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NY Times edits story about Hunter Biden laptop and removes claim that report was ‘unsubstantiated’

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The New York Times on Monday quietly deleted a now debunked claim that an October 2020 New York Post article critical of President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, was ‘unsubstantiated.’

The Times had reported on a recent Federal Election Commission decision that said Twitter had not violated election law when they blocked the sharing of the Post’s article about the laptop.

The files on Hunter Biden’s laptop indicated that Hunter had introduced his father Joe Biden to Ukrainian energy company executives while he was vice president.  

The Times article had initially described the revelations as an ‘unsubstantiated New York Post article about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son Hunter Biden’. 

But the story was heavily edited later in the day without any acknowledgement. 

The updated article read:  ‘Twitter decided briefly last fall to block users from posting links to an article about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son Hunter.’ 

The Post article in question concerned files discovered on a laptop hard drive that belonging to Hunter Biden, which was provided to the outlet by Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer at the time.

It reported that emails on the computer pointed to an effort by Hunter to set up a meeting in 2015 between Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser at a Ukrainian energy firm, and his father, who was vice president at the time. 

Biden subsequently and successfully lobbied to have a Ukrainian prosecutor fired as he investigated the firm, Burisma, which Hunter held a position on its board from 2014 to 2019. 

The Biden campaign had dismissed the revelations as a smear and a Russian disinformation campaign during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Without giving a reason, the article was heavily edited to remove any mention that the Post had issued false reportingt

The New York Times quietly removed a claim Monday afternoon that a New York Post article on files found on a laptop believed to have belonged to Hunter Biden was unsubstantiated

The article had revealed emails indicating attempts in 2015 by his father, then vice-president Joe Biden, to protect a Ukrainian energy company on which Hunter sat on the board

The article had revealed emails indicating attempts in 2015 by his father, then vice-president Joe Biden, to protect a Ukrainian energy company on which Hunter sat on the board

At the time, liberal media outlets had cast doubt on the authenticity of the files contained in the laptop, which was found at a computer repair shop in Delaware.

That sparked Twitter to block sharing of the article, and their damaging revelations, ahead of the election. 

However, a Daily Mail forensic analysis of the computer’s hard drive revealed that the files were genuine, and subsequently published multiple exclusive stories regarding their contents. 

Hunter Biden himself has also admitted that the laptop could be his. 

Speaking to promote his memoir Beautiful Things on CBS earlier this year, he said: ‘Certainly, there could be a laptop out there that was stolen from me. It could be that I was hacked, it could be that it was Russian intelligence. It could be that it was stolen from me.’ 

The Biden campaign blasted the report, with spokesman Andrew Bates saying, ‘We have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place.’

Biden’s advisors, however, would quietly concede later that it was possible informal meeting between the vice president and Pozharskyi could have taken place, Politico reported. 

The Times continued to make the 'unsubstantiated' claim in a Twitter post sharing the article, but then heavily rewrote the report to remove all mention of it

The Times continued to make the ‘unsubstantiated’ claim in a Twitter post sharing the article, but then heavily rewrote the report to remove all mention of it 

The Post article in question made mention of a meeting set up by Hunter between Vadym Pozharskyi, an advisor for the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, and then-Vice President Joe Biden

The Post article in question made mention of a meeting set up by Hunter between Vadym Pozharskyi, an advisor for the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, and then-Vice President Joe Biden

Vadym Pozharskyi (pictured).  Hunter sat on the company's board from 2014 to 2019, and his father successfully lobbied to have a prosecutor investigating the company fired

Vadym Pozharskyi (pictured).  Hunter sat on the company’s board from 2014 to 2019, and his father successfully lobbied to have a prosecutor investigating the company fired

When the Post attempted to share the article on Twitter, however, the platform said the article violated its terms of service regarding the sharing of ‘hacked’ materials. Facebook also limited the sharing of the article as well. 

Twitter claimed that at the time that the company believed the files may have been part of a Russian disinformation campaign.  

The Time’s original report, written by reporter Shane Goldmacher, and published early Monday afternoon made mention that central to the FEC’s decision clearing Twitter of wrongdoing was Republican accusations that the company, ‘violated election laws in October by blocking people from posting links to an unsubstantiated New York Post article about Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son Hunter Biden.’

The Times’ official Twitter account also shared the report with mention of, ‘Twitter’s decision in October to block an unsubstantiated article about President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.’

Hours later, however, in a change first flagged by the Washington Examiner, the article was heavily edited, with the byline of tech reporter Kate Conger added to the story removing all mention that the Post article was unsubstantiated.   

‘We regularly edit web stories—especially breaking news stories—to refine the story, add new information, additional context or analysis,’ a Times spokesperson told the Daily Mail. 

‘This story was completely revised to incorporate the news regarding Snapchat.’

Dealings of Hunter Biden outlined in the emails include a March 2015 effort to organize am exclusive dinner at Georgetown’s Cafe Milano, where the meeting between Pozharskyi and Hunter’s father may have taken place, the Daily Mail reported earlier this year.

International figures on the dinner guest list included Pozharskyi, and Michael Karloutsos, the son of the then-head of the Greek Orthodox Church with an email sent to them by Hunter saying, ‘Dad will be there but keep that btw us for now.’

