Last week, the head of the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force revealed that the FBI knew in late 2019 that Hunter Biden’s laptop that was abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop was authentic but withheld that from the social media companies that censored the New York Post’s report, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
While testifying before the House Judiciary Committee last Wednesday, Laura Dehmlow, whose unit tracks foreign disinformation, said that the FBI was aware at the time the Post’s stories were published that the laptop was Hunter’s and she was “pretty certain” that officials on the Foreign Influence Task Force knew that FBI analysts had authenticated it in late 2019.
Republicans allege that task force officials failed to share that information with Facebook during meetings after which the social media platform limited sharing the Post story out of concern that the emails published by the Post were obtained via a hack.
Judiciary Republicans also allege that Dehmlow and others were instructed to offer no comment responses when asked by social media companies about Hunter’s laptop.
In her testimony, Dehmlow revealed that one FBI employee had previously told Twitter that the laptop was real, but an FBI lawyer interjected with “no further comment.”
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray after Dehmlow testified, Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan alleged that the FBI’s refusal “to verify the authenticity” of Hunter’s laptop paved the way for “widespread censorship” of an “accurate news story.”
Republicans maintain that shortly before the publication of the New York Post report, the FBI “conditioned” social media platforms to expect the release of hacked materials.
Unlike Facebook, which only limited sharing of the Post’s report, Twitter prevented users from sharing a link to the report.
In his closed testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee in May, IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley revealed that the FBI authenticated Hunter’s laptop in December 2019, just one month after computer repair shop owner John Paul Mac Isaac turned it over to the FBI.
In his letter to Chris Wray, Jordan criticized the FBI for staying silent about the authenticity of the laptop and “allowing social media companies to conclude” that the Post’s story was “Russian disinformation.”