Deposition Reveals Complex Plot by the FBI to Influence the 2020 Election
By Bonchie December 02, 2022
The 2020 election remains one of the most contentious in history, and the more we learn about how deep the government’s interference went, the more disturbing things get.
According to Eric Schmitt, the current attorney general of Missouri and its newly-elected senator, the FBI was having weekly meetings with social media companies prior to election day in 2020 to collude on suppressing information. That was revealed in the deposition of Elvis Chan, the FBI’s liaison in the scheme.
According to Schmitt, the FBI was colluding with social media companies, giving them specific direction on what content to suppress. That means specific URLs and accounts. The social media companies, all led by leftwing hacks at that point, were apparently more than happy to play along.
Regardless, I’m not sure that the minutia of the situation is what’s most important here, and Republicans should avoid letting the FBI out on some technicality. The only thing that actually matters here is that the federal government does not have a role in policing “disinformation” domestically. For my money, they don’t have that mandate in regard to international actors either.
In this case, the FBI was running a complex scheme, colluding with social media companies to target specific accounts and news stories, with seemingly all of the moves made being politically beneficial to Democrats. In doing so, they shut down a verifiably true story about Hunter Biden’s laptop that could have swung the entire election. The suppression of information regarding COVID-19 just so happened to help Democrats as well. What a coincidence, right?
This is dangerous, anti-American stuff. The government should not be sticking its nose into the proliferation of free speech, online or elsewhere. In the case of Hunter Biden, a major American news outlet, The New York Post, was banned and censored for reporting factual information.
And if the FBI is willing to admit this stuff in a sworn deposition, imagine what they aren’t admitting to that took place. Just how deep did the deep-state plot to deny Donald Trump a second term actually go? That’s a question we may never receive an answer to, but Schmitt’s lawsuit is a good start to pulling back the veil on what went on and may still be going on.
Further, with Republicans having retaken the House of Representatives, the time for them to press these issues is now. With Democrats holding the power at the DOJ, there won’t be any criminal charges coming, but it’s still important to expose exactly what the FBI was doing. Hopefully, that will offer enough of a deterrent so this doesn’t happen in 2024, though I’m not going to hold my breath.
Six Degrees from James Baker: A Familiar Figure Reemerges With the Release of the Twitter Files
Below is my column in the New York Post on the reemergence of James Baker, the former FBI general counsel, at the center of the Twitter suppression scandal.
Here is the column:
As thousands of Twitter documents are released on the company’s infamous censorship program, much has been confirmed about the use of back channels by Biden and Democratic officials to silence critics on the social media platform. However, one familiar name immediately popped out in the first batch of documents released through journalist Matt Taibbi: James Baker. For many, James Baker is fast becoming the Kevin Bacon of the Russian collusion scandals.
Baker has been featured repeatedly in the Russian investigations launched by the Justice Department, including the hoax involving the Russian Alfa Bank. When Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann wanted to plant the bizarre false claim of a secret communications channel between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, Baker was his go-to, speed-dial contact. (Baker would later testify at Sussmann’s trial). Baker’s name also appeared prominently in controversies related to the other Russian-related FBI allegations against Trump. He was effectively forced out due to his role and reportedly found himself under criminal investigation. He became a defender of the Russian investigations despite findings of biased and even criminal conduct. He was also a frequent target of Donald Trump on social media, including Twitter. Baker responded with public criticism of Trump for his “false narratives.”
After leaving the FBI, Twitter seemed eager to hire Baker as deputy general counsel. Ironically, Baker soon became involved in another alleged back channel with a presidential campaign. This time it was Twitter that maintained the non-public channels with the Biden campaign (and later the White House). Baker soon weighed in with the same signature bias that characterized the Russian investigations.
Weeks before the 2020 presidential election, the New York Post ran an explosive story about a laptop abandoned by Hunter Biden that contained emails and records detailing a multimillion dollar influence peddling operation by the Biden family. Not only was Joe Biden’s son Hunter and brother James involved in deals with an array of dubious foreign figures, but Joe Biden was referenced as the possible recipient of funds from these deals.
The Bidens had long been accused of influence peddling, nepotism, and other forms of corruption. Moreover, the campaign was not denying that the laptop was Hunter Biden’s and key emails could be confirmed from the other parties involved. However, at the request of the “Biden team” and Democratic operatives, Twitter moved to block the story. It even suspended those who tried to share the allegations with others, including the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who was suspended for linking to the scandal.
Even inside Twitter, the move raised serious concerns over the company serving as a censor for the Biden campaign. Global Comms Brandon Borrman who asked if the company could “truthfully claim that this is part of the policy” for barring posts and suspending users.
Baker quickly jumped in to support the censorship and said that “it’s reasonable for us to assume that they may have been [hacked] and that caution is warranted.”
Keep in mind that there was never any evidence that this material was hacked. Moreover, there was no evidence of Russian involvement in the laptop. Indeed, U.S. intelligence quickly rejected the Russian disinformation claim.
However, Baker insisted that there was a “reasonable” assumption that Russians were behind another major scandal. Faced with a major scandal implicating a Joe Biden in the corrupt selling of access to foreign figures (including some with foreign intelligence associations), Baker’s natural default was to kill the story and stop others from sharing the allegations.
