The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating whether e-mails provided by US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer were part of Russia’s intelligence campaign ahead of next month’s elections. Trump and the White House were warned last year that the lawyer could be a pawn in Russia’s board.
The New York Post, a street paper owned by Rupert Murdoch, published coverage that it said was based on emails from the computer of Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, this week. The emails should point to the corruption of the Biden family. Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, handed the paper a hard drive containing the emails and photos that were supposed to be from Hunter Biden’s computer.
The Associated Press reports that the FBI is investigating the case and whether it is related to a possible campaign by the Russian government. An FBI spokesman did not want to confirm this, pointing out that the agency did not make it a habit to confirm or deny that investigations were ongoing.
Russia has resorted to various tactics to influence the 2016 presidential election, including a social media information campaign and by stealing Democrats’ emails and leaking them through Wikileaks.
US intelligence agencies have warned the White House that Russian spies were using Giuliani to spread false information and propaganda to President Trump last year. The White House National Security Adviser discussed the warning with President Trump, who is said to have paid little attention.
Says the data “genuine as hell”
A major question mark has been placed on the alleged origin of the data that Giuliani provided to the New York Post, and the paper’s account of it is somewhat unlikely.
Giuliani is said to have received a hard drive from a Hunter Biden laptop from the owner of a computer repair shop in Delaware, Biden’s home state, last year. The owner said he was blind and could not claim with certainty that the computer was owned by the former vice president’s son, but concluded from a sticker on the computer with a fund logo in memory of Beau Biden, Hunter’s dead brother.
The computer had never been retrieved and the owner had given Giuliani’s lawyer a copy of the hard drive before handing it over to the federal police.
Emails and photos should have been on your hard drive. One of the posts is supposed to be from a board member of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma, who thanks Hunter Biden for meeting with Joe Biden, then US Vice President. Hunter Biden was a member of Burisma’s board from 2014 to 2019, during which time his father pursued US government foreign policy toward Ukraine.
The New York Post called the post a “smoking gun” that showed Biden had not told the truth that he had never talked to his son about his activities in Ukraine. However, there was no mention in the discussion that a meeting with the Ukrainian governor had actually taken place.
It has not been confirmed that the emails are genuine or whether they may have been stolen in a computer hack, according to the AP news agency. Giuliani did not want to hand over the hard drive to other media, but he claimed in an interview with Fox News today that the data was “genuine as hell”.
Biden’s candidacy and the officials he worked with on Ukraine’s affairs at the time have denied that the vice president met with the board member or that they investigated him. Hunter Biden has previously said that it was a lack of judgment in sitting on the board of Burisma at the same time as his father pursued US policy in Ukraine.
Unsupported and persistent allegations of corruption
President Trump and Giuliani have strongly supported unsubstantiated allegations that Biden, as vice president, has acted to protect his son’s interests in Ukraine. In particular, they point out that Biden took part in putting pressure on the government of Petros Poroshenko, then President of Ukraine, to fire the country’s public prosecutor. Trump and Giuliani claim that Biden did so because the prosecutor’s office had Burisma under investigation.
Those allegations have no basis in reality. No investigation into Burisma’s was underway at the State Prosecutor’s Office when Biden pushed for the expulsion of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin. The US government, other Western nations, and international organizations have called for his removal as they believe Shokin is corrupt himself and are dragging his feet in eradicating local corruption, including by not investigating Burisma, who was accused of money laundering. Biden pursued a government policy that was not a secret at the time. Among other things, she enjoyed the support of Trump’s Republican lawmakers.
However, that did not stop Trump and Giuliani from trying to turn a blind eye to Volodymyr Zelensky, then the newly elected president of Ukraine, to investigate Burism and Biden last year. They tried to condition US military assistance on Zelensky’s doing Trump the political favor. Biden was then considered the most likely Democratic presidential candidate.
The U.S. House of Representatives has sued Trump over last year’s crackdown on Ukraine. The Senate acquitted the president of the charges in February.
Some Republicans in the US Congress have tried to keep the allegations against Biden alive this year. The Senate Homeland Security Committee investigated the case but found no evidence that Biden had done anything criminal or let other motives control his dealings with the Ukrainian government last month. Giuliani does not appear to have provided the committee with the hard drive, despite having been in its possession for months.