Thursday, 15 October 2020

As shocking pictures and damning emails emerge from a laptop handed to Trump's right-hand man...Joe Biden's son, his crack pipe - and a new low in the dirtiest ever U.S. election writes TOM LEONARD

 Lying comatose in bed with what appears to be a crack cocaine pipe hanging out of his mouth, the shocking new photo of Hunter Biden isn't exactly what Democrat image-shapers will have had in mind as they considered how to introduce Americans to the family they hope will soon be moving into the White House.

'October surprise' is what U.S. politics watchers call a last-minute upset to a November presidential election. 

Yesterday it was the turn of Joe Biden's campaign to receive one, after compromising emails and photos - purportedly from his troubled son Hunter's laptop - not only highlighted Hunter's drug problems but appeared to show him introducing his father to a controversial Ukrainian energy firm.


Other material extracted from the computer - but not yet released by the Republicans -reportedly includes a 'raunchy' 12-minute video that appears to show Hunter smoking crack cocaine while 'engaged in a sex act with an unidentified woman', as well as numerous other sexually explicit pictures. 

A serious of compromising pictures of Democratic candidate Joe Biden's son Hunter, 50, (above) have been released just weeks ahead of the US election on November 3 in a shocking move that some have suggested may prompt distrust in Joe Biden

A serious of compromising pictures of Democratic candidate Joe Biden's son Hunter, 50, (above) have been released just weeks ahead of the US election on November 3 in a shocking move that some have suggested may prompt distrust in Joe Biden

In some of the images, Hunter Biden is seen with a crack pipe hanging out of his mouth. His struggles with drug addiction have been well documented in the past

In some of the images, Hunter Biden is seen with a crack pipe hanging out of his mouth. His struggles with drug addiction have been well documented in the past

It's no secret that Hunter, 50, has had considerable personal problems - as President Trump has repeatedly mentioned during this election campaign.

The twice-married father-of-five - one child is by a former stripper - has a decades-long history of alcoholism and cocaine addiction as well as crack cocaine abuse. 

He was thrown out of the US Navy Reserve after failing a drug test. 

Joe Biden has himself said: 'My son, like a lot of people we know at home, had a drug problem. He's overtaken it. He's fixed it.'

But even if the shocking new images will hardly tell well-informed voters anything they didn't already know, they are unlikely to bolster Mr Biden's image as a wholesome alternative to the current president.

However, while Hunter has a controversial business record, Republicans have previously struggled to show his father was involved in it. 


Mr Biden currently has a sizeable poll lead over the floundering Trump, but so did Hillary Clinton in 2016 before FBI chief James Comey explosively announced he was reopening an investigation into her emails days before the election.

That hasn't been lost on either Republicans or Democrats, as a furious row erupted last night over the authenticity of the trove of emails, and how exactly they were obtained and passed to a pro-Republican newspaper by Mr Trump's lawyer, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. 

According to the New York Post, the emails reveal that Hunter Biden introduced his father, then U.S. Vice President, to a senior executive at Ukrainian energy company Burisma less than a year before Mr Biden put pressure on government officials there to sack a prosecutor who was investigating the business.

Among the emails is a message of thanks 'for an opportunity to meet your father' from Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to Burisma's board. 

Hunter Biden (right) is seen with his father Joe (left) attending an NCAA basketball game in 2010. During his election campaign, Biden senior has been open about his son's struggles with drugs

Hunter Biden (right) is seen with his father Joe (left) attending an NCAA basketball game in 2010. During his election campaign, Biden senior has been open about his son's struggles with drugs

Trump takes aim at Hunter Biden during Minnesota rally
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It was sent to Hunter Biden about a year after he joined the company's board on a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month - a lucrative appointment that has long fuelled Republican accusations of possible corruption in the Biden family and a conflict of interests issue for the supposedly squeaky-clean senator.

'Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC, and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time time together,' an April 2015 email from the Ukrainian read. 

'It's realty [sic] an honour and pleasure.'

An earlier email, sent in May 2014 from Mr Pozharskyi - Burisma's 'number three executive', according to the Post - asks Hunter Biden for 'advice on how you could use your influence' on the company's behalf.

The Post said the computer correspondence, reportedly amounting to some 40,000 emails and thousands of text messages, 'flies in the face' of Joe Biden's claim that he has 'never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings'.

However, while the emails published by the Post may suggest Biden Jr was ready to trade on his father's influence, they don't definitively show that the vice president ever did meet any Burisma executive.