The released documents may show why Twitter was so eager to hire Baker despite his role in the Russian collusion controversies. What likely would have been a liability for most companies seemed an actual draw for Twitter. For censors and political operatives in Twitter, Baker likely seemed like a “made man” for a company committed to systemic censorship. He would be working with the chief legal officer at the company, Vijaya Gadde, who functioned as the company’s chief censor. Gadde was widely reviled by free speech advocates for her dismissal of free speech principles and open political bias.
Not unexpectedly, Gadde and Baker would play prominent roles in the suppression of the Hunter Biden scandal. There was hardly a need to round up “the usual suspects” in the suppression scandal when Musk took over the company. Both lawyers swatted down internal misgivings to bury a story that could well have made the difference in the close 2020 election.
It is striking how many of the figures and institutions involved in Russian collusion claims are within six degrees of James Baker. Not only did Baker work closely with fired FBI director James Comey and other key figures at the Justice Department, but he was an acquaintance of key Clinton figures like Sussmann who pushed the false collusion allegations. He was also hired by Brookings Institution, which also has a curious Bacon-like role in the origins and development of the false Russian collusion allegations.
None of these means that Baker was the driving force of the scandals. To the contrary, Baker earned his bones in Washington as a facilitator, a reliable ally when it came to the business of the Beltway. It is hardly a surprise that Baker found a home at Twitter where “caution” was always “warranted” in dealing with potentially damaging stories for Democratic interests.
U.S. May Have Illegally Interfered in Hungarian Election
Very few people outside Hungary speak Hungarian, so practically all of the day-to-day news from that country passes us by. But an interesting scandal has been developing there over the last few months, which arguably merits wider attention.
As you may remember, Hungary held an election earlier this year, which was won decisively by Viktor Orbán’s Fidez Party. Their main opposition was the Everybody’s Hungary Movement, led by Péter Márki-Zay.
Several organisations criticised the elections on the grounds that the incumbent, Viktor Orbán, used elements of the state apparatus to promote his own party. For example, the OSCE described the elections as “well-run” and “competitive”, while noting that they were “marred by the pervasive overlapping of government and ruling coalition’s messaging”.
However, the scandal to which I referred actually concerns the opposition.
In a podcast discussion in August, opposition leader Péter Márki-Zay stated that his movement had recently received money “from America”, which was used to pay some of the campaign bills from the recent elections. The money, he explained, had come through an organisation called Action for Democracy, which was set up in February.
These comments sparked controversy, since Hungarian electoral law prohibits parties from receiving money from abroad. In Hungary, funding for election campaigns is provided to each party through the state budget. Donations from private citizens are also allowed; though above a certain amount, the donor’s name must be made public.
When pressed for comment, Action for Democracy told Hungarian media they did not give any campaign funding, and only supported the opposition movement “as a civic organisation”. Yet critics were not persuaded by this defence. As one noted:
The Hungarian leader of the organization, Dávid Korányi, previously admitted that the Hungarian election inspired the establishment of the organization, and in relation to their operation, he emphasized that “we are trying to strengthen democratic forces in the elections of battleground states, including Hungary.” In other words, in March, the AFD was defined by its executive as an organization specifically focused on elections.
On the other hand, the opposition movement explicitly describes itself as a “movement”, rather than a political party, so the relevant prohibition against foreign funding may not apply. In any case, an investigation was launched owing to the apparent irregularities.
Although that investigation is ongoing, some initial findings have been declassified by the Hungarian parliament. Investigators discovered that the opposition movement received a much larger sum of money than initially believed – 1.8 billion forints (about $4.5 million) – and that some of it arrived before the elections took place.
Although the declassified documents comprise only part of the investigators’ report, they hint at the possibility of U.S. government involvement. Included among them is the following diagram, indicating the various individuals and organisations that are linked to Action for Democracy:
On the right-hand side is the National Endowment for Democracy – an organisation funded by the U.S. government and about which one of its former presidents said, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”. Little additional information is included in the declassified documents, aside from the following statement:
In 2014, the management of NED assessed that the Hungarian domestic political situation had become so worrying that an intensive thinking process began about resuming their activities in Hungary. If organization decides to re-appear in Hungary, does not wish to open an office in Hungary, rather, it is looking for Hungarian partners through whom it can implement its goals.
It’s therefore unclear whether the National Endowment for Democracy was involved in funding the opposition movement, or whether any claims to the effect are mere speculation.
Also of interest is Action for Democracy itself. As shown in the diagram above, the organisation’s advisory council includes several prominent liberal interventionists like Anne Applebaum and Francis Fukyama, as well as the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Wesley Clark.
On the “Where do we help” section of its website, Action for Democracy lists five “key battlegrounds”, which all happen to be countries with nationalist/populist governments.
Based on the make-up of its advisory council, and the list of five countries on which it claims to focus, one could be forgiven for thinking Action for Democracy is less concerned with promoting democracy than with opposing national conservatism. Indeed, both “diversity” and “inclusion” are featured among the organisation’s “values and beliefs”.
Whether Action for Democracy has any goals beyond the ideological remains to be seen. According to this Hungarian documentary, which has an obvious pro-Fidez slant, the organisation may represent certain business interests that would benefit from a change of government in Budapest (such as U.S. LNG companies). However, the evidence provided is weak.
This scandal may fizzle out into nothing: an anti-conservative organisation in one country donated money to an anti-conservative organisation in another, and did so through the proper legal channels. On the other hand, it may prove to be America’s latest attempt to remove a government of which it disapproves – and in a NATO member state, no less.