the national interest

Rudy Found Hunter Biden Emails That Totally Weren’t Stolen by Russia

These emails just fell off the back of a truck. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani has spent at least two years attempting to find some kind of Ukrainian dirt that can be used to discredit Joe Biden. Now he has unveiled his October surprise: emails, or images of what purport to be emails, between Hunter Biden and Burisma officials.

The conservative New York Post has a credulous account of how Rudy came across these emails. The Post claims somebody brought the computer to a repair shop in Delaware, but then never bothered to pay for the repair. The shop owner saw that the computer had a sticker for the Beau Biden Foundation. But instead of returning the computer to the Biden family, he made a copy of the hard drive and gave it to Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, before turning it over to the FBI.

Before we consider the plausibility of that story, the substance is worth briefly addressing. The emails, if they are legitimate, show once again that Hunter Biden was trying to gain influence for Burisma, the Ukrainian energy firm that hired him, in an obvious ploy to gain an entry into Joe Biden’s inner circle.

The primary lie in the Post’s account is the claim that Burisma was being investigated by the Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who Biden demanded be fired. If that were true, it would suggest a quid pro quo: Burisma hires Biden’s son Hunter, Biden demands firing of prosecutor investigating Burisma. The Post, echoing the Trump campaign’s disinformation, claims “Biden later bragged about forcing Ukrainian officials to fire a state prosecutor who was investigating Burisma.”

In fact, though, Shokin was not investigating Burisma. Shokin was considered corrupt and ineffectual, and Biden and the entire democratic world wanted him gone precisely because he was not probing corruption. “Shokin was not investigating. He didn’t want to investigate Burisma,” Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Action Center, told the Washington Post in July. “And Shokin was fired not because he wanted to do that investigation, but quite to the contrary, because he failed that investigation.” Kaleniuk also told Radio-Free Europe/Radio Liberty last year that Shokin “dumped important criminal investigations on corruption associated with [former President Viktor] Yanukovych, including the Burisma case.”

Was Burisma paying Hunter Biden in an attempt to influence his father? Yes. Did Hunter deliver that influence? No. Biden did the opposite of what Burisma wanted.

The most important new claim in the email trove obtained by the Post is that “Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm.” Biden’s campaign says a review of Biden’s schedule from this time shows the meeting never occurred, and that the Post never even asked Biden about this allegation before printing it.

Now, what about the Delaware computer-shop origin story? The best thing you can say is that this account is not physically impossible, in that it does not violate any laws of of nature or require any discontinuity in the space-time continuum. It is not, however, a very plausible account.

To begin with, if you were a computer-repair shop in Delaware, and you had a Biden-owned computer that you repaired but weren’t paid for, why would your first step be to reach out to Rudy Giuliani’s attorney? Why wouldn’t you go to the Bidens — who are fairly well known and easy to find in Delaware — to get paid? And why would the FBI even be allowed to investigate this computer without a search warrant?

The author of the Post’s stories on the stolen Hunter Biden emails, Emma-Jo Morris, is a former Hannity segment producer-booker who has written a total of three articles, all of them covering the Biden story and published today. If Giuliani is obfuscating about how he came across these emails, Morris does not seem to be the reporter who is most likely to crack open his cover story.

While Giuliani has not previously demonstrated any deep network of contacts in the Delaware computer-repair world, he has a long-standing string of contacts in the Russian intelligence world. He has met publicly with Andriy Derkach, who has been officially designated as a Russian intelligence agent by the U.S. Treasury Department. Derkach and Giuliani have spent months plotting to obtain and publicize Russian-sponsored information or pseudo-information discrediting Biden. Also, this past January, Russian hackers reportedly obtained emails from Burisma.

But according to the Post, the stolen Burisma emails Giuliani found and shared with a Hannity producer have nothing to do with either the Russian agents who hacked Burisma emails or the Russian intelligence official whom he has been working with in broad daylight.

If that story is not true, then Trump’s lawyer is cooperating with Russian intelligence operatives on a hack-and-leak operation to influence the presidential campaign. But that would never happen, would it?

This post has been updated with new developments.