A Second Trump Term Would Replace Competent Corrupt People with Incompetent Ones

Steve Neukam is one of the Messenger scribes who often chases Dick Pics with little care for the actual evidence.

In the middle of a paragraph quoting an anonymous Republican saying that Republicans don’t even need direct financial ties to Joe Biden to impeach him, for example, Neukam treats the factual explanation that Republicans are trying to impeach Joe Biden based on loans he made to his family while a private citizen as a brush-off.

The source close to Trump also said Comer “set the bar too high” for an impeachable offense, attempting to prove a direct payment to Joe Biden in the probe. The investigation spent weeks rolling out payments to Joe Biden from Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president’s son and brother, which the White House and Biden allies brushed off as loan repayments. Proving a direct payment to the president, the source said, was not necessary. [my emphasis]

But by being a committed Dick Pic Sniffer, Neukam has hit paydirt with a story quoting a slew of MAGAts trying to blame James Comer, and James Comer exclusively, that Republicans haven’t even succeeded in the single thing they tried to do with their House majority last year: Impeach Joe Biden.

Comer has led a”clueless investigation” at best and — at worst — “a disaster.”

“It’s been a parade of embarrassments.”

[snip]

“James Comer continues to embarrass himself and House Republicans. He screws up over and over and over,” the source said. “I don’t know how Republicans actually impeach the president based on his clueless investigation and lack of leadership.”

[snip]

“It seems like they got played by Hunter Biden,” one senior House GOP aide said. “It was a disaster. They looked like buffoons.”

Behind these hilarious quotes, however, is a particular power structure, one that is actually far more telling than the quotes.

The same article that claims that Comer’s problem is that he was picked because of his fundraising prowess…

“This is why we shouldn’t pick our chairman based on how much money they raise,” another member told Moskowitz, according to the congressman.

… Has these two deliciously contradictory claims about Mike Johnson’s impotence, a Speaker picked in spite of his non-existing fundraising record.

The Republican lawmaker who took his complaints of Comer to the speaker’s office was told that Johnson is aware of the problem, agrees with the criticism but can’t really do much other than watch and shake his head, the lawmaker told The Messenger.

[snip]

Top House Republicans stand next to Comer amid the intra-party criticism. Johnson told The Messenger that he is “fully supportive” of the chairman’s work.

“I am grateful for the superb efforts of Chairman Comer,” the speaker said in a statement to The Messenger. “Without his and the other investigators’ work, we wouldn’t have uncovered the millions in foreign funds going to the Biden family, the dozens of exchanges between the President and Hunter Biden’s clients, and the litany of lies the White House has told.”

Meanwhile, at least some of the people griping are people close to Trump venting because the House GOP hasn’t delivered on Trump’s demands.

Twice-impeached Trump himself threatened House Republicans in August to impeach Biden “or fade into OBLIVION.”

[snip]

“You have to start producing,” a Trump ally said. “The base is starting to get more and more frustrated with him because they see all this smoke but they don’t see the movement.”

It is virtually certain that many of the Republicans quoted here (with the possible exception of Jim Jordan’s chief counsel Steve Castor) suffer from the very same problems James Comer has faced in this investigation. They’re incompetent. They exist in a Fox/Newsmax bubble that rewards feral loyalty, incompetence, and lies. When exposed to any real scrutiny, those lies crumble.

You won’t find them reflecting on whether their own false claims have contributed to the hilarity of Comer’s failures. Amid increasing concerns that Republicans will lose the House in November, they’re busy passing the blame, even while they ignore an even bigger underlying problem.

One reason this impeachment has failed, thus far, is because they’re pursuing impeachment for the sake of impeachment. One reason this impeachment has failed, thus far, is because the House GOP has dedicated their entire first year to delivering whatever Trump demanded, when he demanded it, irrespective of whether it served their own interests or was justified by anything but Trump’s petulant demands.

Of course, none of the Republicans quoted here (Neukam also relies on Jared Moskowitz’s second-hand claims about what Republicans have told him) would admit they’re no different than Comer. They could do no better.

The Republicans on these committees have, like Comer, gleefully made false claims about smoking guns for which they had no evidence, for example. These Republicans continue to chase every one of Comer’s new diversions, in hope somewhere there’ll be evidence.

This is the persistent problem with claims — renewed today from the NYT team — that Trump will use DOJ to pursue partisan retribution.

[Maggie] He and his allies have also been clear that a big agenda item is eroding the Justice Department’s independence.

Charlie: Yes, Trump has vowed to use his power over the Justice Department to turn it into an instrument of vengeance against his political adversaries. This would end the post-Watergate norm that the department carries out criminal investigations independently of White House political control, and it would be a big deal for American-style democracy.

He already did this!!! No matter how many times NYT claims this would be a new development, none of it can eliminate the evidence that Trump’s focus on retribution began when he ordered investigations into Hillary and John Kerry under Jeff Sessions and accelerated as Bill Barr tried to find ways to charge Hillary and other Democrats for Trump’s efforts to cozy up to Russia. These efforts continue, with wild success, as Trump’s demands for a Hunter Biden investigation finally bore fruit.

As people consider the dangers of a second Trump term — and make no mistake, it could end American democracy — they need to consider whether incompetent corrupt partisans like James Comer will be any more effective than what Bill Barr already tried. Hell, under Barr, DOJ altered evidence to attempt to implicate Joe Biden in Trump’s corruption. John Durham fabricated a claim to impugn Hillary, but still couldn’t make charges against her attorney stick.

The difference — the one place where Comer, and to a much greater degree, Jim Jordan — have succeeded where Barr did not is not in the quasi-legal outcome. Rather, it is in ginning up threats against — seemingly — every single adverse witness.

The incompetent corrupt people that Trump is relying on while disavowing his past competent agents of retribution are really really good at one thing: Sowing political violence. But it’s not clear they’d be any better at politicizing DOJ than Trump already managed.

“What it gets at is just facts:” MAGAts Learn to Love Long-Delayed Interview Reports

I spent much of my day reading the transcript from Hunter Biden attorney Kevin Morris’ deposition by the House. (xitter thread here)

It was a predictable shit show.

And some details — such as Morris’ disclosure that the only reason he contributed $11,000 on Hunter’s behalf pertaining to a Porsche in 2020 was to pay it off to the point that he could sell it — confirm that David Weiss was spinning Hunter’s expenses on the tax indictment to put them in the worst possible light.

