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Disinformation Head Nina Jankowicz Addresses Hunter Biden Laptop Remarks

Newsweek logo Newsweek 4/28/2022 Darragh Roche
Former World Food Program USA Board Chair Hunter Biden speaks during the World Food Program USA's 2016 McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at the Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. Biden's laptop has been at the center of controversy. © Kris Connor/WireImage/Getty Images Former World Food Program USA Board Chair Hunter Biden speaks during the World Food Program USA's 2016 McGovern-Dole Leadership Award Ceremony at the Organization of American States on April 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. Biden's laptop has been at the center of controversy.

President Joe Biden's choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security's new Disinformation Governance Board has addressed a previous statement she made about the Hunter Biden laptop controversy.

Nina Jankowicz, who was a disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center, had cast doubt on The New York Post's reporting about the laptop believed to have belonged to President Biden's son.

Conservative news outlets including The Washington Examiner pointed to Jankowicz's comments about the laptop story and suggested she had spread disinformation.

Jankowicz tweeted during the presidential debate between Biden and former President Donald Trump that took place on October 22, 2020 and referenced the laptop.

"Back on the 'laptop from hell,' apparently—Biden notes 50 former natsec officials and 5 former CIA heads that believe the laptop is a Russian influence op," Jankowicz said.

"Trump says 'Russia, Russia, Russia,'" she said.

On Wednesday, Jankowicz retweeted that 2020 tweet, apparently in response to criticism, and said: "For those who believe this tweet is a key to all my views, it is simply a direct quote from both candidates during the final presidential debate. If you look at my timeline, you will see I was livetweeting that evening."

Biden had been referring to a Politico article about a letter signed by dozens of intelligence officials who said the Hunter Biden story appeared to be a Russian disinformation operation.

Jankowicz also shared a link to ballotpedia.org about the debate. That page contained a link to a transcript and a YouTube video of the debate.

Jankowicz had spoken to the Associated Press for an article published on October 15, 2020 and reportedly said there were questions about whether the laptop belonged to Hunter Biden.

"We should view it as a Trump campaign product," Jankowicz said at the time, pointing to the involvement of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Trump associate Steve Bannon.

On October 22, 2020, Jankowicz shared an article on Twitter that she described as "casting yet more doubt on the provenance of the NY Post's Hunter Biden story" and said in another tweet that day: "The emails don't need to be altered to be part of an influence campaign. Voters deserve that context, not a [fairy] tale about a laptop repair shop."

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On March 16, 2021, Jankowicz shared a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and wrote in a Twitter thread the intelligence community "has a high degree of confidence that the Kremlin used proxies to push influence narratives, including misleading or unsubstantiated claims about President Biden."

However, that report did not specifically reference the laptop.

Newsweek has asked the White House for comment.

There was significant controversy about the laptop story during the 2020 presidential election and questions about the authenticity of emails reportedly found on the computer.

Some Republicans had suggested the laptop pointed to evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden in his foreign business dealings that may also have implicated Joe Biden, while some Democrats dismissed it as a possible disinformation operation by Russia.

Twitter and Facebook temporarily limited sharing of stories about the laptop in late 2020 amid concerns that the emails were the product of hacking.

The laptop was one of three dropped off at a Delaware repair shop run by John Paul Mac Isaac in 2019 but never picked up from the store. Mac Isaac looked at the contents of the laptop and believed some of it to be scandalous.

He contacted the authorities but also provided a hard drive containing the laptop's contents to Robert Costello, a lawyer for Rudy Giuliani, who shared it with The New York Post as well other Trump supporters, including Steve Bannon.

The New York Times and The Washington Post were later able to verify some of the emails but not all of them, while no evidence has emerged that the laptop was part of a Russian operation and controversy has continued over the matter.

Update 06/18/11 03.15a.m. E.T.: This article was updated to include a photo of Hunter Biden.

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