The FBI first learned of Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop, full of incriminating data, in October 2019, an IRS memo shows.
The memo, written by senior IRS Criminal Investigation official Gary Shapley in 2020, reveals how senior law enforcement officers sat on the treasure trove of evidence from the First Son’s computer and waited months before handing over mere excerpts to investigators working the case.
It also directly contradicts an open letter from 51 top former intelligence officials published weeks ahead of the 2020 presidential election which dismissed the laptop as having ‘all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation’.
Shapley and his subordinate, who both recently became whistleblowers to Congress, believe that almost three years later they still haven’t received all the data on the hard drive – which could incriminate not only Hunter but his father too.
Joe Biden’s chances of being elected to the White House could have been impacted if information on his son Hunter’s laptop had been publicly authenticated before the 2020 election
Biden was giving a deposition in Delaware Thursday as part of a lawsuit filed against him by laptop repair shop owner John Mac Isaac
Whistleblower Gary Shapley claims that he still hasn’t received all the data on the hard drive – which could incriminate not only Hunter but his father too
Shapley told lawmakers that his document, dated October 22, 2020, memorialized a meeting that day with his IRS Criminal Investigation team, FBI cyber forensics experts, and a team of prosecutors leading the criminal probe into Hunter Biden.
Over three pages it lays out a timeline of when the FBI first got hold of Hunter’s laptop he abandoned at a Delaware computer repair shop, how investigators proved it belonged to the First Son and had not been doctored, and how IRS special agents were left waiting for months to get their hands on emails that could aid their investigation.
‘I prepared this document. It was to memorialize a meeting that we had with the prosecution team, plus the FBI CART team, which were the computer analysis team,’ Shapley told staffers for the House Ways and Means Committee in sworn testimony published alongside the memo last week.
‘They determined, because it was abandoned property, that it could be turned over via a document request.’
Hunter brought three damaged Mac computers to John Paul Mac Isaac’s store in Wilmington, Delaware, in April 2019, signed documents for their repair, and never returned.
Mac Isaac became worried when he found disturbing content on the devices, and got his father Steve to approach the FBI field office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, six months later on October 9, according to his book, American Injustice: My Battle to Expose the Truth.
With a slightly differing date, Shapley wrote in his memo that on October 16, a ‘Richard Steven McKissack’ reported to the Albuquerque office that ‘his son is in possession of a sportsman [Hunter Biden’s codename used by investigators] computer that had not been retrieved and was not paid for…said it contains evidence of white collar crime’.
On November 6, 2019 FBI Special Agent Joshua Wilson got the device number of the MacBook Pro and determined it was Hunter’s by matching it to his Apple ID and iCloud account.
John Mac Isaac passed the contents of Hunter’s laptop on to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani who passed it on to the New York Post
Both John Brennan and Jim Clapper signed a letter by 51 former intelligence officials who claimed Hunter’s laptop had ‘all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation’
Shapley’s memo suggests the FBI knew of the contents of the laptop well before the November 3, 2020 election in which Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump
Shapley also wrote that financial records place Hunter at a cigar shop near Mac Isaac’s store the same day he was alleged to have dropped off the computer, and phone records show the shop ‘called Sportsman [Hunter] and Sportsman called the shop around this time.’
The IRS CI Supervisory Special Agent also cited ‘other intelligence’ which ‘shows Sportsman was in the area’ at the time.
Shapley confirmed Mac Isaac’s claim that FBI agents took the laptop and an external hard drive from him on December 9 2019. Four days later the IRS got a warrant to delve into the computer to look for evidence in their tax crimes probe.
A month later on January 6, 2020, ‘forensic computer people at FBI started analysis’ on the devices, the memo says.
The memo said that the forensics team were able to unlock some encrypted messages on the laptop when they found a password Hunter saved on a business card.
On January 27 IRS investigators were handed their first pieces of evidence from the laptop from forensics experts, ‘provided on a USB drive’.