But there’s a particular meltdown that deserves further attention. One of the GOP staffers was grilling Morris about the references to him recorded in a Joseph Ziegler interview report from a September 29, 2022 interview of James Biden, which would have been the last substantive interview of the investigation before David Weiss reopened it last year.

These bullet points are Ziegler’s representation of what James Biden had to say about Morris; they were asking him about a March 2020 communication from a period when Morris was putting together a plan to get Hunter’s life back on track, including by filing his tax returns. If Ziegler’s representation is accurate, the President’s brother is not terrifically enamored of Hunter’s benefactor.

Text Dated March 2020:

a. Kevin Morris (“Morris”) was an attorney for SouthPark and the Book of Mormon. Morris is a very wealthy guy. Morris had befriended RHB. James B didn’t know why or when this occurred.

b. James B was asked by DOJ-Tax attorney Daly what “World Class of People” referred to? James B thought that this could be attorneys and could mean anything. Morris has a huge ego in being a successful entertainment attorney. RHB wasn’t interfacing with anyone during this time except for Morris and one other guy who flipped houses named George.

c. Morris was helping RHB a lot, but James B didn’t know why. James B thought that this might have been because of his ego. RHB asked James B to thank Morris because Morris requested a thank you. James B had no understanding of what the team of people means and has no knowledge of what Morris had done for RHB. James B was not sure if there was a loan between Morris and RHB. James B thought that the money was significant enough that RHB asked his uncle to say something to Morris and thank him. James B didn’t recall a specific discussion only to say thank you “on behalf of the family”.

d. James B recalled that when RHB was being vilified by the media, Morris had sent a film crew to Bulgaria. Morris was there with his film crew monitoring a documentary trying to defame RHB.

e. James B only met Morris 3-4 times. Morris wanted James B to come work for him and James B told Morris that he was not interested. James B met Morris at his home. Morris also came to RHB’s house for a picnic in which James B attended.

f. James B recalled Morris making a comment that if RHB’s attorneys weren’t going to listen to him, then he wanted nothing to do with them.

g. James B stated that Morris thought he was very knowledgeable “politically,” but James B thought otherwise.

h. James B was not aware if Morris asked RHB for anything else other than a thank you. RHB was very closed lip about Morris. [my emphasis]

So a Republican staffer takes this passage and then asks Morris what James Biden meant when he said that he, Morris, was not very knowledgable politically, an observation there’s no reason to believe Morris had heard directly.

Mr [redacted]. If you go to 51(g), just a little bit lower, it says, “James Biden recalled Morris making a comment” — or excuse me.

Mr. Sullivan. (f), you mean?

Mr. (g): “James B stated that Morris thought he was very knowledgeable ‘politically,’ but James B thought otherwise.” Do you know why James Biden would say that you thought you were politically savvy?

Morris balks. Hours into this deposition, he doesn’t simply point out he would have no way of knowing. Based on what he knows about James Biden, he doubts the representation is accurate. He, a Hollywood lawyer, cites Law and Order.

Mr. Morris. I don’t believe that he said it.

Look, counsel, this is not a transcript. These are the notes of a law enforcement official, you know, trying to, you know, trying to get a case going. All you have to do is watch one episode of “Law & Order” to know that that’s not often — it’s not always accurate.

GOP staffer then makes of Morris’ comment something it isn’t.

Mr. [redacted] So you’re saying you never had any political conversations with James Biden?

Mr. Morris. No, I don’t remember any political conversations with Jim.

A Dem staffer, perhaps seeing this about to go off the rails, notes that this is not a contemporary record of the interview.

Mr. [redacted, seemingly a Dem staffer] And can we just establish for the record that this is a memorandum of interview for an interview that took place September 29th, 2022. And as is noted on the last page, Agent Ziegler notes in it, “I prepared this memorandum on over the period October 10th through November 2nd, 2022, after refreshing my memory –“

Which leads things to go after the rails. For at least the second time in the deposition, a Republican staffer defends Joseph Ziegler’s honor, as if he hadn’t already been caught in misrepresentations of these events.

Mr. [redacted] Are you disputing the accuracy of the — of this memo?

Mr. [redacted] “– from notes made during and immediately after the interview with James Biden.”

The Reporter asks people to stop interrupting each other.

The Reporter. You have to repeat. I had two people talking at the same time.

Mr. [redacted] I’m just noting that at the end it says, “I prepared this memorandum on over the period October 10th through November 2nd, 2022, after refreshing my memory with notes made during and immediately after the interview with James Biden.”

I’m — this is just — I’m just reading from the —

[1:39 p.m.]

Mr. [redacted] It’s in the — we’ve entered it into the record. So the notes were made — if we’re going to — we’re going to pause if you want to maybe ask questions.

Ms. [redacted] We can pause.

A seeming Republican argues that since this is already in the record it must be taken as Gospel.

 Mr. [redacted] There were notes that were taken with this. So I don’t know what the point of that was since it’s already in the record.

Ms. [redacted] I think the point is that this is not a contemporaneous memorandum.

Another Democratic staffer notes this is not a contemporaneous record.

That this was actually written down several days, actually a couple weeks after the interview. And it says on the face of it that Mr. Ziegler had to refresh his memory from  notes. So I think, you know, it is — it’s as valuable as the paper it’s written on, but it says on its face that it’s not contemporaneous. I think that’s the point we’re making.

Mr. [redacted] And I’m just making that point in the interactions or comments that James Biden said X, and I just want to be clear that what this document says about what it is and what it is not.

A likely Republican says that because ten people attended the interview, all must have vouched for the accuracy of the memo.

Mr. [redacted] There’s also 10 people present here. And, presumably, Mr. Ziegler, when he prepared this, he circulated, at least to the internal folks, to make sure that he had it accurate, right?

Kevin Morris is not having it. He notes only one other person, Christine Puglisi, signed it.

Mr. Morris. No, we don’t know that. I’m not presuming what Mr. Ziegler said.

I mean, it is signed by Mr. Ziegler and by another special agent. And I am just reading the caveat that’s noted above his own signature. I’m not speculating —

Someone complains that they’ve gone off the rails.

Mr. [redacted] We’re getting a little bit —

The court reporter begs, again, for people to stop talking over each other.

The Reporter. Can we speak one at a time, please.

Morris’ attorney points out what Morris might have: The House shouldn’t be pushing on this in any case, because Morris has no personal knowledge of the interview.

Mr. Sullivan [Morris attorney]. Sorry. For me as the counsel for the witness, I am just saying, the questions are being asked about, based on this memo, that Mr. Morris has no personal knowledge of anything that was actually said. If this is true, we just don’t know. We don’t have any personal knowledge of whether this is.

