Former Central Intelligence Agency officer David Priess defended being a signatory on a letter with more than two dozen other current and former intel agents and experts who claimed the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop bombshell looked like a “Russian information operation.”
In October 2020, the Post broke the story about how then-Wilmington computer shopkeeper John-Paul Mac Isaac came into possession of the laptop first son Hunter Biden left at his store near Trolley Square.
A copy of the hard drive was provided to the FBI and another to former New York City Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
“It is for all these reasons that we write to say that the arrival on the US political scene of emails purportedly belonging to Vice President Biden’s son Hunter, much of it related to his time serving on the Board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” Priess and fellow signatories wrote in-part.
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After a handful of questions about Priess’ analysis of the Russia-Ukraine war, “Special Report” anchor Bret Baier challenged the “Lawfare” blog publisher on the matter:
“You signed on to this open letter that was published by Politico,” Baier said. “Why did you sign on to that?”
Priess replied that he and the other signatories’ expertise brought them to the conclusion that Hunter’s laptop story had “all the classic earmarks” of being Russian interference. He cited that the signatories did not claim it was “disinformation” or false, but that it seemed like a machination Moscow would partake in.
“[The letter] also says we don’t know if this is a Russian operation at all. That has been dramatically changed in the retelling of the story,” Priess added, calling the purported tactic a “tried and true” one stemming back to the Cold War.
Baier pushed back, saying even the left-wing New York Times and Washington Post declared the hard drive’s contents authentic:
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“It was not true,” he said, pointing out that Joe Biden himself used the letter as a basis to claim during a debate with Donald Trump that the laptop story was indeed a Russian campaign.
“There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what this he’s accusing me of is a Russian plant,” Biden said later that October, leading Trump to incredulously respond, “You mean the laptop is now another Russia-Russia-Russia hoax? You’ve got to be kidding.”
“That’s exactly what this … is,” Biden fumed in reply.
When prompted to respond, Priess said he would let Biden “speak for himself” and reiterated he stands by signing onto the letter and the view the laptop development had the earmarks of a Russian interference operation; “the way it was disseminated and propagated through media.”
“Those words are still true. It has all the classic earmarks,” he said.
Baier then pressed Priess to consider whether the letter affected anything, like the trajectory of the race.
“I don’t know if it affected anything. We don’t analyze American political environments. What we are trying to do is point out that this has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information campaign. Not to say it’s Russian disinformation, but to say that the propagation through American media and international media has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information campaign, because we’ve seen it over and over and over again.”
“[The Kremlin] loves to sow these kind of divisions and exacerbate them. That’s not American. That’s Russian.”
Baier replied that the letter instead ended up as a “Biden information campaign – because he used it in the campaign and that debate.”
Priess said the president should then be asked about the same.