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(LifeSiteNews) – A member of the intelligence community who signed a letter declaring the 2020 discovery of presidential son Hunter Biden’s discarded laptop “ha[d] all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation” has now admitted to believing much of its contents were real all along, despite publicly attesting to the opposite.

In the months before the 2020 presidential election, the New York Post released a series of bombshell reports about a laptop belonging to then-presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter that was delivered to and abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop. The laptop contained scores of emails and texts detailing how the Biden family made millions of dollars through Hunter’s facilitation meetings between his father, formerly the vice president, and business interests around the world.

The Biden camp did not specifically deny the authenticity of the material, but its allies in traditional and social media worked tirelessly to ignore, suppress, or discredit the story, in large part by promoting unsupported Democrat claims that the laptop was part of a “disinformation” operation by a foreign power.

The most significant ammunition for that talking point was an October 2020 statement signed by 51 “individuals who devoted significant portions of [their] lives to national security” and intelligence. “[W]e write to say that the arrival on the US political scene of emails purportedly belonging to Vice President Biden’s son Hunter, much of it related to his time serving on the Board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” they declared.

Among the signatories was Douglas Wise, former CIA officer and deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. But in a new interview with The Australian, Wise acknowledged that “[a]ll of us figured that a significant portion of that content had to be real to make any Russian disinformation credible.” He now downplays the statement – which closed with a declaration that it was “high time that Russia stops interfering in our democracy” – as “just a cautionary letter” expressing a “possibility.”

“I don’t regret signing it because the context is important,” Wise added. “Remember [former New York City Mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy] Giuliani had just been in Ukraine trying to dig up evidence on the Bidens and he met with a known Russian intelligence official.” He also suggested that “Russians or even ill-intended conservative elements could have planted stuff in” the laptop.

The interview did not sit well with George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley.

“So the emails and photos showing criminal acts with prostitutes and thousands of emails on influence peddling was likely true, but that truth only made them more dangerous forms of Russian disinformation,” Turley wrote. “It is that easy. True or not, the story was dangerous in detailing the corruption of the Biden family before the election. Done and done.”

“It also means that, under this dubious logic, you can spike any true story that is embarrassing to the President or the party as presumptive disinformation,” he observed.

Wise’s new comments come long after the laptop’s authenticity has been conclusively established.

The laptop itself was attested to by John Paul Mac Isaac, the owner of the computer shop, and the accuracy of its comments by retired Navy lieutenant and former Hunter business partner Tony Bobulinski. Media efforts to downplay the story persisted even as it was corroborated by documents that appeared to include Hunter’s signature on a bill from the shop, as well as pictures and audio of Hunter on the device. The FBI itself confirmed the authenticity of the laptop and its contents in late October 2020.

More than a year after Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump, left-wing media outlets, including the The New York Times and The Washington Post began to admit the authenticity of the material from the laptop. But by then the suppression of the story had paid off; a survey of key swing states conducted by the conservative Media Research Center and The Polling Company weeks after the election found that 45.1% of Biden voters in those states had been unaware of the Hunter scandal, and that 9.4% of them would not have voted for Biden had they known.

In mid-2021, it was also revealed that Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who had been hired by Trump on the recommendation of Delaware’s two Democrat senators, had agreed in the summer of 2020 to hold off on seeking search warrants and issuing grand jury subpoenas related to Hunter’s foreign business dealings and potential tax violations, and that he specifically did so on the advice of unidentified “officials involved in the case” who wanted to avoid the “possibility that the investigation would become a months-long campaign issue.”