The Biden campaign insisted yesterday that its records showed no such meeting ever took place.

A Biden spokesman said the newspaper 'never asked the Biden campaign about the critical elements of this story . . . moreover, we have reviewed Joe Biden's official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place'.

The spokesman stressed that successive investigations, including by two Republican-led Senate committees, had all concluded 'that Joe Biden carried out official U.S. policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing'.

The Trump campaign, meanwhile, claimed the Biden team's response confirmed the emails and other information on the computer hard drive were genuine: some sceptics have claimed they might have been faked.

Social media giants attempted to slow the spread of the story until its credibility could be checked. 

Twitter flagged the material as 'unsafe' as part of its new election posting rules while Facebook said it would rely on fact-checking partners to decide if the Post report was legitimate.

A Trump spokesman claimed the Biden campaign's 'carefully worded' response did not preclude the possibility he did meet the Ukrainian.

The spokesman added: 'Americans deserve a full accounting of the conversations Joe Biden had with Hunter, and what Joe Biden discussed with Vadym Pozharskyi.'

As Mr Giuliani promised there was 'much more to come', the odd circumstances in which the emails were obtained and disseminated drew scrutiny as the story reverberated around the country.

According to the Post (owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch who has been a supporter and confidant of Mr Trump), the water-damaged laptop was dropped off at a computer repair shop in Delaware, Mr Biden's home state, in April 2019.

The customer who brought in the computer reportedly never paid for its repair or came back to collect it, despite repeated attempts by the shop to contact him.

The laptop was said to have carried a sticker from the Beau Biden Foundation, a charity named after Hunter's late brother, a former Delaware attorney general.

The Post said the laptop and its hard drive were seized by the FBI last December after the shop owner alerted authorities to their existence. 

However, the store owner said he first made a copy of the hard drive and gave it to Mr Giuliani's lawyer, Robert Costello. 

In a further twist, former chief Trump adviser Steve Bannon reportedly told the newspaper about the hard drive's existence last month, and Mr Giuliani handed over a copy at the weekend.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee run by Republican Ron Johnson said it has been contacted by the 'whistleblower' who had the laptop and is looking into the matter.

In another email published by the Post and purportedly showing Hunter Biden attempting to exploit his connections to his father, he repeatedly referred to his father as 'my guy' in a memo to his former business partner, Devon Archer, who also sat on the Burisma board.

A week before, Joe Biden - Ukraine policy chief under President Obama - held a press conference in the country with prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in April 2014, Hunter wrote to Mr Archer: 'The announcement of my guys [sic] upcoming travels should be characterised as part of our advice and thinking but what he will say and do is out of our hands. 

'In other words it could be a really good thing or it could end up creating too great an expectation. We need to temper expectations regarding that visit.'

In the same email, he said his contract with Burisma 'should begin right now - not after the upcoming visit of my guy' and should be around $25,000 a month with 'additional fees where appropriate for more in depth work', and not including their fee for sitting on the board.

Hunter added: 'This could be the break we have been waiting for if they really are smart enough to understand our long-term value.'

The two partners, he went on, 'could be invaluable in expanding their operations outside Ukraine'.

Presidential candidates drag their families into debate
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Ukrainian police officers hold $6 million at a briefing in Kyiv in July 2020. Authorities said the intercepted a $6 million bribe attempt at dropping a criminal investigation against the head of the Burisma natural gas company where Hunter Biden once held a board seat

Ukrainian police officers hold $6 million at a briefing in Kyiv in July 2020. Authorities said the intercepted a $6 million bribe attempt at dropping a criminal investigation against the head of the Burisma natural gas company where Hunter Biden once held a board seat

Hunter, a trained lawyer and former lobbyist, had no experience in the energy industry, prompting critics to conclude he was recruited only because of his family connection.

He stepped down from the Burisma board in April last year.

When he worked as a political lobbyist in Washington, questions were again asked about possible conflicts of interest involving his father.

According to The New Yorker magazine, 'Biden wouldn't ask Hunter about his lobbying clients, and Hunter wouldn't tell his father about them'.

Hunter once admitted: 'There's addiction in every family. I was in that darkness. I was in that tunnel - it's a never-ending tunnel. You don't get rid of it. You figure out how to deal with it.'

A lesson his father will no doubt now be taking to heart as he plots his next move in what has become America's ugliest election in decades.

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