Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
United States Senate
The Media Again Takes Liberal Disinformation Bait on Biden Family Oversight
May 11, 2021
 
Well, here we go again. 
 
While I was travelling throughout Iowa meeting with constituents, I kept my eye on news reporting out of Washington, D.C.
 
I’ve seen a lot of bad reporting in my time. The events that occurred starting on April 30 are up there at the top of bad reporting.
 
The Washington Post, New York Times and NBC all had to retract their reporting about Russian disinformation warnings given to Rudy Giuliani.
 
Unfortunately, in the Washington Post article, my and Senator Johnson’s investigation into the Biden family’s financial dealings was tethered to Russian disinformation attempts.
 
The reporting was based on anonymous current and former U.S. officials.
 
Apparently the Washington Post still hasn’t figured out how to read a Senate report.
 
My staff also spent many hours talking with the Post the day before the story ran.  My staff gave them the following, which the Post completely ignored in their article:
 
Sen. Grassley’s report with Sen. Johnson relied on Obama-era U.S. government records and information from a Democrat-aligned U.S. lobby shop, which employed Telizhenko while representing the corrupt Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
 
Sen. Grassley never received a defensive briefing related to his oversight of the Biden family’s foreign business ventures. Discussions with the FBI and Intelligence Community were initiated by requests from Democrats, as is detailed in Section Ten of the report.
 
The FBI and members of the Intelligence Community indicated last year that there was no reason for the committee’s investigation to be halted, even with knowledge of Telizhenko’s limited involvement (see report page 59).
 
The report and its underlying transcripts further reveal that Telizhenko had deep and longstanding relationships with Obama State Department officials, National Security Council staff and left-wing lobbyists. The transcripts also illustrate that material created by Derkach was introduced by Democrats, not Republicans, and it was quickly rejected by an expert witness as disinformation (see Minority Exhibit J and George Kent’s response to Minority staff regarding that exhibit).
 
Following a classified letter authored by Democratic leadership, portions of which were later leaked and reportedly referenced Derkach, Democrats again sought an FBI and Intelligence Community briefing, which was provided in August of 2020.  At that briefing, the FBI stated that it’s not attempting to “quash, curtail, or interfere” in the investigation in any way. (see report, page 59).  That’s not the sort of direction provided at a defensive briefing.
 
Obviously, we didn’t rely on any of this for the report’s findings on Hunter Biden’s and James Biden’s extensive financial entanglements with questionable foreign nationals, including some connected to the communist Chinese government. Subsequent to the report, the public has also learned that Hunter Biden is under criminal investigation relating to his financial entanglements.
 
Given Telizheko’s longstanding ties to Blue Star Strategies and Obama administration officials, are you similarly asking them whether they played into some Russian-pushed narrative? Given that Democrats introduced the Derkach material, are you similarly asking them whether they played into some Russian-pushed narrative?
 
After all this information and long phone conversations, the Post opted for unnamed sources rather than on-record comments from my staff.
 
Maybe the Post should work on putting more “investigating” into their so-called “investigative reporting,” instead of focusing on false Russian disinformation narratives.
 
For example, maybe spend some time investigating the Biden family’s ties to Chinese nationals connected to the communist regime’s military and intelligence services?
 
I’ve addressed these Russian disinformation issues at length in my committee report with Senator Johnson as well as right here on the floor of the Senate three or four times over the course of many months, maybe stretching into more than a year. 
 
I’m going to do this again even though I’ve got better things to do.  If you want every detail, read Section 10 in our September 23, 2020, report.
 
On July 13, 2020, then-Minority Leader Schumer, Senator Warner, Speaker Pelosi and Representative Schiff sent a letter, with a classified attachment, to the FBI to express a purported belief that Congress was the subject of a foreign disinformation campaign.
 
The classified attachment included unclassified elements that attempted – and failed – to tie our work to Andriy Derkach, a Russian agent.
 
