Joe Biden’s presidential campaign on Wednesday dismissed an explosive story about Hunter Biden after emails purported to come from Hunter’s laptop appeared to show Hunter making an introduction between his powerful father and a Ukrainian energy firm.
A trove of emails obtained from Hunter’s laptop and revealed by Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani showed Hunter making an effort to introduce his father to an adviser at his Ukrainian gas firm before the then-vice president lobbied for the firing of a prosecutor who had investigated the company.
Burisma adviser Vadym Pozharskyi thanked Hunter Biden for ‘an opportunity to meet your father’ in an email sent in 2015, according to the stash of data given to the New York Post by Giuliani.
Hours after the story landed, the Biden camp blasted the report, and said a records search indicated no such meeting occurred.
Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said the paper ‘never asked the Biden campaign about the critical elements of this story…moreover, we have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place.’
Bates said: ‘Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was decried as “not legitimate” and political by a GOP colleague have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official U.S. policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing. Trump Administration officials have attested to these facts under oath,’ he said.
The email is just one among a trove being referenced by Giuliani and his team.
Giuliani lawyer Bob Costello said there are some 40,000 emails on the hard drive including thousands of texts. It also includes images of Hunter ‘in very compromising positions,’ Costello told Fox News.
Trump’s campaign seized on the Biden campaign’s response, claiming it constituted confirmation of the material on Hunter’s hard drive was real, evan as some outside observers raised the prospect it could have been hacked or altered.
‘The Biden campaign does not dispute the authenticity of the emails published by the New York Post, which serves to confirm that they are real. And if Joe Biden never met with Vadym Pozharskyi, the Biden campaign would say so,’ said Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh.
‘They do not say that. Their answer basically is that the entry ‘Meeting with Ukrainian businessman buying access to the Vice President’ does not appear on Joe Biden’s official schedule. Their response is so carefully worded that it reveals the truth in what they don’t deny. They also don’t address the overarching question of why Joe Biden lied to the American people about never discussing with Hunter Biden his corrupt business dealings with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Americans deserve a full accounting of the conversations Joe Biden had with Hunter, and what Joe Biden discussed with Vadym Pozharskyi.’
A year after the 2015 email, Joe Biden successfully pushed for the prosecutor’s removal, amid concerns at his failure to tackle corruption which were shared by other countries.
The files also show Hunter repeatedly apparently referring to his father as ‘my guy’ while writing to a colleague at Burisma, and pictures of him engaged in sex, smoking drugs, and partially-naked selfies.
Their publication at 5am in New York set off a series of developments including:
- The Senate Homeland Security Committee helmed by Republican Ron Johnson said that it has been contacted by the ‘whistleblower’ who had the laptop and is looking into the matter;
- Giuliani promised there was ‘much more’ to come from the laptop;
- Facebook said the story was ‘eligible for fact checking’ and that it was ‘reducing its distribution on our platform’ prompting the president’s son Don Jr. to accuse the platform of ‘election interference’;
- Democrats accused Giuliani of being untrustworthy, with Connecticut senator Chris Murphy tweeting: ‘Remember he’s been parading around with a Russian secret agent for the last year.’
The Republican-led committee only weeks ago wrapped up a report on Hunter’s business dealings and accusing him of corruption.
The Post says the collection of messages and images were recovered on a MacBook Pro laptop that was brought into a Delaware computer shop by someone looking like Hunter and never picked up. It had a Beau Biden Foundation sticker on it.
Giuliani said the FBI had investigated it and produced a grand jury subpoena as evidence. It is unknown what the FBI investigation was into or what has happened to it. The Bureau has declined to comment.
The emails shed new light on the younger Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine, which were at the center of the Trump impeachment probe and which the president has repeatedly tried to use against the Democratic nominee.
Joe Biden, who leads the polls with 20 days left until the election, has previously said he never speaks to his son about his overseas business dealings. His campaign offered no comment but Hunter’s attorney accused Giuliani of pushing Russian disinformation.
Hunter Biden and his father Joe Biden in 2016. Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine were at the center of the Trump impeachment case
In hot water: Hunter Biden’s laptop also contained sexually explicit pictures and footage of him apparently smoking crack, the New York Post reported
Here’s Hunter: The Democratic candidate’s son’s photos were part of the laptop which was obtained by Rudy Giuliani’s attorney and has now been released by the president’s lawyer
Intimate pictures: An apparent mirror selfie of a topless Hunter Biden is among the cache of information released by Rudy Giuliani
Biden in bed: A photo of the former vice-president’s son apparently asleep is among the pictures Giuliani released
Other material in the cache is said to include sexually explicit images of Hunter, and footage of him smoking crack while engaged in a sex act with a woman in the course of an 11-minute video.
