Watch: White House responds to Joe Biden's claims that NY Post report on Hunter is a 'smear campaign'
Joe Biden broke his silence on Hunter Biden's laptop to dispute claims his son enriched himself using the family name as "garbage" from Donald Trump's henchman, Rudy Giuliani, in a desperate, last-ditch smear campaign.
It comes as the Delaware Department of Justice confirmed to The Independent that it has referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the latest claims from Mr Giuliani that possible evidence of child endangerment was found on the laptop.
When asked if there was any legitimacy to a Homeland Security report alleging his son profited off the former vice president's name, Mr Biden said there was "none whatsoever" and that the “vast majority of intelligence people” said there was no basis to the claims.
"This is the same garbage Rudy Giuliani, Trump's henchman, it's a last-ditch effort in this desperate campaign to smear me and my family," Mr Biden told Milwaukee's WISN 12 News.
"Even the man who served with him on that committee, the former nominee for the Republican Party, said there's no basis to this."
Mr Biden was referencing criticism from Mitt Romney, who didn't comment on the veracity of claims first reported by The New York Post but did comment on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee report as "not the legitimate role of government or Congress, or for taxpayer expense to be used in an effort to damage political opponents”.
Committee chairman, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, said the report, titled "Hunter Biden, Burisma, and Corruption: The Impact on US Government Policy and Related Concerns", showed Hunter Biden and other family members profited off the family name.
"What we revealed in our 87-page report is a vast web of connections with Chinese nationals, with people all over the world, again, trading on the Biden name," he said during an interview with Fox News.
"Our report raises far more questions than it actually answered but it raises so many troubling issues that mainstream media is simply not looking at, they're suppressing the information which is a scandal in and of itself.”
Mr Biden's response to Mr Johnson's report was only the second time he has addressed The New York Post's reporting, of data purported to have been taken from his son's laptop left at a Delaware repair shop, since the story broke on 14 October.
When asked the first time four days later, Mr Biden also said it was an attempt to smear his presidential campaign, telling to CBS's Bo Erickson on the tarmac: "I know you would ask it, I have no response. It's another smear campaign. Right up your alley. They're the questions you always ask."
I asked Joe Biden: What is your response to the NYPost story about your son, sir?
He called it a “smear campaign” and then went after me. “I know you’d ask it. I have no response, it’s another smear campaign, right up your alley, those are the questions you always ask.” pic.twitter.com/Eo6VD4TqxD
— Bo Erickson CBS (@BoKnowsNews) October 17, 2020
His latest comments this week went further, saying the intelligence community believes there is no basis to claims made in the reporting.
"And the vast majority of the intelligence people have come out and said there's no basis at all. Ron should be ashamed of himself," Mr Biden said.
More than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed a public letter outlining their belief the release of emails had "all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation".
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said in a CNN interview that it was a smear campaign against Mr Biden and that the ties to Ukraine originated as part of a Russian disinformation operation.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe took to the airwaves soon after to dispute Mr Schiff's suggestions that there is any evidence of any Russia involvement, saying Mr Schiff only has access to intelligence provided by the intelligence community.
"The intelligence community doesn’t believe that because there is no intelligence that supports that. And we shared no intelligence with Chairman Schiff or any other member of Congress that Hunter Biden’s laptop is part of some Russian disinformation campaign,” Mr Ratcliffe added.
In a letter to Congress late on Tuesday, the FBI said it has "nothing to add" to the statement made by Mr Ratcliffe disputing the suggestion that Russia was behind the laptop reported to belong to the presidential candidate's son.
"We have nothing to add at this time to the October 19th public statement by the Director of National Intelligence about the available actionable intelligence," FBI assistant director Jill C Tyson wrote in the letter, reported by The Washington Post.
"The FBI can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any ongoing investigation or persons or entities under investigation."
Watch: Hannity - Biden silent as massive corruption scandal rocks campaign
The Delaware Department of Justice has referred the latest reports from Mr Giuliani of "child endangerment" to the FBI, according to the office of state attorney general Kathleen Jennings, a long-time Biden family friend who worked under Beau Biden and endorsed Mr Biden for president in a Facebook post calling him a kind and genuine person she has known for most of her life.
"In light of ongoing questions about the credibility of these claims and multiple reports that the FBI is investigating their veracity, law enforcement is referring this matter to the FBI," a spokesman for Ms Jenning's office said in a statement.
Mr Giuliani said in an interview on Tuesday night that he went to local Delaware police in New Castle County, along with former New York Police Department commissioner Bernard Kerik, on Monday to report concerns of child endangerment due to photos and texts messages allegedly found on the laptop.
"I told them other details about what appears to be an inappropriate sexual relationship," he said in an interview with NewsmaxTV, showing alleged text messages from Hunter Biden to Joe Biden.
"They told me it would be investigated."
New Castle County Police Department referred The Independent the Delaware Department of Justice, which it said in a statement was handling inquiries related to Mr Giuliani’s complaint.
DEVELOPING: @RudyGiuliani displays a "very, very sensitive" alleged text message from Hunter Biden, which he claims to have handed over to the Delaware state police. @gregkellyusa https://t.co/VlT7z8drtO pic.twitter.com/nzbzAb9QbF
— Newsmax (@newsmax) October 20, 2020