US News

Hunter Biden emails: what happened?

President Donald Trump criticized Twitter and Facebook for limiting the distribution of a story related to Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine.

Hunter Biden emails: what happened?
SAUL LOEB AFP

President Donald Trump on Wednesday criticized a decision by Facebook and Twitter to limit the distribution of a story in the New York Post about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, focusing on the presidential candidate’s son’s business dealings while on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.

Trump decries suppression of "smoking gun" emails

"So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of “Smoking Gun” emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the @nypost," Trump wrote in a tweet.

The New York Post claimed to have had access to emails gleaned from a MacBook laptop, supposedly belonging to Hunter Biden, that was dropped off at a Delaware computer repair shop in April 2019 and never reclaimed.

The emails published by the New York Post, which were reportedly provided by former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal attorney, who in turn received them from the owner of the Delaware shop, claim that Biden Jr. had had contact in 2017 with Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, who was invited to meet Joe Biden while he was Vice President of the United States in the Barack Obama administration.

Hunter Biden was a board member at Burisma between 2014 and 2019, according to company documents filed in Cyprus where the firm is registered.

Trump and Biden locked in Ukraine dispute

Trump has previously called on the Ukrainian authorities to investigate Hunter Biden’s connection to Burisma, which led to a public spat between the US president and Biden Sr. in 2019 after it was alleged Trump had asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to personally intervene and allegedly declined agreed military aid to Ukraine while conditioning a White House visit for the country’s head of state upon a public declaration of an investigation into the Bidens.

Trump has also accused Joe Biden – then heading up the Obama administration’s Ukraine anti-corruption reform drive - of attempting to oust Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in 2015 when it was made known he would be heading up an investigation into Burisma and the company’s then-owner, Mykola Zlochevsky. However, there were widespread concerns that Shokin was not being overly zealous in his pursual of corruption in Ukraine and he was eventually removed from office by a parliamentary vote in March 2016.

On Wednesday, Trump called on Biden to release details of all the “emails, meetings, telephone calls, transcripts, and recordings related to [his] implication in the businesses of his family and influence trafficking throughout the world, including in China and Russia.”

For years I’ve been the target of a false, illegal and totally discredited witch hunt,” Trump said in relation to an impeachment inquiry into his dealings with the Ukrainian government. Trump was eventually cleared by the Senate.

Biden campaign reacts to New York Post story

The Biden campaign released a statement after the New York Post story was published. “Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was decried as 'not legitimate' and political by a GOP colleague, have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official US policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing," said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Mr Biden.

Facebook and Twitter took proactive steps to restrict dissemination of the Post story in the hours after it was published. Twitter said on Wednesday the Post story violated its "hacked materials" policy, which bars the distribution of content obtained through hacking that contains private information or trade secrets, or puts people at risk of physical harm.

Facebook also announced it was limiting the story’s exposure in its news feed to give third party fact-checkers the opportunity to assess the information contained in the article.

Twitter suspends Trump election campaign account

Meanwhile, Twitter also temporarily restricted Trump's election campaign account from tweeting, saying a video from the account about the New York Post story violated its rules.

"Joe Biden is a liar who has been ripping off our country for years," the video was captioned.

Twitter said the video violated its rules against posting private information, adding the account may need to delete the post in order to continue tweeting.

"It's going to all end up in a big lawsuit and there are things that can happen that are very severe that I'd rather not see happen, but it's probably going to have to," Trump said, when asked about the move by Twitter.

Twitter had placed similar restrictions on the account of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday, after she shared the Post story.