- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 20, 2020

President Trump called on Attorney General William P. Barr on Tuesday to appoint a special counsel to investigate the laptop reportedly owned by Hunter Biden revealing his overseas business deals, and the top Republican on the House intelligence committee proclaimed emails from the laptop “authentic.”

“We’ve got to get the attorney general to act. He’s got to act fast,” Mr. Trump said on “Fox & Friends.” “He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption, and this has to be known about before the election.”

The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden, Hunter Biden’s father, spent another day in seclusion in Delaware without commenting on the matter. He has called the story a “smear campaign,” but neither Mr. Biden nor his son has addressed whether the trove of emails is legitimate.

Mr. Trump, though, labeled the scandal “the laptop from hell” during a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania on Tuesday night, calling Mr. Biden a corrupt politician.

“The Bidens got rich while Pennsylvania got robbed — like the rest of our country,” Mr. Trump told the crowd.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and a vocal Trump ally, said Republican committee staffers have independently authenticated through “numerous conversations” that the emails discovered on the laptop were sent to and from Hunter Biden.

“These emails are real. They’re authentic,” Mr. Jordan told reporters on a conference call organized by the president’s reelection campaign.

Jenna Arnold, who campaigns on behalf of the Democratic nominee, said on Fox News on Sunday that nobody has claimed the emails are “inauthentic.”

Asked whether he supports a special counsel investigation, Mr. Jordan said, “I’m for whatever it takes to get to the facts and the truth. This information has just come out and shows that [Mr. Biden] misled the American people when he told us back during impeachment that he had no involvement in his son’s business dealings. Turns out that he in fact did.”

A group of Mr. Jordan’s Republican colleagues urged Mr. Barr in a letter Monday to appoint a special counsel. The president told supporters Monday that Mr. Biden would already be facing federal prosecution if Mr. Barr weren’t such a “nice” and “fair” person.

Mr. Trump also has expressed frustration with Mr. Barr over the timing of an investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham into the origins of the Russia probe against his campaign in 2016, which will not be completed by Election Day.

The laptop abandoned at a Delaware repair shop is at the center of what the president is calling a huge influence-peddling scandal showing that Mr. Biden, while serving as vice president, knew about and facilitated millions of dollars in payments to his son from businessmen in Ukraine and China.

The Trump team claims that Mr. Biden, thought to be referred to as “big guy” in one email, received a cut of some of his son’s lucrative dealings. The email does not identify the “big guy” in the exchange.

The president said the bombshell, with two weeks remaining until voting ends on Nov. 3, has shifted the race in his favor. Mr. Biden has been leading in most state and national polls.

“It’s just going very well,” the president said. “I think he’s imploding. You look at all the corruption in his family. That laptop, nobody has ever seen anything like that. He’s gone into hiding. … And things are changing fast, and the numbers at the polls are looking really good — really, really good.”

Democrats including Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, chairman of the House intelligence committee, accused Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani of being a dupe of a Russian disinformation campaign after Mr. Giuliani brought the emails to the New York Post last week. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Monday there is no evidence that the matter is part of a “Russian disinformation campaign.”

Fox News reported that it has viewed an $85 receipt from the repair shop with a signature thought to be that of Hunter Biden. Other documents indicate that the shop owner was contacted by the FBI.

The FBI reportedly is in possession of the laptop, seizing it through a grand jury subpoena, although the agency hasn’t commented on the matter. FBI sources agree with Mr. Ratcliffe that the emails are not part of a Russian disinformation campaign, Fox reported.

Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the FBI should brief lawmakers on the status of any investigation. The FBI reportedly seized the laptop on Dec. 17, 2019, in the midst of Mr. Trump’s impeachment, raising questions about whether any information on the device could have been relevant to the subject of Ukraine corruption that was central to Democrats’ case against the president.

In a series of tweets Tuesday, Mr. Johnson directed questions at Mr. Biden about his son’s former business partners. One of them, Bevan Cooney, is serving a 30-month prison term for fraud. The other, Devon Archer, is awaiting sentencing on his conviction in the same scheme.

“Hunter Biden’s business partner Devon Archer is now a convicted felon,” Mr. Johnson said in a Twitter post. “New emails from an independent source show he & co-conspirators planned to ‘put some honey’ from this scheme ‘in Hunter’s pocket.’ Isn’t it time reporters ask @JoeBiden a few questions?”

George Mesires, Hunter Biden’s attorney, has said Archer and Cooney used Hunter Biden’s name without his knowledge to lend credibility to their business.

Mr. Johnson also asked Mr. Biden, “Why did you meet with Devon in the White House on April 16, 2014 — 5 days before you traveled to Ukraine, 6 days before Devon joined Burisma’s board, and 28 days before Hunter joined Burisma’s board?”

Burisma Holdings is a Ukrainian energy company that hired Hunter Biden for about $4 million to serve on its board.

Mr. Johnson also tweeted at the former vice president, “And what about a Chinese national funding a $100,000 shopping spree for your son, brother and sister-in-law? Was that another example of someone ‘putting some honey’ in their pockets?”

Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who has written books on the Russia collusion probe, said there is no need for a special prosecutor to investigate the Bidens.

“As the Obama investigation of the Trump campaign showed, there is no reason the administration of the opposite party has to appoint a special counsel to investigate people connected to the opposition party,” he said. “There is no reason to believe the Justice Department can’t handle an investigation.”

He cautioned that the results of any probe into the Bidens wouldn’t be known until after the election.

“The people I know at the Justice Department wouldn’t be looking at this in terms of the political calendar,” he said. “There are a lot of strands of foreign funding at issue here, and that would take a long time to run it down.”

Even if the Justice Department does uncover wrongdoing, it would have to keep it quiet because of guidelines that block federal prosecutors from bringing charges in a political case within 60 days of an election.

That doesn’t mean the investigators aren’t seriously looking into Hunter Biden’s actions, Mr. McCarthy said.

“From everything I can see, there is a serious investigation going on,” Mr. McCarthy said. “The FBI doesn’t issue grand jury summons for nothing.”

Federal authorities are reportedly investigating whether the emails are linked to a foreign intelligence operation.

The New York Post reported last week that the abandoned laptop hard drive contained evidence that Hunter Biden made the introduction of a Burisma executive to Vice President Biden in 2015. An email from Burisma adviser Vadym Pozharskyi thanked Hunter Biden for the “opportunity to meet your father and spen[d] some time together” in Washington.

Biden campaign officials have said his schedule for the date in question doesn’t show a meeting with Mr. Pozharskyi.

In March 2016, Mr. Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine unless the government fired a prosecutor with jurisdiction over investigations into Burisma. He said Ukraine needed to install a prosecutor who would pursue corruption cases.

Cooney gave Breitbart News access to his Gmail account and said he believed he was the “fall guy” for Hunter Biden’s business dealings and reported corruption. Breitbart said it has about 26,000 of Cooney’s emails.

Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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