Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Monday that the emails from a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden are not part of a Russian disinformation campaign against Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden, as House Republicans called for a special counsel to investigate.
Mr. Ratcliffe said there is no evidence that Hunter Biden’s explosive emails have any connection to Moscow, and he specifically called out Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, for spreading the baseless conspiracy theory.
“It’s funny that some of the people who complain the most about intelligence being politicized are the ones politicizing the intelligence,” Mr. Ratcliffe said on Fox Business.
“Unfortunately, it is Adam Schiff who said the intelligence community believes the Hunter Biden laptop and emails on it are part of a Russian disinformation campaign,” he said.
Mr. Ratcliffe, who was tapped by President Trump earlier this year for his post, said the U.S. intelligence community “doesn’t believe that [Russian connection] because there is no intelligence that supports that. And we have shared no intelligence with Adam Schiff or any member of Congress.”
Mr. Schiff, without evidence, immediately blamed Russia last week after the New York Post published a number of emails from a laptop owned by Hunter Biden, son of the Democratic presidential nominee.
The lawmaker who led the impeachment of Mr. Trump appeared to respond to the Biden controversy Monday on Twitter.
“Anticipating the harsh judgment of history, Trump’s enablers are lashing out. At everyone. It will be said that when they found they lacked the courage to confront the most dangerous, unethical president in American history, they consoled themselves by attacking those who did,” he wrote.
Mr. Biden again avoided answering questions about the accusations. He was at his home in Delaware preparing for the final presidential debate Thursday, aides said.
He bristled at a CBS News reporter who asked him about the accusations last week. “I have no response,” he said. “I knew you’d ask it. I have no response. It’s another smear campaign, right up your alley. Those are the questions you always ask.”
House Republicans urged Attorney General William P. Barr on Monday to appoint a special counsel to probe accusations surrounding the laptop. The lawmakers want Mr. Barr to investigate claims that the former vice president played a role in his son’s lucrative business dealings in Ukraine and China.
They said the American people deserve to know whether the Democratic presidential nominee “received foreign monies during his tenure in the Obama administration” and whether he “allowed his son to peddle access” to him with foreign business entities.
“If these reports about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, are true, the former vice president fell far short of his responsibility to uphold his constitutional oath and betrayed the sacred trust of the American people,” the lawmakers wrote.
“We request that the Department of Justice immediately appoint an independent, unbiased special counsel to investigate the issues that we have raised — as well as any corresponding legal or ethical issues that might be uncovered from the former vice president’s 47 years in public office,” said the letter, obtained by The Washington Times.
Its 11 Republican signatories include Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Paul A. Gosar of Arizona, Ted Yoho of Florida, Jody Hice of Georgia and Debbie Lesko of Arizona.
They wrote the letter after the New York Post published emails last week alleging that Hunter Biden introduced his father to a top executive at Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings in 2015, roughly a year before Vice President Biden pressured the country’s government to fire a prosecutor investigating the company.
The Biden campaign has insisted that the candidate never met with the executive, citing his official schedules, and has slammed the Post story as “not legitimate.”
An email dated May 13, 2017, published by the Post includes a discussion of “remuneration packages” for six people involved in a business deal with a Chinese energy firm. The email identifies Hunter Biden as “Chair/Vice Chair” of the now-bankrupt company.
The email also includes a proposed equity split that references “10 held by H for the big guy.” No other details were provided.
The Post and Fox News have reported “the big guy” is a reference to Joseph R. Biden.
Mr. Trump, campaigning in Arizona on Monday, told supporters that Mr. Biden would be facing federal prosecution by now for corruption if Mr. Barr weren’t so “nice.”
“Somebody else would have taken that thing and all that crap and corruption,” Mr. Trump said of his attorney general. “But in many ways, Bill Barr is a wonderful human being and a very fair person. And he’s not a person that wants to hurt people. He’s a very fair man. And in many ways, and especially in that position, there’s something very nice about it.”
Mr. Trump said the FBI should be investigating both Bidens.
“You should call [FBI Director Christopher A.] Wray and ask him,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “On its face, he is as guilty as he could be.”
Mr. Schiff has consistently implied in recent years that Russians who hacked the Democrats’ 2016 election computers are behind various conspiracies.
He and other Democrats said a Russian-tied Ukrainian politician influenced an investigation into Hunter Biden’s finances by Republican senators. The senators said their staffs never talked to the operative or received any material from him.
The MacBook Pro laptop was left by Hunter Biden at a repair shop in Wilmington, Delaware, in April 2019, the shop owner told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Mr. Biden never retrieved the machine, so the shop owner took possession after three months, as was his legal right.
He was so disturbed by some of the contents that he provided the hard drive to the FBI in late 2019. He later provided copies to Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney.
The email cache shows Hunter Biden arranged a meeting with an executive from Ukraine’s Burisma Holdings, an energy firm that placed Mr. Biden on its board of directors even though he had no experience in the energy business, and paid him millions of dollars from 2014 to 2019.
Mr. Biden also had a deal with a Chinese billionaire to pay him $10 million a year for “introductions only.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows suggested there is more damaging information that ties the former vice president to wrongdoing. He also said it is Democrats who are spreading laptop disinformation.
“I’m not aware of any Russian disinformation campaign that would involve these emails or this laptop,” Mr. Meadows said on Fox News. “And no defensive briefing, to my knowledge, has been given.
“All of this narrative that is out there that would suggest that it’s not real, that’s the disinformation. You know, Adam Schiff came on and said ‘Oh, this is Russia, Russia, Russia.’ And again, I can tell you, this is Adam Schiff, once again, trying to spin a story that’s not accurate. I think in the days to come you will see that Joe Biden will have a lot to answer for.”
⦁ S.A. Miller contributed to this report from Phoenix.