Is Rudy Giuliani a Russian Pawn?

Rudy Giuliani demonstrating something or other to the press after a television interview.Stefani Reynolds/CNP via ZUMA

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The bombshell story of Hunter Biden’s computer goes something like this: Rudy Giuliani was strolling around in Wilmington one day when he noticed a hard drive lying on the sidewalk. When he hooked it up, it turned out to be full of incriminating evidence about Hunter Biden’s lobbying for a Ukrainian energy company, along with some risque photos. What luck! So he gave it to the FBI and turned over a copy to his pals at the New York Post, who put it all on their front page.

OK, that’s not exactly how it happened. But it might as well be, since the actual story is hardly any more believable. Tonight, the New York Times provides some hints about what probably really happened:

The intelligence agencies warned the White House late last year that Russian intelligence officers were using President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani as a conduit for disinformation aimed at undermining Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential run, according to four current and former American officials.

….Mr. Giuliani has made multiple trips to Ukraine to gather material that is damaging to the Biden campaign, and his December visit came as he tried to shift the political conversation from impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump to unsubstantiated claims about Mr. Biden’s wrongdoing.

Conservatives are apoplectic that mainstream news organizations are mostly ignoring the hard drive story (so far) and that both Twitter and Facebook initially acted to limit the spread of the Post story. And I hardly blame them for being disappointed. After all, this kind of thing has always worked so well in the past, so why not this time too?

That’s hard to say. The optimistic take is that everyone has learned a lesson from 2016. The less optimistic take is simply that (a) Giuliani is a nutcase these days, and (b) he’s been publicly searching for precisely this kind of thing for over a year. It’s hardly believable when he comes up with precisely what he wanted just three weeks before the election.

Republicans are mostly hanging back on this story, since they know it could blow up any moment. However, the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to open an investigation of Twitter, apparently as a safe way of keeping this story in the spotlight without actually taking a stand on it. Stay tuned.

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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