Hunter Biden is apparently sick and tired of being a silent Republican punching bag. He’s going on offense, suing the computer repair shop owner who gave his private information to the Republican operatives who then spread it as far and wide as they were able. The lawsuit cites John Paul Mac Isaac and others for “six counts of invasion of privacy, including conspiracy to obtain and distribute the data,” The Washington Post reports.
The details of how Mac Isaac got possession of the laptop and exactly how and why he knew that it contained data he wanted to distribute are contested, but however he got it, he shared Hunter Biden’s personal emails, photos (including some nude photos), videos, and audio with a series of other people, including an attorney for Rudy Giuliani, and those materials then became the basis for an industry of Republicans attempting to use Hunter Biden to damage his father, President Joe Biden. Hunter Biden is countersuing Mac Isaac after Mac Isaac sued him for defamation based on Biden’s allegation that Mac Isaac illegally accessed and shared the data on the laptop.
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There are also questions about to what extent the laptop is a real thing. A former Steve Bannon employee gave The Washington Post what was purported to be a copy of the laptop’s hard drive, and the Post was able to authenticate a fraction of the data, but the “vast majority” could not be authenticated. On top of that, the Post’s experts “found evidence that people other than Hunter Biden had accessed the drive and written files to it, both before and after the initial stories in the New York Post and long after the laptop itself had been turned over to the FBI.” That’s a copy of the laptop’s hard drive, but the laptop itself was copied and handed around by Mac Isaac and his buddies, making it too an unreliable data source. In short, by this point Republicans can kind of offer up anything they want and claim it came from “Hunter Biden’s laptop.”
Mac Isaac’s claim, in his own defamation suit against Biden, is that he was the laptop’s legal owner by the time he shared anything on it, so Biden’s lawsuit goes to some pains to dismantle that claim. Mac Isaac has said the receipt that a person the repair shop owner says was Hunter Biden signed included a provision that an unclaimed computer would become the property of the shop after 90 days. In his lawsuit, Biden—who does not concede that it was him who dropped of the laptop, but admits that his addiction at the time renders his memory unreliable—points to Delaware laws saying that personal property is not considered abandoned until a year has passed and that, in any case, while the physical laptop might become the property of the repair shop, that does not extend to the personal data on it.
Additionally, according to the lawsuit, “contrary to Mac Isaac’s claim that property left in his shop is abandoned property after 90 days, he admits in his recently published book and in other media appearances that he actually began accessing what he claims he had in his possession as Mr. Biden’s data long before 90 days had expired from when he claims any property or data was left in his shop.”
As for the data, “the Repair Authorization form states that the Mac Shop will make every effort to ‘secure your data,’” the suit notes. “Reputable computer companies and repair people routinely delete personal data contained on devices that are exchanged, left behind, or abandoned. They do not open, copy, and then provide that data to others, as Mac Isaac did here.”
Biden did not give permission for his data to be shared, and “Mr. Biden had more than a reasonable expectation of privacy that any data that he created or maintained, and especially that which was the most personal such as photographs, videos, interactions with other adults, and communications with his family, would not be accessed, copied, disseminated, or posted on the Internet for others to use against him or his family or for the public to view.”
This lawsuit follows a series of letters sent by Hunter Biden’s lawyers previewing this more aggressive stance. Biden’s attorneys threatened Fox News and Tucker Carlson with defamation lawsuits and called on state and federal prosecutors, the Justice Department, and Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings to investigate the people who distributed data from the laptop. Meanwhile, Republicans are making the crusade against Hunter Biden a centerpiece of their agenda for their time in control of the House, with hearings demanding to know why Twitter removed tweets containing nonconsensual intimate pictures of Hunter Biden and claiming that his father’s campaign somehow abused power in getting those tweets—which violated Twitter policy—taken down.
At this point nothing will get Republicans to back off of their attacks on Hunter Biden, who they see as the way to cause his father the most possible pain. They’ve done all this work turning his name into a synonym for corruption that they cannot prove, so they can’t abandon the effort. But Biden’s aggressive new approach could at least exact some pain in response.
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