Joe Biden’s presidential campaign team has denied that any such meeting took place.
It has previously been reported that Burisma’s computers were infiltrated by Russian military hackers towards the end of last year. Shortly before the 2016 US election, Russian hackers breached the Democratic National Committee’s systems, leading to the leaking of emails embarrassing to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate.
According to The New York Times, US intelligence began suspecting last month that emails taken from Burisma could emerge publicly before the 2020 election. The owner of a computer repair shop in Delaware has come forward publicly to say he made a copy of the hard drive before it was seized by the FBI, and passed it to an associate of Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.
Giuliani then passed it to the New York Post. It is not yet clear whether Hunter Biden or someone else dropped the laptop off at the repair shop and abandoned it there.
Facebook and Twitter both took steps to limit distribution of the New York Post story by users, leading to accusations of “censorship” by Republicans.
Twitter later changed its policy on material it suspected of being hacked, saying it would label content to that effect rather than blocking users from sharing it.
Last night, the Republican National Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over Twitter’s decision to limit sharing of the New York Post story.
The committee argued that it was an “illegal corporate in-kind political contribution” to the Biden’s campaign.
It accused Twitter of being a “partisan actor” which had “used its corporate resources to provide active support for Joe Biden’s campaign in violation of federal law”.
Meanwhile, Trump and Biden took part in competing town hall events, which were broadcast on separate television networks at the same time. Preliminary viewing figures suggested that Biden won the competition for viewers, with 14.1 million to Trump’s 13.5 million.
Trump refused to denounce the QAnon conspiracy theory, which falsely claims the US government is controlled by a “deep state” cabal of anti-Trump satanist paedophiles.
The president said: “I know nothing about QAnon. I know very little.
“What I do hear about it, they are very strongly against paedophilia. I do agree with that.”
He was also questioned over his decision to retweet a false conspiracy theory, from a QAnon-linked Twitter account, that Navy Seals killed a body double of Osama bin Laden, and that the Obama administration covered it up.
Trump said that he was just “putting it out there” and “people can decide for themselves”.
Savannah Guthrie, host of the town hall, responded: “I don’t get that. You are the president, not someone’s crazy uncle.”
Attacking the president for his handling of the pandemic, Biden said: “We’re in a situation where we have 210,000-plus people dead, and what’s he doing? Nothing. He’s still not wearing masks.”