A probe into former VP Joe Biden’s dealings in Ukraine is reportedly the ‘foreign interference’ in US elections that prompted Democrats to demand an urgent defensive briefing from the FBI for all members of Congress.
“We are gravely concerned, in particular, that Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November,” says a letter by four Democrats on the congressional ‘Gang of Eight’ that deals with intelligence matters.
The letter was dated July 13, but was made public Monday – the deadline the Democrats set to the FBI to schedule the defensive briefings with all members of Congress. It was signed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-California), and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner (D-Virginia).
NEW: The four Democrats in the Gang of Eight are demanding an FBI briefing, following “specific” intelligence about a foriegn intelligence operation aimed at lawmakers and influencing the 2020 election. https://t.co/h92sZhoTBT
The fact that it lacked specifics, and was released a week after it was sent to the FBI, raised some eyebrows in Washington. Former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell tweeted that the ‘Gang of Eight’ and others were briefed “weeks ago” and that the letter amounted to a CYA – short for “cover your a**” – adding, “why the panic now?”
One possibility is that it provided a pretext for the Democrats’ presidential nominee Joe Biden to announce on Monday evening he was putting “the Kremlin and other foreign governments on notice” that he would impose “substantial and lasting costs on those who interfere with American elections” if elected.
Today, I am putting the Kremlin and other foreign governments on notice: If elected president, I will direct my administration to impose substantial and lasting costs on those who interfere with American elections. https://t.co/s9rEY92TQK
According to Politico, who cited “two people familiar with the demand,” the letter is about an investigation led by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), into Biden’s dealings with the former government of Ukraine.
The most recent FBI briefing on “foreign influence operations” – back in early April – was also prompted by Johnson’s investigation, as Democrats objected to his efforts to subpoena former Ukrainian official Andrii Telizhenko.
Ukrainians themselves have been investigating the role of former President Petro Poroshenko in getting the corruption charges dropped against Burisma, a gas company that hired Biden’s son Hunter to nominally sit on its board of directors. Members of parliament and former prosecutors have made a case that Burisma paid Hunter Biden millions of dollars for acting as a de-facto shield against prosecution, offering as evidence recordings of what they said were Biden and Poroshenko.
The recordings have not been authenticated, and the former president blamed his successor Volodymyr Zelensky and Russia for trying to “spoil” the good relations between Kiev and Washington.
According to Politico, some Republicans have also objected to Johnson’s ongoing probe of Biden and Burisma. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) dismissed any information coming out of Ukraine in February, saying that “Russia is playing us all like a fiddle.” Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), told Johnson in December that his probe could “aid Russia,” two congressional sources said.
Graham is the head of the Judiciary Committee, who until recently hadn’t lifted a finger to get to the bottom of the FBI and DOJ spying on the Trump campaign during and after the 2016 election. Burr stepped down from chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee in May, after accusations he used his coronavirus briefings for insider trading; long before that, he had the reputation of letting Warner practically run the committee and carry the water for the Democrats when it came to the manufactured ‘Russiagate’ scandal.
Journalist Aaron Mate noted that one of the letter’s signatories, Rep. Schiff, literally entered “foreign disinformation” into congressional record during ‘Russiagate,’ referring to the infamous dossier compiled by British spy Christopher Steele.
If lawmakers are worried they’re “the target of a foreign interference campaign that seeks to launder & amplify disinformation”, the first person they need a briefing on is… @RepAdamSchiff.Schiff read Christopher Steele’s foreign disinformation into the Congressional record: https://t.co/GsUILYt23ppic.twitter.com/WCv5sua7e6
The FBI has acknowledged receiving the letter, but has not commented further.
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