Steve Bannon, The Chinese Billionaire, And hUnTEr bIDeN's LApToP!!1!
Republicans have been crying crocodile tears for upwards of a year about Hunter Biden's laptop. Why isn't the mainstream media covering it? Why are conservatives being censored? Why is the media protecting Joe Biden? No fair!
What they never mention is how totally shady this story has been from the jump. There's a reason that this thing got throttled on social media when the New York Post let Sean Hannity's 25-year-old former booker vomit it into the news cycle on October 14, 2020, and that reason is that it bore every indication of being a foreign influence operation. And new reporting from Mother Jones makes it clear that it kind of was — although not in the "Russia, if you're listening" way we all thought at the time.
To recap, here's the supposed origin story of that laptop, as we covered it at the time:
In April of 2019 someone brought a "water-damaged MacBook Pro" to a computer repair shop somewhere in Delaware. The laptop had a sticker on it from the Beau Biden foundation, and, knowing that Beau Biden was Joe Biden's dead son, the shop owner made a copy of the hard drive before calling the FBI. As one does.
On said hard drive he discovered emails to Hunter Biden from a Ukrainian businessman thanking him for an introduction to Joe Biden, and also videos of Hunter Biden smoking crack and having sex. You know, just stuff you leave on your laptop which you then abandon at some rando computer store without any kind of password protection.
A grand jury in Delaware seized the laptop back in December, but the computer store owner turned his copy of the hard drive over to Rudy Giuliani's lawyer Robert Costello — the same guy who tried to be the back channel to Michael Cohen after he flipped on Trump. Whom the computer dude just happens to know because ... reasons.
Rudy Giuliani, who had been palling around with literal Russian spies, attempting to launder faked documents, and flogging cartoonishly ridiculous stories about Joe Biden and his son looting Ukraine, wouldn't let anybody examine the device to authenticate it. He just wanted everyone to take him at his word that it contained child pornography and evidence against "the Biden crime family." And Rudy's word being what it is, the story went nowhere until Steve Bannon swanned in and talked the Post into running it.
Which is where the MoJo piece picks up, since Bannon appears to have been coordinating with his patron Guo Wengui (AKA Miles Kwok), an expat Chinese tycoon who built his own misinformation media ecosystem from the safety of US America. In 2017 Bannon helped Guo set up a network of Chinese-language sites to pump out propaganda attacking the Chinese Communist Party, which sought Guo's extradition on tax and rape charges, as well as American liberals.
As MoJo reported at the time:
Much of [Steve] Bannon's work for Guo is related to media companies Guo has launched. A one-year contract between Guo and Bannon inked in 2018 reportedly paid the former Breitbart executive $1 million to introduce Guo's media company to "media personalities" and advise the company on "industry standards." Bannon is also listed as director of GTV Media, a media company launched in April by Guo.
Guo, who played fairy godmother to Jason Miller's GETTR and then denied it, also denied responsibility for the wild allegations about Hunter Biden running on his own sites.
“They are not platforms whose content is managed or directed by Mr. Guo or any single individual or company,” his spokesman told the Washington Post in May 2021.
Except MoJo got its hands on a whole passel of Guo's WhatsApp messages where he exhorted his associates to make totally false claims about what the laptop contained and where it came from, insisting that the material was being used by the Chinese government to blackmail then-presidential candidate Joe Biden.
While he orchestrated the publication of the Hunter Biden material, Guo encouraged supporters to make a false, vile claim. He instructed them to say the laptop included videos that showed Hunter Biden having sex with underage Chinese girls, according to messages he sent and people who communicated with him. Guo also asserted, baselessly, that the Chinese government had created or obtained the compromising videos and images and used them to blackmail the Bidens. Wang Dinggang repeated both of those claims in his September 25 broadcasts. They were later parroted on GNews. No evidence whatsoever supports these allegations.
Guo went so far as to give advice on the translation used in the subtitles and level of pixelation of the videos of Hunter Biden using drugs and having sex. He was also adamant that the videos only be shown overseas, lest he be sued in America. But his highest priority was to highlight the false claims about Joe Biden being a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party.
Guo also dictated a message that later appeared as text attached to a video of Hunter Biden that was posted on GTV: “U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden, who is 100% absolutely controlled by the Communist Party, is one of the most important politicians in the United States with the most successful BGY plan of the CCP,” Guo said. “He is one of the important plotters of the CCP’s 3F plan in the United States: foment weakness, foment chaos and foment the destruction of America.” BGY and 3F are plans Guo has claimed China has deployed to use hacking, bribes, and blackmail to influence Western lawmakers and weaken the US.
By the end of October, Bannon, Giuliani, and Guo were flogging a supposed Biden-China dossier publicized by a "researcher" named Martin Aspen who turned out to be a CGI avatar of a person who did not exist. (Holy shit 2020 was weird.)
Eventually, the Post did authenticate many of the emails as genuine, but that was long after Fox News started airing videos of Hunter Biden having sex during the dinner hour. Meanwhile, Sean Hannity is still yelling about the laptop story being suppressed, conveniently leaving out all of the above information which made it look extraordinarily suspect back in October 2020, and still does.
We may never know what portion of the information on that hard drive is genuine, and what is fake — and Rudy's carrying it around it in his pants pocket for months doesn't make it any easier. But we do know that much of the information supposedly found on the laptop was floating around Ukraine with a $5 million price tag on it back in 2019. And Rudy may not be smart enough to move $5 million around Europe without it getting traced, but it's pretty clear that Steve Bannon's buddy is.
In short, the whole thing reeked to high heaven, and the stench has not abated. Meanwhile, Jared Kushner walked out of the White House and got handed $2 billion by the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund for services rendered. But no sex tape, so LOL whatever, right?
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.