Rudy’s New York Post October Surprise

New York Post dropped a story based on “emails” surrounding Hunter Biden and Burisma supplied by known bullshit artist Rudy Giuliani. It is a the dumbest fucking thing I’ve heard in a good while, figures that the Trump and Qanon crowd would jump on it like flies to Pence’s head.

Let’s start with the source of these supposed emails, a computer shop owner:

Mac Isaac said he had a medical condition that prevented him from actually seeing who dropped off the laptop but that he believed it to be Hunter Biden’s because of a sticker related to the Beau Biden Foundation that was on it. He said that Hunter Biden actually dropped off three laptops for repair, an abundance of hardware that he chalked up to the Biden son being “rich.”

Throughout the interview, Mac Isaac switched back and forth from saying he reached out to law enforcement after viewing the files in the laptop to saying that it was actually the Federal Bureau of Investigation that contacted him. At one point, Mac Isaac claimed that he was emailing someone from the FBI about the laptop. At another point he claimed a special agent from the Baltimore office had contacted him after he alerted the FBI to the device’s existence. At another point, he said the FBI reached out to him for “help accessing his drive.”

Mac Isaac referenced the infamous Seth Rich conspiracy theory—which holds that a DNC staffer who police say was murdered in a botched robbery was actually killed off by Clinton allies because he leaked committee emails—as reason for his paranoia.

What a start.

You’d think this campaign could come up with dirt more imaginative than “emails found on a laptop” dropping in mid-October. It’s almost as if the Russian government is trolling the US:

A newly discovered laptop, the FBI, a trove of emails, October, a presidential election—it sounds familiar. Especially when you add in a Russian disinformation campaign. On Wednesday, the New York Post released what it hailed as a bombshell: an unidentified computer repair store owner in Delaware had come to possess a laptop that contained Hunter Biden emails (and purportedly a sex tape), the hard drive and computer was seized by the FBI, the store owner at some point passed a copy of the hard drive to Rudy Giuliani, and one of the emails suggested that Hunter, who served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma, may have in 2015 introduced a Burisma official to his dad, Vice President Joe Biden. The story depicts this as a big scandal, and Guiliani tweeted, “Much more to come.” 

But the key point of the article was predicated on false information that Giuliani has been spreading for a long time—and that appears to be linked to a Russian disinformation operation that the Post neglected to note in its article. That is, the Post piece, based on an unproven smear, is in sync with Moscow’s ongoing effort to influence the 2020 election to help President Donald Trump retain power. (The FBI and other parts of the US intelligence community have stated that Vladimir Putin is once again attacking the US political system to boost Trump.) And this story presents a challenge to the American media: how to report on an orchestrated campaign to affect the election that relies on disinformation, salacious and sensational material, and the revival of allegations that have already been debunked. 

The bad faith animating the Post story is demonstrated by its open embrace—in the first sentence—of a demonstrably false narrative and by its failure to report Giuliani’s association with a Russian intelligence agent who the Department of Treasury has accused of interfering in the 2020 election. 

The article begins: “Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to emails obtained by The Post.” The claim that Biden forced the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor to protect Burisma has been the centerpiece of Giuliani’s long-running, Fox-hyped effort (on behalf of his client Donald Trump) to dig up dirt on Biden in the former Soviet republic. 

Biden in 2016 did push for the firing of this prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, but there is no indication this was done to assist Burisma. In fact, there is a boatload of evidence that Shokin was canned because of his own corruption. There was no active investigation of Burisma at the time of his dismissal. (The absence of such a probe was even cited at the time as one sign of Shokin’s malfeasance)

And as has been widely documented, Biden’s demand that Shokin be dumped was part of an international effort to pressure Ukraine’s government to clean itself up in order to receive financial assistance. (Several Republican senators also called for Shokin’s removal.) Yet Trump and others have falsely claimed that Biden nefariously bounced Shokin to cover up supposed Burisma misdeeds.  

The Post repeating this baseless accusation is an act of propaganda—and the foundation for the article. The email the tabloid touts as big news suggests that in 2015 Hunter introduced a Burisma board member to his dad. The newspaper implies that this was somehow connected to Biden urging Shokin’s dismissal the following year. If there was nothing untoward about Biden pressing the Ukrainian government to replace Shokin, there certainly isn’t anything necessarily scandalous about Biden having met with the board member.

Moreover, the 2015 email to Hunter—which simply says, “thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father”—discloses nothing about any conversation the board member might have had with the vice president. It’s not even confirmed that this meeting occurred. (The Biden campaign issued a statement saying it had reviewed Joe Biden’s schedule and no such meeting “ever took place.”)

Lemme get this straight. Hunter Biden, elbow deep in a conspiracy to make a fuckton of money by giving some Ukrainians access to his dad, drops off a water logged laptop at some random laptop shop. He then never returns to get it. The shop owner then decides to call the FBI to report this laptop and before they can take it, makes a copy of the hard drive. Upon realizing what he really has, very incriminating emails between the son of the vice president and some gas and power guys gives the hard drive to Rudy. Rudy then knowing he holds evidence of a crime hands the emails over to the newspaper and not the FBI. Then the newspaper reports these emails without doing even a modicum of research to see if the meeting alleged on the incriminating emails ever happened, which according to the vice presidents publicly available schedule, did not.

In other news, I found a phone in my dumpster this morning. It had a MAGA sticker on it. It is clearly Trump’s phone. Expect lots of texts, emails, nudes, and a pee tape in the coming days.

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