Mr. [redacted] Fair enough.

Mr. Sullivan. That is my main concern — questions about that —

The Republicans will not be deterred.

Mr. [redacted] Jim Biden mentions —

The court reporter tries, again, to get people to stop talking over each other.

Mr. Reporter. One at a time, please.

The Republicans will not be deterred.

Mr. [redacted] Jim Biden mentions Mr. Morris. Here we’re simply asking questions to the extent you can answer it. Or if you disagree with it, you can tell us what you can tell us, and that’s where we’ll be.

Morris repeats that this transcript doesn’t sound like Jim Biden, but also notes that even if he did, it doesn’t get Republicans to where they want to get.

Mr. Morris. And counsel what I’m saying is, I do question the validity of this. I do question a lot of it. Some of it sounds lake stuff Jim would never say. But, in any event, I don’t believe — you know, were it all true, I don’t know where this gets you. Like if, you know — and I could be speculating about what Jimmy said in front of investigators, you know, written down by the memo and not on a transcript.

In response to which, a Republican asserts that this transcript, which Morris contests, relaying claims to which Morris has no personal knowledge, “gets at is just facts.”

Mr. [redacted] What it gets at is just facts. I mean, we’re just trying to ask you questions as fast as we can.

It’s nice to know these committees are just as much of a shit show behind closed doors as are the hearings hosted by James Comer.

But the dispute is worth closer look. The point the Democrats are making is that this interview of James Biden — the last interview of this investigation — was not written up for 34 days. The interview was held on September 29, 2022. Ziegler described that, starting 11 days after the interview, he wrote it up over a period of 23 days, from October 10 to November 2.

I prepared this memorandum on over the period October 10th through November 2nd, 2022, after refreshing my memory from notes made during and immediately after the interview with James Biden. [my emphasis]

Not only that, but Ziegler corrected himself: he didn’t write the memo on a particular day, he wrote it over a more than three week period just before the 2022 midterms.

Remember: It is an article of faith that there must have been political interference because it took 22 days to write up an interview report of Mike Flynn’s January 24, 2017 interview, which was finalized on February 15, 2017. This conspiracy theory frothed Republicans up but good for — I kid you not — 675 days until, after a series of backflips to invent some reason to throw out the Flynn prosecution, Bill Barr’s DOJ admitted the conspiracy theory was based on fluff. There was no original 302, they admitted after Sidney Powell spent years leading MAGAts to believe there was.

The delay in finalizing Flynn’s 302, which is actually far too routine, was a core piece of “proof” in the conspiracy theories that Flynn was wrongfully prosecuted.

And here, an interview report of the President’s brother took 12 days longer to complete than Flynn’s (which is still not that long compared to far too many interview reports). Worse still, during that entire period, Ziegler’s boss and close ally on this case, Gary Shapley, was busy inventing a reason to blow up the case. Ziegler didn’t even begin to write up this interview until after the October 6 leak and the October 7 meeting that has since roiled the case.

Honestly, Morris should have started where he ultimately ended up: noting that even if the interview report recorded James Biden accurately, it didn’t help Republicans’ conspiracy theories.

But by raising questions about whether Ziegler, at a time when he and Shapley were inventing conspiracy theories about this case, accurately recorded the President’s brother, he invited Republicans to demonstrate just how little they really care about delayed interview reports.

Abbe Lowell’s Eight Chessboards

The developments in two Hunter Biden lawsuits — his Privacy Act claim against the IRS and his hacking claim against Garrett Ziegler — made me think about how many moving parts Abbe Lowell is juggling, and the degree to which he may be staging them all to work together.

First, on January 22, Lowell successfully requested to move the hearing for Garrett Ziegler’s motion to dismiss Hunter’s hacking lawsuit to coincide with Rudy’s (in which Robert Costello is the one defendant, on account of Rudy’s bankruptcy).

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the hearing on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), 12(b)(3), and Cal. Civ. Proc. Code Section 425.16 is continued from February 22, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. to March 21, 2024, at 10:00 a.m.

think this will have the result of delaying Lowell’s disclosure of his theory of venue in California and of hacking, so (for example) Costello — the far better lawyered of the two defendants — now won’t have time to respond to what Lowell unveils against Ziegler. It will likewise delay this reveal until after Hunter testifies in a deposition before Congress.

Meanwhile, on January 16, DOJ filed a motion to dismiss just part of Hunter’s IRS lawsuit based on all the documents released public via Joseph Ziegler and Gary Shapley. Hunter’s lawsuit alleged two counts:

  1. Grossly negligent unauthorized disclosure on behalf of both the IRS agents and their attorneys
  2. Privacy Act violation, based on IRS’ inadequate protections against such disclosures

DOJ moved to dismiss the part of count 1 that included the IRS agents’ lawyers but not the IRS agents themselves, and moved to dismiss the Privacy Act claim for several reasons, two technical, but also a third that Hunter did not adequately allege that IRS had not taken proper safeguards against the disclosures. Yesterday, both sides in that lawsuit asked to delay Hunter’s response to February 20, giving this explanation.

Rule 6(b)(1)(A) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the Court to extend the time for answering, moving, or otherwise responding to the complaint for good cause shown. Good cause exists to extend Mr. Biden’s deadline to respond to the partial motion to dismiss to February 20, 2024. Mr. Biden’s counsel is in the process of reviewing the Defendants’ partial motion to dismiss and assessing the appropriate response to the motion. In addition, Mr. Biden’s counsel has a number of filing deadlines in his two criminal cases and several of his pending civil cases in the next few weeks.

Notably, DOJ did not move to dismiss the claim that Ziegler and Shapley were grossly negligent in their treatment of Hunter’s tax information. At the very least, that means Hunter can get discovery on their actions, and it likely means the same DOJ that is prosecuting Hunter Biden for tax crimes agrees that it is plausible that the two agents who were primary investigators for years treated his tax information improperly.

Consider the timing of this extension, though — the claimed basis for it. In the criminal suits, Lowell has to reply to his motions to dismiss in the Delaware case by January 30, then file his initial motions to dismiss — which will significantly overlap with what he already filed in Delaware, but under an order from Judge Scarsi will be a fraction of the length of those in Delaware — on February 20.

Notably, Lowell is not asking for an extension until after he submits his MTDs in Los Angeles. Rather, he asked for an extension to the day those MTDs are due, meaning his response would coincide with the Los Angeles MTDs.

