I’ve written about this a couple of times already.

Sometime in 2018, media troll and former Trump campaign “CEO” Steve Bannon dropped the following turd nugget of wisdom regarding how to win elections.

The Democrats don’t matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.

Well. On October 14, Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, and the megaminds at the New York Post decided to flood the zone with ripe, smelly bullshit that was designed to send the media into a frenzy just like the one it created over Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016. Had the media shown the sense God gave a billy goat about that non-existent email scandal, Donald Trump wouldn’t have ever gotten within pissing distance of the White House.

Bannon knows that quite well. So, he tried to gin up Email Scandal 2020. It, uh, ain’t working, Steve-o.

The underlying premise of the whole HunterGate, BidenGate, StupidGate, TheMediaIsComprisedOfFuckingMoronsGate, or whatever you want to call it, is that Hunter Biden and his dad Joe Biden did something Really Bad in Ukraine. The last time the Republicans tried to throw this shit in our faces, Trump was impeached for it.

Why are they trying a variant of the same three-card monte now? Because they’re idiots, and they only really know one trick. And in this case, it seems that the cards were provided by Russia.

Of course, the Trump campaign came out with all guns blazing (and with an almost certain pre-planned response). Kellyanne Conway accused the elder Biden of lying about his contacts with Hunter Biden over Ukraine. The Trump War Room Twitter account called Joe Biden “a stone cold corrupt liar” and accused Biden of believing the American people are “suckers.” (Wonder why they chose that word?) And one of the Trump campaign’s most reliable idiots, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Russia) tweeted:

Joe Biden using his office to benefit a Ukrainian oligarch after he said he didn’t. He is going to need to answer questions about this.

Joe ain’t the one being asked questions, Joshie.

The (almost certainly fake) emails claim that Joe Biden met with a Ukrainian official in order to discuss nefarious activities. Biden’s campaign has checked Biden’s schedule for that time period and found no such meeting ever took place. Surprise, surprise.

Hunter Biden’s attorney George Mesires issued a statement:

We have no idea where this came from, and certainly cannot credit anything that Rudy Giuliani provided to the New York Post, but what I do know for certain is that this purported meeting never happened.

News outlets that aren’t the New York Post, including NBC and the New York Times, quickly began investigating the likelihood that StupidGate is likely a product of Russian intelligence. The Times wrote:

Some security experts expressed skepticism about the provenance and authenticity of the emails. The Times reported last January that Burisma had been hacked by the same Russian GRU unit that was one of two groups that hacked the Democratic National Committee in 2016. Last month, United States intelligence analysts contacted several people with knowledge of the Burisma hack for further information after they had picked up chatter that stolen Burisma emails would be leaked in the form of an “October surprise.”

And the Washington Post reported that in 2019, US intelligence agencies warned the White House

that President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani was the target of an influence operation by Russian intelligence [and] raised concerns that Giuliani was being used to feed Russian misinformation to the president.

US intelligence wasn’t tracking Giuliani per se, but they were tracking a good buddy of Giiuliani’s, Andrii Derkach, who has been identified by the Treasury Department as a Russian intelligence agent. Giuliani has been working with Derkach and other Russians to try to gin up a smear campaign against Biden.

According to NBC:

Giuliani met repeatedly with Derkach on Dec. 5, 2019, as part of his efforts to gather derogatory information on Biden’s Ukraine dealings. Derkach has released what American officials call selectively edited audiotapes of Biden conversations with Ukrainian officials, at least one of which was retweeted by the president.

Giuliani, of course, says he barely knows Derkach and he certainly has no idea that he might be an FSB asset.

Russian disinformation expert Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins, calls the emails “found” on the laptop highly suspect:

This here is highly suspicious behavior. Especially when viewed in the context of a political campaign. Creative, anonymous, credibility-generating, somewhat plausible. Exactly how a professional would surface disinformation and potentially forgeries. …Bottom line: *every individual little fact* — every email, every detail mentioned in an email — must be verified when data is surfaced in such a suspicious way, not just one piece of information, say a photo. It appears that The New York Post did not do that here.

While the media gave, as always, the White House the benefit of the doubt, it’s pretty damn certain that Trump is not being “misinformed” and “unwittingly” feeding into the Russian propaganda product. He is welcoming whatever misinformation, propaganda, and rancid bovine droppings he can get from the Russians to try to derail the Biden campaign in the final weeks. (Where is Jim Comey when you need him?)

The New York Post chose not to make the “actual” emails available, but instead published PDFs of the emails that were prepared over a year ago.

They spent over a year on…this?

And Giuliani refused to answer questions about the provenance of the hard drive. Asked by a Los Angeles Times reporter how long he had had a copy of the hard drive, Giuliani responded:

Your [sic] interested in the wrong thing. This time the truth will not be defeated by process. I’ve got a lot more to go. We just started. Print a headline saying Lyin’ Joe and we can talk.

The odor from the propaganda farm of Giuliani, Bannon and Murdoch is so rank that both Twitter and Facebook restricted publication of posts about the story because of its obvious fakery. (Republicans stomped their feet at the unfairness of the two platforms refusing to cooperate with their blatant bulllshit, and both of them backed down — though if you post a link to the Post story on either platform, you’ll get a warning about the post containing potentially false news.)

On October 15, Rachel Maddow observed:

So this is where we are: 19 days to the election. At least 15 million Americans have already voted. The president`s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has been picked up by the U.S. intelligence community in intercepts because he has been talking to Russian intelligence about a Russian intelligence operation to dump fake documents into the U.S. bloodstream right before the election to try to re-elect Donald Trump.

TPM’s Josh Kovensky wrote:

In a sense, it’s incorrect to even say that the story has “red flags” – the premise itself is so bogus that saying there are alarm bells suggests that there is some underlying solid ground to what’s going on here. But, there isn’t. The article regurgitates – and relies on as a newsworthy premise – long-debunked allegations that Joe Biden fired a Ukrainian prosecutor to protect his son, Hunter, from investigations in the former Soviet republic.

Of course, the New York Post never bothered to try to authenticate the emails, in either a stunning lapse of fundamental journalistic protocols, or, more likely, because the Post is a willing partner in whoring itself out on behalf of the Trump campaign and the FSB.

It’s on us to push back against a Russian/Trump disinformation campaign designed to upend the election results and grant Trump a second term. Thankfully, this attempt is crippled by its inherent stupidity.

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5 Comments on "The Laptop of Doom: A Russian Intelligence Operation?"

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Senovio Rodriguez

The story might have red flags… with little hammer and sickles…

Scott Jackson

In another life I taught lifesaving. We would go over all the techniques to protect yourself as u approached a drowning victim to save their life. Why? Because someone drowning is desperate & will drown anyone who approaches them without training. The motif is in full display at these rallies. I know a drowning man when I see one.

p j evans

The story about the prosecutor was debunked more than a year ago – The prosecutor was fired by Ukraine because he *wasn’t* investigating Burisma, and Ukraine was pressured to fire him (for corruption) by the EU and the US (represented by Joe Biden).

Cherl Harrell

It may have started as a Russian intel op, but these guys make the keystone cops look semi-professional. They could mess up a free supper.


A lovely Australian phrase springs to mind…

They couldn’t arrange a piss-up in a brewery.