The Post published four pictures of Biden in states of undress, one apparently in a bath, one in bed, and smoking in two of them.
One shows Hunter with what appeared to be a pipe similar to those used to smoke crack or marijuana.
Hunter, 50, has admitted to cocaine use in the past and received an administrative discharge from the US Navy reserve for that reason in 2014.
The trove of files was given to the Post by Giuliani after the computer store owner gave one copy to the FBI and kept hold of another.
He eventually gave it to Giuliani’s lawyer, and the contents were passed to the Post after the paper learned of its existence from former Trump aide Steve Bannon.
Giuliani has spearheaded claims, fiercely denied by both Bidens, that Joe Biden tried to fire Ukraine’s chief prosecutor Viktor Shokin in order to stop him investigating Burisma.
Shokin had previously led an investigation into the company’s owner.
Responding to the leak, lawyers for Hunter Biden said Giuliani was ‘pushing widely discredited conspiracy theories’.
The lawyers did not comment directly on the content of the emails, while Joe Biden and his campaign have yet to respond.
The April 2015 email from Pozharskyi came a year after the Burisma adviser had written to Hunter asking for ‘advice on how you could use your influence’.
Discussing his apparent meeting with Biden senior, Pozharskyi said it was an ‘honor and a pleasure’ to be introduced to the then-vice president.
However the email itself does not confirm that Biden met with Pozharaskyi, or that Hunter spoke to his father about the intended get-together.
By late 2015, Biden was lobbying for the removal of Shokin, a position supported by the Obama administration, the IMF and other Western countries who regarded him as ineffective and an obstacle to corruption.
In one phone call, then-Vice President Biden told Ukraine’s president that he would commit a $1billion loan guarantee to the country once Shokin was fired.
Biden, 77, described this in a speech in 2018, saying: ‘I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.
‘Well, son of a b****. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.’
The IMF also threatened to withhold $40billion to Ukraine if it failed to remove Shokin.
Shokin was indeed fired in March 2016, by which time his investigation into Burisma had already been lying dormant for a time, according to reports last year.
However, Burisma did have a reputation for corruption and last year’s impeachment inquiry was told that Hunter Biden’s involvement ‘created the potential for the appearance of a conflict of interest’.
Hunter joined the Burisma board in 2014 and served a five-year term, but reputedly never visited Ukraine for company business in that time.
Joe Biden has previously accused Giuliani of peddling ‘false, debunked conspiracy theories’ about his son’s involvement in Ukraine.
The issue came rushing back into the spotlight last year after President Trump lobbied Ukraine’s new president to investigate the Bidens’ dealings.
Trump’s request led to his impeachment after Democrats said he had abused his powers to strong-arm Ukraine into granting him a personal political favor.
Democrats said Trump had used $391million of foreign aid as a threat to pressure Ukraine, but the president denied there was any ‘quid pro quo’. He was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate.
A report by the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee said last year there was ‘no legitimate basis’ to accuse Joe Biden of wrongdoing.
The report argued that Shokin’s removal ‘would have increased the likelihood that Burisma would be investigated for corruption, not the opposite, given that Mr. Shokin was widely considered to be both ineffective and corrupt’.
Burisma adviser Vadym Pozharskyi (pictured) thanked Hunter Biden for ‘an opportunity to meet your father’ in an email sent in 2015
The files have been publicized by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani (pictured), who has spearheaded claims against Democratic nominee Joe Biden
The Hunter Biden issue came rushing into the political spotlight last year after Donald Trump (pictured) lobbied Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, leading to his impeachment
Trump tried to bring up Hunter at last month’s presidential debate in Cleveland, saying he was ‘given tens of millions of dollars’ in his business dealings.
The president also referred to Hunter’s cocaine use, while incorrectly claiming that Hunter had been dishonorably discharged from the US Navy Reserve.
The Democratic nominee’s son was actually handed a less severe administrative discharge after failing a drug test.
Joe Biden said in the debate: ‘My son, like a lot of people, had a drug problem. He’s overtaken it. He’s fixed it. He’s worked on it. And I’m proud of him.’
Hunter Biden’s activities at Burisma have also been the target of scrutiny by a committee in the Senate.
One email sent to his business partner Devon Archer around the time Hunter joined the company’s corporate board repeatedly refers to his father as ‘my guy’.
In the same email, Hunter discussed a Burisma contract which he felt ‘should include a retainer in the range of 25k per month’.
