The appointment of MSNBC analyst Jeremy Bash to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board triggered an outcry in Washington given Bash’s role in denying the legitimacy of the Hunter Biden laptop as “Russian disinformation.” Bash was not only one of more than 50 former intelligence officials who signed a letter dismissing the Hunter Biden laptop story before the 2020 presidential election, but he took to cable news to assure the public that there is nothing to it. Bash is not alone in the Administration as high-ranking officials who pushed such false claims to help get President Biden elected.
For those of us who have written about the laptop for two years, it has been a constant barrage of criticism of spreading “Russian disinformation” or discussing fake emails.
Notably, the Biden family never outright denied that the laptop belonged to Hunter. They just kept repeating that experts like Bash said that this was likely Russian disinformation. It did not matter that recipients of the emails confirmed the authenticity of the messages detailing extensive influence peddling schemes by the Biden family. The Biden campaign assembled the usual list of experts to shut off debate by declaring that this was all false. It was a mantra from President Biden to a legion of reporters. As Biden stated
“There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what he’s accusing me of is a Russian plant. [F]ive former heads of the CIA, both parties, say what he’s saying is a bunch of garbage.”
Bash was one of the most vocal from that letter in assuring voters that this was the suspected work of Russian intelligence despite the overlap with what we already knew about Biden influence peddling schemes. The press ran with that account despite the determination of American intelligence that it was not Russian disinformation.
Some were more honest, or at least forthright, than others. Washington Post columnist Thomas Rid wrote that “We must treat the Hunter Biden leaks as if they were a foreign intelligence operation — even if they probably aren’t.”
Bash not only spread that false story but seemed to mock the laptop as transparently false:
Bash is not alone in “making his bones” in this way. Biden selected Jake Sullivan as his National Security Adviser despite his own history of spreading false claims for political purposes. Not only did Sullivan push the false collusion claim but it is the basis of an ongoing criminal investigation of Special Counsel John Durham.
On July 28, 2016, then-CIA Director John Brennan briefed President Obama on Hillary Clinton’s alleged plan to tie Donald Trump to Russia as “a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.” Obama reportedly was told how Clinton allegedly approved “a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”
The Hillary Clinton campaign then pushed the Steele Dossier and Alfa bank allegations just days later.
The Alfa Bank false story was pushed by Clinton’s top campaign adviser, Jake Sullivan. Sullivan declared at the time: “This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow. Computer scientists have uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.” Sullivan added that he could “only assume federal authorities will now explore this direct connection between Trump and Russia as part of their existing probe into Russia’s meddling in our elections.”
Even the Biden Administration’s claimed campaign against disinformation favored those who spread disinformation on his son’s influence peddling. Nina Jankowicz as the controversial pick to head the new Disinformation Governance Board was one of those spreading the claim that the laptop was Russian disinformation before the election.
Similarly, Biden brought in others who showed the same willingness to ignore the obvious for the opportune. He made Kate Bedingfield a top campaign aide and then a top White House aide. Bedingfield was notorious for attacking any of us who pursued the story before the election as “amplifying Russian misinformation.”
Former Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki and current Domestic Policy Council director Susan Rice also spread the claim that the laptop was fake and planted by Russians. So did White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates and staff secretary Neera Tanden.
What is most striking about Sullivan and Bash is that the false intelligence claims were specifically used for political advantage. They did so despite American intelligence officials saying that they saw no evidence of Russian disinformation and critics pointing out the overlap with known facts and communications. They pushed the false claims to dismiss the scandal before the 2020 election and it worked. It worked not only for Biden but for those who pushed the story.
Both national security officials showed at a minimum poor judgment and at worse a knowing disregard for the facts. Yet, they were embraced by President Biden as precisely the type of advisers that he needed on our national security. Neither have been pressed by the media on this issue. Indeed, the media was a willing ally in the effort.
Ironically, Bash told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace that the laptop story “looks like Russian intelligence…walks like Russian intelligence…talks like Russian intelligence . . . a classic Russian playbook disinformation campaign.” Yet, it was the letter, the media, and such public declarations that were part of a classic disinformation campaign and it succeeded before the election. And now so has Jeremy Bash.
This column appeared on Fox.com