The news outlet discovered the discrepancy as it sought comments from the 51 people listed on the letter as to whether their assessment had changed in light of confirmation that Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, had been under FBI investigation for more than a year.
National Review said that when it contacted Gregory Treverton, former chairman of the National Intelligence Council, he apparently misunderstood the query, saying, “This is the first I’ve seen of this, but happy to sign.” When the newspaper clarified that he had already been named as a signatory, he said that he had never seen the letter but would have signed if he had received the request. He made that statement despite acknowledging that he hadn’t “looked at” the federal investigation of Hunter Biden.
Treverton’s haphazard response and the fact that his name was falsely used to add weight to the letter may undermine the credibility of an increasingly popular technique used by former US spooks to influence public opinion and provide fodder for mainstream-media narratives. A similar letter signed by dozens of former officials with the CIA and other intelligence agencies was deployed last month to show that national security experts agreed that President Donald Trump should give up his legal fight over the November 3 election and concede that Biden had won.
As in the case of the earlier letter, which was dated October 19, CNN and other outlets trumpeted the consensus of the security experts to support their assertions, arguing that Trump didn’t have a legitimate fraud case to nullify Biden’s media-declared election victory. But claims in the earlier letter were made even more dubious when Hunter Biden himself announced last week that he was under federal investigation.
Former CIA chiefs Mike Hayden and John Brennen were among signatories to the letter, as was ex-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Their baseless argument that Moscow was likely behind the allegations against the Bidens was used by the media as justification to dismiss the New York Post’s October scoops documenting the family’s alleged influence-peddling.
The signatories conceded that they had no evidence that the emails cited by the Post weren’t genuine, but suggested that the trove of data found on a laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden fit with Russia’s agenda of discrediting Trump’s opponent. They asserted that the emails had “the classic earmarks” of a Russian disinformation campaign. The ex-spooks also ignored other evidence brought against the Bidens, including on-the-record comments by a former business partner, Tony Bobulinski.
The large number of signatories was used to claim strong credibility for the allegations in the letter. “The real power here, however, is the number of working-level intelligence-community officers who want the American people to know that once again, the Russians are interfering,” former Brennan aide Nick Shapiro tweeted at the time.
Joe Biden cited the letter in his final debate with Trump, saying there were “50 former national intelligence folks who said that what he is accusing me of is a Russian plant.”
The National Review said it was unable so far to determine whether any of the 50 other signatories listed on the letter had been included without being notified.
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