Hunter Biden and the Hunt for a New “Hillary’s Emails”
With less than three weeks to go until the election, The New York Post published what it apparently thought would be a bombshell report. The tabloid newspaper claims it obtained a cache of emails by Hunter Biden, the Democratic nominee’s controversial son, including one that suggests the younger Biden arranged a meeting between his father and a Ukrainian oligarch with whom Hunter had a business relationship. Biden has previously denied discussing his son’s business dealings while in office.
The story is less persuasive than its full-court-press treatment indicated. The sourcing trail for the emails in question is murky, at best; they also happen to run straight through some of President Donald Trump’s closest allies and fixers. The Biden campaign directly denied that any such meeting took place, citing official schedules from the time period in question. If nothing else, the Post story serves as a dry run for processing any other October surprises that the Trump campaign may try to launch out of desperation. Think of it as a trial balloon for a sequel to the follies of four years ago: a cursed laptop, a tranche of controversial emails that are apparently still giving off heat, and an altered path for the nation—except this time, the old adage about farce following tragedy seems to apply.
According to the Post, this new batch of emails is purported to have come from a copy of a laptop hard drive obtained by an unnamed Delaware computer-repair store in April 2019. The Post claims the laptop includes intimate photos and videos of Hunter Biden, in addition to the purported emails. (It published a photo of Hunter Biden smoking a cigarette that it attributes to the copy.) The Post also recounts that the store owner no longer has possession of the laptop because FBI agents confiscated it after he alerted them to its apparent existence.
It’s worth noting at this point, however, that the Post did not confirm whether the laptop belonged to Hunter Biden at all. “The customer who brought in the water-damaged MacBook Pro for repair never paid for the service or retrieved it or a hard drive on which its contents were stored, according to the shop owner, who said he tried repeatedly to contact the client,” the Post claims. “The shop owner couldn’t positively identify the customer as Hunter Biden but said the laptop bore a sticker from the Beau Biden Foundation, named after Hunter’s late brother and former Delaware attorney general.”
How did the Post learn about the laptop at all? According to its own report, the owner made a copy of the hard drive and gave it to Robert Costello, the attorney for Trump confidant Rudy Guiliani. “Steve Bannon, former adviser to President Trump, told the Post about the existence of the hard drive in late September and Giuliani provided the Post with a copy of it on Sunday,” the Post said. The report does not mention that federal agents arrested Bannon for his role in an alleged scheme to defraud Trump supporters in August.