Facebook and Twitter restrict controversial story
By Ricky Browne
The ‘October surprise’ that US President Donald Trump had been promising, seemed to arrive yesterday, but it appears that its impact may be limited.
The New York Post reported on emails from an old computer belonging to Hunter Biden, son of Democrat candidate Joe Biden, that seem to show that his employment to Ukrainian energy company Bursima may not have been completely above board. Hunter Biden was made a director of the company, reportedly earning a monthly salary of about US$50,000.
They also suggest that Joe Biden, despite previously denying any wrong doing, or even speaking to his son about his business affairs, actually met with Bursima officials through a meeting set up by his son.
The email sent from Vadym Pozharskyi of Bursima with the email address email@example.com on April 17 2015 reads, “Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent some time together. It’s realty an honor and pleasure. As we spoke yesterday evening, would be great to meet today for a quick coffee. What do you think? I could come to you office somewhere around noon or so, before or on my way to airport. Best V”.
Other emails suggest that Bursima felt threatened by the Attorney General and that his removal came after Joe Biden met with the company.
It was already known, and is on camera, that Joe Biden, the former Vice President under the Barak Obama administration, had forced the Ukraine government to remove its chief prosecutor or face the wrath of the United States denying it US$1 billion in promised aid.
The 2018 video shows Biden being interviewed onstage at the Council on Foreign Relations, openly and proudly stating that he had forced Ukraine to fire the prosecutor general Viktor Mykolayovych Shoki.
“I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,” Biden said.
“Well, son of a bitch” he said to laughter and applause “he got fired.”
While nothing came out of Biden’ s actions towards Ukriane, Trump faced an impeachment trial for almost the same thing, when he pressed for Ukraine to investigate the firing of the prosecutor and Biden’s role in it, while holding back military aid.
Trump became the third US president to be impeached since the start of the 20th century, following Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Eventually, in February this year, the Republican-controlled senate acquitted Trump on the two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress .
So, on the face of it, it looks like these emails could turn around Trump’s fortunes, and allow him to possibly win the election — something that most polls seem to predict is nigh impossible.
But despite being printed in Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, and also in his Sun newspaper in the UK, plus some other newspapers, the story is not getting as much traction as Trump and the Republicans might like.
This is because the story is getting very little exposure on social media, as both Facebook and Twitter are said to be censoring posts that refer to the story.
Trump as might be expected, has already tweeted on the issue. “So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of ‘Smoking Gun’ emails,” he said.
In contrast, Biden doesn’t appear to have tweeted anything on the issue.
But in addition, there is some speculation from other parts of the press that the whole story is contrived.
The back story is that in April 2019 someone took a water-damaged computer to a repair shop. The owner doesn’t recollect what the person looked like, but the person never returned for it, despite attempts by the owner to contact him. After some period, and having viewed the contents of the hard drive, the owner decided to hand the device over to the FBI. But before doing so, he made a copy of the hard drive which ended up with Robert Costello, a lawyer for Rudy Giuliani, who is a former mayor of New York City, and a close ally and personal attorney of President Trump.
Giuliani released the contents of the hard drive to the New York Post, which printed the story yesterday, after presumably checking its authenticity.
Apart from the emails, the hard drive also contained about 1000 photographs. Some of them apparently are sexually explicit, and others which were printed in the news show Hunter Biden smoking what appears to be crack cocaine. Hunter Biden has previously admitted to having addiction issues, including crack cocaine, and has received treatment for it.
While those photos may help to verify the authenticity of the emails, they might not have any effect on the election by themselves, as the photos alone do not appear to implicate Joe Biden in any way.
But another problem lies in the spelling of the name of one of the principals in Bursima. In one email, he appears to have an email address with the name Vadym but in another address the name is spelt differently — Vadim. Some assume that Vadym would spell his name the same way each time, unless he has some kind of Shakespeare (or Shakespear or even Shakspere) complex. But the two spellings do seem to be used in various news reports.
So with the censorship of the story by both Twitter and Facebook, and questions over its authenticity, the story is unlikely to change the mind of many people who are planning to vote Democrat.
Meanwhile the New York Post is printing more stories from the emails its received, looking at Hunter Biden’s escapades in China. And more still may be yet to come.
Even so the story should be big enough to push people who may have been thinking of not voting this time round, who had previously voted for Trump, to turn out in droves. So there could well be a positive impact on Republican votes.
But it remains to be seen if it will be enough for Trump to pull out a surprise win yet again.