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Feds investigating if alleged Hunter Biden emails connected to foreign intelligence operation: report

Federal authorities are investigating if emails allegedly discovered on a laptop at a Delaware repair shop discussing Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE and his son Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine were connected to a foreign intelligence operation, NBC News reported Thursday night.  

Two people familiar with the matter told the network about the federal investigation.

The FBI took the laptop and a hard drive through a grand jury subpoena that was later published by the New York Post, a conservative newspaper. 

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The FBI declined to comment to The Hill on the reported probe, citing its standard practice of not confirming or denying an investigation. 

The New York Post published several stories about the alleged emails, including one that hinted at an alleged meeting between Joe Biden and Vadym Pozharsky an adviser for the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, where Hunter Biden served on the board. The Biden campaign has maintained the meeting did not occur.

The tabloid said it retrieved the documents used for the story from President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE’s personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiFacebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Latest 'Borat' footage appears to show star at the White House, meeting Trump Jr. Kushner friend arrested on cyberstalking charges MORE. It reported that the information was discovered on a laptop left at a repair shop in April 2019 and never picked up.

The Post faced criticism and questions about sourcing for the story, prompting Twitter and Facebook to limit sharing of the article. Twitter said that the article violated its hacked materials policy. It is unclear what led Facebook to limit the article. The move prompted backlash from Republican lawmakers against the tech giants. 

Hunter Biden’s attorney George Mesires said in a statement to NBC News that “We have no idea where this came from, and certainly cannot credit anything that Rudy Giuliani provided to the New York Post, but what I do know for certain is that this purported meeting never happened.”

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Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates told NBC News that the New York paper “never asked the Biden campaign about the critical elements of this story.” He said the campaign has looked at Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time “and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place.”

“They certainly never raised that Rudy Giuliani — whose discredited conspiracy theories and alliance with figures connected to Russian intelligence have been widely reported — claimed to have such materials,” he added.

The New York Post said the repair shop owner, identified by the Daily Beast as John Paul Mac Isaac, informed the FBI and a Giuliani associate the laptop belonged to Hunter Biden because of a sticker on it for the Beau Biden Foundation, a charity for his deceased brother. 

“Before turning over the gear, the shop owner says, he made a copy of the hard drive and later gave it to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello,” the Post said. “Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonRatcliffe, Schiff battle over Biden emails, politicized intelligence Juan Williams: Trump's search for dirt falls flat Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 MORE, former adviser to President Trump, told The Post about the existence of the hard drive in late September and Giuliani provided The Post with a copy of it on Sunday.”

News organizations have not been able to authenticate the emails published by the Post as of Thursday night. 

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Giuliani has searched for damaging information aboutBiden and his son, including through a visit to Ukraine last year, in which he met with a man now identified as a Russian intelligence officer. The president’s lawyer sought to retrieve information about Hunter Biden’s position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

The New York Times reported in January that Burisma was hacked in an effort by Russia, and the newspaper reported Thursday that U.S. intelligence predicted that the emails retrieved in the hack would be leaked in October. 

The Washington Post reported Thursday evening that U.S. intelligence officials warned Trump that Giuliani was the target of an influence campaign conducted by Russian intelligence.