In a revelation that has sparked controversy, the US House Judiciary Committee recently disclosed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) intentionally withheld information from social media companies regarding the authenticity of the laptop allegedly belonging to President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The laptop story was published by The New York Post in October 2020, just a month before the presidential election that pitted Biden against incumbent President Donald Trump. Despite the FBI having the laptop in its custody since 2019, all major social media platforms censored the story, with some even blocking the outlet itself. This censorship was carried out with the tacit approval of the FBI, which cited a prior Bureau warning about an impending “Russian” disinformation campaign.
On Friday, House Republicans shed light on this matter, citing the sworn testimony of Laura Dehmlow, the section chief of the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), given to the Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on July 17. The testimony revealed that the same FBI officials who warned Silicon Valley about a “Russian” operation were aware that the laptop story was authentic. However, after conditioning social media companies to believe that the laptop was part of a “hack-and-dump” operation, the FBI ceased information sharing, leading the social media platforms to conclude that the New York Post story was Russian disinformation.
To support their claims, the House Republicans quoted Dehmlow’s testimony regarding an FBI meeting with Twitter and Facebook on October 14, 2020, the day the Post published its story. When a Twitter employee inquired about the laptop story, an FBI analyst started to confirm the laptop’s authenticity but was interrupted by an FBI lawyer who stated that the Bureau had “no further comment” regarding its provenance. Additionally, Dehmlow herself gave a similar response to a Facebook employee’s question about the laptop, once again stating that the FBI had “no comment,” despite having the laptop in their possession and confirming its authenticity.
The laptop in question was dropped off by Hunter Biden at a Delaware shop in April 2019 but was never claimed. In his memoir, Biden later admitted to being on hard drugs at the time. The contents of the laptop revealed his involvement with prostitutes and business deals that potentially implicated the Biden family, including his father Joe Biden.
Michael Shellenberger, one of the journalists who investigated the Twitter Files, commented on the recent revelations, stating that it was already known that the FBI obtained Hunter Biden’s laptop in December 2019. However, the new information shows that the FBI agents warning of Russian disinformation regarding Hunter Biden were aware of the laptop’s existence. Shellenberger deemed this evidence of a criminal conspiracy by high-ranking FBI officials to influence the 2020 election.
The revelation of the FBI’s alleged interference in the 2020 election has sparked widespread debate and criticism. Many argue that the censorship of the laptop story by social media platforms, with the FBI’s apparent approval, deprived the American public of important information during a critical election period. The controversy surrounding the FBI’s actions raises concerns about government influence and potential manipulation of information in the media landscape. As the story unfolds, it is likely to generate further scrutiny and calls for accountability within the FBI.