I’m going to explain how The Laptop that Rudy Giuliani launched just before the election is the functional equivalent of the Steele dossier.
Before I do, let me make a fairly obvious (albeit counter-intuitive) point: about the three people powerful Ukrainians tried to cultivate for their ties to the vice president or president – Paul Manafort , Hunter Biden and Rudy Giuliani – only one proven affected American politics through the vice president or president: Rudy.
Contrary to what you may have read, for example, Manafort actually was not the one who prevented the GOP platform from being strengthened to support Ukraine, JD Gordon was (corn Trump’s non-recall answer on his own involvement cannot exclude it). Muller’s decision not to prosecute Gordon as an agent of Russia only recently came to light (thanks to the hard work of Jason Leopold and his attorney).
And while there is ample circumstantial evidence that Manafort entered into a quid pro quo on August 2, 2016, a trade campaign strategy for a pledge to help carve Ukraine to Russia’s liking as well as a $19 million financial benefit. dollars for Manafort personally, because the investigation into Manafort became public in 2016, his continued efforts to advance this Russian plan to dismember Ukraine have never (as far as it has been made public) had Trump’s involvement. It’s possible Trump was implicated or Manafort got some commitments in 2016, but Manafort’s own cover-up prevented the DOJ from determining whether or not that was true.
According to NYT history that reignited the frenzy around the laptop Rudy Giuliani released just before the election, federal prosecutors have yet to determine whether Hunter Biden’s handling of Chinese, Kazakh and Ukrainian influence efforts constituted a crime. But they have evidence that Hunter Biden tried to be explicit that he couldn’t influence his father to help Burisma.
In an email to Mr. Archer in April 2014, Mr. Biden outlined his vision for working with Burisma. In the email, Hunter Biden indicated that the upcoming announcement of a trip to Ukraine by Vice President Biden – who is referred to in the email as “guy”, but not by name – should “be characterized as part of our advice and reflections”. — but what he will say and do does not depend on us.
The announcement “could be a very good thing or it could end up creating too much of an expectation. We need to temper expectations around this visit,” Hunter Biden wrote.
Vice President Biden traveled to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, about a week after the email.
In the same April 2014 email, Hunter Biden indicated that Burisma officials “must know unequivocally that we will not and cannot intervene directly with national decision-makers, and that we must respect FARA and any other U.S. law in the strictest sense”. at all levels.
He suggested bringing in the law firm where he worked at the time, Boies Schiller Flexner, to help Burisma through “direct discussions with the state, energy and the NSC”, referring to two cabinet departments and the White House National Security Council.
The company “can design a media plan and arrange for legal protections and mitigate negative US press regarding the current leadership if necessary,” Biden wrote in the email.
And expert sworn testimony from both sides indicates that Hunter did not dissuade his father from taking action to crack down on corruption.
Of these three well-connected Americans cultivated by powerful and corrupt Ukrainians – some but not all known Russian agents – only Rudy Giuliani is known to have had a direct effect on politics. Among other things, Rudy got Marie Yovanovitch fired. In Rudy’s case alone, then, we have clear evidence that a Ukrainian influence operation had the desired effect of changing American policy. Although even there it is still unclear whether Rudy’s unrecorded influence peddling was criminal.
(Clearly, Manafort pleaded guilty to being an unregistered Ukrainian agent in the prior period, and he also received orders of magnitude more than Hunter Biden.)
So as we argue about The Laptop again, based on a reference to verified emails in an NYT article by serial spokesperson Rudy Ken Vogel, the first thing we we have to keep in mind is that there is much more evidence that Rudy Giuliani succeeded in influencing the President or Vice President as a secret agent of Ukraine than Hunter Biden.