As it stands, then, the reveal of his hacking and venue theories in the two hacking lawsuits will coincide, and the reveal of his plans in the tax case and the IRS lawsuit will coincide.

Looking at the timeline below, some of what Lowell is doing becomes clear.

John Paul Mac Isaac decided to sue Hunter based on a single statement the President’s son made in 2021, one that did not even mention JPMI. That statement was:

There could be a laptop out there that was stolen from me. It could be that I was hacked. It could be that it was the – that it was Russian intelligence. It could be that it was stolen from me. Or that there was a laptop stolen from me.

The statement provided Hunter the opportunity to countersue for something that wouldn’t involve discovery into his entire life.

More importantly, the countersuit gave Hunter a way to obtain JPMI’s copy of Hunter’s data, which is undoubtedly one of the things that gave him the opportunity to sue Ziegler and Rudy (and subpoena Apple), which will — if those lawsuits survive motions to dismiss — provide a way to obtain discovery about the laptop caper from them. Based on that laptop, Hunter has now publicly alleged that his data — the data shared with the FBI and Congress — was stolen.

The competing claims for summary judgment are briefed and ready for a hearing in Delaware.

Even as he was collecting data from JPMI, Hunter also started getting discovery in his criminal cases. Thus far, at least, there’s a great deal that’s in the public record that David Weiss is refusing to officially give Hunter (note, the language covering the three discovery productions below doesn’t claim to have provided discovery on the FARA prongs of the investigation, the prongs that implicate Donald Trump’s crimes).

Then there’s the Dick Pic Sniffing investigation by James Comer and Jim Jordan. I and virtually everyone else you ask says it is insane for Hunter Biden to sit for a deposition before two hostile committees. But I’m … intrigued by the fact that, by using Comer and Jordan’s ineptitude to win a delay, Lowell has ensured that Hunter will have not only have visibility on what JPMI did by the time of the deposition (possibly, though unlikely, even a judgment against him), including on the hard drive the blind computer repairman gave exclusively to Republicans, but he also will have a great deal of visibility not just into the scope of the two charged cases against him, but also the FBI’s provably inadequate treatment of the laptop.

Finally, consider the challenges added by David Weiss’ decision to charge Hunter in two venues, Delaware and Los Angeles. Yes, Hunter is facing two Trump appointees, Maryellen Noreika and Mark Scarsi. But for several of Hunter’s motions to dismiss, if a motion works in one venue, it’ll do real damage to the case in the other one. Lowell already argued that if Judge Noreika rules that the diversion agreement was in effect, it would also bar any but the misdemeanor tax charges in Los Angeles.

Although the only charges now before the Court are the gun charges in the prosecution’s lone Indictment of Mr. Biden in this District, Mr. Biden notes that the sweeping immunity of the Diversion Agreement would seem to bar any plausible charge that could be brought against him (including the recently filed tax charges in California). The only charges that are not be barred by the immunity provision are those filed in the pre-existing Informations filed against him in this District. The Diversion Agreement called for the eventual dismissal of the gun charge Information upon the conclusion of the diversion period, but the prosecution already has dismissed it. Although the Plea Agreement was not accepted on the misdemeanor tax charge Information, the prosecution has dismissed that Information as well. Consequently, the Diversion Agreement’s immunity for gun and tax-related charges would bar any similar charge from now being filed. This sweeping immunity may make it difficult for the prosecutors to appease Mr. Trump and the Republican congressmen who have criticized them, but this is the deal that the prosecutors made and it reflects their choice to place the immunity provision in the Diversion Agreement.

When Lowell argues a selective and vindictive prosecution claim in Los Angeles, he might integrate more information on how the manufactured uproar created by the IRS agents, Comer and Jordan, and Trump led to threats against prosecutors, including David Weiss personally (and also, notably, Los Angeles US Attorney Martin Estrada). More importantly, he’ll already have the DOJ decision that his claim that Ziegler and Shapley were grossly negligent in the way they released Hunter’s tax information (and spoiled the jury pool) has some merit. Perhaps that even gives Lowell cause to ask to delay the prosecution. Also since Lowell first filed a challenge to Weiss’ appointment as a Special Counsel, the degree to which he has never been adequately supervised by a political appointee has become clear, perhaps inviting a Morison v. Olson challenge that might have more merit than the existing challenge.

There are a lot of moving parts here. And while DOJ is still withholding data that is relevant, Lowell actually has information that DOJ likely does not.

I’m really not arguing this is 8-dimensional chess. Hunter is still in a world of hurt.

But Abbe Lowell may well have some dramatic reveals prepared, dramatic reveals that make Hunter’s twin appearances in DC just a preview of coming attractions.

Updated Tax lawsuit below to reflect that Judge Kelly approved the delay.

1) Delaware gun case

[RECAP docket]

September 14: Indictment

October 3: Arraignment

October 12: First Discovery Production (350 pages focused on gun case), including iCloud data and “a copy of data from the defendant’s laptop”

October 13: Motion to Continue

October 19: Order resetting deadlines

November 1: Second Discovery Production (700,000 pages on tax charges — no mention of FARA investigations)

November 15: Hunter subpoena request

December 4: Weiss subpoena response

December 11: Motions due

December 12: Hunter subpoena reply

January 9: Third Discovery Production (500,000 pages focused on tax case)

January 16: Responses due

January 30: Replies due

2) Los Angeles tax case

[RECAP docket]

Hunter was indicted on December 7 and made a combined arraignment/first appearance on January 11. At that hearing, Judge Mark Scarsi set an aggressive (and, from the sounds of things, strict) schedule as follows:

February 20, 2024: Motions due

March 11: Response due

March 18: Replies due

March 27 at 1:00 p.m.: Pretrial motion hearing

April 17: Orders resolving pretrial motions.

June 3 at 1:00 p.m.: Status conference

June 20: Trial

3) House Dick Pic Sniffing Investigation

November 8: James Comer sends a pre-impeachment vote subpoena

November 28: Lowell accepts Comer’s offer for Hunter to testify publicly

December 6: Comer and Jordan threaten contempt

December 13: Pre-impeachment deposition scheduled; Hunter gives a press conference and states his data has been “stolen” from him

December 13: Impeachment vote authorizing subpoena

January 10: Oversight and Judiciary refer Hunter for contempt

January 12: Lowell invites Comer and Jordan to send another subpoena, now that they have the authority to enforce it

January 14: Jordan and Comer take Lowell up on his invitation

February 28 (tentative): Deposition

4) IRS lawsuit

[RECAP docket]

September 18: Privacy Act lawsuit

November 13: DOJ asks for extension to January 16

January 16: DOJ files motion for partial dismissal

January 23: Joint motion to continue

January 30: Original deadline for Hunter response

February 20: New deadline for Hunter response

March 12: New reply deadline for DOJ response

5) John Paul Mac Isaac’s Suit and Countersuit

Last summer, John Paul Mac Isaac and Hunter both sat for depositions, on May 31 and June 29, respectively.

