Ranking Member Raskin Rebukes Chairman Comer for Turning Congressional Committee into Mouthpiece for Russian Propaganda and Disinformation

Mar 11, 2024
Press Release
Raskin Calls on Comer to Publicly Release Information Related to Republicans’ Decision to Amplify an FBI Form FD-1023 Echoing Propaganda and Disinformation Long Peddled by Russian Agents Sanctioned by Trump Administration

Washington, D.C. (March 11, 2024)—Today, Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, sent a letter to Chairman James Comer demanding he make public all information related to his decision last July to release a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Form FD-1023 containing unverified, uncorroborated, and unsubstantiated allegations.  These allegations have now turned out to be not just a tissue of lies but likely part of a longstanding Russian propaganda and disinformation campaign planted by an individual with significant ties to “foreign intelligence services, including Russian intelligence agencies.”

 

“Although you previously pledged to ‘assessthe tipsheet and ‘report . . . only facts when they are verified and indisputable,’ the allegations that the Committee disseminated through government resources, social media, and reporters to the American people were unverified and unproven—and they were never ‘facts.’ […] The American people deserve to understand why you rushed to publish and amplify the FD-1023 tipsheet, turning this Committee into a mouthpiece for lies likely concocted and promoted by Russian intelligence services. […] There was indeed a Russian hoax—a hoax by Russian intelligence and Vladimir Putin to pin utterly false smears on Joe Biden.  Please explain how our Committee came to be used in this sinister campaign,” wrote Ranking Member Raskin.

 

Last June, Chairman Comer trumpeted the FD-1023 tipsheet as “credible” evidence that “then-VP Joe Biden engaged in a criminal bribery scheme”—a claim that former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, and other Republicans in Congress have repeatedly cited as proof going to the core of their purported case for impeaching President Biden.

 

Ignoring repeated warnings from the FBI, Chairman Comer felt that the FD-1023 tipsheet was so central to the Committee’s ongoing inquiry that he accused the Department of Justice (DOJ) of “seeking to bury this record to protect the Bidens.”  Claiming that “[t]he FD-1023 form contains a significant amount of highly relevant information,” the Chairman threatened to hold the Director of the FBI, Christopher Wray—who was appointed by former President Donald Trump no less—in criminal contempt for refusing to provide Republicans an unredacted copy of it.  Eventually, Chairman Comer even decided to release the FD-1023 after obtaining a copy from “whistleblowers,” calling it “[t]he FBI’s Biden Bribery Record” and claiming that “the American people must be able to read this record for themselves.”

 

Furthermore, the allegations in this tipsheet—that then-Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter, were engaged in a corrupt project to help the Ukrainian energy company Burisma—closely followed the narrative constructed in well-known propaganda and disinformation promoted by Russia and its intelligence services over the past decade.  For example, under the Trump Administration, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions in 2020 and 2021 against individuals who were advancing “disinformation narratives that U.S. government officials have engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine.”  In a January 11, 2021, statement, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo denounced the Russian-backed individuals who “coordinated dissemination and promotion of fraudulent or unsubstantiated allegations involving a U.S. political candidate” (Joe Biden) and “repeated public statements advancing malicious narratives that U.S. Government officials have engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine.”

 

Despite the FBI’s clear warnings about the potential unreliability of the allegations in the FD-1023 tipsheet and the knowledge that they were nearly identical to those advanced continuously as part of the years-long Russian propaganda and disinformation campaign, Republicans repeatedly cited the tipsheet as key evidence in the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

 

“Given that the Oversight Committee and its resources were thus made party to a fraud on the American people, the people now have a right to know what steps Chairman Comer took—if any—to assess the allegations contained in the FBI tipsheet before releasing these allegations to the world.  Critically, the American public also has the right to understand how a congressional Committee became a mouthpiece—wittingly or not—for what now looks to be a classic active measure foreign disinformation campaign,” continued Ranking Member Raskin.

 

Click here to read the letter.

 

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118th Congress