By Tom Ozimek
The House Judiciary Committee said it was told in recent testimony by an upper-level FBI employee that an agent confirmed to a Twitter staffer that the Hunter Biden laptop was authentic on the same day that the New York Post broke the story that Twitter then suppressed.
Laura Dehmlow, the Section Chief of the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force (FITF), underwent a transcribed interview on July 17, 2023, according to a statement from the House Judiciary Committee.
During the interview, which was conducted by the House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, Dehmlow reportedly said that the same FBI personnel who were warning social media companies about a potential Russian “hack and leak” operation ahead of the 2020 presidential election knew that the laptop belonging to Hunter Biden wasn’t part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
Following the New York Post’s publication on Oct. 14, 2020, of a story on the contents of the laptop alleging Biden family influence peddling, the FBI chose to adopt an institutional stance of not responding to direct inquiries from social media companies regarding the laptop’s authenticity. This decision came despite having engaged in continuous information sharing with these companies for several months leading up to that point.
“Put simply, after the FBI conditioned social media companies to believe that the laptop was the product of a hack-and-dump operation, the Bureau stopped its information sharing, allowing social media companies to conclude that the New York Post story was Russian disinformation,” the House Judiciary Committee said in a statement.
The FBI’s apparent blackout on confirming the laptop’s authenticity wasn’t air-tight, however. Dehmlow told the Committee in transcribed testimony viewed by The Epoch Times that, on the same day that the New York Post published its story, several FBI agents were asked about the matter during a conference call with an unidentified Twitter employee.
“Somebody from Twitter essentially asked whether the laptop was real,” Dehmlow said, per the transcript. “And one of the FBI folks who was on the call did confirm that, ‘yes, it was,’ before another participant jumped in and said, ‘no further comment.’”
Asked whether she recalled the identity of the agent who confirmed that the laptop was real, Dehmlow replied, “I do.”
While that individual has not been named, the Committee noted that Dehmlow indicated it was an analyst in the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division who was embedded in FITF, while the individual who interrupted the confirming statement was an FBI lawyer.
Despite the fact that the FBI apparently knew about the laptop’s authenticity and even incidentally confirmed that fact to Twitter, the social media company chose to suppress the New York Post story on its platform.
Polling would later indicate that if voters had been aware of the Hunter Biden laptop ahead of the 2020 election, it would have had an impact on how they voted.
In light of the revelations, the House Judiciary Committee asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to provide the panel with a range of information, including the name of the FBI official who allegedly confirmed the authenticity of the laptop to Twitter.
The FBI told The Epoch Times that it has no comment on the matter.
When asked to comment on the issue, Twitter responded with its customary poop emoji.
Previous reporting indicates that the FBI first confirmed the authenticity of the Hunter Biden laptop in November 2019 by matching the device number against Hunter Biden’s Apple iCloud ID.
They took possession of the device in December 2019 and notified the IRS that it likely had on it evidence of tax crimes, according to Gary Shapley, an IRS criminal special agent who was assigned to work on an investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes.
John Paul Mac Isaac, who owned a computer store in Delaware, said that Hunter Biden dropped off a laptop at his store on April 12, 2019. Mac Isaac presented an invoice that lists the person to bill as Hunter Biden, along with an iCloud ID. He said he eventually handed the laptop over to the FBI, though he kept a copy of the drive “in case he was ever thrown under the bus” and later passed the contents to Rudy Giuliani, who gave it to the New York Post.
The Post subsequently broke the story on Oct. 14, 2020, but the article was suppressed by companies like Twitter, which claimed the story was based on hacked materials.
Other efforts emerged to discredit the story, including a letter penned by former intelligence community members saying that the story bore the typical hallmarks of a Russian disinformation campaign possibly meant to sway the election.
Around that time, FBI officials repeatedly warned social media companies that Russia would be generating propaganda around the election. While the FBI confirmed to The Epoch Times in an earlier statement that it had issued a warning, the agency said that it “cannot ask, or direct, companies to take action on information received.”
The House Judiciary Committee said in its letter to Wray that, after the meeting with Twitter during which an agent confirmed the authenticity of the laptop, FBI personnel “immediately deliberated internally” about what information about the laptop the agency would disclose to social media companies during upcoming meetings.
“According to Dehmlow, during these internal deliberations, the decision was made that FITF would say ‘no comment’ going forward,” the Committee wrote.
The transcribed interview indicates that the FBI made the decision to refuse to confirm the authenticity of the laptop going forward to social media companies despite being aware of the fact that it was real.
Further, Dehmlow told the panel that “multiple” staffers on FITF knew the laptop was authentic.
Investigative journalist Michael Schellenberger, who was one of the individuals who was given exclusive access to internal Twitter communications and broke some of the Twitter Files disclosures, said that Dehmlow’s testimony points to “gigantic fraud” that should be investigated.
“Massive. The perpetrators of this gigantic fraud must be investigated, prosecuted, and brought to justice,” Schellenberger wrote in a post on Twitter.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.