There is no laptop: Hunter Biden sues Rudy Giuliani

Hunter Biden has filed a civil suit against Rudy Giuliani, a number of shell companies through which Giuliani does business, and Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello. The suit charges Giuliani and Costello with violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, specifically accessing Hunter Biden’s personal information “without authorization or exceeding authorized access,” resulting in the “total annihilation” of his digital privacy.

Additionally, the suit reminds the court—and everyone else—that for all the talk of “Hunter Biden’s laptop,” there is no laptop. There never was. Instead, “Defendants themselves admit that their purported possession of a ‘laptop’ is in fact not a ‘laptop’ at all. It is, according to their own public statements, an ‘external drive’ that Defendants were told contained hundreds of gigabytes of Plaintiff’s personal data.”

According to Giuliani, the data on that drive came from John Paul Mac Isaac, the former owner of a computer repair shop, who claimed to have data taken from one of Hunter Biden’s laptops and who offered to send it to Giuliani. According to the lawsuit, neither Isaac nor Giuliani ever maintained any kind of chain of custody on this data, and the data they have has been not just accessed but also tampered with, manipulated, altered, and damaged.

The basis of the lawsuit is the claim that Giuliani and Costello violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by accessing the data stored on the external drive sent to them by Isaac. Hunter Biden specifically does not admit that all the data on the drive was ever in his possession, or that Isaac was ever actually in possession of a laptop that Biden had owned.

What the lawsuit alleges of Giuliani seems patently obvious.

Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges for the past many months Defendant Giuliani has spent many hours hacking into and manipulating data that he claims to have been obtained from Plaintiff, making copies of the data for himself and others to access and analyze, and further altering, impairing and damaging the data through his unlawful hacking and manipulation. In public interviews and media appearances and during podcasts, Defendant Giuliani has not only admitted but bragged about downloading data from Plaintiff’s “laptop” (even though he only had a hard drive) onto his own computer; about using his own computer to access, tamper with and manipulate the downloaded data; and about maintaining multiple copies of the data for his and Defendant Costello’s personal use.

Campaign Action

The bigger challenge for Hunter Biden will be showing that the case belongs in California, where he has made the claims in part because of that state’s greater protections for digital privacy, and showing that Giuliani and Costello violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

It’s clear that both men have repeatedly accessed the information, that Giuliani has hired others in an attempt to recover more information from the hard drive, and that the data has been altered and tampered with at least to the extent of being edited into pieces that Giuliani has provided to the media or used on his own podcast.

The move to try the suit in California is particularly important for the second claim made in the suit, which addresses how Giuliani obtained information from the hard drive that allowed him to access more information that was stored on Hunter Biden’s “cloud” accounts. That kind of violation is specifically addressed in California’s penal code. Hunter Biden also notes that this data came from a computer used for business purposes, a critical point in providing protections under both federal and California law.

As relief from the distress generated by Giuliani and Costello’s actions, Hunter Biden is seeking unspecified damages, any money that Giuliani has made related to his misuse of the information, legal fees, and an order that both requires Giuliani to dispose of any copies of the data he holds, and prevents him, his companies, or his attorney from accessing or distributing any of the data in the future.

Earlier his month, Hunter Biden filed a similar suit against former Donald Trump assistant Garrett Ziegler. He has also sued the IRS after agents there, specifically “whistleblowers” Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, discussed details of Hunter Biden’s tax returns in open hearings and statements.