That document falsely accused us of potentially receiving material from Derkach. It was pure speculative nonsense that the liberal media ran with as the truth. Those unclassified elements were leaked to the press to support a false campaign accusing us of using Russian disinformation.
 
Then, during the course of our investigation, we ran a transcribed interview of George Kent.
Before that interview, the Democrats acquired Derkach’s materials. During that interview, they asked the witness about it. He stated, “What you’re asking me to interpret is a master chart of disinformation and malign influence.”
 
At that interview, the Democrats introduced known disinformation into the investigative record as an exhibit. More precisely, the Democrats relied upon and disseminated known disinformation from a foreign source whom the Intelligence Community warned was actively seeking to influence U.S. politics.
 
But, there’s more.
 
On July 16, then-Ranking Member Wyden and Peters wrote a letter to me and Senator Johnson asking for a briefing from the Intelligence Community on matters relating to our investigation.
 
On July 28, 2020, Senator Johnson and I reminded them that the FBI and relevant members of the Intelligence Community had already briefed the committees in March 2020 and assured us that there was no reason to discontinue the investigation.
 
In August 2020, subsequent to these Democrat-led letters, Senator Johnson and I had a briefing from the FBI on behalf of the Intelligence Community. However, in that briefing, the FBI discussed matters that were already known and completely irrelevant to the substance of our investigation.
 
The FBI also made clear that it was not attempting to – and these are the FBI’s words – “quash, curtail, or interfere” in the investigation in any way.
 
Any talk about an FBI briefing warning us that our investigation into the Biden family’s financial and business associations was connected to Russian disinformation is complete nonsense. No such briefing ever happened. 
 
Our investigation was based on Obama administration government records and records from a Democrat-aligned lobby shop, Blue Star Strategies. If those records amount to Russian disinformation then that means the Obama administration dealt in disinformation every day.
 
Which brings me to the ultimate point I wanted to bring to attention today. The FBI assured me that the August 2020 briefing – which was a pointless briefing that shouldn’t have happened – would remain confidential.
 
I was concerned that the substance of the briefing, or at least elements relating to it, would leak, and I knew that once it was, the briefing would be misreported and used to paint our investigation in a false light.
 
That’s exactly what happened last week.
 
Although the Washington Post failed, the Wall Street Journal got it right in its May 4, 2021, editorial titled, “The FBI’s Dubious Briefing.”  That editorial began this way:
 
“Did the FBI set up two Members of Congress for political attack under the guise of a ‘defensive briefing’? It’s possible, and Senators Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley are rightly demanding answers.”
 
On May 3, Senator Johnson and I wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines asking to meet with them to discuss the August 2020 briefing.
 
We need answers, and we need answers now. 
 
Why did the FBI and Intelligence Community brief us?  Who made the decision?
 
At the briefing, the FBI didn’t even show us what intelligence product formed the basis of the briefing. I’ll tell you this, even without seeing any paperwork, we were already aware of everything they talked about that day and it was unconnected to the substance of our investigation. I asked the FBI whether they had any new intelligence to share and they didn’t give us a single new item.  So, as far as I’m concerned, the briefing was totally unnecessary.
 
Based on the timeline of events, it appears the briefing was done because the Democrats wanted it done.  Which means it was a political decision. 
 
The Wall Street Journal ended its piece saying:
 
“Whether the FBI was pressured, duped, or actively political, the bureau has again landed in the center of a partisan fight. Mr. Wray might ask how that keeps happening.”
 
That’s exactly right.
 
The FBI and the Intelligence Community have a lot of explaining to do. We already know that under Comey the FBI used intelligence briefings as surveillance operations against Trump and his team. Did the FBI and Intelligence Community also misuse the briefing process against Congressional members? 
 
Only Director Wray and Director Haines can answer that and so far they’ve failed to do so. Their credibility and professionalism are on the line.
 
I yield the floor.