House Republicans move to strip security clearances from any official that said in 2020 that the release of Hunter Biden’s emails had ‘classic earmarks of a Russian information operation’

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Hunter Biden in 2022.

WASHINGTON, DC April 18, 2022: Hunter Biden during the White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn on April 18, 2022. This years event theme, EGGucation, will transform the South Lawn into a school community, full of fun educational activities for children to enjoy in addition to the traditional rolling and hunting eggs.Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

  • House Republicans moved to effectively strip security clearances from former intelligence officials that raised questions about Hunter Biden’s emails.

  • The policy was included as part of a much larger bill funding US defense.

  • A House Democrat called out the proposal and warned about the precedent it would set.

House Republicans are moving to effectively strip security clearances from any intelligence or defense official who signed onto an October 2020 statement that raised the question of whether the release of Hunter Biden’s emails was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

Republicans on the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee proposed prohibiting any funding to grant, renew, or maintain a security clearance for any official that signed the October 2020 statement as part of a much larger bill funding US defense.

More than 50 former intelligence officials, including former CIA Directors Mike Hayden, Leon Panetta, and John Brennan, signed a letter in October 2020 raising questions about then-newly published The New York Post story concerning emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop. Politico reported at the time that the letter was provided to the publication by Nick Shapiro, a former top aide under CIA director John Brennan.

The letter did not propose any evidence of Russian action or even explicitly suggest that Moscow was behind the story. Rather, the letter said the circumstances surrounding its publication raised significant doubt.

“We want to emphasize that we do not know if the emails, provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal Attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement — just that our experience makes us deeply suspicious that the Russian government played a significant role in this case,” they wrote in the letter.

Twitter restricted sharing of The New York Post’s article, an action that has been widely criticized by its new owner Elon Musk and scores of Republicans.

Years later, The Washington Post commissioned two security experts who verified thousands of emails from the hard drive that contained copies of Biden’s emails, photos, and other messages that were left at a Delaware computer repair store.

Rep. Betty McCollum, the top Democrat on the Defense-related appropriations panel, slammed Republicans for including the provision in the bill.

“Is it the role of this committee to ban individuals from having security clearances for signing their name to a letter – expressing their opinions as ordained in the Constitution?” McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat, said in her opening remarks. “Section 8150 does just that.”

The inclusion of so-called policy riders in much larger funding bills is commonplace in Washington, especially bills funding US troops and the Pentagon. While some of these policies become law, many are often stripped out when the Democratic-led Senate passes its own legislation.

McCollum added Republicans are setting a dangerous precedent if they want to plow ahead with their proposal.

“If we want to take this committee down a road of punitive action, I have plenty of members of the Trump administration who I think should never hold security clearances again based on their actions surrounding January 6th,” she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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