Biden and his backers lied to Americans that the Hunter Biden laptop was “Russian disinformation.” While that might merely qualify as dirty politics, our government’s assistance in burying the scandal constituted election interference.
Though we don’t yet know the extent of government involvement in the info ops, the evidence already indicates eight potential actions taken to protect Biden from what former President Donald Trump and others have since called the “laptop from hell” and hand him the White House.
1. Feds Seized Laptop, Shushed Mac Isaac
Americans might never have known of the extensive evidence of the Biden-family pay-to-play scandal contained on Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop if John Paul Mac Isaac hadn’t copied the hard drive before handing it over to the FBI. Likewise, had Mac Isaac, who owned the Delaware repair shop where Hunter Biden had abandoned the computer, cowered to the alleged threat made by an FBI agent, the scandal would have been buried too.
According to Mac Isaac, in December 2019, two federal agents arrived at his Wilmington store to retrieve the laptop, following the issuance of a subpoena. Attempting to lighten the situation, Mac Isaac claims he quipped, “Hey, lads, I’ll remember to change your names when I write the book.”
Mac Isaac maintains that while one agent, Wilson, continued to walk toward the door, “Agent DeMeo paused and turned to face me.” Mac Isaac alleges the agent replied: “It is our experience that nothing ever happens to people that don’t talk about these things.”
In his later-penned book, “American Injustice: My Battle to Expose the Truth,” the computer repair store owner wrote that the incident left him wondering if he was “being paranoid or had what the agent just told me been a direct threat, or at best a thinly veiled one?”
The FBI’s seizure of the laptop represents the government’s first effort to quiet the Biden family pay-to-play scandal, with the alleged threat to Mac Isaac another early attempt by a government official to protect Joe Biden.
2. FBI Made Laptop Off Limits
Of course, had the FBI seized the laptop for investigative purposes, that would have been a different matter, but the evidence suggests that was not the reason agents removed the computer.
Consider the timing: The FBI was alerted to the existence of the laptop in October 2019, when they were reportedly told that, in addition to pornography, the computer contained information “dealing with foreign interests, a pay-for-play scheme linked to the former administration, [and] lots of foreign money.” The FBI, however, waited two months before obtaining a subpoena for the laptop.
Then, upon seizing the laptop, according to multiple whistleblowers, the “local FBI leadership told employees, ‘You will not look at that Hunter Biden laptop.’” The whistleblowers further alleged that “the FBI did not begin to examine the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop until after the 2020 presidential election — potentially a year after the FBI obtained the laptop in December 2019.”
These facts strongly suggest the FBI seized the laptop to protect then-candidate Joe Biden by keeping the contents secret.
3. FBI Presumably Gave Inaccurate Briefing
If, as the whistleblowers claim, the FBI did not review the laptop until after the 2020 presidential election, the government’s pre-election defensive briefings for Biden would have been inaccurate. It is even possible intelligence agencies falsely told Biden the laptop — or possibly the Post’s reporting on it — was Russian disinformation.
The FBI’s alleged failure to review the laptop until after the election would also have prevented the government from advising Biden about the video of Hunter telling a prostitute in 2018 that he believed a group of Russians had stolen another laptop from him. By failing to give Biden complete and accurate defensive briefings, the government gave the campaign “plausible deniability.” The FBI also eliminated the need for Biden to get ahead of the story by “coming clean” on any of the laptop’s scandalous details — something a politician not assisted by the government would do.
4. Government Sources Lied to Media
While the government’s first three assists to the Biden campaign occurred behind the scenes and were more subtle, FBI officials evidently intervened publicly after the New York Post broke its first story on Oct. 14, 2020.
First came the Oct. 15, 2020, “leak” to Russia-collusion hoaxer Ken Dilanian, who ran an “exclusive” at NBC, reporting that “federal investigators are examining whether emails allegedly describing activities by Joe Biden and his son Hunter and found on a laptop at a Delaware repair shop are linked to a foreign intelligence operation.” The next day, USA Today similarly reported the FBI’s supposed involvement in investigating whether a Russian influence operation was behind the disclosure of the Hunter Biden emails. On Oct. 17, 2020, USA Today reiterated that the “federal authorities” are investigating whether the laptop is “disinformation pushed by Russia.”
Leaking to help a political campaign is bad enough, but worse is that while unnamed government sources told select outlets the FBI was investigating the laptop as a potential “disinformation campaign,” the FBI was doing no such thing. It already knew the laptop was real and not hacked.
5. Other Leaks Pushed ‘Russia Disinfo’ Narrative
The government also helped the Biden campaign build the false Russian-disinformation narrative with other leaks. On Oct. 14, 2020 — the same day as the New York Post’s first Hunter Biden laptop story — the New York Times reported U.S. intelligence analysts “had picked up Russian chatter that stolen Burisma emails” would be released as an “October surprise.” “Burisma, of course, was the Ukrainian energy company that paid Hunter nearly $1 million to sit on its board during his father’s final year as vice president.”
According to the Times, “intelligence analysts” feared “the Burisma material would be leaked alongside forged materials in an attempt to hurt Mr. Biden’s candidacy.” The leak and this spin prepared the public to disregard the laptop, or to assume the more damaging documents were “forged.”
