Steve Bannon, a former chief strategist for President Donald Trump, claims that Hunter Biden emailed a computer repair shop to get his hard drive back at the FBI’s Russian disinformation investigation center.
The New York Post this week, detailed alleged talks between Hunter – the son of Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden – and CEO of Ukrainian gas company Burisma, of which Hunter previously served.
The message quoted emails found on a hard drive provided by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani has long been involved in Trump’s political machinations in Ukraine and is reportedly identified by US authorities as a potential channel for Russian government disinformation.
One of the emails showed that Hunter planned to introduce Burism CEO Vadim Pozharsky to Biden ̵
Trump and his allies used the email as evidence that Biden had misused his position in favor of his son, although it is unclear whether Pozharski and Biden ever met. Biden said he “never discussed” Hunter’s foreign business interests with him.
Bannon told Sky News on Sunday: “Hunter Biden’s lawyer came to us with both phone calls and emails saying, ‘Hey, I need to get my hard drive back.’
“This is not some Russian intelligence operation; they admit it is their hard drive,” Bannon said. “We have emails from the lawyer, if we have to release them, we will release them.”
The emails came from the hard drive of a water-damaged laptop – allegedly owned by Hunter – dropped out of service in Delaware in 2019. The hard drive was downloaded from a third party by the store owner in January and sent to Giuliani. Giuliani then sat on the information for months before releasing it into Post weeks before the election.
The FBI is reportedly investigating whether the allegations are part of a Russian disinformation campaign against Biden’s campaign. The agency refused to publicly confirm that the investigation was ongoing.
FBI Director Christopher Rai has warned that Russia is trying to “blacken” Biden before the election and damage his chances of ousting Trump.
U.S. intelligence agencies and Congress have concluded that Russia did the same with Hillary Clinton in 2016, helping Trump win the presidential race. The president and his allies continue to challenge these findings.
The story also caused a furor on social media after Twitter and Facebook restricted access to the article due to uncertain sources.
Twitter said the report violated their standards for sharing illegally obtained information. It remains unclear whether the emails are genuine, whether they have been hacked by the computer or forged.
Earlier, Trump and his allies claimed that Biden had abused his power as vice president to protect Burism from a fraud investigation by forcing him to fire Attorney General Viktor Shokin.
Shokin was thought to be soft on corruption, and Biden reflected US and Allied policies, demanding his removal. At the time of Shokin’s removal, the Burism investigation was inactive. The remains are not evidence to suggest that Biden abused his influence to benefit his son.
Trump used conspiracy theory to try to deviate from his own parallel policy in Ukraine – under Giuliani’s supervision – in which he urged President-elect Vladimir Zelensky to launch an investigation into Biden’s activities in Ukraine in exchange for US military aid.
The scandal eventually led to Trump’s impeachment from the House, although he was later acquitted by the Senate, both by party votes.
Bannon is currently accused of fraud over a fundraising campaign in support of Trump’s proposed wall on the Mexican border. Bannon left the White House under the cloud in 2017, although he was credited as the intellectual and strategic engine behind the success of the 2016 outsider campaign.
Since then, Bannon has sought to build a pan-European political alliance by building ties with a number of anti-establishment parties, while campaigning for US GOP lawmakers.