Secretary of State Antony Blinken is claiming the political version of the immaculate conception.
In a Fox interview, Blinken suggests that he is free of blame in the creation of the 2020 letter from former intelligence officials claiming that the Hunter Biden laptop story was likely Russian disinformation.
Despite the primary organizer of the letter naming him as the Biden campaign adviser who first raised the claim, Blinken insists that he remains without sin.
All of the letter signatories are taking the same position.
No one is at fault in one of the most calculated false stories ever planted in the midst of an election cycle.
That would be hard enough to believe, but it’s not even the only lie Blinken is accused of telling in relation to Hunter Biden.
Blinken is also facing questions over allegedly false statements made to Congress related to Hunter Biden.
He claims he never emailed Hunter, when messages on the president’s son’s laptop show he did.
Let’s start with the letter.
With an enabling media, Joe Biden was able to use it to dismiss the evidence of possible influence peddling and criminal conduct on the laptop.
During the presidential debate, an irate Biden cited the letter as proving that the laptop story was “garbage” and part of a “Russian plan.” He added that “nobody believes” that the laptop was real.
Media and social media companies then buried the story, including some like Twitter banning its discussion before the election.
In the close election, the false story worked to negate a damaging scandal of corruption involving millions of dollars from foreign sources, including some involving figures associated with foreign intelligence.
After the Republican takeover of the House, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell was called before Congress to give a statement.
When pressed on how this letter came about, Morell reportedly did not hesitate: Blinken.
He said Blinken was “the impetus” of the false claim.
Morell then organized dozens of ex-national security officials to sign the letter claiming that the Hunter laptop story had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
On Monday, Blinken told Fox News State Department correspondent Benjamin Hall that “with regard to that letter, I didn’t — it wasn’t my idea, didn’t ask for it, didn’t solicit it. And I think the testimony that the former deputy director of the CIA, Mike Morell, put forward confirms that.”
Morell said that it was Blinken who “triggered” his interest in crafting the letter. So perhaps Blinken is trying to dance on the semantic pinhead of being the impetus as opposed to the “solicitor” of the claim. Morell did not appear to have any doubts or hesitation after speaking with Blinken and quickly assembled an array of experts to make the false claim. Morell admitted to Congress that one of his goals was “to help then-Vice President Biden in the debate and to assist him in winning the election.”
So it turns out no one is at fault. Not the “trigger,” not the organizer, not the signatories, not the media. Indeed, maybe it is the public for being chumps in buying this scam.
Blinken is facing a more serious question raised by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who declared that Blinken told “boldface” lies when he testified under oath to Congress in 2020 on the controversy. Johnson said that Blinken said he never emailed Hunter Biden.
Yet emails between the president’s son and Blinken were recently disclosed. They suggested that the two were in communication in 2015 while Blinken was working in the Obama administration and Hunter was on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.
Johnson stated on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that “we know that he lied boldface to Congress about never emailing Hunter Biden. My guess is he told a bunch of other lies.”
There are also emails that suggest that Hunter communicated through Blinken’s wife, Evan Ryan, who now serves as Biden’s cabinet secretary.
We still need more details on the underlying facts, but, if true, the allegations could constitute both criminal and impeachable offenses. Blinken reportedly made these statements as part of the process leading to his confirmation. If he lied, it could constitute making a “materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation” to Congress under 18 US 1001.
If Blinken lied or committed perjury, it could also constitute an impeachable offense. One complicating issue is that this did not technically occur while in office but in pursuit of that office. Moreover, there may be other statements since becoming secretary of state.
Of course, during the Clinton impeachment, the question of whether perjury constitutes an impeachable offense was raised. When I testified at the impeachment hearing, I maintained that it clearly does meet the standard of a “high crime and misdemeanor.” In my view, it did not matter the subject matter.
Others, like Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe, were equally certain that perjury did not meet that standard in the Clinton case.
The fact is that cabinet and high-ranking officers have often been accused of false statements without facing impeachment or even prosecution.
Ironically, the letter includes one notable example.
Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper during the Obama administration was accused of perjury before the Senate but was not sanctioned by the Democrat-controlled Senate or the Obama Justice Department.
He later signed the Hunter Biden letter.
That history may be reassuring for Blinken.
However, whatever the outcome, Blinken has some explaining to do and one thing is clear: There is nothing immaculate about the Hunter Biden scandal.
Jonathan Turley is an attorney and a professor at George Washington University Law School.