House Republicans move to strip security clearances from any official who said in 2020 that the release of Hunter Biden’s emails had ‘classic earmarks of a Russian information operation’

House Republicans move to strip security clearances from any official who said in 2020 that the release of Hunter Biden’s emails had ‘classic earmarks of a Russian information operation’

By: Posted: June 23, 2023

Hunter Biden in 2022.
WASHINGTON, DC April 18, 2022: Hunter Biden during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn on April 18, 2022. This years event theme, EGGucation, will transform the South Lawn into a school community, full of fun educational activities for children to enjoy in addition to the traditional rolling and hunting eggs.

  • GOPers moved to effectively strip clearances from ex-officials who questioned Biden’s emails.
  • The policy was included as part of a much-larger bill funding US defense.
  • A House Democrat called out the proposal and warned about the precedent it would set.

House Republicans are moving to effectively strip security clearances from any intelligence or defense official who signed on to an October 2020 statement that raised the question of whether the release of Hunter Biden’s emails was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

As part of a much-larger bill funding US defense, Republicans on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense proposed prohibiting any funding to grant, renew, or maintain a security clearance for any official who signed the statement.

More than 50 former intelligence officials, including former CIA Directors Mike Hayden, Leon Panetta, and John Brennan, signed the letter raising questions about the then newly published New York Post story concerning emails from Biden’s laptop. Politico reported at the time that the letter was provided to the publication by Nick Shapiro, a former top aide under Brennan.

The letter did not propose any evidence of Russian action or even explicitly suggest that Moscow was behind the story. Rather, the letter said the circumstances surrounding its publication raised significant doubt.

“We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal Attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement — just that our experience makes us deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case,” they wrote in the letter.

Twitter restricted sharing of the New York Post’s article, an action that has been widely criticized by its new owner, Elon Musk, and scores of Republicans.

Years later, The Washington Post commissioned two security experts who verified thousands of emails from the hard drive that contained copies of Biden’s emails, photos, and other messages and that was left at a Delaware computer-repair store.

Rep. Betty McCollum, the top Democrat on the defense-related appropriations panel, slammed Republicans for including the provision in the bill.

“Is it the role of this committee to ban individuals from having security clearances for signing their name to a letter — expressing their opinions as ordained in the Constitution?” McCollum of Minnesota said in her opening remarks. “Section 8150 does just that.”

The inclusion of so-called policy riders in much-larger funding bills is commonplace in Washington, especially bills funding US troops and the Pentagon. While some of these policies become law, many are often stripped out when the Democratic-led Senate passes its own legislation.

McCollum added that Republicans were setting a dangerous precedent if they wanted to plow ahead with their proposal.

“If we want to take this committee down a road of punitive action, I have plenty of members of the Trump administration who I think should never hold security clearances again based on their actions surrounding January 6,” she said.

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