have been raised about Joe Biden and his family – and the evidence is now pouring out to the public.
The question Americans should be asking is, “Why are we only now hearing about this?”
Let’s take a step back first. We’ve all known for some time that Joe Biden’s troubled son, Hunter, cashed in on his father’s powerful position as vice president to rake in big money from shady overseas business deals.
For example, Hunter Biden infamously served on the board of the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma – which paid him tens of thousands per month despite his total lack of experience in the industry or country. At the same time, his father was actively leading the Obama administration’s foreign policy in Ukraine. Many have expressed deep concerns about the clear conflict of interest at play – including Obama administration officials. We still don’t have a full understanding of how Hunter’s position at Burisma influenced his father’s official government role in Ukraine. Joe Biden has repeatedly and forcefully denied any knowledge of, or any involvement in, his son’s businesses. It’s now obvious that Joe hasn’t been giving us the truth.
On October 14, 2020, the New York Post published an explosive article outlining how Hunter profited off his father’s position as vice president, including arranging introductions between sketchy Burisma executives and his father. In recent days, even more evidence has come out indicating that Joe Biden wasn’t just aware of his son’s deals but that he was reportedly involved himself.
The sources for the information detailed in the Post article are alleged emails obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop (left behind at a computer repair shop in Delaware), which was turned over to federal law enforcement and later shared with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s attorney.
The discovery that federal law enforcement has had this information and seemingly neglected to act on it, or even share it for almost a year, is extremely disturbing.
Searching for answers, on October 16, we joined several House Republican colleagues in sending an official letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking basic but important questions – things the public has a right to know.
Unfortunately, the FBI refused to answer any of our questions.
While they won’t provide answers to the American people, we think we can reasonably do so thanks to the new information that has come to light since our letter was sent.
Was the FBI in possession of the laptop and hard drive that was documented in the New York Post article?
In April 2019, a man believed to be Hunter Biden brought three water-damaged laptops to a Delaware computer repair shop, The Mac Shop, owned by John Paul Mac Isaac.
After the customer failed to return for the one salvageable laptop within the agreed-upon 90-day period, Mac Isaac says he came across disturbing files that caused him to alert law enforcement.
On December 9, 2019, Mac Isaac received a federal subpoena – photographs of which are included in the Post’s article – showing that the FBI was taking possession of the materials. Since the Post’s story ran, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe confirmed that the FBI does have the laptop and hard drive.
The FBI clearly has the laptop and hard drive – and has had them for nearly a year. Fortunately for us, Mac Isaac made copies (as he had the right to do) that were eventually shared with the New York Post. If not for this, it seems doubtful the American people would have learned the extent of the Biden family’s corruption.
Did the FBI take any steps to authenticate the laptop, hard drive and data that was uncovered?
For starters, it seems clear that the laptop and hard drive did in fact belong to Hunter Biden. The shop owner has provided paperwork featuring Hunter’s alleged signature.
Additionally, the shop owner told Delaware Online that the FBI contacted him for technical assistance in viewing the files shortly after he turned them over on December 9, 2019. That indicates to us that the FBI did look at the materials. But did they determine their authenticity?
We feel we can speculate with a reasonable degree of confidence that these materials are authentic.
First, we know at least some of the emails are real. Tony Bobulinski, a former business partner of Hunter Biden, is listed as a recipient on several now-public emails and has come forward confirming that the messages are genuine. In a press conference and again in an interview with Tucker Carlson, Bobulinski alleges Joe Biden was, in fact, involved in Hunter’s business – contrary to the repeated claims of the former vice president – and that he has more evidence he’ll be turning over as he cooperates with investigators.
Second, no one – including Hunter or Joe Biden – has claimed that the emails or laptop are fake. The Bidens have not even disputed the signature from the computer shop paperwork.
