A former CIA official is speaking out about his decision not to sign a letter that implied the Hunter Biden laptop story might be linked to a Russian disinformation campaign just weeks before the 2020 election.
According to a Fox News report, Dan Hoffman, the former Moscow station chief of the CIA, said he was “surprised” that nobody asked for his expertise on Russia before the letter suggesting that the laptop story could be a Russian disinformation campaign was circulated and published.
“I remember I got the letter, October 18, 2020, and at first glance, it seemed natural to lay the blame at the Kremlin’s doorstep. Remember, Vladimir Putin is in the Kremlin and he’s well known for cloak-and-dagger espionage operations,” Hoffman said. “But at the same time, there was no evidence, and the letter noted there was no evidence. And I just felt like we needed to do the forensics. It was a very convoluted story.”
After revealing that he was among the group of former officials asked to sign a now-infamous letter saying Hunter Biden's laptop was Russian disinformation, Dan Hoffman explains why he didn't. pic.twitter.com/bFO5sbQhJx
— Spencer Brown (@itsSpencerBrown) April 28, 2023
The letter, which was released on October 19, 2020, by 51 former intelligence officials, suggested that the alleged laptop contents had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” However, the signatories also emphasized that they did not know whether the emails being reported at the time were genuine and had no evidence of Russian involvement, the Daily Wire noted.
In September 2019, Hoffman told the Washington Examiner regarding the letter, “It looks to me like somebody had an agenda which was to run this through the political meat grinder and use it for political purposes. And that’s not why we run intelligence operations.”
After POLITICO reported the statement, with a headline claiming that the former intelligence officials were alleging the story was “Russian disinfo,” then-candidate Joe Biden used the letter to cast doubt on the laptop story during one of his debates with then-President Donald Trump weeks before the election.
Over the last two years, investigations have shown that many of the laptop’s contents, which revealed personal details about Biden and his business activities, were indeed genuine. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, one of the letter’s most prominent signees who himself has been accused of lying to Congress, accused POLITICO in February of “deliberately” misrepresenting the letter’s message. POLITICO stood by its reporting of the letter.
Hunter Biden’s legal team has sent letters to state and federal officials in recent months, requesting investigations into individuals who distributed the contents of his laptop, which included personal information and business dealings. However, Hunter’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, made it clear that the letters do not confirm whether the laptop belongs to his client.
Hunter is currently being investigated by federal prosecutors over allegations of tax evasion, foreign business dealings, and a gun purchase. Despite these allegations, Hunter has maintained his innocence and expressed his belief that he will be cleared of any wrongdoing, the Daily Wire added.
Last week, Hoffman published an op-ed in The Washington Times, revealing that he had received an email from former acting CIA Director Michael Morell requesting his signature on the letter.
“[T]he email I received from Mr. Morell did not invite any further discussion or debate. The letter was a fait accompli. It was being passed around for signatures, not edits,” he wrote. “I’ve never been one to put my name to words someone else wrote on my behalf.”