Trailing Joe Biden in the polls two weeks ahead of the election, President Donald Trump appears to be trying to make up ground by flinging accusations without evidence that his Democratic opponent is a "criminal" and attacking his son, Hunter Biden.
Asked by a reporter on Monday if this was his strategy in the final stretch of the campaign, Trump said: "Joe Biden is a criminal and he's been a criminal for a long time."
Trump also lashed out at the media "for not reporting it."
He offered no evidence to back up his allegation other than to say "read his laptop," presumably a reference to a computer once allegedly owned by Hunter Biden that has been the subject of recent stories in the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post.
Here's what we know about Hunter Biden, the 50-year-old son of the former senator from Delaware and Democratic presidential nominee:
- Ukraine -
From 2014 to 2019, while his father was vice president, Hunter Biden, a lawyer and lobbyist, served on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company.
Trump has accused Joe Biden, when he was president Barack Obama's deputy, of seeking the removal of Ukraine's top prosecutor to protect Burisma -- and his son -- from a corruption investigation.
Joe Biden has acknowledged publicly that he did indeed push for the dismissal of the prosecutor but the European Union and IMF had also sought his removal -- not because of a Burisma probe but because he was seen as not being aggressive enough in pursuing corruption.
Hunter Biden, in an interview with ABC News, has said he may have displayed "poor judgment" in his past business dealings but had not engaged in any wrongdoing.
- Impeachment -
Democrats in the House of Representatives opened an impeachment inquiry in September 2019 after a whistleblower revealed that Trump had sought to pressure the Ukrainian president into launching an investigation of the Bidens.
The Democratic-majority House approved articles of impeachment against Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress but the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him of both charges.
A report released last month by Senate Republicans into Hunter Biden's Ukraine dealings did not find any evidence of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden.
- New York Post -
The New York Post last week revived the Hunter Biden allegations with a story claiming it had obtained documents from a laptop owned by the former vice president's son which was brought in for repairs in April 2019 but never picked up.
The Post claimed that emails found on the laptop showed that Hunter Biden introduced his father to a Burisma advisor, Vadym Pozharskyi, in 2015 and contradict Joe Biden's claims that he never spoke to his son about his overseas business dealings.
The Post said the shop owner handed the laptop over to the FBI and also made a copy of the hard drive and gave it to former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, has a record of dispersing disinformation about the Bidens and Ukraine.
- Biden response -
A Biden campaign spokesman said there is no record of a meeting between the former vice president and Pozharskyi.
Asked by a reporter about the Post report, Biden said: "I have no response. It's another smear campaign, right up your alley."
Representative Adam Schiff, who led the Trump impeachment in the House, said it was just more dirty tricks.
"For more than a year, Trump has been desperate to create a scandal around his opponent," Schiff said. "He even tried to extort a foreign country into smearing Joe Biden, but failed.
"Trump was caught and impeached over it," Schiff said. "Now he's at it again. Different scheme. Same corrupt president."
- Social media -
Twitter blocked sharing of links to the New York Post article, saying there were questions about its veracity, a move which Republicans denounced as partisan censorship.
Facebook also limited distribution.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey later expressed regret over how Twitter handled its communications surrounding the article, calling it "not great."
Despite the mea culpa, a Republican-controlled Senate committee is seeking appearances by Dorsey and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to testify about alleged anti-conservative bias.
- Russia? -
The Biden campaign has suggested that the laptop story could be a disinformation campaign mounted by Russia, which was accused of meddling in the 2016 US election.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, a Trump appointee, rejected that claim on Monday.
"The intelligence community doesn't believe that because there is no intelligence that supports that," Ratcliffe told Fox News.
- And the FBI? -
Republicans have asked for the FBI to reveal what it knows about the laptop.
"Are they covering up just because Hunter Biden might be engaged in things that also maybe should have been investigated and possibly prosecuted?" said Senator Ron Johnson, a Trump ally.
"Do we have two systems of justice, one for Democrats and one for Republicans?"