Retired CIA official Dan Hoffman, who once served as the Moscow station chief, recently shared his reasons for not signing the controversial letter that implicated the Hunter Biden laptop story as part of a Russian disinformation campaign. In October 2020, just weeks before the presidential election, the letter was released with the signatures of 51 former intelligence officials. The letter claimed that the laptop story bore “the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation” but also noted that the signees had no concrete evidence of Russian involvement.
Hoffman was surprised that no one sought his Russia expertise before the letter went public. He chose not to sign due to insufficient evidence supporting the claim. “I remember I got the letter, October 18, 2020, and at first glance, it seemed natural to lay the blame at the Kremlin’s doorstep. But at the same time, there was no evidence and the letter noted there was no evidence,” Hoffman said.
Over the past two years, many of the laptop’s contents, which detailed Hunter Biden’s personal life and business dealings, have been analyzed and proven authentic. In response to this development, one of the letter’s most prominent signees, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, accused POLITICO of “deliberately” misrepresenting the letter’s message, which POLITICO later defended.
In a recent Washington Times op-ed, Hoffman described the email from former acting CIA Director Michael Morell inviting him to sign the letter. Hoffman wrote, “[T]he email I received from Mr. Morell did not invite any further discussion or debate. The letter was a fait accompli. It was being passed around for signatures, not edits.” Hoffman emphasized that he prefers not to put his name to words written by others.
The op-ed followed the release of a transcribed interview in which Morell discussed putting together the letter after a conversation with now-Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was a senior adviser to Joe Biden’s campaign. When asked about the laptop issue during a Fox News interview, Hoffman said, “We didn’t have that debate about this laptop issue. We weren’t invited to debate it.”
Thanking Dan Hoffman for exercising integrity and moral responsibility. He almost restores some but limited trust in CIA. I still believe it should be disenfranchised never to be resurrected. I agree with him. Never sign a letter someone else with an axe to grind initiates. https://t.co/3Bbx2HPaOQ
— Dawn Street (@Daybreak458) April 30, 2023
Hoffman also revealed that he was not the only former intelligence official who refused to sign the letter. He explained that the typical protocol for a case like the laptop issue would involve meeting in Morell’s office to discuss the evidence and intelligence, followed by drawing analytical conclusions with varying degrees of confidence. However, this process did not occur for the Hunter Biden laptop issue.
Hoffman’s refusal to sign the letter and his emphasis on the need for evidence before making claims about Russian involvement is a reminder of the importance of verifying information before making claims that directly affect the outcome of presidential elections.