FBI probed if purported Hunter Biden emails are part of Russian plot, anonymous source says
By CHRIS STROHM | Bloomberg News | Published: October 17, 2020
WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — The FBI probed whether emails purportedly recovered from a laptop allegedly belonging to Joe Biden's son are part of a Russian disinformation operation to interfere in the 2020 election, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The New York Post reported Wednesday that the emails suggest that Biden's son Hunter introduced his father, then the vice president, to an executive at a Ukrainian energy firm in 2015. Hunter Biden was on the company's board at the time.
The emails were recovered from an abandoned laptop at a repair shop in Delaware in April 2019, according to the Post. The shop owner said he alerted the FBI to its contents. Photos of a Delaware federal court subpoena given to the Post indicate that both the computer and hard drive were seized by the FBI last December.
The FBI has looked into the matter, according to the person, who asked not to be identified speaking about the sensitive matter. It wasn't clear if the FBI's probe, which was reported earlier by NBC News, is ongoing.
President Donald Trump and his conservative allies have seized upon the emails to try to discredit the former vice president, who is running against Trump in the Nov. 3 election. Biden has said he never discussed his son's business dealings with him.
The newspaper offered no proof the meeting took place and the Biden campaign denied the report.
"We have reviewed Joe Biden's official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place," campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.
According to the Post's story, the repair shop owner made a copy of the laptop's hard drive and gave it to Robert Costello, an attorney for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now an outspoken ally of Trump and his reelection campaign, according to the Post.
Giuliani's attempts last year to obtain disparaging information on Biden from Ukrainian officials contributed to Trump's impeachment by the House of Representatives. In September, the Treasury Department sanctioned one of the Ukrainians that Giuliani met with, Andrii Derkach, calling him a Russian agent who is trying to interfere in the 2020 election.
Steve Bannon, a former Trump adviser, disclosed the existence of the hard drive in late September, and Giuliani gave the Post a copy of the hard drive, the paper reported.
The controversy was fueled even more after Twitter Inc. moved to limit distribution of the article because of concerns about its authenticity. Conservatives have argued the move amounted to censorship.
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