Back in August, William Evanina, the Director of the NCSC (National Cyber Security Center) warned that “Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment.'” Although President Trump has not been particularly kind to Russia, they still feel they would have a better chance to improve relations with him than with Biden. Of course, it also would please them if they could somehow disrupt the election and cast doubt on the results, but that’s another matter.
The main question is this: If Russia was behind the leaked emails and other documents that were released by Rudy Giuliani and the New York Post, where did they get them? This, of course, presupposes that the emails were not completely made up. Sure. That’s always a possibility, but there is ample evidence that Russia could have actually gotten Hunter Biden’s emails.
In January, the New York Times reported that hackers working for Russian intelligence managed to breach the servers of Burisma Holdings, the gas company that Hunter Biden was hired to represent. Because this hack occurred at the time the Bidens were coming under scrutiny in the U.S., it was assumed, by the Times and others, that the Russians were looking for material that would be damaging to the Bidens. It, then, only became a question of what they found and when they would release it. Many people probably assumed that, if they really had something incriminating, they would release it just prior to the U.S. presidential election in November. In other words, the recent appearance of documents calling into question the ethics of the Bidens should be of no surprise. It should also be of no surprise that the F.B.I. is exploring the possibility that Russia may be implicated in the release of these emails.
What could be more worrying is something I pointed out in a post I made on the Burisma hack back in January. If these hackers got into Hunter Biden’s emails, they could quite easily exploit any connections they found to Joe Biden. With these, they could construct a sophisticated spearphishing attack on him. If, for example, Joe received an email appearing to come from his son, and that email had a valid looking attachment, like a photo, he could have been compromised.
So, it’s safe to assume Russia has some incriminating evidence on the Bidens. The problem for them then becomes how to use it, or, more specifically, how to distribute it. If any traces of a Russian connection to these documents is exposed, it could show that Russia was behind trying to get Trump elected, and this could hurt Trump as much as it would Biden.
When the DNC was hacked, purportedly by Russia, the hackers set up some websites to distribute the information. The trouble is that websites can be tracked down to their owners, although, admittedly, good hackers can hide their tracks. In fact, some of the information gleaned from the attack on Burisma may have already been distributed. This information appeared in a series of videos on the “UkraineGate” website.
Now, I’m quite aware that Democratic congressman, Adam Schiff, has claimed Russian involvement in the emails. This can be dismissed as wishful thinking. I also know that the Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, claimed that the F.B.I. has the laptop in question but that “their investigation is not centered around Russian disinformation.” Sure, this has nothing to do with a disinformation campaign. This is hacking pure and simple. The crime would be in the distribution of hacked emails and other documents, not disinformation.
I have been waiting for the Russians to release information on the Bidens since the original hacking of Burisma. Yes, the Russians can be very creative in their actions. But, in this most recent scenario, they would need to have somehow hacked the emails, put them on a laptop, make the laptop appear to be the property of Hunter Biden, hire someone who roughly looked like Hunter Biden, and deliver the water-damaged laptop to a repairman who was hard of seeing and an active Trump supporter. That’s quite a plan under anyone’s criteria. In this scenario, the repairman would also need to be aware of the whole Burisma-Biden connection so that he would know that he should deliver a copy of the hard drive to Rudy Giuliani’s attorney. Pretty far-fetched to be sure, but, it’s still within the realm of possibility. However, it’s just as possible that Giuliani was given the hard drives or emails by the Russians and needed them laundered through the repairman to remove the direct connection to Russia. I’m not saying either of these actually happened but there are so many questions surrounding this case that its hard to know where to begin. So, what I’ve decided to do was to take what we know and indicate the appropriate questions that need to be answered.
In April of 2019, someone, identifying himself as Hunter Biden, came into John Paul Mac Isaac’s computer repair shop in Wilmington, Delaware with three water-damaged laptops but left only one. I can understand how one laptop was damaged because one of the Hunter Biden photos released showed Hunter smoking in a bathtub. The photo may have been made through a laptop that subsequently fell into the tub. But did he damage three laptops in the same way? Mac Isaac said that two of the laptops were irreparable.
In an interview, a very cautious Mac Isaac would not initially comment on his connection with Giuliani. He said that he was afraid for his personal safety when he realized how important the information was that he had uncovered. He then asked some friends to help him make contact with the F.B.I. He could not positively identify the person who dropped off the laptop as Hunter Biden but said he could pick the man out of a lineup. The laptop also had a sticker from the Beau Biden Foundation on the cover. A property receipt was signed by Hunter, so the F.B.I. can validate his signature. Mac Isaac claimed several times during the interview that he was worried that his life was in danger. He didn’t want to be “shot jogging in the morning”. His belief is that people working for Joe Biden may come after him to stop him from releasing any information that he had. He refused to say whether he reached out to Giuliani or if Giuliani reached out to him. He thought everything would be fine until he started hearing about the impeachment trial involving President Trump’s connection to Ukraine.
He would not answer a question on how he found the emails on the hard drive. He did, however, claim that the F.B.I. subsequently contacted him because “they needed help accessing this drive”. Apparently, they contacted him by telephone to ask how to do this. Mac Isaac seemed to be perplexed as to why the F.B.I. couldn’t figure out how to access the contents of the hard drive. In fact, they simply may have been trying to determine whether he was, indeed, a qualified repairman and not a shill. They also asked him if people had come to his shop for nefarious reasons. This, apparently, scared him and he said he “needed a lifeguard”. This is why he supposedly reached out to Giuliani’s attorney, Robert Costello. Giuliani claims he got a copy of the hard drive in May of this year. The New York Post said that Steve Bannon hinted that he had Hunter’s laptop in September. Giuliani gave the Post a copy of the hard drive on October 11th.
The F.B.I. has been disturbingly quiet about this whole situation. It may be that they are holding off any comments until after the election. They don’t want to have another situation like the one that occurred prior to the election in 2016 when F.B.I. Director James Comey announced that he had found incriminating information about Hillary Clinton on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. However, it’s not clear how withholding information on the ethics of the Bidens will make the F.B.I.’s behavior any less suspect.
Sure, the Russians could have interceded at any stage in this story. Hopefully, the F.B.I, will be able to sort this out. They will also have to authenticate the emails and documents that have been released to show that they were not simply fabrications. But what happens if they do eliminate Russia from this scenario? Would that make things any better? Well, certainly not for the Bidens. In addition, it will mean that Russia still has information that it has yet to release. In fact, Time recently reported that Ukrainian lawmaker and purported Russian agent, Andrii Derkach, met with Giuliani when he was in Ukraine. The implication in the article is that it was Derkach who gave Giuliani the hacked or fabricated emails. For his part, Derkach has claimed that, “the facts confirming international corruption are stored on a second laptop, These are not the last witnesses or the last laptop.” In other words, more exciting times may still be ahead. So, yes, Russia will continue its efforts to disrupt the election. More on this in my next post.