Fox News is promoting a Trump operation smear against Hunter Biden over Romania. It was debunked a year ago.

Trump’s own lawyer Rudy Giuliani also worked for the same client in Romania, after Hunter Biden had left. Giuliani then publicly opposed the country’s anti-corruption crackdowns — and now he’s hyping this story.

Fox News has become a conduit for another rollout of the White House and Trump campaign’s smear operations against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, this time centered around his son Hunter Biden’s legal work for a client in Romania.

The problem, though: President Donald Trump’s own lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has been the chief peddler of the smear operation against Joe Biden, also worked for the same Romanian client — and just two years ago was publicly opposing anti-corruption efforts in that country, against official U.S. policy previously espoused by Joe Biden himself.

During Trump’s interview Tuesday morning on Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade began coaching Trump that the “national security” category at Thursday’s scheduled debate “would be your option” to discuss Hunter Biden’s business activities.

Kilmeade even later added the smear as a possible point to make in the debate, suggesting, “I hear Romania's coming up, too.”

“Romania’s coming up,” Trump agreed.

Video file

Citation From the October 20, 2020, edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends

Hunter Biden’s legal involvement in Romania was first reported in late 2019 by NBC News. Starting in 2016, he had worked on the appeal for Romanian real estate tycoon Gabriel Popoviciu, who was convicted for corruption in a land deal. NBC News did not mention until the 22nd paragraph, however, that Giuliani was later brought in to work on the same case in 2018, after Hunter Biden’s own involvement had ceased.

NBC’s report also affirmed in its fourth paragraph that there was “no evidence that Hunter or his father acted improperly or violated any laws” — though it was not until the 31st paragraph that it noted any issue with Hunter Biden “pales in comparison” to Trump and his own children. Indeed, the next paragraph quotes anti-corruption experts Robert Weissman, head of the government watchdog group Public Citizen, saying that even the seemingly bogus allegations made by Giuliani “are orders of magnitude less corrosive than the everyday wrongdoing by” the president and his family, “including his interactions with foreign governments and overseas revenue streams.”

Giuliani’s work for Popoviciu — one of many foreign clients to whom Giuliani had attached himself at the same time as his work for President Trump — might seem to clash with his denunciations of Hunter Biden’s work abroad. Giuliani also sent a letter to Romania’s president in August of 2018, calling for amnesty for people convicted in the country’s anti-corruption crackdowns and going far beyond mere legal work for a client in just one case by claiming that the “excesses” of anti-corruption efforts had resulted in “continuing damage to the rule of law being done under the guise of effective law enforcement.”

In contrast, Joe Biden visited Romania during his vice presidency in May 2014 and gave a speech calling for crackdowns on corruption, which he described as “a cancer that eats away at a citizen’s faith in democracy” and “another form of tyranny.”

However, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared Monday night on Fox Business’ The Evening Edit and teased that Romania would be the next smear used to paint the Biden family.

Video file

Citation From the October 19, 2020, edition of Fox Business’ The Evening Edit

MARK MEADOWS (WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF): But he's also not wanting to answer the critical questions, what he knew about Hunter Biden's corrupt — alleged corrupt activities — what he knew about the interference.

You know, I find it fascinating that some of the monies that appear to be flowing to the Biden family broadly, come from Romania, from Ukraine, and from China — the very three countries that Joe Biden was special envoy to.

ELIZABETH MACDONALD (ANCHOR): Did you mean to say Russia and not Romania? It's Russia, Ukraine, and China, is the allegation about Hunter Biden's influence-peddling.

MEADOWS: Well, actually, I — I actually mentioned —

MACDONALD: Is Romania the new country?

MEADOWS: I actually mentioned Romania. So I think in the days to come, you'll see a Romanian connection, as well.

MACDONALD: Oh, wow. All right, well, that's news there.

Fox’s online write-up of Meadows’ appearance also teased an upcoming report from one of their corporate sister publications: “The Wall Street Journal is expected to publish a report this week on Hunter Biden's dealings, but it was not immediately clear if that was what Meadows was referring to.” (Trump himself is also very much expecting this Journal piece, reportedly plugging it on a call with his campaign staff.)

Giuliani has been teasing something about Romania ever since last year, at the height of his involvement in the propaganda campaign and abuse of power scandal that resulted in Trump’s impeachment.

Appearing on the October 6, 2019, edition of Fox News’ MediaBuzz, Giuliani told host Howard Kurtz: “I’ve got it all, I’ve got it all. There’s a lot more to come out. We haven't moved to Romania yet — wait until we get to Romania.”

Video file

Citation From the October 6, 2019, edition of Fox News’ MediaBuzz

More recently, Giuliani also made very brief mentions of Romania as part of a laundry list of various countries he claimed to be involved in a convoluted international criminal conspiracy by leading Democrats. These mentions came during his recent podcast that was posted this past Friday, and again during an interview with Fox News host Mark Levin that was broadcast on Sunday.

Fox has also been aggressively promoting the smear campaign about emails from a laptop alleged to have belonged to Hunter Biden, even though Fox’s own purported “news division” passed on the story when Giuliani had first pitched it — on the grounds that the network was unable to property vet its authenticity — only to then promote the story once it was published by another one of the network’s corporate relations, the New York Post.

Previously, an internal report by the Fox News “brain room” had concluded that the network had pushed “disinformation” about the Ukraine story, specifically naming Giuliani as having a “high susceptibility to disinformation.”