Last fall, Hunter Biden subpoenaed people Rudy Giuliani, Robert Costello, Steve Bannon, Yaacov Apelbaum (who made a copy of the contents of the laptop), Tore Maras (who has described adding things to the laptop). In November, Hunter also served a subpoena on Apple.

On January 4, the parties to John Paul Mac Isaac’s suit and countersuit filed to have their pending motions decided by a judge. The media defendants — CNN and Politico — are filing to dismiss. Hunter and JPMI filed competing motions for summary judgment.

And Hunter is filing to quash a bunch of subpoenas, initially 14, to Hunter’s parents, uncle, ex-wife, former business partners, and several people with his father, like Ron Klain and Mike Morell. Though after that, JPMI attempted to subpoena Hunter’s daughters.

6 and 7) Garrett Ziegler and Rudy Giuliani hacking suits

[RECAP Ziegler docket; RECAP Rudy docket]

September 13: Complaint against Ziegler

September 26: Complaint against Rudy and Costello; noticing Ziegler suit as related case

November 15: Ziegler gets 30 day extension

December 1: Costello gets 30 day extension

December 7: After swapping attorneys, Ziegler gets extension to December 21

December 21: Ziegler motion to dismiss and request for judicial notice (heavily reliant on JPMI suit)

January 17: Costello motion to dismiss with Rudy declaration that makes no notice of his fruit and nuts payments relating to Hunter Biden

January 22: Lowell successfully requests to harmonize MTD hearing for both hacking lawsuits

February 8: Rescheduled date for hearing on motion to dismiss

February 22: Rescheduled date for hearing on motion to dismiss

March 21: Joined date for hearing on motion to dismiss

8) Patrick Byrne defamation suit

November 8: Complaint

January 16: After swapping attorneys, Byrne asks for 30 day extension

February 6: Rescheduled response date

Hunter Biden Lost His Phone(s) in the Same Days He Bought a Gun

Ho hum. Another day, another David Weiss filing that may face significant evidentiary challenges at trial.

In past posts, I have shown how one after another sex worker, payments to whom prosecutors have made central to their allegations that Hunter Biden cheated on his taxes, may pose evidentiary problems if the case goes to trial.

In one case, David Weiss included in the tax indictment the first Venmo payment — and its misleading payment description and Weiss’ likely incorrect date — that Hunter made after two new devices accessed the account, 12 minutes apart, from two different cities. In another, I showed that a sex worker the IRS actually interviewed about her dates with Hunter was among the last people Hunter spent time with before he attempted to reclaim the part of his digital life hosted at Apple, using a laptop that would eventually be found at Fox News pundit-shrink Keith Ablow’s office when the DEA searched it in February 2020.

Even as the IRS spent years scrutinizing Hunter’s digital payments, they appear to have ignored how his digital life faced one after another compromise, most (but potentially not all) undoubtedly arising from the erratic habits of an addict. Those potential compromises should have elicited an entirely different investigative focus, but they also will make any digital evidence obtained from Hunter Biden’s devices difficult and at times impossible to validate for trial.

Take the texts that Hunter Biden sent Hallie in the two days after he purchased the gun for which he has been charged with three felonies, texts that Weiss has admitted he did not seek until last year, apparently only after indicting the President’s son. Prosecutors are very excited about obtaining these texts, after the fact, to prove that Hunter was smoking crack during the days he possessed a gun.

On October 13, 2018, and October 14, 2018 (the day after and two days after he purchased the firearm), the defendant messaged his girlfriend about meeting a drug dealer and smoking crack. For example, on October 13, 2018, the defendant messaged her and stated, “. . . I’m now off MD Av behind blue rocks stadium waiting for a dealer named Mookie.” The next day, the defendant messaged her and stated, “I was sleeping on a car smoking crack on 4th street and Rodney.”

Weiss doesn’t say what time these texts were sent. Nor does he say whether these were telephony or app texts (Hunter was using at least WhatsApp in the period), and if the former, via which phone account.

But it happened on the same days that Hunter was informed that someone, whose name does not otherwise show up in public emails, emailed Hunter to tell him “you left your phone,” followed, after three attempts, by a shared Note that appears to link to a live Apple account (the times here are UTC-3, so one hour ahead of EDT; I hope I’ve adjusted all the times below to EDT).

And, indeed, Hunter does appear to have left his phone — or phones, plural — somewhere, probably the day before he bought the gun.

In those same two days in which those texts were sent to Hallie, there were four different attempts to replace phones via an Asurian protection plan, two of which ended in the delivery of phones he is known to have adopted as his primary phones afterwards, two of which tied to other numbers that ended in uncertain status. In addition to those iPhones he would use to replace his main phones, Hunter (or someone else) accessed his digital identity from a Samsung Galaxy, a rare deviation from Hunter’s commitment to Apple products.

A week later Hunter’s account would begin to be accessed using the laptop that would ultimately end up with the FBI.

The traffic for just those three days looks like this, with the emails from Joey bolded and two key account changes italicized:

October 12, 12:56PM: As you requested, your temporary [AT&T] password is: ****** Use your user ID and temporary password to sign in to your account.

October 12, 12:56PM: Looks like you recently updated the AT&T password.

October 12, 12:57PM: Critical security alert for your linked Google Account, Sign-in attempt was blocked for your linked [RosemontSeneca] Google Account [device not specified]

October 12, 3:25PM: Thanks for using your AT&T Device Protection Plan! Your claim [ending in 431] has been started

October 12, 3:32PM: Thanks for using your AT&T Device Protection Plan! Your claim [ending in 431] has been started

October 12, 3:38PM: Thanks for using your AT&T Device Protection Plan! Your claim [ending in 579] has been started

October 12, 3:40PM: Your [AT&T] insurance claim [phone ending in 96]

October 12, 3:44PM: Your [AT&T] insurance claim [phone ending in 13]

October 12, 3:49PM: Thanks for using your AT&T Device Protection Plan! Your claim [ending in 701] has been started

October 12, 3:55PM: Please complete and return your claim documents Wireless Number: **94

October 12, 3:57PM: Thanks for using your AT&T Device Protection Plan! Your claim [ending in 799] has been started

October 12, 4:03PM: Please complete and return your claim documents Wireless Number: **29

October 12, 5:35PM: Hello. Review your AT&T order

October 12, 6:22PM: Good news. Your replacement device [grey Apple iPhoneX] has shipped. [phone ending in 13]

October 12, 6:24PM: Phone [from Joey]

Hey, You left your phone and other things. Tried to reach you at 202 and 302 all day but no luck. Let me know where to overnight.