Other files on the laptop contained compromising photos of Hunter Biden, including those in which he appears naked and using hard drugs

Other files on the laptop contained compromising photos of Hunter Biden, including those in which he appears naked and using hard drugs 

Hunter Biden has not disputed that the laptop files were his, despite claims that they may have been part of a Russian disinformation campaign

Hunter Biden has not disputed that the laptop files were his, despite claims that they may have been part of a Russian disinformation campaign 

After, Pozharskyi sent an email to Hunter thanking him for the opportunity, writing, ‘Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together.’

The files on the laptop, which Giuliani said he obtained from a computer repair shop in Delaware, also contained compromising photos of Hunter, in which he appeared naked and using hard drugs with a number of women. 

Both the Democrats, and a number of news outlets claimed the files were part of a Russian disinformation campaign. The Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, however, would say that October that there was no evidence of foreign meddling 

‘Hunter Biden’s laptop is not part of some Russian disinformation campaign,’ he told Fox Business.  

 

Emails on the laptop revealed an effort by Hunter to set up an exclusive dinner in Washington DC in April, 2015. The guest list included '3 seats for our KZ friends. 2 seats for Yelana and husband. 2 you and me. 3 seats for WFPUSA people. Vadym. 3 Ambassadors (MX, ?, ?)'  and told guests that 'the reason for the dinner is ostensibly to discuss food security,' adding 'Dad will be there but keep that btw us for now'

Emails on the laptop revealed an effort by Hunter to set up an exclusive dinner in Washington DC in April, 2015. The guest list included ‘3 seats for our KZ friends. 2 seats for Yelana and husband. 2 you and me. 3 seats for WFPUSA people. Vadym. 3 Ambassadors (MX, ?, ?)’  and told guests that ‘the reason for the dinner is ostensibly to discuss food security,’ adding ‘Dad will be there but keep that btw us for now’

Multiple news outlets picked up on the Times’ unsubstantiated line, including the website for MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show and the Lawfare Blog, the Washington Examiner reported. 

Also deleted from the edited Times article was mention that the FEC in its decision reported that Twitter’s head of site integrity had ‘received official warnings throughout 2020 from federal law enforcement that ‘malign state actors’ might hack and release materials associated with political campaigns and that Hunter Biden might be a target of one such operation.’

The Times reported that the FEC, however, had found no evidence that Twitter had ‘coordinated its decisions with the Biden campaign.’  

The F.E.C. said it found ‘no information that Twitter coordinated’ its decisions with the Biden campaign. In a sworn declaration, Twitter’s head of U.S. public policy said she was unaware of any contacts with the Biden team before the company made its decisions, according to the F.E.C. document.’

The full FEC decision has yet to be made public.

Two weeks after the Post article was published, Twitter eventually relented and unlocked the outlet’s Twitter account.  

Speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee in November, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said:  

‘We made a quick interpretation, using no other evidence, that the materials in the article were obtained through hacking, and, according to our policy, we blocked them from being spread. Upon further consideration, we admitted this action was wrong and corrected it within 24 hours.’ 

How Daily Mail commissioned cyber forensics experts to authenticate Hunter’s laptop files

DailyMail.com commissioned cyber forensics experts at Maryman & Associates to examine the hard drive to determine its authenticity.

The firm’s founder, Brad Maryman, was a 29-year veteran of the FBI, served as a Chief Information Security Officer and founded the bureau’s cyber forensics unit. His partner, Dr. Joseph Greenfield, is an associate professor at the University of Southern California and helped write their degree program in intelligence and cyber operations. 

After an extensive analysis of the hard drive, Greenfield and Maryman produced a report for DailyMail.com detailing their findings.

Using the same forensic tools as federal and state law enforcement in criminal investigations, they found a total of 103,000 text messages, 154,000 emails and more than 2,000 photos.

They found emails for multiple accounts on the laptop dating back to 2009, and other data which ‘appears to be related to Mr. Biden’ between 2016 and 2019.

 – The report’s findings were consistent with the known timeline for the hard drive. A Wilmington, Delaware computer store work order with Hunter’s signature shows he left his 2017 MacBook Pro laptop there on April 12, 2019.

The Maryman & Associates report said the original ‘Macintosh HD’ drive was created on March 28, 2018

Hunter’s iCloud email address was added to the laptop’s system on October 21 2018, as well as his work email at his firm Rosemont Seneca on February 2 2019. 

The same day, a Gmail address he used to log onto sex cam sites, and another personal Gmail address belonging to Hunter, were also added. 

– Beau Biden’s old Gmail account was added on February 7 2019.

– Emails addressed to Hunter’s various email addresses dating from December 2009 to December 2020 were found on the system.

– An iPad with the name ‘Hunter’s iPad’ and three email addresses associated with the Biden family was backed up on the laptop and on iCloud in January 2019 and again a month later.

– Greenfield found 818 call logs in this iPad backup with timestamps from June 2016 to February 2019. 

– There were 8,942 entries in the iPad’s contacts book, created between April 2016 and January 2019.

In February 2019 an iPhone XS was also synced with the laptop. Its serial number was consistent with the timestamps of the data on the phone. 

 In conclusion, ‘The operating system timestamps appear to be authentic, and no evidence was found to suggest that the timestamps or data were altered or manufactured,’ the report said. ‘No indications were found that would suggest the data was manufactured.’ 

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