House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) are warning the CIA they could subpoena the agency if it does not produce documents related to a 2020 letter pushing back on the Hunter Biden laptop story.
“If the CIA does not produce all responsive documents, the Committees may resort to compulsory process,” Turner and Jordan wrote in the Wednesday letter to CIA Director William Burns, giving a May 30 deadline.
In response to the letter, a CIA spokesperson told The Hill: “We remain committed to working with our Congressional oversight committees and providing them the information they need to do their work.”
The letter is part of the House GOP’s probe into suppression of news about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop hard drive obtained by former President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and then reported by the New York Post in the weeks before the 2020 election.
Fifty-one former senior intelligence officials signed a letter that warned the report’s contents and emails “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation” — a letter that now-President Biden referenced in a debate against Trump. But the former intelligence officials noted that they did not have evidence of Russian involvement, and contents of the hard drive were later authenticated by other news outlets.
Republicans have argued that suppression of the story on social media and former intelligence officials pushing back on the story likely influenced the election in its final weeks.
Committee Republicans investigating the origins of the letter released a report last week on findings that included a message from now-Secretary of State Antony Blinken, then a Biden campaign adviser, to former CIA acting Director Michael Morell prompted Morell to draft the letter. The agency’s Prepublication Classification Review Board (PCRB) approved the letter via email in a standard process.
But based on an email from one of the signatories, Republicans are probing whether at least one active CIA employee was involved in getting signatures for the letters. Former CIA employee David Cariens wrote in a 2023 email that a publications review board employee, in a phone call while approving one of his books, told him about the letter and asked if he wanted to sign.
“If accurate, this information raises fundamental concerns about the role of the CIA in helping to falsely discredit allegations about the Biden family in the weeks before the 2020 presidential election,” Turner and Jordan wrote in the Tuesday letter to the CIA director.
Democrats on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees say Republicans’ concerns are misleading. In a document last week sharing excerpts of transcripts with other witnesses, Democrats noted that Cariens responded to an email request from a former CIA employee to sign the letter eight minutes later. And Cariens has not yet been interviewed under oath.
“Jordan’s claim that the CIA promoted this letter is not justified by his investigation,” House Intelligence Committee ranking member Jim Himes (D-Conn.) said in a statement last week. “I’m sorry that Judiciary Committee Republicans publicized unexamined allegations on an incomplete record. [The House Intelligence Committee] will continue to conduct effective, fact-driven oversight of the Intelligence Community.”
Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement last week that Jordan is “fabricating these conspiracy theories and ignoring the evidence in front of him.”
Jordan and Turner said that after their report was released last week, the CIA in a phone conversation with committee staff committed to searching for documents with the names of the letter signatories in October 2020; searching for all documents and communications in relation to Cariens’s book; and a search of all CIA phone records for communications between CIA employees and the 51 letter signatories in October 2020.
Cariens did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Updated at 5:49 p.m.