The decade's most triggering comedy
At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) shared how, in a few short months, he is setting the pace in regard to subpoenas during this session of Congress.
“We’ve actually done several,” Jordan said on Thursday. “I think maybe more than … I think the rest of the Congress combined.”
Jordan, who has sent subpoenas for investigations into a school board issue and Big Tech, did not divulge who may be targeted next, but his comments came a day after he sent a “final” batch of letters to a group of U.S. intelligence veterans for an investigation related to President Joe Biden’s adult son Hunter Biden.
These 51 former officials signed a statement in October 2020 that “falsely implied” reporting about Hunter Biden — in particular a laptop that allegedly contained information about his shady business dealings and personal life — was “the product of Russian disinformation” weeks before the presidential election, Jordan and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Michael Turner (R-OH) wrote.
GOP leaders previously reached out to these former spy officials before Republicans took over the House. Now that they are armed with subpoena power, Jordan and Turner are demanding “full” compliance “immediately” with their requests for documents and testimony.
While the letters do not indicate a specific deadline, Jordan upped the ante in his remarks at CPAC, taking aim at security clearances the signees may still hold, which the congressman described as a lucrative arrangement.
“I would bet every one of those 51 former intel officials who signed that letter — that now-famous letter,” Jordan said. “I would bet every one of them still has a security clearance. Why?”
“I think it’s for their personal benefit,” Jordan continued. “I think that that’s something that has value, and frankly they probably make money off the idea that they can get information. And many of them are contributors on various TV networks. So, why should they have a security clearance? That’s maybe one of the things we propose as legislation to help remedy some of the problems.”
Though the letters to the intelligence officials stress how documents and testimony “are necessary to further our oversight,” Jordan’s focus on legislation could become a critical sticking point in the months ahead as the Republicans push for cooperation.
Hunter Biden’s attorney recently denied the House Oversight Committee’s request for information, claiming it had “no legislative purpose.” The panel’s chairman, James Comer (R-KY), followed up in an interview by repeatedly stressing his investigation into Hunter Biden is essential to creating a “legislative fix” to prevent unsavory financial entanglements involving the President of the United States.
The 2020 election took place more than two years ago, but it was not until after Jordan and Turner began sending out the new batch of letters last month that one of the statement’s most prominent signees, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, appeared to break ranks. Clapper accused POLITICO, the news outlet that first reported the statement, of “deliberately” misrepresenting their message by publishing a headline that said the former intelligence officials were claiming the story was “Russian disinfo.”
The 2020 statement itself said the laptop’s alleged contents “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” but it stressed the signees did not know if emails being reported at the time were genuine and insisted they had no evidence of Russian involvement. POLITICO defended its reporting about the statement.
Other signees have shown less of an appetite to speak publicly about the 2020 statement. During a counterintelligence-focused event last week, a Washington Examiner reporter asked whether the statement could harm the public’s trust in the intelligence community, and by extension, damage its ability to warn about foreign influence operations.
“That’s not related to the counterintelligence of foreign actors,” said the discussion moderator David Priess, a former CIA analyst and manager who signed the Hunter Biden laptop statement. When the other speakers, two current government counterintelligence officials, declined to answer, Priess added, “We’re good,” before moving on to another question.
Over the past two years, many of the laptop’s contents have been analyzed and shown to be authentic. Hunter Biden’s lawyers recently began to send letters to state and federal officials demanding investigations into individuals involved in disseminating the contents of the laptop, including to the media. His attorney, Abbe Lowell, insisted the letters do not “confirm” the laptop was his client’s device.
Beyond the inquiries of Congress, Hunter Biden is under investigation by federal prosecutors, including over his foreign business dealings and tax affairs. Hunter Biden, who revealed the existence of that years-long inquiry only after the 2020 election, has said he expects to be cleared of wrongdoing.