House Democrats pushed House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) to say in a closed-door meeting on Wednesday whether he had received Ukraine-based disinformation about Vice President Joe Biden.
Nunes declined to respond at all, saying “no” when asked if he would like to respond to the allegation that he has received a dossier of disinformation from pro-Russian Ukrainian MP Andrii Derkach.
Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) raised the issue at the meeting, convened to offer members of the panel the opportunity to review classified intelligence about what Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) described as “a concerted foreign interference campaign which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the Presidential election in November.”
That campaign reportedly constitutes attempts by Derkach, a graduate of Moscow’s Felix Dzerzhinsky Higher School of State Security, to send packets of damaging disinformation about Biden to top Republicans.
Derkach has claimed on his website to have sent the packages to Republicans including Rudy Giuliani. TPM reported in December that Giuliani had received a dossier from Derkach.
Derkach also claimed on his website and in public statements to have addressed packages to Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), to Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Nunes, to then-OMB director Mick Mulvaney, and to Trump himself.
Though Nunes appears to have received a package from Derkach, it’s not clear whether the other packets ever made it to their destination.
Rep. Maloney asked Nunes at the end of the hearing whether he would “disclose to the committee” that he had received materials from Derkach, “and, if so, whether he is prepared to share them with the rest of the committee.”
Nunes replied, “no.”
Maloney then asked if Nunes could explain “why he is just not prepared to
respond to a simple question whether he has received materials that have been
called into question that seem designed to denigrate a former Vice President of
the United States, but, at a minimum, to share them with the rest of the committee.”
“I mean, as I understand it, committee staff is in possession of evidence that
a package was received,” Maloney added. “None of this is classified.”
Derkach has been peddling both supposed recordings of Biden conducting U.S. foreign policy towards Ukraine during the Obama presidency, and elaborate and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories around the theft of foreign aid to the former Soviet Republic.
Politico reported that the evidence to which Maloney referred is a DHL receipt that was mistakenly sent to the majority’s office.
Nunes did not reply further.
“Well, I guess this is a case where silence speaks volumes,” Maloney said.