David Cariens, a retired CIA analyst, told congressional investigators in a written statement that an active CIA employee involved in reviewing his memoir “asked” if he would sign the letter in October 2020, which he agreed to do after hearing the letter’s contents, a new report shows.
“When the person in charge of reviewing the book called to say it was approved with no changes, I was told about the draft letter. The person asked me if I would be willing to sign. … After hearing the letter’s contents, and the qualifiers in it such as, ‘We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement …’ I agreed to sign,” Cariens said.
This admission appears in a staff memo released Wednesday by Republicans who lead the House Judiciary Committee, its Weaponization panel, and the House Intelligence Committee. The CIA employee mentioned by Cariens appears to be part of the agency’s Prepublication Classification Review Board (PCRB), the very same team that reviewed the letter before it got published.
“Not only did they review and approve the letter, they were actively soliciting, recruiting people to sign on,” House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday. “That is not supposed to happen,” he added, before suggesting that the CIA employee may have made a “big mistake.”
House Democrats accused their GOP colleagues of releasing a “cherrypicked” report, stating there “is substantial reason to question Mr. Cariens’ recollection of what happened, given the evidence and testimony on hand.” They published a bullet-point list that noted Cariens received the same invitation email from a former CIA official as other signatories and concluded that Republicans “are making expansive claims that CIA ‘promoted’ the letter without hearing Cariens’ testimony or taking any steps to corroborate or refute the single email they received from the witness directly.”
The letter went public on October 19, 2020, with the signatures of 51 intelligence veterans, saying the laptop’s alleged contents have “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” After POLITICO, the news outlet that first reported the statement, published a headline that said the former intelligence officials were claiming the story was “Russian disinfo,” then-candidate Joe Biden, Hunter’s father, used the statement to cast doubt on the laptop story during a debate against former President Donald Trump.
Among the signees on the letter were Cariens and his wife Janice, a former CIA operational support office. Other intelligence veterans who added their names to the letter were former CIA Directors Leon Panetta, John Brennan, and Michael Hayden. Dan Hoffman, the CIA’s former Moscow station chief, recently came forward to say that he and “many others” were asked to sign the letter but declined to do it.
The laptop, which Hunter Biden allegedly abandoned at a repair shop in Delaware and was later seized by the FBI, became a subject of interest in the final weeks of the 2020 campaign when the New York Post began reporting on details of the younger Biden’s shady business dealings and personal life that it contained. Over the past couple years, many of the contents of the laptop have been analyzed and shown to be authentic, which has galvanized Republicans who believe there was a coordinated effort involving Big Tech and government agents to suppress damaging information about the Bidens.
Federal investigators have been looking into Hunter Biden for years. After Biden’s lawyers met with Department of Justice officials late last month, sources told The Washington Post that potential charges for tax- and gun-related crimes may soon follow from Delaware’s U.S. Attorney David Weiss. Hunter Biden has said he expects to be cleared of wrongdoing, and his father, now-President Joe Biden, told MSNBC last week that his son has “done nothing wrong.”
Congressional Republicans have released portions of a transcribed interview in which former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said “yes” when asked if a call around mid-October 2020 from Antony Blinken, an adviser to President Biden’s campaign who is now secretary of state, triggered a series of events that led to the letter. Morell also testified that Steve Ricchetti, chairman of the Biden campaign, called Morell following the October 22, 2022, debate to thank him for helping to put together the letter.
While Blinken denies soliciting the letter, emails show Morell asked fellow intelligence veterans to add their names to the letter with a stated purpose of giving Biden’s 2020 campaign a debate “talking point.” Emails also show discussion about edits, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, another signee, suggesting “it would strengthen the verbiage if you say this has all the classic earmarks of a Soviet/Russian information operation rather than the ‘feel’ of a Russian operation.”
Multiple former intelligence officials involved in spearheading the letter conceded that an active CIA official recruiting signatures would be improper, as shown in their testimony to congressional investigators. Marc Polymeropoulos, a former CIA official who helped draft the letter, said such an action would be “unprofessional,” while Morell said it would be “inappropriate” for a current employee to get involved in the political process. Nick Shapiro, another former CIA official who shopped the letter around to media outlets, guessed that “it was someone who acted inappropriately and was just stupidly outing it and asking these folks if they were going to sign it.”
The Daily Wire reached out to the CIA, seeking comment on the report, as well as the specific allegations that an active employee solicited at least one signature. The agency responded, but did not address the allegation about the PCRB official.
“The role of CIA’s Pre-Publication Review Board is to review materials submitted by current and former officers to determine if the materials contain any classified information,” a CIA spokesperson said. “In the case of the referenced letter, it was submitted to the PCRB in October 2020 and was reviewed only for classification, as is standard practice.”
The staff report released on Wednesday said the CIA has “failed” to respond to a request to produce documents. The memo also noted that investigators have sought to follow up with Cariens for additional information as some details, including the exact timing of his contact with PCRB, remain unclear.