STREAMING NOW: Watch Now
CLOSINGS: View Closings

AP writes 'explainer' on new Biden/Ukraine scandal story in New York Post

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, about the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, about the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Twitter and Facebook moved to censor and stop the spreading of the story on Wednesday.

Posted: Oct 14, 2020 9:05 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Looking to undermine rival Joe Biden 20 days before the election, President Donald Trump’s campaign has seized on a tabloid story offering bizarre twists to a familiar line of attack: Biden’s relationship with Ukraine. But the story in the New York Post raises more questions than answers, including about the authenticity of an email at the center of the story.

The origins of the story also trace back to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has repeatedly pushed unfounded claims about Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Even if the emails in the Post are legitimate, they don’t validate Trump and Giuliani's claims that Biden's actions were influenced by his son's business dealings in Ukraine.

A look at the development:

HOW DID BIDEN'S SON BECOME A CAMPAIGN ISSUE?

Hunter Biden joined the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma in 2014, around the time his father, then U.S. vice president, was helping conduct the Obama administration's foreign policy with Ukraine.

Senate Republicans said in a recent report that the appointment may have posed a conflict of interest, but they did not present evidence that the hiring influenced U.S. policies.

Trump and his supporters, meanwhile, have advanced a widely discredited theory that Biden pushed for the firing of Ukraine's top prosecutor to protect his son and Burisma from investigation. Biden did indeed press for the prosecutor's firing, but that's because he was reflecting the official position of not only the Obama administration but many Western countries and because the prosecutor was perceived as soft on corruption.

WHAT DOES THE NEW YORK POST STORY SAY?

The main email highlighted by the Post is a May 2015 message that it said was sent to Hunter Biden by Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to Burisma's board. In it, he thanks the younger Biden “for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent (sic) some time together. It’s realty (sic) an honor and pleasure."

The wording makes it unclear if he actually met Joe Biden. The Biden campaign said in a statement that it had reviewed Biden’s schedules from the time and that no meeting as described by the newspaper took place.

HOW DID THE POST OBTAIN THE EMAILS?

It's a tangled saga. The Post says it received a hard drive containing the messages on Sunday from Giuliani, who has pushed the unfounded idea that Ukraine was trying to interfere with the 2016 election and that the younger Biden may have enriched himself by selling his access to his father.

The Post says the emails were part of a trove of data recovered from a laptop that was dropped off at a computer repair shop in Delaware in April 2019. It says the customer, whom the owner could not definitively identify as Hunter Biden, never paid for the service or retrieved it, and says the owner made a copy of the hard drive that he provided to Giuliani's lawyer.

The owner of the Wilmington shop declined to comment Wednesday to The Associated Press, saying he didn't feel like talking. The newspaper says the owner alerted the FBI to the computer and hard drive, and that agents took possession of them. That could not immediately be confirmed, and the FBI declined to comment Wednesday.

Asked via text by an AP reporter how long he had the hard drive, Giuliani replied: “You’re interested in the wrong thing. This time the truth will not be defeated by process. I’ve got a lot more to go."

ARE THE NEW EMAILS AUTHENTIC?

The actual origins of the emails are unclear. And disinformation experts say there are multiple red flags that raise doubts about their authenticity, including questions about whether the laptop actually belongs to Hunter Biden, said Nina Jankowicz, a fellow at the nonpartisan Wilson Center in Washington.

The Biden campaign didn't address that issue Wednesday and Hunter Biden's lawyer did not return an email seeking comment from the AP.

Another potential alarm is the involvement of another Trump associate, Steve Bannon, who the Post says first alerted it to the emails and who along with Giuliani has been active in promoting an anti-Biden narrative on Ukraine.

“We should view it as a Trump campaign product,” Jankowicz said.

Thomas Rid, a disinformation expert at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, said it was not clear to him yet whether the emails were hacked or forged but said they “could be either or both.”

“It's a common feature in these operations that you combine generic content, accurate content, with forged content," Rid said.

IF AUTHENTIC, ARE THESE EMAILS DAMAGING TO BIDEN?

The suggestion that Joe Biden might have met with a Burisma representative is consequential, because he has repeatedly insisted that he never discussed his son's business with him.

But the emails provide no details on whether Pozharskyi and Biden actually met and, if so, what they discussed.

If Biden did meet with Pozharskyi, he was not the only U.S. official who may have done so. Pozharskyi was part of a Burisma delegation that lobbied congressional officials in 2014 in an attempt to show that the firm was not a corruption risk.

HOW DID SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES RESPOND TO THE STORY?

Companies like Twitter and Facebook, already under pressure to police their platforms ahead of the election, quickly flagged the article and moved to restrict its accessibility online — an action decried by Trump and his supporters, including congressional Republicans.

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone announced on Twitter that the company was working to reduce the distribution of the article on its platform.

On Wednesday afternoon, Twitter began banning its users from sharing links to the article in tweets and direct messages because it violated the company’s policy that prohibits hacked content.

WHAT'S THE POLITICAL IMPACT?

With less than three weeks until Election Day and polls showing him trailing Biden, Trump appears to be returning to the subject of his opponent's family to energize his base.

