One thing to watch for in tomorrow’s final presidential debate is whether Donald Trump will be able to do any damage to Joe Biden in connection with the story that has been making the rounds about Hunter Biden and his laptop.
The story originated with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani who claims he obtained damaging information from a laptop that Hunter Biden allegedly left at a Wilmington Delaware computer repair shop and then apparently forgot about.
The Rupert Murdoch-owned New York post picked up the story and in an article, claimed to have seen a “smoking-gun email” allegedly showing Hunter Biden had arranged for a meeting in 2015 between his father and an adviser to the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. Hunter Biden was a member of the board. This would be serious because Joe Biden has repeatedly said that he never participated in his son’s business affairs. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma until his term expired in April 2019, receiving compensation of up to $50,000 per month in some months. Because Vice President Biden played a major role in U.S. policy towards Ukraine, some Ukrainian anti-corruption advocates and even Obama administration officials expressed concern that Hunter Biden’s having joined the board could create the appearance of a conflict of interest and undermine Vice President Biden’s anti-corruption work in Ukraine.
Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, said his own attorney, obtained the material from the owner of a computer repair shop in Wilmington, Delaware, after Hunter Biden allegedly left it there for months. Giuliani provided the material to the New York Post on Sunday.
The owner of the computer store, John Paul MacIsaac, was vague about how the laptop came into his possession. CBS News interviewed MacIsaac for almost two hours on Wednesday and throughout the interview he contradicted himself about his motivations, raising questions about the truthfulness of one of the central figures in the story. MacIsaac repeatedly told CBD he felt Trump’s impeachment was unfair. He also said his girlfriend left him after he voted for Trump in 2016.
Meanwhile Facebook and Twitter moved to block distribution of the story, given its dubious provenance, apparently wanting to avoid being the source of a last-minute bombshell similar to the James Comey announcement in 2016 that damaged the Hilary Clinton campaign with just a few days to the election.
Mr. Trump was impeached by the House last year over his efforts to pressure the current Ukrainian government to investigate Hunter Biden’s ties to Burisma.
The U.S. intelligence community has warned for months that Russia is actively working to “denigrate” Biden by amplifying allegations of corruption, and experts have issued dire warnings that Russia could orchestrate a “hack and dump” operation similar to its effort to steal and release stolen Democratic emails in the runup to the 2016 election.
Moreover, Russian hackers are believed to have breached Burisma’s systems earlier this year, and Giuliani himself has been tied to Ukrainian lawmaker acting as a Russian agent who has publicized private recordings of Biden speaking to Ukrainian officials in the past.
An attorney for Hunter Biden said Giuliani “has been pushing widely discredited conspiracy theories about the Biden family, openly relying on actors tied to Russian intelligence.”