It is reportedly dated just over a week before Joe Biden held a press conference in Ukraine with the country’s PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk in April 2014.
‘The announcement of my guys [sic] upcoming travels should be characterized as part of our advice and thinking – but what he will say and do is out of our hands,’ Hunter Biden wrote on April 13, 2014.
‘In other words it could be a really good thing or it could end up creating too great an expectation. We need to temper expectations regarding that visit.’
Unwittingly caught up in the impeachment row last year, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said Ukrainians are ‘tired’ of the issue and does not want Ukraine being dragged into the 2020 presidential race.
Senate Republicans say they will probe Hunter Biden emails – amid questions over how they got to Rudy Giuliani from a Delaware repair shop
The Senate Homeland Security Committee says it is seeking to ‘validate’ information provided by a computer store owner who says he copied data from Hunter Biden’s hard drive after the former vice president’s son sought computer repairs.
The store owner says a customer dropped off a laptop containing the trove of material in April 2019 seeking repairs. After it went unclaimed, the store owner says he contacted the FBI and Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Now, following publication of material said to be from the hard drive by the New York Post, the Senate Homeland Security Committee helmed by Ron Johnson on says it has been contacted by the ‘whistleblower’ and is looking into the matter.
‘We regularly speak with individuals who email the committee’s whistleblower account to determine whether we can validate their claims,’ Johnson told Fox News.
‘Although we consider those communications to be confidential, because the individual in this instance spoke with the media about his contact with the committee, we can confirm receipt of his email complaint, have been in contact with the whistleblower, and are in the process of validating the information he provided,’ he said.
The committee’s effort to look into the trove of Hunter Biden’s emails just weeks before Election Day comes weeks after it issued an 87-page report titled ‘Hunter Biden, Burisma, and Corruption: The Impact on U.S. Government Policy and Related Concerns.’
In addition to potentially gaining access to the trove of data, the panel’s investigators now have an opportunity to try to untangle the circuitous route taken by the cache of information – which includes business emails, selfies, and images of the former vice president’s son smoking and taking bath. It is also said to include explicit images of Hunter.
Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been probing Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) said his committee is looking into the matter after being in contact with the computer store owner
The Homeland panel in late September published a report on Hunter Biden and ‘corruption’
The Post says the collection of messages and images were recovered from a MacBook Pro laptop that was brought into a Delaware computer shop and was never retrieved.
It does not identify the owner or the shop by name.
The shop owner says the machine had a Beau Biden Foundation sticker on it, and contains a trove of Hunter Biden’s personal and business data.
The store’s owner says a customer dropped off the laptop back in April 2019 for repairs. Commenters on Twitter immediately pointed to a major Apple store in Delaware off I-95 – but there is no indication that the store had any involvement, and the receipt bears no indications of Apple design features, indicating it may be an independent store.
In just one curious detail about the saga, the shop owner does not explicitly identify Hunter Biden as the person who dropped off the laptop.
The owner says the person who brought it in was seeking help with water damage to the computer and its hard drive.
Giuliani said the FBI had investigated the matter and produced a grand jury summons as evidence. It is unknown what the FBI investigation was into or what has come of it.
The Trump lawyer provided an image of a subpoena from the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, dated December 17, 2019. It lists a MacBook Pro computer and an external hard drive.
The paper says the shop owner could not positively identify Hunter Biden. However a computer generated receipt for the work lists the name Hunter Biden, a phone number, and an email address.
The signed receipt lists a price of $85, and fine print states that equipment left more than 90 days ‘will be treated as abandoned.’
The customer never paid for it or picked it up, according to the shop owner’s account.
The timeline suggests the FBI would have had access to the information for ten months.
The shop owner made a copy of the data before reportedly giving it to the FBI.
Giuliani has not said how long he has had the information, which he only provided to the Post on Sunday.
He has spent months communicating with Ukrainian officials in an effort to gather information on Hunter Biden’s work there, and his name gets a few mentions in the Homeland Security Committee’s Hunter Biden report.
Emails purportedly from Hunter’s laptop date back to 2014 – indicating it contained a potential trove of information.
Photos published from the hard drive show Hunter Biden vacationing with family, with his father, smoking, and in a bath tub.
Other material in the cache is said to include sexually explicit images of Hunter, and footage of him smoking drugs while engaged in a sex act with a woman.
The Homeland Security Committee made no mention of the emails or data in its extensive report on Hunter’s business dealings released Sept. 23. The show owner told the Post he contacted the committee the following day, and met with staff October 5.
Democrats were already blasting the committee’s original investigation as a partisan exercise weeks before the November elections.