Third, if the materials were not authentic then someone fabricated them – which would be a disinformation attempt aimed at influencing our election. Many Democrats and liberal media commentators have made this claim (but have not disputed the authenticity of the material or provided evidence to support their claim). On October 19, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe informed us that the laptop “is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign” and that the ongoing investigation “is not centered around Russian disinformation…” If the emails are not being investigated as disinformation, the logical conclusion then is that they are genuine.
Did anyone at the FBI brief officials at the Department of Justice or at the White House about this laptop or hard drive at any point since December 2019?
To the best of our knowledge, the answer is no – that should alarm you. If you recall back to late 2019 and early 2020, the nation was being dragged through a partisan, vitriolic impeachment of President Trump over a phone conversation with the president of Ukraine regarding corruption allegations against Joe and Hunter Biden.
As we outlined in our October 16 letter to Director Wray:
Most concerning in the article was the allegation that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was in possession of this computer and hard drive back in December 2019. This action took place right at the end of the U.S. House of Representative’s impeachment sham against President Donald J. Trump, and right before the U.S. Senate tried the case. A large portion of the President’s legal defense case revolved around strong evidence that former Vice President Biden’s son, Hunter, was peddling his influence to his father to land lucrative jobs overseas that he might not have otherwise been qualified for.
If the FBI was, in fact, in possession of this evidence and failed to alert the White House to its existence that would have given even more weight to the President’s legal defense, this was a gross error in judgement and a severe violation of trust.
The information we have today would have been very useful to the president’s impeachment defense in January or February 2020. It would have shown that President Trump’s interest in the Bidens’ corruption was a legitimate concern. Even today, months after impeachment was soundly defeated and exposed as a partisan hit job, these emails vindicate President Trump.
But no one from the Justice Department or the White House has ever come forward – then or now – saying they were aware that this material existed and was in the FBI’s hands.
The FBI likes to say (when it suits them) that the agency does not comment on ongoing investigations. That’s fair up to a point, but it doesn’t excuse them for sitting on this material for nearly a year.
Even if it was necessary to keep materials classified due to an active investigation, Congress could and should have been notified. Congress handles classified information on a regular basis, and the overwhelming majority of us take the responsibility very seriously. Think about what impact this information would have had if Members of Congress learned of these emails during the Senate trial.
Why did the New York Post have the information about this laptop and hard drive before the American people?
The FBI has been in possession of this material since December 2019. It took 11 months for the American public to learn of this evidence and, even then, it was only due to the bravery of one newspaper. Why are we only hearing about this now, just days before the 2020 presidential election?
What exactly has the FBI been doing all this time? If there’s an ongoing investigation, when did it start? If it began in December 2019, it seems odd that no one has heard a peep about it.
On October 28, Mark Zuckerberg and other social media executives testified before the Senate on their role in censoring the New York Post article. Zuckerberg said that Facebook was alerted by the FBI that a “trove of documents” could appear in the days before the election as part of a disinformation campaign. Since the FBI has not contradicted the public statements from DNI Ratcliffe that the Post article is not disinformation, it seems this warning was not a reference to the Biden documents – though the social media platforms evidently thought it was. But then why has the FBI not corrected them? That’s no small question.
Here’s the crux of the problem. Tragically, the FBI has a spotty track record when it comes to high-level political investigations. The misconduct by FBI leadership and senior agents throughout the investigation of President Trump can fill an entire book.
The man who was supposed to set this ship back on course, Director Christopher Wray, has instead been a colossal disappointment. He has failed to correct the many wrongs identified by Congress, the Justice Department, the Inspector General and others. Now it seems that he has another failure on his hands.
Director Wray needs to explain to Congress and the American people exactly what the FBI knew, when they knew it, and what they’ve done about it. The election is on November 3, but none of these concerns will evaporate after the election – regardless of the outcome. We need answers, and we need them now.
Rep. Jody Hice represents Georgia's 10th District. He serves as ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform's Subcommittee on Government Operations, and as Communication Chair for the House Freedom Caucus. Andy Biggs has represented Arizona in the United States House since 2017 and serves as Ranking Member for the House Freedom Caucus.
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