- Former spooks told Business Insider that Rudy Giuliani’s role in a widely discredited New York Post story and President Donald Trump’s willingness to seize on it highlights how vulnerable they are to being duped by Russian intelligence.
- Giuliani’s access to Trump, the two men’s personality traits, their eagerness to obtain dirt on the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and unwillingness to acknowledge Russian interference makes them a goldmine for foreign intelligence services, former spies said.
- They are “grotesquely vulnerable, exploitable targets” and “any foreign intelligence service would be derelict if they did not try to exploit this,” said a former CIA covert operative.
- Steve Hall, the CIA’s former chief of Russia operations, also said Trump and Giuliani’s tendency to traffic in conspiracies and the rise of misinformation in right-wing media mean “we’re doing a lot of [Russia’s] work for them.”
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President Donald Trump smirked when supporters at his campaign rally on Friday revived a familiar chant.
“Lock him up!” they shouted as the president laughed. “Lock him up!”
The chants were referring to the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, whom Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have long accused of being in bed with corrupt Ukrainian interests.
Specifically, they allege that Biden inappropriately leveraged his role as vice president to shut down a criminal investigation into the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings to protect Hunter, who was serving on Burisma’s board at the time.
As Business Insider has previously reported, there is no evidence that these claims hold merit, and they’ve been debunked by intelligence assessments, media reports, congressional investigations, and witness testimony.
Regardless, the Biden-Ukraine conspiracy theory became turbocharged this week, after The New York Post published a widely discredited story purporting to show “smoking-gun” emails between Hunter Biden and a senior Burisma executive about setting up a meeting with Joe Biden when he was vice president in 2015. The story was written by a former producer for the Fox News show “Hannity,” and Giuliani was one of its primary sources.
At a rally in Iowa on Wednesday, Trump touted the “explosive documents published by a very fine newspaper, The New York Post,” which he said showed “that Joe Biden has been blatantly lying about his involvement in his son’s corrupt business dealings.”
To the conservative political sphere, the story was incontrovertible proof that Trump was right about the Bidens. But to former intelligence operatives, Giuliani’s involvement in the Post’s story and Trump’s willingness to seize on it showed just how susceptible they are to being duped by foreign intelligence services.
‘Any foreign intelligence service would be derelict if they did not try to exploit this’
Former officials said that Giuliani’s proximity to Trump, both men’s personality traits, their eagerness to dig up dirt on political opponents, and unwillingness to acknowledge Russian influence make them a goldmine for foreign operatives to exploit.
“This is the most recent edition of what we’ve seen over four years now with the Trump administration,” Steve Hall, the former chief of Russia operations at the CIA, told Business Insider. He compared Giuliani to former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was one of Trump’s most active surrogates during the 2016 campaign.
“Flynn considered himself the smartest guy in the room and believed the rules didn’t apply to him because he was close to the president,” Hall said. “Giuliani has the same general profile because he’s also someone who thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room, politically. And he has protection from…