October 12, 7:20PM: Good news. Your replacement device [iPhone 8] has shipped. [phone ending in 96]

October 12, 8:00PM: Verify your Samsung account [accessing Hunter’s iCloud]

October 12, 11:31PM: Someone Just Checked Your Background Report

October 13, 7:10AM: You left your phone. How do I get it to you?

joey

October 13, 7:26AM: You left your phone. How do I get it to you?

joey

October 13, 11:13AM: Let’s setup your AT&T replacement device [phone ending in 13]

October 13, 12:35AM: Someone Just Checked Your Background Report

October 13, 2:00PM: Hello, Review your AT&T order [changes to wireless]

October 13, 9:17PM: Your [RosemontSeneca] Google Account was just signed in to from a new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 device

October 13, 11:36PM: Wells Fargo Has Registered Your Mobile Device

October 14, 2:24PM: Your Apple ID password has been reset

October 14, 2:24PM: Your Apple ID was used to sign in to iCloud on an iPhone X

October 14, 3:28PM: Wells Fargo card added to Apple Pay

October 14, 3:36PM: Verify your Samsung account [on iCloud]

October 14, 7:48PM: “Overcoming myself” [from Joey]

When you have a minute, read ….

Open my shared note:

Interspersed with this traffic, Hunter’s accountant was trying to get him to file his 2017 taxes, Twitter was informing him of this story showing that Jared Kushner hadn’t paid taxes for years, Hunter was draining his bank account one $800 withdrawal after another, and his business partner was approving a payment to Hunter’s lawyer that would all but drain the Hudson West business associated with CEFC. A different business partner, Eric Schwerin, was also pushing Hunter to resolve their business interests during the 2018 tax year, something he failed to pull off.

Without the location and IP addresses, it’s not entirely sure what happened here (Weiss should have that with the iCloud data). It’s not even clear that Hunter had a phone, at all, between the time he lost his phones, plural, on October 11 and started using his new iPhone X on October 14 (though he did have a third phone tied to an account he used with sex workers). Hunter may have used the Samsung as a temporary phone for those two days or borrowed someone else’s Samsung to check his email; but it wasn’t verified to his iCloud account before October 14 at 3:36PM, and so may not have been able to access some Apple services. Importantly, however, that phone accessed his RosemontSeneca Google account after Hunter had started using one of his new replacement iPhones, something that doesn’t make sense if he was borrowing it.

If the texts to Hallie were sent after Hunter changed his wireless account at 2PM on October 13, they might be traced to a secure telephony account. But if they were sent via iMessage or WhatsApp before Hunter changed his iCloud password at 2:24PM on October 14, then you’d have to use location and IP data to rule out that someone else sent those texts to Hallie, using Hunter’s still accessible iCloud account via his lost phones (plural, apparently).

Because this particular verification challenge involves iCloud, which should have the location and IP data to verify which devices were used, and because (unlike the sex workers) it wouldn’t involve Hunter’s copresence with someone accessing his bank account via biometrics that others might access if he were wasted, this should be something that prosecutors could definitively prove, if indeed Hunter did send these texts.

If they can’t prove the location and IP from which these texts were sent, they may not be admissible at all, because prosecutors may not be able to prove that they are, in fact, Hunter’s words and not those of someone using his lost phones.

If this goes to trial, it might be worth forcing prosecutors to go through the effort to prove Hunter did send the texts, because it not only demonstrates how uncertain this evidence can be five years after the fact, but it would also show that Hunter spent hours trying to reclaim his digital identity — possibly using the laptop that would end up in Ablow’s possession — during the period when, prosecutors would be arguing, he was sleeping [in] a car and smoking crack.

Plus, that process would demonstrate something else. First, note that Hunter never verifiably made efforts that he did in August (the day before the dual Venmo access) to shut down access others would have via those lost devices to his digital identity. There’s no evidence here that Hunter deleted those phones, as he had only just finished doing weeks earlier with an iPad taken in August. That is, if Joey or whoever had one or two phones that Hunter had been using for weeks or months, there would be a great deal of data on them that would allow them, or anyone who subsequently got the phones, to carry out a much more systematic compromise of Hunter’s digital identity in the future.

There’s also no evidence that Hunter changed passwords besides the AT&T one, including for the RosemontSeneca email account that hosted all the work emails that would become so controversial years later. If he didn’t do that, then at least one of those two lost phones could likely access that account without interruption.

I’m not yet ready to show it, but this process, the incomplete effort to reclaim his digital identity, continued through the period where Hunter’s account started being accessed by a new laptop on October 21. And, depending on how the progression from prosecutors’ initial August 2019 iCloud warrant to the December 2019 warrant for that same laptop itself to the warrant to expanded scope of Hunter’s iCloud in July 2020 culminating in December 2023 in the use of those iCloud texts to substantiate a gun case occurred — something that Derek Hines deliberately obfuscates in this same filing — it may mean that this entire investigation has been built on this impossibly rocky foundation since 2019.

The laptop that FBI started using as evidence without first fully validating it destroys chain of custody not just because it was accessed by a hostile person over the course of months before being delivered to the FBI, but also because Hunter’s use of it would have been built on a digital identity that was totally compromised.

Normally, financial records are what make tax cases easy to prove (and, to be sure, many of the financial records used for Hunter’s tax indictment will be easily verifiable). Normally, these kinds of digital communications are what make other indictments easy to prove without having to rely on a sympathetic witness like Hallie Biden, one personally implicated in the insecure disposal of a gun.

But even ignoring the likelihood that more nefarious people might have compromised Hunter’s identity in this period (for which these is some evidence), Hunter’s addiction meant that his digital identity was persistently in a state of half-compromise through this entire period. His addiction led him to do things that prosecutors have now charged him for. It also adds a good deal of validation challenges for the kind of evidence that normally is routine.

