White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday declined to comment on a new report from the New York Times confirming the authenticity of emails and a laptop attributed to Hunter Biden in a censored New York Post story prior to the 2020 presidential election.
“I would point you to the Department of Justice and also to Hunter Biden’s representatives, he doesn’t work in the government,” said Psaki when asked if President Joe Biden stood by his past comments on the Post story.
“There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what he’s accusing me of is a Russian plant,” said the future president in 2020. Biden went on to observe that “five former heads of the CIA, both parties, say what he’s saying is a bunch of garbage.”
The open letter signed by former intelligence officials acknowledged that there was no evidence linking the laptop— reportedly abandoned by the younger Biden at a Delaware repair shop— to Russian intelligence, but suggested that the link existed despite the lack of corroboration.
The Times article, which details the latest in the Justice Department’s investigation of the president’s son’s international business dealings, notes that emails exchanged between Hunter Biden and his business partners about Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company Biden served on the board of, have been obtained and looked at by prosecutors.
“Those emails were obtained by The New York Times from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Mr. Biden in a Delaware repair shop,” the story acknowledges. The Post‘s original reporting on the matter came in mid-October 2020, and was censored by Facebook and Twitter, as well as derided as part of a Russian disinformation campaign by many in the press. Both social media companies have admitted to erring in their actions pertaining to the article.
In September 2o21, the Times described the Post story as “unsubstantiated,” before retracting the claim a day later without affixing an editor’s note.
Dozens of former officials working in intelligence and national security signed on to a letter — laundered through reporter Natasha Bertrand, then of Politico, now covering the White House for CNN — expressing the “view that the Russians are involved in the Hunter Biden email issue.” Signatories included Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and CIA director John Brennan, all of whom served in the Obama administration.
Psaki promoted the letter at the time while Michael Carpenter, a senior aide to the Biden campaign, reacted to the Post story by professing to be “very comfortable saying” that it was “a Russian disinformation operation.”
Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say https://t.co/zRdHxTxVsl
— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) October 20, 2020
After Politico‘s Ben Schreckinger confirmed that at least some of the files reported on by the Post were genuine in September 2021, Psaki responded to a question from Fox News’s Peter Doocy about the revelation by saying, “I think it’s broadly known and widely known, Peter, that there was a broad range of Russian disinformation back in 2020.”
DOOCY TIME, part 2: Biden “has said and you have tweeted that allegations of wrongdoing based on files from Hunter Biden laptop are Russian disinformation. There is a new book…that finds some of the files…are genuine. Is the [WH] still going with Russian disinformation?” pic.twitter.com/zRKOzh9gJ1
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) September 24, 2021
Senator Chris Coons (D., DE.), a longtime Biden ally, professed to be “glad they’re managing the content on their own websites.”
A slew of other figures and outlets followed the Biden camp in dismissing and even condemning the story.
Brian Stelter, chief media correspondent for CNN and host of the cable show Reliable Sources declared at the time that the Post story was not based on ” fully reliable sources here,” and called it “a classic example of the right-wing media machine,” as well as a “manufactured scandal.”
At National Public Radio, managing editor Terence Samuel wrote that the organization would not be covering the story because “we don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.”
Why haven’t you seen any stories from NPR about the NY Post’s Hunter Biden story? Read more in this week’s newsletter➡️ https://t.co/CJesPgmGvo pic.twitter.com/jAi7PnpbZf
— NPR Public Editor (@NPRpubliceditor) October 22, 2020
Later, NPR senior editor Ron Elving wrote that “the laptop story was discredited by US intelligence and independent investigations by news organizations,” in a glowing review of Hunter Biden’s memoir. That assertion was later retracted.
NBC News correspondent Heidi Pryzbyla warned that media outlets that reported on the emails would have “egg on” them.
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, guest Dave Aronberg pontificated that the story looked “like it’s tied to Vladimir Putin in Moscow.”
Bertrand and NPR did not respond to requests for comment.
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