But in an election dominated by concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, it’s less certain Trump’s strategy will appeal to the voters he needs to win back, including moderate Republicans and suburban women.

Trump's called for a full accounting of Biden's conversations with Hunter and with Pozharskyi. Trump said in an interview with Newsmax that the Post had caught Biden “cold” with “serious” allegations.

At a campaign rally in Iowa Wednesday night, Trump led with the Post story and called Biden "a corrupt politician who shouldn’t even be allowed to run for the presidency.”

Biden's campaign, meanwhile, pointed to the recent Republican-led Senate investigation that found no evidence of wrongdoing on Biden's part with regard to Ukraine. It also pointedly noted the involvement of Giuliani, saying his “discredited conspiracy theories and alliance with figures connected to Russian intelligence have been widely reported.”

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312969

Reported Deaths: 3637
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin661641115
Ramsey27766505
Anoka22149228
Dakota22015190
Washington13999115
Stearns13733116
St. Louis8747112
Scott846255
Wright775843
Olmsted665634
Sherburne587641
Clay498457
Carver474213
Blue Earth414116
Rice412836
Kandiyohi408122
Crow Wing359634
Otter Tail314322
Chisago311611
Nobles308730
Benton299451
Winona276930
Mower261623
Douglas260337
Polk256324
Morrison231629
Lyon218711
Beltrami217117
McLeod212812
Becker205415
Goodhue203228
Steele19497
Isanti190617
Itasca190423
Carlton185816
Todd181214
Nicollet162525
Mille Lacs153631
Freeborn15336
Le Sueur147011
Cass143710
Brown141315
Waseca139211
Pine13658
Meeker12879
Roseau11964
Hubbard114925
Martin113320
Wabasha10561
Redwood94619
Chippewa8877
Cottonwood8664
Renville86527
Dodge8600
Watonwan8544
Wadena8016
Sibley7934
Rock7779
Aitkin76730
Pipestone72518
Fillmore6990
Houston6984
Yellow Medicine64812
Pennington6478
Kanabec61913
Murray5873
Swift5838
Faribault5612
Pope5391
Clearwater5248
Stevens5103
Marshall4979
Unassigned49359
Jackson4881
Lake4226
Koochiching3926
Wilkin3895
Lac qui Parle3773
Lincoln3591
Norman3497
Big Stone3182
Mahnomen2964
Grant2796
Kittson2248
Red Lake2133
Traverse1481
Lake of the Woods1001
Cook720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 227398

Reported Deaths: 2368
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33642336
Linn14352165
Scott1124986
Black Hawk10893135
Woodbury10372126
Johnson955336
Dubuque923291
Story678822
Dallas637257
Pottawattamie631970
Sioux370325
Webster358535
Cerro Gordo357144
Marshall348546
Clinton331344
Buena Vista305414
Des Moines291520
Muscatine289268
Warren281914
Plymouth276042
Wapello255772
Jones232313
Jasper217944
Marion205320
Lee203917
Carroll198422
Bremer195212
Henry18307
Crawford174616
Benton170619
Tama154340
Jackson144613
Delaware144221
Washington141314
Dickinson139210
Boone137011
Mahaska126827
Wright12456
Clay11784
Buchanan117010
Hardin115810
Page11374
Hamilton11199
Clayton11175
Cedar108413
Harrison107729
Kossuth10667
Calhoun10617
Floyd105016
Mills10487
Fayette103910
Lyon10338
Butler10216
Poweshiek99313
Winneshiek97613
Iowa95812
Winnebago93023
Hancock8677
Grundy86311
Louisa86216
Sac8608
Chickasaw8574
Cherokee8484
Allamakee81811
Cass81623
Mitchell7984
Appanoose79312
Humboldt7715
Union7706
Shelby76511
Emmet76424
Guthrie75415
Franklin73921
Jefferson7142
Madison6864
Unassigned6690
Palo Alto6554
Keokuk5997
Howard5599
Pocahontas5584
Greene5250
Osceola5241
Ida48913
Clarke4874
Davis4709
Taylor4653
Montgomery46311
Monroe44412
Adair4418
Monona4352
Worth3630
Fremont3583
Van Buren3585
Lucas3256
Decatur3170
Wayne3007
Audubon2962
Ringgold2112
Adams1702
Rochester
Overcast
19° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 3°
Mason City
Overcast
20° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 9°
Albert Lea
Overcast
19° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 7°
Austin
Overcast
19° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 9°
Charles City
Overcast
21° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 8°
Colder Conditions To Start The Workweek
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Aaron's Sunday Night Forecast

Image

Active shooter police standoff resolved after 9 hours

Image

Standoff in Albert Lea after 3 people shot

Image

Christmas tree shopping

Image

MC 'grateful' to play, adjusting with schedule changes

Image

Small business Saturday

Image

Sean's Weather 11/28

Image

Sidelined in quarantine: Coach Fennelly talks about his experience away from the game

Image

Here Comes Santa Claus Drive-Thru

Image

Here Comes Santa Claus Drive-Thru

Community Events