David Weiss’ Indict First, Seek Warrants Later Ethic

I want to further elaborate on a point in this post: It appears that David Weiss did not obtain a reliable warrant for the most showy evidence in his response motion to Hunter’s selective and vindictive prosecution claim until after he indicted Hunter for 3 gun felonies — indeed, he appears not to have obtained it until after Abbe Lowell asked for this kind of evidence.

I think it likely that, as a result, David Weiss will technically be relying on evidence from the laptop he obtained from John Paul Mac Isaac, which (as I’ll show in a follow-up), may be a particularly acute problem for the period in question.

I’ve put a timeline below, relying on Weiss’ response motions on selective prosecution and discovery. Because Weiss did not provide dates for any of the warrants described in the former, I’ve noted the closest unsealed dockets before and after each warrant docket included to approximate the dates for those warrants.

The gun indictment, which Weiss obtained just before the statute of limitations expired, did not provide any proof that Hunter Biden was an addict when he purchased a gun on October 12, 2018. It simply stated, for each of three charges, that he knew he was.

[T]he defendant, Robert Hunter Biden, provided a written statement on Form 4473 certifying he was not an unlawful user of, and addicted to, any stimulant, narcotic drug, and any other controlled substance, when in fact, as he knew, that statement was false and fictitious.

It’s true that on July 26, 2023, Hunter Biden admitted he was in treatment for addiction in Fall 2018 — but that admission was obtained with the promise of a diversion agreement — a point that Abbe Lowell noted in his motion to dismiss on immunity grounds.

Hunter was arraigned — initially with a 30-day deadline for pretrial motions — on October 3, 2023. At the hearing, Lowell said that he was going to ask for an evidentiary hearing, which (along with his TV appearances) would have alerted Weiss that he would seek to dismiss the indictment.

By Weiss’ own admission, he didn’t provide any discovery until October 12, four days after Abbe Lowell asked. He describes that that initial production, of just 350 pages, included “statements of the defendant including his admissions that he was addicted to crack cocaine and possessed a firearm in 2018,” electronic evidence from Hunter’s iCloud account, as well as “search warrants related to evidence the government may use in its case-in-chief.”

On October 12, 2023, the government provided to the defendant a production of materials consisting of over 350 pages of documents as well as additional electronic evidence from the defendant’s Apple iCloud account and a copy of data from the defendant’s laptop. This production included search warrants related to evidence the government may use in its case-in-chief in the gun case, statements of the defendant including his admissions that he was addicted to crack cocaine and possessed a firearm in 2018, and law enforcement reports related to the gun investigation. [my emphasis]

But he doesn’t say he provided all the warrants behind the evidence the government will use in its case-in-chief.

As I’ve noted, Hunter’s book is 272 pages long, so if Weiss included the book in that initial production, then there were only 78 other pages, to include warrants and law enforcement reports pertaining to the gun.

Among the things Lowell asked for in that initial discovery request was information “reflecting Mr. Biden’s sobriety in 2018” and “information reflecting Mr. Biden’s treatment for any substance or alcohol abuse in 2018.”

Weiss described that he provided evidence about payments to rehab programs in 2018 (this will include Keith Ablow!!!) on November 1.

On November 1, 2023, the government provided a production of materials to the defendant that was over 700,000 pages and largely consisted of documents obtained during an investigation into whether the defendant timely filed and paid his taxes and committed tax evasion. These documents included information of the defendant’s income and payments to drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs in 2018, the same year in which the defendant possessed the firearm while addicted to controlled substances.

Weiss didn’t describe providing any more information about Hunter’s addiction or sobriety.

Weiss didn’t describe providing any more discovery — and didn’t describe providing any more warrants at all — until January 9, almost a month after Lowell’s deadline for pretrial motions, including motions to suppress.

In advance of his initial appearance on the tax indictment, the government made a production of materials to the defendant on January 9, 2024, which included over 500,000 pages of documents and consisted of additional information related to the tax investigation.

Yet, by Weiss’ own admission, he never had a warrant to access iCloud content for gun charges — as opposed to tax and foreign influence charges — until he got it with District of Delaware Case No. 23-507M. If my approximations below are correct, Weiss didn’t obtain a warrant to search Hunter’s iCloud content for gun charges until sometime between November 30 and December 4 of last year. As noted previously, I asked Weiss’ spox to correct me if this was an error, but they declined to comment beyond what is in the filing.

Weiss is wildly squirrely about all this, as I’ll show. But he basically admits that he’s relying on that warrant — which it appears he obtained over two months after indicting Hunter — for the only evidence in this motion that shows Hunter’s drug use during the period he possessed the gun (and as noted, Weiss doesn’t describe when in 2023 the FBI first decided to send the gun to a lab for testing, but he admits it wasn’t until 2023).

Prior to October 12, 2018 (the date of the gun purchase), the defendant took photos of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia on his phone.

Also prior to his gun purchase, the defendant routinely sent messages about purchasing drugs.

On October 13, 2018, and October 14, 2018 (the day after and two days after he purchased the firearm), the defendant messaged his girlfriend about meeting a drug dealer and smoking crack. For example, on October 13, 2018, the defendant messaged her and stated, “. . . I’m now off MD Av behind blue rocks stadium waiting for a dealer named Mookie.” The next day, the defendant messaged her and stated, “I was sleeping on a car smoking crack on 4th street and Rodney.”

On October 23, 2018 (the day his then-girlfriend discarded his firearm), the defendant messaged his girlfriend and asked, “Did you take that from me [girlfriend]?” Later that evening, after his interactions with law enforcement, he messaged her about the “[t]he fucking FBI” and asked her, “so what’s my fault here [girlfriend] that you speak of. Owning a gun that’s in a locked car hidden on another property? You say I invade your privacy. What more can I do than come back to you to try again. And you do this???? Who in their right mind would trust you would help me get sober.” In response, the girlfriend stated “I’m sorry, I just want you safe. That was not safe. And it was open unlocked and windows down and the kids search your car. You have lost your mind hunter. I’m sorry I handled it poorly today but you are in huge denial about yourself and about that reality that I just want you safe. You run away like a child and blame me for your shit . . .”

Elsewhere in this response, Weiss quotes liberally from Hunter’s book, but the book really doesn’t say much about Hunter’s state in the 11 days he owned the gun.

I had returned that fall of 2018, after my most recent relapse in California, with the hope of getting clean through a new therapy and reconciling with Hallie.

