DHS Shuts Down Expert Group That Denied Hunter Biden Laptop Story

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, May 06, 2024 - 10:20 PM

Authored by Naveen Athrappully via The Epoch Times,

The Biden administration has agreed to shut down a national security experts’ group as part of settling a lawsuit accusing the group of being politically biased in favor of Democrats.

On Sept. 19, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched the Homeland Intelligence Experts Group to provide advice on intelligence and national security efforts. In November, America First Legal (AFL) and former Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell sued the DHS, the group, and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, arguing that the experts group violated provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

Section 5 of FACA requires that an advisory committee be “fairly balanced in terms of the points of view.” It also mandates there be provisions to ensure that “the advice and recommendations of the advisory committee will not be inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or by any special interest.”

The lawsuit noted that “the Experts Group’s members are political allies of the Biden Administration. Most members have applauded the Administration’s decisions and fervidly condemned former President Trump’s America First approach to foreign policy.”

“They have overwhelmingly donated to President Biden or other Democrats. Defendant Mayorkas selected members that are agreeable, not balanced,” it stated.

Some of the members were also signatories of a letter that dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop story as Russian disinformation.

On May 2, plaintiffs and the defendants in the case agreed to settle the matter, with the DHS agreeing to wind up the experts group in 30 days.

The group “will not hold any future meetings, and the Department will not reconstitute the Experts Group inconsistent with the FACA or the Homeland Security Act of 2002,” the joint notice of the agreement stated.

The DHS agreed to provide AFL with the group’s meeting agendas and minutes, which have to be submitted within 15 days. “Based on these representations, Plaintiffs have agreed to dismiss their lawsuit with prejudice.”

The department did not admit any wrongdoing and maintained its position that the group did not violate FACA.

“Thanks to the courage of Ric Grenell in standing up to the Deep State, we have just achieved an unqualified legal victory over Mayorkas and Biden. As a result of our lawsuit in federal court, DHS is surrendering in total to our demands,” said Stephen Miller, president of America First Legal.

The “partisan” experts group “would have been used to promote censored, unethical spying, and gross civil rights invasions of political enemies,” he added.

Mr. Grenell said that DHS “surrendered” on the issue because they knew AFL was in the right and that “Biden’s team broke the law.”

This is the second time that the Biden administration has agreed to disband an advisory group due to violating FACA provisions. In December 2022, the Department of Education disbanded its National Parents and Families Engagement Council after legal action brought by AFL and its clients.

Partisan Committee

When the DHS experts group was first announced, the panel comprised seventeen members. In its lawsuit, AFL stated that these members “do not represent a fair balance of viewpoints.”

Two of the panel members were John Brennan, a former director of the CIA, and James Clapper, former director of national intelligence. Both of them were signatories of the “Letter of 51,” using their intelligence credentials to outrightly dismiss the Hunter Biden laptop story ahead of the 2020 election.

Despite the FBI having validated the authenticity of the laptop, the letter claimed that the story had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”

Another panel member, Tashina Gauhar, a former associate deputy attorney general and deputy assistant attorney general, is linked to the 2016 Trump–Russia collusion probe.

She was “extensively involved in the FBI’s corrupt, partisan probe into the baseless allegations that former President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia before the 2016 election, including drafting the FISA applications that were used to spy on the Trump campaign,” the lawsuit noted.

Out of the 17 panel members, 13 have a history of political contributions, collectively making 945 contributions to candidates for political office that are reportable to the Federal Election Commission.

“Of those 945 contributions, 932 (98.62 percent) were made to Democrat candidates for office, while only 12 (1.27 percent) were made to Republican candidates for office,” the lawsuit stated.

“Of the 13 contributors, 9 contributed only to Democrats, whereas 1 contributed only to a Republican (with a single donation of $250). Three contributed to members of both parties, but of those, 2 were heavily lopsided in favor of Democrat candidates. The other contributor gave 8 contributions to Democrat candidates and 7 to Republican candidates.”

In total, the political contributions made by the panel members came to over $168,000 since January 2012, out of which more than $156,000 went to Democrat candidates.

On Sept. 29 after the DHS announced the experts group, GOP lawmakers had written a letter to Mr. Mayorkas, asking him to rescind appointments of people like Mr. Clapper and Mr. Brennan as they were “individuals known to spread lies and disinformation.”

A few days earlier on Sept. 26, Rep. August Pfluger (R-Tex.) introduced HR 5729 which sought to “prohibit the use of Federal funds to establish a Homeland Intelligence Experts Group and for other purposes.”