Hunter Biden Sues Ex-Trump Aide Over Infamous Laptop

Hunter Biden has sued former Trump aide Garrett Ziegler over the infamous laptop that was the subject of controversy ahead of the 2020 election.
Hunter Biden Sues Ex-Trump Aide Over Infamous Laptop
Hunter Biden arrives for a toast during an official state dinner in honor of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House in Washington, on June 22, 2023. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, has sued former Trump aide Garrett Ziegler for hacking and fraud over the infamous laptop that was at the heart of controversy after big tech platforms censored media coverage of the device’s explosive contents in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.

The federal lawsuit (pdf), which was filed at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, accuses Mr. Ziegler, a former aide in the Trump White House, of improperly “accessing, tampering with, manipulating, altering, copying and damaging computer data” that he did not own, in violation of California laws against computer fraud.

Some of the contents found on the laptop—widely linked to Hunter Biden though he has not admitted ownership—included embarrassing photos of the president’s son, including one apparently showing him passed out with a crack pipe.

Mr. Ziegler allegedly had a role in publishing the trove of emails and photographs taken from the laptop, which was reportedly abandoned by Hunter Biden at a Delaware computer shop.

The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Ziegler and 10 additional unnamed defendants unlawfully obtained data belonging to Hunter Biden by hacking into his iPhone data and “scouring a copy of the hard drive of what they claim to be Plaintiff’s ‘laptop’ computer,” and then posting “tens of thousands of emails, thousands of photos, and dozens of videos and recordings” online.

Hunter Biden earlier demanded that Mr. Ziegler and others stop publishing the data from the laptop and return any data that belongs to him, but the lawsuit states “they have flatly and publicly refused to do so.”

While the complaint states that the precise manner in which Mr. Ziegler and accomplices obtained Hunter Biden’s data remains unclear, “there is no dispute that Defendants have, to at least some extent, accessed, tampered with, manipulated, altered, copied and damaged Plaintiff’s data, and that their actions are illegal, unauthorized” and without Hunter Biden’s consent.

Mr. Ziegler told Business Insider that the lawsuit is “not worth the paper it’s printed on” and denied that any hacking had occurred, telling the outlet that they were able to access Hunter Biden’s iPhone backup through a code found on the laptop.

“Everything was contained on the laptop,” Mr. Ziegler told the outlet.

Mr. Ziegler told Business Insider that he obtained the data from former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who got it from the laptop show owner.

The Laptop

John Paul Mac Isaac, the owner of the computer repair shop in Delaware, said previously that Hunter Biden dropped off a laptop at his store on April 12, 2019.
Mr. Mac Isaac presented an invoice that lists the person to bill as Hunter Biden, along with an iCloud ID.

He said he eventually handed the laptop over to the FBI, though he kept a copy of the drive “in case he was ever thrown under the bus” and later passed the contents to former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who gave it to the New York Post.

The Post subsequently broke the story on Oct. 14, 2020—just weeks before the presidential election—but the article was suppressed by companies like Twitter, which claimed the story was based on hacked materials.

There were other efforts to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop story, including a letter penned by former intelligence community members saying that the story bore the typical hallmarks of a Russian disinformation campaign possibly meant to sway the election. However, subsequent reporting indicated that the laptop was authentic and not part of a disinformation campaign by foreign intelligence.

Congressional testimony cited by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) shows that former CIA deputy director Michael Morell organized the letter at the urging of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who at the time was serving as an adviser to President Biden’s presidential campaign. Mr. Blinken has denied playing any part in the letter.

IC Letter

Mr. Morell was among the 51 signatories of an open letter (pdf) that cast doubt on the New York Post’s October 2020 report on explosive contents of the Hunter Biden laptop.

The letter said that the “arrival on the U.S. political scene of emails purportedly belonging to Vice President Biden’s son Hunter, much of it related to his time serving of the Board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”

Subsequent reporting has confirmed that the laptop wasn’t part of a Russian disinformation campaign but had been abandoned at a computer repair shop.

The letter that was purportedly inspired by Mr. Blinken was widely referenced by news outlets in the lead-up to the November 2020 election between then-President Donald Trump and then-candidate Joe Biden.

Then-candidate Biden used the letter to deflect criticism about his son’s business dealings during the second debate with President Trump. Around the same time, Twitter and Facebook moved to suppress the New York Post’s initial Hunter Biden laptop story, with Twitter locking the paper out of its account for over two weeks. Two years after the laptop story was published, a poll found that 79 percent of people who have been following reports about Hunter Biden said that “truthful” media coverage of the story would have changed the outcome of the 2020 election.
In September 2022, a poll from Rasmussen Reports found that 63 percent of likely American voters believe the Hunter Biden laptop story is important.
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
Related Topics