Ron Johnson says FBI needs to provide answers on Hunter Biden laptop saga

A top Senate Republican who has been investigating issues related to the foreign business dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, is pressing FBI Director Christopher Wray for details related to emails purportedly from the younger Biden’s laptop and whether the bureau is investigating the saga after the FBI has declined to provide answers.

Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Wray on Saturday, noting that a “whistleblower” had reached out to his committee on Sept. 24, the day after the release of a report by Johnson and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s joint report titled Hunter Biden, Burisma, and Corruption, and had “informed my staff that he had possession of a laptop left in his business by Hunter Biden.”

The New York Post released a number of stories this week based on the emails, with Twitter spending two days blocking the stories from being shared before relenting.

The alleged whistleblower, revealed to be computer repairman John Paul Mac Isaac, “also informed us that he provided its contents to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in response to a December 9, 2019 grand jury subpoena.” The Wisconsin Republican said the FBI had an obligation to provide basic answers to the Senate about the emails related to the younger Biden’s foreign business dealings (especially amid unverified Democratic claims that the story is a Russian disinformation operation) but said the FBI had failed to provide any details.

“As the first step in our due diligence, committee staff contacted FBI officials and asked for confirmation of certain facts in an attempt to validate the whistleblower’s claims and assertions. Unfortunately, several days later, the FBI responded that it would not confirm or deny any information identified by the committee even though several of our questions were not related to the possible existence of an ongoing grand jury investigation,” Johnson told Wray on Saturday.

He continued: “I have a responsibility to validate and verify the contents of any information produced to my committee. The committee must know if it receives information that could be fraudulent or not accurate. As my staff explained to FBI officials, this information is crucial for several reasons. For example, if any information offered to the committee was linked to a foreign adversary’s attempt to interfere in the election, I would expect the FBI to ensure the committee is protected and receives a defensive briefing. Similarly, knowingly providing false information to Congress is a crime, and I would expect the FBI to have informed me if, after having been given notice of what we received, this may have occurred. That is precisely why my staff reached out to the FBI. For these reasons, the committee must know whether the FBI has assessed the validity of materials the whistleblower has provided, and what, if any, actions the FBI has taken since obtaining this information.”

Johnson posed questions to the bureau, including whether the bureau possesses material from Biden’s laptop and when and how it came into possession of that information, if and when the FBI examined the records, whether the inquiry was over, whether criminal activity had been unearthed, whether the records were genuine or had been altered, and whether the records were the result of a computer hack.

He also asked whether other federal agencies have obtained the alleged Biden emails, whether the FBI obtained Biden’s laptop contents from a Delaware business and whether and why it obtained the information through a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. District Court of Delaware, what the FBI has done to authenticate this information, whether the FBI has ever been in possession of any other laptops or emails from Biden, and what the timeline of the FBI’s knowledge of and investigation into this saga is.

In response to a series of questions, an FBI spokesperson told the Washington Examiner that “the FBI declines to comment, keeping with our standard practice of not confirming or denying the existence of an investigation.”

“There are so many red flags about the Biden family trying to cash in on the Vice President’s position that it can be hard to keep them straight,” Johnson told the Washington Examiner earlier this week, adding, “Joe Biden needs to finally come clean and tell the truth to the American people about all of these issues, and he needs to do it now.”

The emails obtained by the New York Post from Hunter Biden, if authentic, shed further light on his time on the board of Ukrainian energy giant Burisma and on his pursuit of lucrative deals connected to shady Chinese businessmen.

The emails have not been independently obtained by the Washington Examiner, but Joe Biden’s campaign has not disputed their veracity. Hunter Biden’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment and has not said the emails are inauthentic.

Biden’s campaign denied the report that the former vice president met with Ukrainian businessman Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, saying “no meeting” like that happened after a New York Post report on Wednesday titled “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad” claimed that the younger Biden introduced the two.

Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told Politico that the New York Post “certainly never raised that Rudy Giuliani — whose discredited conspiracy theories and alliance with figures connected to Russian intelligence have been widely reported — claimed to have such materials” and that “we have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place.”

After the denial from Joe Biden’s campaign, it was reported by Politico on Wednesday that former Biden senior advisers “said that while there was never an official meeting, it’s technically conceivable that Pozharskyi would have approached Biden on the sidelines of some broader U.S.-Ukraine event.”

Giuliani was a staunch defender of Trump throughout the impeachment process and worked with sources inside the United States and abroad, including Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, to push allegations that Biden had abused his power in Ukraine.

Bill Evanina, who leads the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, released an intelligence assessment in early August warning that Russia is “using a range of measures to primarily denigrate” Biden and that Derkach “is spreading claims about corruption — including through publicizing leaked phone calls — to undermine” the former vice president. The Treasury Department announced sanctions against Derkach over the summer, but there is no evidence that the leaked emails from Hunter Biden were connected to Derkach or Russia.

Many Democrats immediately dismissed the Biden laptop story as Russian disinformation, with Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff telling CNN that “we know that this whole smear on Joe Biden comes from the Kremlin — that’s been clear for well over a year now, that they’ve been pushing this false narrative about the vice president and his son.”

Schiff did not provide evidence that the Hunter Biden emails were connected to Russia.

Outlets, including CNN, have reported that U.S. authorities are investigating whether the publishing of Biden’s emails is connected to a Russian disinformation operation, but they did not say the bureau had reached a conclusion. Fox News reported that one of the recipients on an email chain related to Biden and China had corroborated the veracity of the messages.

The computer repair shop owner who allegedly came into possession of the younger Biden’s computer told the New York Post that he made a copy of the hard drive and provided it to a lawyer for Giuliani as well as handed it over to federal investigators. The outlet said former Trump adviser Steve Bannon alerted the outlet about the hard drive’s existence in September, and Giuliani handed over a copy of it on Sunday.

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