How the FBI’s nod, wink got social media to censor The Post’s Hunter Biden reporting


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Stop looking for a smoking gun. That’s not how this game works.

Just as it did in 2016, the Democratic Party colluded during the 2020 presidential campaign with FBI leadership, its like-minded transnational-progressives in the loose-lipped community of current and former national-security officials and the media. The objective in 2020, as in 2016, was to try to drag a weak, deeply compromised Democratic candidate across the finish line.

The scheme worked in 2020 where it failed in 2016. A big part of the difference was Democrats and their collaborators put major 2020 emphasis on social-media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, which had served Donald Trump well in 2016.

The result was the systematic suppression of the Biden family corruption scandal: the staggering millions of dollars that are now known to have been poured into the Biden coffers from agents of such authoritarian, anti-American regimes as China and Russia and such corrupt ones as Ukraine. Joe Biden is in it up to his neck, although the media-Democrat complex continues branding the scandal as “the Hunter Biden probe,” the better to obscure the president’s complicity.

That is why the social-media platforms disappeared the New York Post’s explosive reporting about Hunter’s “Laptop from Hell,” to borrow the title of the essential book on the subject by The Post’s Miranda Devine.

Just don’t look for a smoking gun. We’re not going to see an FBI document that says, “Tell Twitter the Biden evidence is Russian disinformation.” When the new Chief Twit, Elon Musk, released the so-called Twitter Files over the weekend, Matt Taibbi’s consequent thread of reporting observed there’s no evidence of a specific warning to social-media platforms that the Biden information was sourced to Russia or hacked. As Devine countered, however, there is significant evidence of FBI collusion in the scheme.

I can explain the apparent disconnect. It is not necessary for FBI officials to issue specific warnings to convey the message that a story should be killed.

In these schemes, there are sophisticated actors in each camp, including former government officials in media and social media. When government officials do their nod-and-a-wink routine, these execs get the hint. The higher-ups at Twitter and Facebook knew the FBI wasn’t holding regular pre-election meetings with them idly. They would also have understood that when briefing private parties the FBI can’t accuse people of specific criminal misconduct — such as espionage and hacking. So it keeps things “general” (as Taibbi described the warnings). That, along with its perceived authority, allows it to get its accusatory message across but later deny it did so.

Although Hunter Biden is receiving a lot of heat from his scandal, some believe Joe Biden was involved too.
AFP via Getty Images/ Mandel Ngan

Such machinations would have been quite familiar to the likes of James Baker, the former FBI general counsel who was a top lawyer at Twitter in 2020. The game is also the stock-in-trade of national-security veterans who feign nonpartisanship — such as the 51 former intelligence officials who claimed, based on a hunch rooted in no hard evidence, that Hunter Biden’s laptop bore the earmarks of Russian disinformation, a bogus claim Joe Biden repeated as if it were established at a presidential debate tens of millions of Americans watched.

We know what happened here. It started months before The Post reported on the laptop. In July 2020, congressional Democrats became deeply concerned that their nominee would be devastated by evidence gathered by GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson. It illuminated the Biden family’s cashing in on Joe’s political influence. Grassley has recounted that the Democrats called in their friends at the FBI.

As I’ve detailed, these included Timothy Thibault, the head of the FBI’s Washington field office, until he was forced into early retirement a few months ago over virulently anti-Republican posts on his social-media account. Also brought in was intelligence analyst Brian Auten, though he was under internal investigation over his role in deceitful 2016-17 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications — the ones in which the bureau led a secret federal court to believe Trump was colluding with Russia.

Hunter Biden
Social media platforms censored the scandalous Hunter Biden story.
Hunter Biden
Biden’s laptop shared risque photos of him.

As Grassley explains, Democrats persuaded the FBI to give a gratuitous briefing about evidence he and Johnson had amassed. Conveniently, Auten composed an intelligence assessment that theorized the Biden evidence was disinformation — even though (as a September 2020 Grassley/Johnson report shows) much of it was based on suspicious-activity reports financial institutions filed, based on eye-popping money transfers to the Bidens from foreign sources, which were easily verifiable.

The Democrat-generated FBI suspicions were promptly leaked to the media. By August, the Associated Press was reporting that US intelligence agencies assessed that a Biden “narrative” Republicans peddled could be Russian disinformation. Meantime, FBI whistleblowers have informed Grassley that Thibault took internal steps to shut down the Biden investigation while hiding his rationale for doing so.

The bureau is more guarded in so-called defensive briefings with private companies than in congressional briefings. As Devine reports, though, the FBI was having regular meetings with Facebook and Twitter. Though a bit more discreet, bureau briefers obviously painted the same picture for social-media executives as they had for lawmakers.

Did the FBI actually say the Biden evidence was Russian disinformation? Well, it clearly came pretty damn close. On Joe Rogan’s podcast, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook (now Meta) CEO, said Facebook restricted The Post’s Hunter Biden revelations due to an FBI warning. Just as there had been “a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election,” the Feebs admonished, Facebook should be “on high alert” that “there’s about to be some kind of dump that’s similar to that.” The bureau’s electioneering on Biden’s behalf was so patent that when it was called on it, the FBI brass’ pushback was meek: Yes, we provided “foreign message indicators,” but we of course cannot be responsible for how social-media companies choose to act on those indicators. Sure.

It’s the same story with Twitter, whose in-house lawyers were getting the same “Suppress it” message from the FBI. The internal files Musk released illustrate that Baker, the former FBI general counsel, was urging his colleagues that based on the circumstances suggesting “the materials may have been hacked,” it was “reasonable for us to assume that they may have been and that caution is warranted.”

“Caution” meant suppression — just not in so many words. That conclusion was fortified on Oct. 19 when the 51 former national-security officials issued their gratuitous, evidence-free letter. They were careful not to come out and say the Hunter laptop was Russian disinformation; but they did say more than enough for the Biden campaign, Democrats and social-media executives to connect the dots.

That’s how this game is played. The players know exactly what they’re doing. They say enough to endorse the lie but leave themselves room to deny that they did so. They think we’re idiots.

Andrew C. McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor.

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