Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist for President Donald Trump, has claimed that Hunter Biden emailed a computer repair shop to recover a hard drive now at the center of an FBI investigation into Russian disinformation.
That New York Post this week detailed alleged talks between Hunter – son of the Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden – and a director of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, on whose board Hunter previously served.
mail quoted emails allegedly found on a hard drive provided by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani has long been involved in Trump’s political manipulations in Ukraine and has reportedly been branded by US officials as a possible channel for Russian government disinformation.
One of the emails released shows that Hunter planned to introduce Burisma director Vadym Pozharsky to Biden ̵
Trump and his allies have used the email as evidence that Biden abused his position for the benefit of his son, although it is not clear if Pozharsky and Biden ever actually met. Biden has said he “never discussed” Hunter’s foreign business interests with him.
Bannon told Sky News on Sunday: “Hunter Biden’s lawyer has come to us both with phone calls and with emails saying ‘Hi, I need to get my hard drive back. “”
“This is not a Russian intelligence operation; they admit it’s their hard drive, ”Bannon said. “We have emails from the lawyer. If we need to release them, we’ll release them.”
Emails came from the hard drive of a water-damaged laptop – allegedly belonging to Hunter – dropped off at a workshop in Delaware in 2019. The hard drive was picked up by a third party from the store owner in January and sent to Giuliani. Giuliani apparently then sat on the information for several months before releasing it to Post weeks before the election.
The FBI is reportedly investigating whether the allegations are part of a Russian disinformation campaign against the Biden campaign. The agency has publicly refused to confirm that an investigation is underway.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has warned that Russia is trying to “insult” Biden ahead of the election and hurt his chances of depriving Trump.
U.S. intelligence agencies and Congress have concluded that Russia did the same to Hillary Clinton in 2016, helping Trump win the presidential race. The president and his allies continue to dispute these findings.
The story also sparked a social media furore after Twitter and Facebook restricted access to the article due to its insecure sourcing.
Twitter said the report violated their standards for sharing illegally obtained information. It is unclear whether emails are genuine, whether they were hacked from the computer, or whether they are counterfeit.
Trump and his allies have previously claimed that Biden abused his power as vice president to protect Burisma from an investigation into fraud and pushed for the firing of prosecutor Viktor Shokin.
Shokin was considered soft on corruption, and Biden reflected US and allied policies by pushing for his removal. At the time of Shokin’s removal, the study of Burisma was dormant. There is still no evidence that Biden abused his influence for the benefit of his son.
Trump used the conspiracy theory to try to deflect his own parallel policy in Ukraine – overseen by Giuliani – in which he pushed newly elected President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an inquiry into Biden’s activities in Ukraine in return for US military aid.
The scandal eventually led to Trump’s indictment of the House, although he was later acquitted by the Senate, both with party lines.
Bannon is currently facing charges of fraud over a fundraising campaign in support of Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border. Bannon left the White House under a cloud in 2017, despite being credited as the intellectual and strategic engine behind the success of the 2016 underdog campaign.
Bannon has since sought to build a pan-European political alliance, building ties with a number of anti-establishment parties, while also fighting for GOP lawmakers in the United States.