Agents investigating President Joe Biden’s son “opened an assessment which was used by an FBI headquarters team to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation and caused investigative activity to cease,” according to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Grassley revealed the claim after his office received “a significant number of protected communications from highly credible whistleblowers” about the investigation. The Republican claimed one of the communications shows “verified and verifiable derogatory information on Hunter Biden was falsely labeled as disinformation.”
FBI supervisory intelligence agent Brian Auten opened in August 2020 the assessment that was later used by the agency, according to the disclosures. One of the whistleblowers claimed the FBI assistant special agent in charge of the Washington field office, Timothy Thibault, shut down a line of inquiry into Hunter Biden in October 2020 despite some of the details being known to be true at the time.
A whistleblower also said Thibault “ordered closed” an “avenue of additional derogatory Hunter Biden reporting,” according to Grassley, even though “all of the reporting was either verified or verifiable via criminal search warrants.” The senator said Thibault “ordered the matter closed without providing a valid reason as required” and that FBI officials “subsequently attempted to improperly mark the matter in FBI systems so that it could not be opened in the future,” according to the disclosures.
Whistleblowers alleged investigators from an FBI headquarters team “were in communication with FBI agents responsible for the Hunter Biden information targeted by Mr. Auten’s assessment” and that their findings on whether the claims were true or disinformation were placed “in a restricted access sub-file” in September 2020, according to the senator.
The whistleblower disclosures “appear to indicate that there was a scheme in place among certain FBI officials to undermine derogatory information connected to Hunter Biden by falsely suggesting it was disinformation,” Grassley said. The new allegations, summarized by Grassley in a Monday letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, were previously unknown.
The new information comes after Auten was involved in the Trump-Russia investigation, including interviewing Igor Danchenko, the alleged main source for British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s dossier in 2017. Congressional sources confirmed to the Washington Examiner that Auten is the “Supervisory Intel Agent” from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s 2019 report on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse.
Grassley said the “volume and consistency” of the whistleblower allegations “substantiate their credibility.” The claims come as the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware is reportedly nearing a decision on whether to charge Hunter Biden, who has denied any wrongdoing.
The assessment by Auten in August 2020 was opened the same month Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) received a briefing from the FBI “that purportedly related to our Biden investigation and a briefing for which the contents were later leaked in order to paint the investigation in a false light,” Grassley said. The senator said Senate Democrats asked for a briefing in July 2020 “from the very same FBI HQ team that discredited the derogatory Hunter Biden information.”
The FBI inquiry into Hunter Biden reportedly began as a tax investigation, then expanded into a scrutiny of potential money-laundering and foreign lobbying; the DOJ has declined to hand over investigative details.
Thibault, who investigated corruption in the nation’s capital, may have violated the Hatch Act over his social media posts criticizing then-President Donald Trump and then-Attorney General William Barr in 2020, according to Horowitz last month.
President Biden’s campaign and its allies dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop story as a Russian disinformation operation in October 2020. Konstantinos “Gus” Dimitrelos, a cyber expert and former Secret Service agent, conducted a review for the Washington Examiner and concluded that “the data contained on the hard drive is authentic.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report in March 2021 concluding figures tied to Russian intelligence pushed “misleading or unsubstantiated allegations” about Joe Biden. Hunter Biden’s laptop was not mentioned.