Rudy Giuliani's supposed Biden 'smoking gun' looks like an obvious Russian propaganda frame-up

Rudy Giuliani's supposed Biden 'smoking gun' looks like an obvious Russian propaganda frame-up
President Donald J. Trump recognizes former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani prior to signing H.R. 1327; an act to permanently authorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Monday, July 29, 2019, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

On Wednesday morning, the New York Post broke the genuinely unbelievable story about a soggy laptop with a hard drive that contains emails suggesting that Joe Biden had a previously unreported meeting with a Ukrainian businessman … and video of Hunter Biden having a crack-laced party with a sex worker. Because, sure, if you're going to have illegal drugs while engaging in illegal sex, you have to be sure to film it, right after the email that's a threat to your father.

This Donald Trump fantasy reel was then delivered to the Post through the unimpeachable (but definitely indictable) hands of Trump attorney, Rudy Giuliani. According to Giuliani, the source of this supposed mystery computer was a mystery customer who, extremely conveniently, left a Beau Biden Foundation sticker attached when dropping it off at a Delaware repair shop. But the mystery customer never returned—or apparently gave his name. So it was totally understandable that the repair shop guy busted out his best hacking tools and began reading those emails and watching those videos. And absolutely understandable that his first action was to make a copy for Giuliani.

Seriously, the believability factor of this whole story is somewhere worse than a love child between Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster. This is a story so ridiculous, Q would not want to be associated with it, which hasn't stopped White House Press Sec. Kayleigh McEnany from tweeting out parts of it as if it's serious. But now at least one aspect of the mystery is somewhat less mysterious, because the repair shop guy has been located. And he's a peach.

As Daily Beast reports, the apparent start of the journey from wet laptop to Post story inexplicably promoted by reporters from The New York Times and Politico is a shop owner named John Paul Isaac from Wilmington, Delaware. In a question and answer session lasting over an hour, Isaac gives often jaw-dropping and occasionally hilarious responses to questions about how exactly what Giuliani has been searching for happened to come into his hands, and how he then handed it over for appropriate scandal-level attention.

According to Isaac, he has a "medical condition" that prevented him from seeing who actually dropped off the laptop. But that Biden Foundation sticker clued him in that this had to be the Macbook of Hunter Biden. After all, it's not like the Beau Biden Foundation has a dozen board members, several dozen employees and volunteers, has trained over 9,500 adults to assist in spotting and preventing child abuse, and worked with families in over 20 states. Who but Hunter might have such a sticker?

Isaac then called the FBI, who took the device, but then called him back in for his expertise on accessing hard drives. Or he accessed the hard drive and then contacted the FBI. Or both. All of this is reported at various points in the conversation. "Muddled" doesn't begin to describe the explanation. Isaac also provides the reason that he copied the drive for Giuliani. That reason is: Seth Rich, as in the right-wing conspiracy theory that Seth Rich was murdered by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) because he knew the "truth" about DNC emails stolen by Russian sources and provided to Roger Stone, WikiLeaks, and Donald Trump.

At various points, Isaac seems to believe the FBI killed Rich, and might kill him. Which makes it difficult to understand why he would have called the FBI in the first place. To make it extra confusing, Isaac at various points claims the FBI didn't know he made a copy—except they had to know he would make a copy. "They probably knew I had a copy because I was pretty vocal about not wanting to get murdered," said Isaac. (Complete audio of the interview can be found with the Daily Beast article.)

The biggest problem with the claims in the emails is the same as that in every other Biden did something-something in Ukraine story. That problem is simple: Prosecutor Viktor Shokin was not investigating the company where Hunter Biden was on the board. How do we know that? Not only are there no records of such an investigation in Ukraine, Shokin himself has said as much. In fact, it was Shokin's refusal to open such an investigation that led to U.K. officials requesting that he be removed from office.

How does the Post story weasel-word their way around this problem? In the most weasel-y way imaginable. According to the Post, Shokin had made "specific plans" to investigate Burisma. So not only did Joe Biden apparently step in to stop the investigation, he stopped it when it was just an idea in Shokin's head that had not been acted on. Pretty darn clever, that Biden.

It might also be worth a quick look at the author of this Post article. The byline on the story is Emma-Jo Morris, who is listed on the masthead as Deputy Politics Editor at New York Post. Since when? Since today, that's when. Morris has exactly three stories on her resume at the Post … all of them written on Wednesday. All of them about Hunter Biden. What did Morris do prior to her instant appointment as editor? She booked guests for Sean Hannity.

If all of this wasn't shakier than watered down Jell-O, there's the little problem with how the contents of the hard drive seem to be perfectly in line with what Giuliani has been claiming all along. Trump's latest personal attorney has been beating the bushes, and paying off criminals, in Ukraine for over two years, looking for anyone willing to provide Biden dirt. It was almost exactly one year ago that Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Furman were arrested while trying to leave the country. Back in December, Parnas turned over documents to the House Intelligence Committee as charges of election law violations, perjury, falsifying records, and conspiracy against the United States were clearly expanding into "a broader probe that is looking at numerous people in Giuliani's orbit."

Just last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA officials made it clear that Giuliani's orbit was a tight circle around Vladimir Putin. That included identifying former Ukrainian legislator Andrii Derkach—Giuliani's primary contact in Ukraine—as a Russian disinformation agent who was in direct contact with the Kremlin. Derkach worked with Giuliani to spread disinformation about Biden "inside the United States through lobbyists, Congress, the media and contacts with figures close to the president."

Not only is Giuliani's October surprise anything but believable, the odds that it's not a direct ploy to slip disinformation sourced by Russia into the American media appear vanishingly small. Because it's not just Derkach who is a disinformation agent.

Twitter has now blocked access to the Post story. Good for them. At least someone is trying to stop the flow of Russian propaganda.

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