(trendingpoliticsnews) – On Thursday it was disclosed that the FBI personnel who had been warning social media companies about a potential Russian “hack and leak” operation in the run-up to the 2020 election, were aware that the laptop belonging to Hunter Biden was not a product of Russian disinformation.
The information came to light during a transcribed interview of Laura Dehmlow, the Section Chief of the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), conducted by the House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on July 17, 2023.
The New York Post had broken a story based on the contents of the laptop about alleged influence peddling by the Biden family. However, the FBI, despite having been in constant communication with social media companies for months, decided to refuse to answer direct questions about the laptop’s authenticity.
This decision led social media companies to believe that the laptop was the product of a hack-and-dump operation, causing them to conclude that the New York Post story was Russian disinformation. This conclusion had significant repercussions, as it led to the widespread censorship of the story on major social media platforms.
On October 14, 2020, the day the Post published its story, representatives from the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force attended a previously scheduled meeting with Twitter. During this meeting, a Twitter employee asked the FITF about the authenticity of the laptop. An analyst in the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division embedded in FITF began to respond that the laptop was real, but was interrupted by an FBI lawyer who stated that the FBI had “no further comment” regarding the laptop’s provenance.
Later that same day, FITF met with Facebook. During the FITF-Facebook meeting, Dehmlow responded to a similar question from a Facebook employee about Hunter Biden’s laptop by stating that the FBI, again, had “no comment.” This decision was made despite the FBI being in possession of the laptop and having confirmed its authenticity. According to Dehmlow, multiple personnel on FITF knew that the laptop was real.
In the hours following the publication of the Post’s story, Twitter blocked the story from being shared, while Facebook throttled the story, significantly reducing its circulation and prevalence in users’ newsfeeds. The FBI’s actions prevented millions of Americans from having a clear understanding of a salient issue in the 2020 presidential election.
The FBI’s silence on the matter had far-reaching consequences. Prior to the presidential election on November 3, 2020, the FBI never formally revealed that the laptop was “real” and in the FBI’s possession. As Dehmlow testified to the Committee, had the Hunter Biden story been a product of an actual Russian disinformation campaign, FITF would have been fully authorized to warn the companies of such a campaign.
However, the refusal of FBI officials to verify the authenticity of the laptop allowed widespread censorship of an otherwise accurate news story. This raises serious concerns about the role of the FBI and its handling of information that has the potential to influence public opinion and the electoral process.
The full letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, which provides a detailed account of the events and the FBI’s handling of the situation, can be found here.