White House lawyer part of scheme to smear Hunter Biden — but not even the WSJ would buy it: NYT
Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House (Fox Business/screen grab)

In a Sunday article for The New York Times titled, "Trump Had One Last Story to Sell. The Wall Street Journal Wouldn’t Buy It," insiders recalled the White House’s secret, last-ditch effort to change the narrative, and the election -- even though it didn't work.

Journalist Ben Smith wrote in The Times article, "By early October, even people inside the White House believed President Trump’s re-election campaign needed a desperate rescue mission. So three men allied with the president gathered at a house in McLean, Va., to launch one. The host was Arthur Schwartz, a New York public relations man close to President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr. The guests were a White House lawyer, Eric Herschmann, and a former deputy White House counsel, Stefan Passantino, according to two people familiar with the meeting."

Schwartz, Herschmann and Passantino made the decision to pin their hopes for re-electing Trump on a fourth guest, "a straight-shooting Wall Street Journal White House reporter named Michael Bender."

The Wall Street Journal conducted its due diligence as the Trump team hung out in the wings waiting to unfurl the expose against Trump's Democratic candidate Joe Biden. The premise was nothing new: go after his son, Hunter Biden. Bender was provided "a cache of emails detailing Hunter Biden’s business activities," and was made accessible to a former business partner of Hunter’s named Tony Bobulinski. Bobulinski said he was willing to go on the record in The Wall Street Journal with an explosive claim: that the elder Biden had been aware of, and profited from, his son’s activities.

"The Trump team left believing that The Journal would blow the thing open and their excitement was conveyed to the president," The New York Times reported. But then something happened to change the course of the entire enterprise. Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer and the former mayor of New York City, became involved and muddied up the whole thing.

Giuliani delivered a cache of questionable documents containing some of the same emails to The New York Post, a sister publication to The Wall Street Journal, in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Giuliani was then joined by former Trump aide Steve Bannon, who also began leaking some of the same emails to favored right-wing pundits.

"Giuliani’s complicated claim that the emails came from a laptop Hunter Biden had abandoned, and his refusal to let some reporters examine the laptop, cast a pall over the story — as did The Post’s reporting, which alleged but could not prove that Joe Biden had been involved in his son’s activities," The New York Times reported.

Trump further sullied his name with The Wall Street Journal when he told his aides that an “important piece” in the publication would be coming soon.

“The editors didn’t like Trump’s insinuation that we were being teed up to do this hit job,” a reporter with the newspaper said.

Ultimately, Bobulinski decided to email an on-the-record 684-word statement stating his case -- and Bannon's Breitbart News published it in full.