State Department ducks questions on charge that Blinken orchestrated Hunter Biden laptop cover story

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    The State Department on Friday refused to answer questions about a claim from a former CIA official that Antony Blinken, now Biden’s secretary of State, led efforts in 2020 to have intelligence officials write a letter that said the Hunter Biden laptop story was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

    The House Oversight and Accountability Committee said Thursday that former CIA Deputy Michael Morell told the committee that Blinken was the “impetus” for the letter that was ultimately signed by 51 current and former intel officers. That letter said stories about Biden’s laptop were a Russian ploy, a claim that was later shown to be false.

    On Friday, a State Department spokesman said the department would not be answering any questions about Blinken’s alleged involvement in the letter.

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    Secretary of State Antony Blinken

    The State Department said Friday it would not answer any questions about charges that now Secretary of State Antony Blinken orchestrated a letter, now shown to be false, from intelligence officers who said the Hunter Biden laptop story was a Russian disinformation campaign. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

    “That is… not a State Department issue so I don’t have a comment for you on that,” said spokesman Vedant Patel.

    The committee letter noted that Blinken allegedly helped gather signatures for the letter in mid-October, 2020, before President Biden was elected and before Blinken became his secretary of state. Patel seemed to lean on that timeline as a rationale for why the State Department would not be answering questions about the matter.

    “It is not a State Department issue, and I don’t really have a comment on this from the State Department,” he said.

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    Hunter Biden and family go for ice cream in Los Angeles

    Republicans say the letter was meant to cover the Biden family just before the 2020 election. (BACKGRID USA)

    When pressed on whether the allegation might affect the department – for example, eroding trust in Blinken and his team, Patel dodged again.

    “Again, this is not an issue that is an issue of the State Department. It has [nothing] to do with U.S. foreign policy or the work of this department, so I don’t have a comment for you on this,” he said.

    Republicans say the now-discredited letter was orchestrated in order to help deflect from criticism of then-candidate Biden, as the Hunter Biden laptop revealed messages that pointed to efforts by the Bidens to trade on their name. Signatories included former Obama CIA Director John Brennan, former Obama DNI James Clapper, and former CIA director, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, among others.

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    Antony Blinken

    House Republicans have asked Blinken who else he contacted to put the letter together. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

    Republicans also said pointing to Russia’s involvement had the effect of suppressing the laptop story and possibly affecting the election, which at that point was just weeks away.

    The committee says Morell testified that he agreed to sign the letter, in part to help Biden “win the election.”

    Republicans on the committee, led by Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, asked Blinken in a Thursday letter to provide them with the names of everyone he contacted in October 2020 to help put the letter together. They gave Blinken a deadline of May 4 to comply.

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