EXCLUSIVE: Senate Republicans are demanding the Office of the Director of National Intelligence provide information on the status of security clearances for the 51 ex-officials who signed onto a letter claiming the Hunter Biden laptop was part of a Russian disinformation campaign ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Just before the 2020 election, 51 former national security officials wrote a public letter claiming the Hunter Biden laptop had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.” It was signed by former President Obama CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, among others.
The Republicans are demanding Haines provide information on how many of the 51 signatories “maintained an active security clearance” at the time of the letter— between Oct. 1 and Oct. 31, 2020—and how many currently possess a security clearance.
The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., along with Sens. James Risch, Tom Cotton, John Cornyn, Jerry Moran, and James Lankford, penned a letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines Wednesday, obtained by Fox News Digital, expressing their concerns about the letter and the potential “politicization of intelligence.”
“We are deeply concerned these former senior members of the U.S. Intelligence Community misused their titles and connections to pursue a coordinated, partisan effort to protect President Biden during the 2020 election,” they wrote.
“We now know this letter was part of a deliberate effort to protect the Biden campaign in the waning days of the election,” they continued, adding that the 51 former intelligence officials “highlighted their former titles and previous experience in the Intelligence Community to bolster the credibility of the state and further the effectiveness of this partisan political operation.”
Meanwhile, Fox News Digital reported earlier this month that former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell, who worked to write the letter and get support from ex-intelligence officials, sent a draft of the statement to the CIA’s Prepublication Classification Review Board (PCRB) before making it public.
Morell also testified to congressional committees that it was the Biden campaign that orchestrated the letter to discredit stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Morell sent the draft in an email to the PCRB, and wrote on Oct. 19, 2020, “This is a rush job as it needs to get out as soon as possible.”
Morell told the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees that the PCRB “approved” the letter “as written” the same day.
Rubio and the senators are questioning Haines on whether ODNI or the CIA have conducted a review of Morrell’s alleged “abuse of the CIA’s PCRB process,” and whether they have investigated whether employees of the intelligence community in October 2020 “participated or aided in the creation: of the letter.
“All of us in positions of public trust with access to classified information owe it tot he American people not to abuse our positions for political purposes,” they wrote.
The CIA rejected the idea that politics plays a role in PCRB decisions.
“Political considerations play no role in the CIA Pre-Publication Review Board’s established process to determine whether information submitted by current and former officers contains any classified information,” the CIA said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “The PCRB is composed entirely of staff officers who conduct the reviews.”