The Washington Post pushed similar leaks, with the outlet reporting on Oct. 15, “U.S. intelligence agencies warned the White House last year that President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani was the target of an influence operation by Russian intelligence.” This leak helped bolster the Biden campaign’s claim the laptop was Russian disinformation since Giuliani had provided the hard drive to the Post.
In fact, in responding to the media about the laptop scandal, Andrew Bates, then a Biden campaign spokesman and the director of his “rapid response” team, consistently spun the scandal as one about Giuliani’s supposed connection “to Russian intelligence.” These other government leaks gave the Biden campaign more cover.
6. Government Pressed Social Media to Censor
In addition to leaking false claims to the media, the government interfered in the 2020 election by priming Big Tech companies to censor the laptop story.
Americans first learned of this scandal last August when Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, told Joe Rogan, “The FBI basically came to us, some folks on our team, [saying,] ‘Hey just so you know, you should be on high alert.” According to Zuckerberg, the FBI told Facebook that “we thought there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election,” and “we have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump similar to that so just be vigilant.”
Zuckerberg said that, based on the FBI’s warning, Facebook treated the New York Post’s bombshell story as “potentially misinformation, important misinformation.” Then, while Facebook worked to determine the authenticity of the laptop, it “decreased its distribution of the story by making the story rank lower in the news feed.”
While Facebook merely decreased distribution of the explosive reporting, Twitter barred sharing of the story — and it was the government’s warnings of a “hack and leak” operation that prompted the censorship.
As Yoel Roth, Twitter’s then-head of trust and safety, explained in a letter to the Federal Election Commission, “since 2018 he had regular meetings with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and industry peers regarding election security.” And “during these weekly meetings, the federal law enforcement agencies communicated that they expected ‘hack-and-leak operations’ by state actors might occur in the period shortly before the 2020 presidential election, likely in October.”
The government’s “prior warnings of a hack-and-leak operation and doubts about the provenance of the materials republished in the N.Y. Post articles,” Roth explained, led its Site Integrity Team to conclude “the materials could have been obtained through hacking,” and thereby block the sharing of the story.
The government’s repeated warnings led, at a minimum, Twitter and Facebook to censor the story. Yet after the story broke, when Facebook asked Laura Dehmlow, the FBI’s section chief for the Foreign Influence Tax Force, about status of the laptop, she refused to comment.
The FBI’s failure to correct the tech companies’ misapprehension that the laptop was either disinformation or part of a hack-and-leak operation contrasts with how the government handled other inquiries. For instance, when asked by Facebook to fact-check information for the platform, Brian Scully, an official with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, “responded with an explanation of why the government believed that the report was misinformation violating Facebook’s terms of service.”
7. Potentially More Government Interference
It’s possible the FBI did more behind the scenes to prompt censorship of the laptop story, such as by feeding Twitter false leaks, as the government did with legacy media outlets.
Of particular concern is FBI Agent Elvis Chan’s Oct. 16, 2020, email directing two high-level Twitter executives to monitor their Teleporter messages for two important documents. The content of those documents, transmitted via the FBI’s secure Teleporter system, remains a mystery, but the timing is suspect.
Also disconcerting is the role Jim Baker had in pushing Twitter to censor the story. Baker, who was previously the FBI’s general counsel, worked at Twitter as a deputy general counsel during the relevant time. On the morning of Oct. 14, 2020, after the Post story broke, Baker pushed for Twitter to err on the side of caution by banning the coverage. That same day Baker arranged a phone conversation with Matthew Perry in the FBI’s Office of General Counsel.
Both Chan’s email to Twitter and Baker’s conversation with the FBI Office of General Counsel provided another opportunity for the FBI to interfere in the 2020 election by feeding Twitter fake intel. Of course, the communications could instead be unrelated to the laptop scandal and the timing merely coincidental.
Another potential for government interference came when the 51 former intelligence officials joined together to pen their public statement declaring the laptop story had all the hallmarks of a foreign disinformation campaign. While we now know the Biden campaign’s role in prompting that letter, it is unknown whether any current government officials assisted in the efforts.
8. ‘Twitter Files’ Show Potential Military Connection
Another potential connection between the government and the laptop info ops came from the latest “Twitter Files” released earlier this week. In Andrew Lowenthal’s “Twitter Files 20” thread, he revealed an email referencing the “2020 U.S. Elections Tabletop Exercise,” sent from an individual connected to Harvard Law School to two individuals connected to Harvard’s Intellectual Property in Cyberspace program, as well as a slew of individuals with military email accounts.
Significantly, CCed on the email were individuals from organizations that had participated in the Aspen Institute’s “Tabletop Exercise” that prophetically used a “hack-and-leak” “October Surprise” involving Hunter Biden to game the media’s supposedly “appropriate” response to the release of Biden communications. Thus, this email suggests a connection between the military and some of those who participated in Aspen’s exercise. The timing of the email is also striking: It is dated Oct. 20, 2020 — the day after the 51 former intelligence officials released their deceptive statement framing the laptop as Russian disinformation.
What role, if any, our military had in pushing the hoax remains to be seen. But what is already abundantly clear is that our government helped peddle the Democrats’ info ops on the American public.