US spies say the Hunter Biden email controversy shows how 'exploitable' and 'grotesquely vulnerable' Trump and Giuliani are to Russian intelligence… via @businessinsider
Federal authorities are currently investigating whether purported emails in the story featuring communications between Hunter Biden and a Burisma Holdings executive were part of a foreign influence operation.
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, ex-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."
Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, 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.
The Biden-Ukraine conspiracy theory was 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 then VP Joe Biden in 2015.
The story was written by a former producer for the Fox News show "Hannity," and Giuliani gave the conservative tabloid the emails featured in the story.
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 hostile intelligence services.
"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.
Glenn Carle, a former CIA covert operative who specialized in turning Russian spies, told Business Insider that in addition to Giuliani's access to Trump, his motivations also make him an attractive target for Russian intelligence.
"No matter what the motivation is, a foreign intelligence service can usually exploit it," Carle said. "In this case, it's very straightforward: Giuliani is hunting for information that he thinks will help Trump and harm Biden."
"And then you look at the person's psychological makeup. Are they gullible? Can they be duped? Are they motivated to take chances? In Giuliani's case, the answer to all those questions is a glaring 'yes.'"
Giuliani, Carle added, has "been stumbling around in Ukraine, which is Russian turf from an intelligence perspective. In every way, Trump and Giuliani are grotesquely vulnerable, exploitable targets for Russian intelligence."
Indeed, US intelligence agencies cautioned the White House last year that Russian operatives were using Giuliani to funnel disinformation to Trump.
The warning came after intercepted communications showed that Giuliani interacted with multiple people who had ties to Russian intelligence when he traveled to Ukraine in December to look for dirt on the Bidens.
Among the people Giuliani met with was a Ukrainian national named Andrii Derkach, a man who has since been sanctioned by the Treasury Department for acting as a Russian agent and spreading disinformation about the Bidens and the 2020 election.
In January, hackers associated with Russia's military intelligence agency successfully breached Burisma's servers, The New York Times reported.
And in September, US intelligence analysts learned the Russians were planning to dump hacked and forged Burisma emails as part of an "October surprise" targeting Biden before the election.
This article lays out so many hinky Giuliani connections and shady moves, a Twitter thread cannot do it justice. Get to reading, kids :)
But this is practically a confession: When The Daily Beast asked Giuliani if he was concerned the emails may have come from Russia's hack of Burisma, he replied that it "wouldn't matter" and asked "what's the difference?"

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