- The NYT sued the State Department Monday, asking it to hand over emails mentioning Hunter Biden.
- Lawyers for The Times say the department is stalling giving them emails requested under FOIA.
- The Times appears to be investigating whether officials helped businesses with links to the US government.
The New York Times sued the State Department on Monday, seeking access to US embassy emails that mention President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, court filings show.
In the lawsuit, filed at a federal court in Manhattan, lawyers for The Times requested access to emails sent by officials at the US embassy in Romania between 2015 and 2019 that contain keywords including “Hunter Biden,” the filings show.
Politico first reported the existence of the lawsuit.
In the filings, lawyers for The Times said the State Department was stalling in answering a series of requests made under Freedom of Information Act by the Times reporter Kenneth P. Vogel from June 2021.
The FOIA requests, which were included in the filings, suggested The Times was investigating whether US officials helped grant political favors to private businesses.
Per the lawsuit, one request dated June 7, 2021, asked for records relating to:
- “The possible improper use of federal government resources to assist and advance private business interests with connections to United States government officials.”
- “The possible evasion of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by those private business interests.”
- “The nonenforcement of FARA by the federal government in relation to those private business interests.”
Vogel had also asked the State Department for emails containing the keywords “Rudy Giuliani,” and “Tony Bobulinski,” Hunter Biden’s former business associate. Former President Donald Trump sent Giuliani to Ukraine ahead of the 2020 election to probe Biden’s business history in the country.
Critics of President Biden, such as Trump, have long sought to dig up dirt about Hunter Biden from his business dealings in China and Ukraine.
An investigation by GOP senators in November 2020 found no evidence of corruption.
In October 2020, the New York Post reported the existence of an email in which an advisor working with Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company where Biden served as a board member, thanked Biden for offering to set up a meeting with Joe Biden. Joe Biden described the report as a “smear campaign.”
A spokesperson for The New York Times told Insider: “As a routine part of their reporting, New York Times journalists regularly seek potentially newsworthy information from a variety of sources, including from the US government through FOIA requests. We’re hopeful the government will promptly release any relevant documents, and as always we are prepared to pursue our request through a lawsuit if necessary.”
The State Department did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.