FBI investigating Russian involvement in Hunter Biden story
WASHINGTON — The FBI is investigating whether emails that were published by the New York Post related to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, are connected to a possible Russian influence operation to spread disinformation, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The newspaper said in its story Wednesday that it had obtained a hard drive from Rudy Giuliani — a lawyer for President Donald Trump and a former mayor of NewYork — containing the emails, and that the messages were found on a laptop that had been left last year at a Delaware computer repair shop for service but never retrieved.
The unlikely account of how the emails surfaced raised immediate questions about Russian involvement, particularly because U.S. officials have warned that Russia — which backed Trump’s 2016 campaign through hacking and a covert social media campaign — is interfering again this year.
The episode is being investigated as part of a possible Russian influence operation, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press to discuss an ongoing matter.
The authenticity of the emails remained unclear as of Friday, including whether they were hacked or possibly forged or both. Giuliani did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment, but he said in a Fox News interview Friday that the material was “authentic as hell.”
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment Friday, citing the bureau’s practice of neither confirming nor denying investigations
Arms control: The U.S. and Russia on Friday rejected each other’s proposals for potentially salvaging the last remaining legal constraint on their strategic nuclear forces.
President Vladimir Putin called for an unconditional extension of the soon-to-expire New START treaty, and the White House called that a “nonstarter.”
President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, suggested the Russians rethink their stance “before a costly arms race ensues.” Administration officials have previously alluded to building up nuclear forces if the treaty is abandoned, although the Pentagon has its hands full paying for a one-for-one replacement of older nuclear weapons.
The Trump administration recently proposed a one-year extension of the 2010 treaty, which is set to expire in February 2021, but it said this must be coupled with the imposition of a broader cap on U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads. The cap would cover warheads not limited by the New START treaty. Putin said Friday a one-year extension was okay but should not be conditioned on a wider cap on warheads.
President Donald Trump’s administration abruptly reversed course and approved California’s application for disaster relief funds to clean up damage from six recent
deadly and destructive blazes that have scorched the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday.
Neither Newsom nor the White House gave details on why the administration shifted positions only hours after it initially denied the state’s request for a declaration that officials said could provide the state with hundreds of millions of dollars.
White House spokesman Judd Deere previously said California’s request “was not supported by the relevant data” needed for approval and that Trump agreed with a recommendation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator to reject the declaration.
“The Governor and (GOP) Leader (Kevin) McCarthy spoke and presented a convincing case and additional on-the-ground perspective for reconsideration leading the President to approve the declaration,” Deere said in a statement after Trump’s change of heart.
McCarthy thanked Trump in a tweet for providing “the assistance needed to rebuild and repair,” though his office did not respond to requests for more details on what changed.
Christie backtracks: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he was wrong not to wear a mask at the White House, after he and President Donald Trump both came down with the coronavirus.
Christie, in a statement issued Thursday, said he has recovered from COVID-19 after a weeklong stay in a hospital’s intensive care unit. He called on all political leaders to advocate for face coverings, with the practice becoming increasingly politicized even as the pandemic has killed more than 218,000 Americans.
“I believed that when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that and I and many others underwent every day,” Christie said. “I was wrong.”
Christie was at the White House for the announcement of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court and to a participate in several rounds of Trump’s debate preparation.
Teacher beheaded: French President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an “Islamist terrorist attack” against a history teacher decapitated in a Paris suburb Friday.
The teacher had discussed caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad with his class, authorities said. The suspected attacker was shot to death by police after Friday’s beheading.
The French anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation concerning murder with a suspected terrorist motive, the prosecutor’s office said.
A police official said the suspect, armed with a knife and an airsoft gun — which fires plastic pellets — was shot dead about 600 yards from where the male teacher was killed after he failed to respond to orders to put down his arms and acted in a threatening manner.
The arrest of Mexico’s former defense minister in the United States on charges that he protected a drug cartel in exchange for bribes is a blow to Mexico’s military, one of the few institutions that had maintained the confidence of the people.
Until Thursday’s arrest of retired Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos at Los Angeles International Airport, the military was still respected by virtue of appearing to be largely above the corruption commonly seen in other pieces of Mexico’s security apparatus, despite documented human rights abuses.
Cienfuegos was arrested at the request of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He was scheduled to make an initial appearance in court via video call Friday afternoon and to eventually be transferred to New York where the case originated.
Cienfuegos had been Mexico’s top military official during the presidency of Enrique Pena Nieto from 2012 to 2018.
Thailand protests: Thousands of student-led protesters, in defiance of a state of emergency, converged for a second straight day Friday in Bangkok. Using water cannons, riot police also cracked down on protesters by charging into the crowd. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha rejected demands from protesters that he resign.