Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden attempted to dismiss an escalating scandal surrounding his son’s foreign business dealings as “Russian” disinformation on Thursday.
Biden downplayed the scandal during the second and final presidential debate against President Donald Trump on a stage in Nashville on Thursday night. Biden made the claim against a growing body of evidence and allegations that the former vice president stood to profit off of business deals made by his son, Hunter.
“There are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what [Trump] is accusing me of is a Russian plant,” Biden said. “They have said that this has all the – five former heads of the CIA, both parties, say what he’s saying is a bunch of garbage. Nobody believes it except for him and his good friend Rudy Giuliani.”
Biden’s claim of Russian disinformation has been dismissed by top intelligence officials, including Trump’s National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe.
Trump needled Biden about his son’s business dealings in China, Ukraine, and elsewhere throughout the night. Trump also suggested that the former vice president stood to profit financially from at least one of Hunter’s schemes.
The president immediately hit back at Biden for blaming Russia for his family’s complicated and unseemly web of business negotiations and contacts in foreign countries. Russia has become a Democratic boogeyman under the Trump administration.
Washington lawmakers and other prominent Democratic politicians have blamed Russian election interference for Trump’s 2016 victory for years. The allegations culminated in ex-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign, which found no evidence that Trump or his team coordinated with Russia to illegally influence the election.
“You mean the laptop is now another Russia, Russia, Russia hoax? You’ve gotta be kidding. Is this where you’re going? This is where he’s going. The laptop is Russia, Russia, Russia,” Trump said. “You have to be kidding. Here we go again with Russia. Boy, oh boy. Can’t believe that one.”
.@realDonaldTrump: "The laptop is now another Russia Russia Russia hoax?
You have to be kidding, here we go again with Russia." pic.twitter.com/UxsviQ1jDp
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) October 23, 2020
Hunter’s business dealings exploded into the press last week after the New York Post published emails allegedly from Hunter’s old laptop. The laptop in question is now in the FBI’s possession. A series of bombshell stories revolving around Hunter’s alleged emails led Trump to describe the laptop as “the laptop from hell” in a Tuesday interview with Fox News.
Early Thursday morning in the hours leading up to the debate, the Post published a lengthy statement by one of Hunter’s alleged former business partners, Tony Bobulinski. Bobulinski testified that at least one email exchange that he was a part of and was reported by the Post is real, and additionally claimed that former Vice President Biden was in on a deal Hunter was negotiating with a Chinese energy executive.
Bobulinski’s statement contradicts numerous assertions from Biden that he did not have intimate knowledge of Hunter’s business dealings, and may contradict Biden’s denials that any inappropriate business was done under the table while he was vice president.
Related: Harris, Gov. Cuomo, Other Top Democrats Listed As ‘Key Domestic Contacts’ In Alleged Hunter Biden Email Exchange