But by the end of March that year the special agent running the case said he still had not seen the hard drive itself.
Shapley suspected Assistant US Attorney Lesley Wolf was withholding information
The delay began to raise suspicions among Shapley and his team that prosecutors including Delaware Assistant United States Attorney Lesley Wolf were withholding information.
Shapley told House committee staff that his subordinate, a fellow whistleblower and IRS Criminal Investigation special agent running the investigation, ‘was not given a Cellebrite report, which is just what they call the output of the FBI CART team analysis, and was questioning whether or not the investigators were provided everything.’
‘We don’t even think we got a full, even a redacted version. We only got piecemeal items,’ Shapley said. ‘It was an example of pertinent, relevant evidence that a prosecutor kept from an agent.
‘We don’t really know what the full contents of that laptop ever had on it.’
In authenticating the information from the laptop, the FBI forensics experts told investigators they were able to determine when each file was created, to make sure Mac Isaac had not added any items after receiving his MacBook.
Prosecutor Wolf also told investigators ‘We have no reason to believe there is anything fabricated nefariously on the computer and or hard drive’ and that ‘There are emails and other items that corroborate the items on the laptop and hard drive.’
Staffers on the House Ways and Means Committee heard that information from Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop was known by the FBI more than a year before the 2020 presidential election
The MacBook Pro that Hunter Biden left at Mac Isaac’s repair shop and then failed to pick up once it was repaired
Anthony Blinken has denied that he was behind the letter warning that the laptop story was Russian disinformation. ‘Didn’t ask for it, didn’t solicit it’, he said
Former New York Mayor and Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani also obtained a copy of the hard drive from Mac Isaac, and in September 2020, gave the device or material from it to the New York Post, which started publishing stories based on the explosive photos, texts and emails.
On October 19, 2020, just two weeks before the presidential election, 51 top former intelligence officials published a letter in Politico warning the story ‘has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation’.
The letter emphasized the officials’ ‘understanding of the wide range of Russian overt and covert activities that undermine US national security’ and cited a USA Today story about an alleged FBI investigation into whether Hunter’s laptop was ‘part of a smoke bomb of disinformation pushed by Russia’.
Signers included former CIA directors Leon Panetta and John Brennan, ex-Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper, ex-Defense Intelligence Agency deputy director Doug Wise, former National Security Agency deputy director Rick Ledgett, and many other spy agency leaders.
Mac Isaac wrote a book on his part in the laptop scandal
The letter was cited by major media organizations dismissing the story.
Despite Shapley’s memo showing the IRS, FBI and Justice Department had known the laptop was authentic for almost a year, law enforcement agencies stayed silent as voters went to the polls in November 2020.
Hunter himself denied knowledge of the laptop, saying it ‘certainly’ could belong to him, but that ‘I really don’t know’ in an April 2021 CBS interview. ‘It could be that I was hacked, it could be that it was Russian intelligence. It could be that it was stolen from me,’ he said.
In March 2021 DailyMail.com hired the founder of the FBI’s cyber forensic unit, Brad Maryman, to analyze a copy of the hard drive. He and his colleague concluded it was authentic and had no evidence of tampering.
Last year the Washington Post, New York Times and CBS news conducted similar analyses and finally admitted that at least some of the material from the laptop was authentic – even as Hunter’s lawyer Kevin Morris reportedly circulated slides to journalists promoting a conspiracy that fake material had been mixed in with Hunter’s data.
In April this year, the House Judiciary Committee received testimony from former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell, one of the 2020 letter signers, claiming that it was orchestrated in part by Joe Biden’s campaign advisor and now-Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken.
In an interview in May Blinken said the letter ‘wasn’t my idea, didn’t ask for it, didn’t solicit it’.
Judiciary Committee Republicans said it was a ‘concerted effort to minimize and suppress public dissemination of the serious allegations about the Biden family’ and ‘was a grave disservice to all American citizens’ informed participation in our democracy.’