One of President Joe Biden’s choices for the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board was one of the about 50 former intelligence officials who signed a letter claiming, without evidence, that stories about a laptop computer said to belong to Biden’s son was part of a “Russian information operation.”
Jeremy Bash has been a chief of staff for both the CIA and the Department of Defense. While in those positions during the Obama administration, he advised Leon Panetta. Panetta, an Obama appointee, also signed the Oct. 19, 2020, missive, which claimed that stories about Hunter Biden’s computer “has all the classic earmarks” of a Russian operation, even as the officials admitted that they didn’t know if emails from the computer were genuine.
“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,” Bash, Panetta, and dozens of other former intelligence and defense officials wrote.
The letter was published by Politico under the headline “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say” after the Post reported on the contents of the emails, which have since been accepted as genuine by broad swaths of the media.
Bash was one of six appointments that Biden announced on Aug. 26. Both he and Blair Effron were tapped for the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, an independent entity that “exists exclusively to assist the President by providing the President with an independent source of advice on the effectiveness with which the Intelligence Community is meeting the nation’s intelligence needs and the vigor and insight with which the community plans for the future,” according to the White House.
The White House didn’t mention that Bash had signed the letter regarding Hunter Biden in its selection announcement.
At the time, Joe Biden criticized the initial NY Post story by citing the letter Bash signed.
“There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what he’s accusing me of is a Russian plan. They have said this is, has all the — four, five former heads of the CIA. Both parties say what he’s saying is a bunch of garbage,” Joe Biden said then.
Bash, a frequent commentator on liberal television networks, appeared on MSNBC after the letter was made public. He said that the letter “looks like Russian intelligence” and “looks like a classic Russian playbook disinformation campaign.” He speculated that the emails were hacked, but offered no evidence for the claim.
Bash didn’t respond by press time to a request for comment.
John Paul Mac Isaac, who owned a computer store in Delaware, says that Hunter Biden dropped the laptop off at his store in 2019. After Hunter Biden didn’t return, and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful, Mac Isaac said he alerted federal authorities. Distraught with how the situation was handled, Mac Isaac gave a copy of the computer’s hard drive to Giuliani, who handed it to the Post.
Hunter Biden hasn’t denied that the laptop belongs to him.
“I really don’t know what the answer is, that’s the truthful answer,” he said on CBS in 2021. A host then asked if the computer could have been his.
“Certainly, there could be a laptop out there that was stolen from me. It could be that I was hacked, it could be that it was Russian intelligence,” he said. “It could be that it was stolen from me.”