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US intelligence analysts predicted stolen Burisma emails would be leaked in October: report

U.S. intelligence analysts last month reportedly contacted several people with knowledge of the January email hack of Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings due to predictions that the emails would be leaked in the form of an “October surprise,” according to The New York Times

The Times’s reporting follows the Wednesday release of a New York Post article that includes allegations regarding Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll Ivanka Trump raises million in a week for father's campaign On The Money: McConnell says Congress will take up stimulus package at start of 2021 | Lawmakers see better prospects for COVID deal after election MORE and Ukraine based on an email reportedly retrieved from the hard drive of a laptop dropped off at a computer repair shop in Delaware in April 2019.

The Post mentioned that a store owner, whom the Daily Beast identified later Wednesday evening as John Paul Mac Isaac from Wilmington, Del., provided a copy of the laptop’s hard drive to President TrumpDonald John TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll MORE's personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGiuliani associate Correia pleads guilty to making false statements Spies are trying to influence the election — US spies, that is Giuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele MORE before it was seized by the FBI.

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Twitter and Facebook both took steps to limit the spread of the article on their platforms Wednesday over questions on the story’s sourcing, with a spokesperson for Twitter telling The Hill at the time that the decision was made based on the platform’s hacked materials policy.

In January, the Times first reported of Russian hacking aimed at Burisma, where Biden’s son Hunter Biden served on the board. The Times said that hacking attempts began in early November 2019, around the same time that the House was investigating a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.

Security experts told the Times in January that the hackers’ findings, as well as what they were looking for, remained unclear, but the timing indicated they could have been in search of the same sort of potentially embarrassing material on the family Trump sought when he asked Zelensky to launch an investigation.

On Wednesday, the Times reported that intelligence analysts began looking into a potential leak of the stolen emails in September out of concern that the material would be used along with forged records to hurt Joe Biden’s chances in the November presidential election. 

Wednesday’s Post report had alleged that the older Biden met with a Burisma adviser, which Trump and his allies jumped on as evidence for their repeated claims that Hunter Biden benefited from his father’s top role in the White House. 

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However, Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told the Times on Wednesday that the former vice president’s official schedules showed no meeting between Joe Biden and the adviser, Vadym Pozharskyi. 

“We have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place,” Bates told the Times.

The Post story cited an email Pozharskyi allegedly sent to Hunter Biden thanking him for “giving an opportunity to meet your father” and to spend “some time together.” The authenticity of the emails cited by the Post were not independently verified by the Times as of Wednesday. 

Facebook and Twitter blocking the article’s spread Wednesday prompted harsh rebukes from Republicans, with the Trump campaign claiming the personal account of White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany had been locked after she shared the Post story.

On Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrote in a tweet that it was “unacceptable” for the social media platform to block users from sharing the Post article without an explanation for doing so.