Eric Eggers puts it well in the latest episode of the Drill Down podcast: “Hunter Biden’s laptop became a character in a story.”
The story of Hunter Biden’s missing laptop computer has been around since 2020 when a report in the New York Post cited emails reporters had extracted from the hard drive of a MacBook computer left at a Delaware computer repair shop and never reclaimed. The Post’s report was censored by Twitter, throttled by Facebook, and denounced by “dozens of intelligence community leaders” as Russian disinformation planted to hurt Joe Biden’s campaign. Among the leading denouncers was the New York Times.
Last week, buried in the 24th paragraph of a story headlined “Hunter Biden Paid Tax Bill, but Broad Federal Investigation Continues,” the Times writes:
People familiar with the investigation said prosecutors had examined emails between Mr. Biden, Mr. Archer and others about Burisma and other foreign business activity. Those emails were obtained by The New York Times from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Mr. Biden in a Delaware repair shop. The email and others in the cache were authenticated by people familiar with them and with the investigation.
This comes as no news to The Drill Down or the Government Accountability Institute. Since the laptop first appeared, GAI researchers acquired their own copy and have been verifying the emails the Post recovered and many others through a variety of means, including comparing the metadata in the emails to copies of the same emails stored on the Gmail account of Bevan Cooney, a former associate of Hunter Biden who now in prison and turned over access to his Gmail account to Peter Schweizer and Matthew Tyrmand. GAI further authenticated the contents of the laptop by comparing location indications with the records kept by Hunter Biden’s Secret Service protection team, at least until Hunter demanded they not accompany him on his foreign trips.
So, Peter and Eric have earned the victory lap, but today’s show instead pushes forward to ask, “Why is the Times just now getting around to acknowledging the laptop is authentic. Peter offers a theory: “I smell an indictment coming.”
You see the fingerprints of Team Biden all over the Times article. The administration is trying to get ahead of the story, which suggests they know an indictment coming. There is inside information in there the Times could only have gotten from Biden insiders. The article discusses the grand jury investigation that has been going on for two years. Hunter Biden paying back $1 million in back taxes is a big hint, since that is a tactic that defendants sometimes use to receive a reduced sentencing, as the Times is careful to note.
On top of the tax evasion charges, Hunter may be facing charges for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) related to lobbying the US government on behalf of foreign interests without being a registered “foreign agent.”
“What’s interesting in the Hunter Biden case is that he did a lot of financial transactions with a lot of people in a lot of different countries,” Peter said. “And there’s a lot of evidence in the laptop that he was being asked to – and he was taking action on – their behalf, to do their bidding in the federal government when his father was Vice President of the United States.”.
Then, there are questions about money laundering. A report last year by a committee of the US Senate found that one of Hunter Biden’s companies, called Burnham, was getting payments from oligarchs, including Elena Baturina, the wife of the ex-mayor of Moscow, to “hold” for her. Baturina, whom our State Department has linked to organized crime and who is now under US sanctions, wired $3.5 million to Burnham and there are corporate meeting minutes where the company officers discuss “handling” between two hundred and three hundred million of Baturina’s money.
Or, possible money-laundering charges could be related to Hunter Biden’s activities in China, as Peter notes. In 2019, the IRS issued a subpoena to see all the financial transactions between the Bank of China and Hunter Biden’s accounts at Morgan Stanley.
GAI has been on this story since 2018, when the bulk of it was reported in the book Secret Empires. More information came out after the book published and found its way into the follow-up book, Profiles in Corruption. All that reporting was done before the laptop became its own character in this four-act play.
Eric makes another interesting observation about all this. GAI was accused by some Democratic partisans of doing this reporting just to hurt Joe Biden. But the truth is that while this information did raise valid questions about Hunter Biden’s activities with Burisma, the Ukrainian oil and gas company that put him on its board, the information also led to President Donald Trump’s impeachment, because the investigation he was asking the Ukrainian president about on the famous phone call was related to the questions we and others raised about that board membership and the appearance of a conflict of interest on the part of his father, who worked to get the prosecutor in Ukraine fired.