Here’s how Weiss — in the paragraph immediately preceding this evidence — describes how — after Delaware cops had already seized the gun — investigators obtained evidence showing the purchase was illegal:

C. While Investigating the Defendant for Tax Violations, Investigators Obtained Evidence Showing His Prior Gun Purchase Was Illegal Because He Was Addicted to Controlled Substances

In August 2019, IRS and FBI investigators obtained a search warrant for tax violations for the defendant’s Apple iCloud account. 2 In response to that warrant, in September 2019, Apple produced backups of data from various of the defendant’s electronic devices that he had backed up to his iCloud account. 3 Investigators also later came into possession of the defendant’s Apple MacBook Pro, which he had left at a computer store. A search warrant was also obtained for his laptop and the results of the search were largely duplicative of information investigators had already obtained from Apple. 4 Law enforcement also later obtained a search warrant to search the defendant’s electronic evidence for evidence of federal firearms violations and to seize such data. 5

2 District of Delaware Case No. 19-234M and a follow up search warrant, District of Delaware Case Number 20-165M.

3 The electronic evidence referenced in this section was produced to the defendant in discovery in advance of the deadline to file motions.

4 District of Delaware Case No. 19-309M.

5 District of Delaware Case No. 23-507M

Weiss says he first obtained a warrant for Hunter’s iCloud account in August 2019, but that was just for tax violations. He doesn’t describe the temporal scope of that warrant. Joseph Ziegler predicated the investigation off a 2018 Suspicious Activity Report tied to payments to sex workers, but he only got approval for a criminal investigation by claiming — a claim that the tax indictment debunks — that no taxes were paid for his 2014 Burisma payments, so it’s possible that initial warrant only focused on 2014 and 2015 (particularly given that Hunter couldn’t have committed a tax crime in 2018 until October 2019, after that warrant was obtained in August 2019).

In a footnote but not in the text of the paragraph, Weiss mentions, oh, by the way, we got a follow-up warrant in 2020; he doesn’t provide the date, but it would have been between July 9 and 16, 2020. According to Gary Shapley, investigators obtained 2017 texts with that 2020 warrant — which again may suggest that Weiss didn’t obtain later content until after obtaining it first on the laptop.

Back in the main text, Weiss describes obtaining the laptop [bum bum BUM!!!]. But he claims that what he got from the laptop was “largely duplicative” of what he “already obtained” with the iCloud warrant.

Then, finally, he admits he never got a warrant to search the iCloud (he’s silent about the scope of the laptop warrants, but Ziegler only talked about tax and foreign influence peddling scopes) for evidence of gun crimes until that warrant that, if my approximation is correct, was after the indictment and after Weiss claimed to have provided all discovery for the gun crimes.

Note, significantly, that in a footnote Weiss said, “The electronic evidence referenced in this section was produced to the defendant in discovery in advance of the deadline to file motions,” but doesn’t say anything about when he provided that (apparent) December 2023 warrant to Lowell? It’s not clear whether Weiss included this among the iCloud and laptop material provided on October 12, or among the 700,000 pages provided on November 1.

But whichever it is, if I’m right about the timing of that gun crime warrant, Weiss did not yet have a warrant to access that material for the already obtained indictment yet. Lowell had the content, but not the notice that Weiss was going to use it for the gun crime.

And all this is before you consider the possibility that the second warrant, obtained in 2020, relied on the laptop (something that is consistent with Shapley’s testimony). If that’s the case, then Weiss would have a whole slew of other problems — not least, that John Paul Mac Isaac claims FBI was accessing the laptop before the date that Shapley says they got a warrant.

Update: Let me clarify why this matters. There’s no question that there was probable cause for gun crimes available for a warrant affidavit last year. And it is fairly common for prosecutors to get new warrants for content they’ve already seized; SDNY did so against both Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani, for example.

One reason this is problematic, though, is the timing. Weiss is arguing that he always intended to prosecute gun crimes, but he appears not to have gotten a warrant until after he charged it, which hurts his argument that he always intended to prosecute it (as does the delay in sending the gun to the lab). So it could hurt Weiss’ chances to win these motions.

Unless one of three things happened, David Weiss would be able to use this data at trial.

  • If the warrant to obtain the 2018 data was the warrant obtained in 2020 and it relied on stuff from the laptop, the laptop may have tainted the 2020 warrant. There are several ways the laptop may have tainted the 2020 warrant, one of which is JPMI’s claim that FBI was accessing the laptop before they got a warrant.
  • As noted, Weiss is really squirrely about when — or even if — it gave Abbe Lowell the warrant for this material. If they gave it to him after the deadline for these motions to suppress, it would mean they’ve deprived him of the ability to file a motion to suppress.

Timeline

August 22, 2019 [19-mj-232]

August 2019: Weiss first obtains iCloud data, for unstated dates, limited to tax crimes [19-mj-234]

In August 2019, IRS and FBI investigators obtained a search warrant for tax violations for the defendant’s Apple iCloud account. 2

2 District of Delaware Case No. 19-234M

August 27, 2019: [19-mj-235]

October 16, 2019: Mac Isaac’s father first contacts FBI [Shapley’s notes]

December 3, 2019: Ziegler first starts drafting search warrant for laptop

December 6, 2019: [19-mj-302]

December 9, 2019: FBI takes possession of laptop; per John Paul Mac Isaac, “Matt” called several times, asking for help accessing the machine, and revealing “we” had already tried to boot it up.

“Hi, it’s Matt again. So, we have a power supply and a USB-C cable, but when we boot up, I can’t get the mouse or keyboard to work.”

I couldn’t believe it—they were trying to boot the machine!

“The keyboard and trackpad were disconnected due to liquid damage. If you have a USB-C–to–USB-A adaptor, you should be able to use any USB keyboard or mouse,” I said. He related this to Agent DeMeo and quickly hung up.

Matt called yet again about an hour later.

“So this thing won’t stay on when it’s unplugged. Does the battery work?”

I explained that he needed to plug in the laptop and that once it turned on, the battery would start charging. I could sense his stress and his embarrassment at having to call repeatedly for help. [my emphasis]

December 12, 2019: Obtain OEO approval for warrant

December 13, 2019: Obtain warrant for laptop [date per Shapley]

Investigators also later came into possession of the defendant’s Apple MacBook Pro, which he had left at a computer store. A search warrant was also obtained for his laptop and the results of the search were largely duplicative of information investigators had already obtained from Apple.

4 District of Delaware Case No. 19-309M.

December 13, 2019: [19-mj-311]

December 14, 2019: Will Levi sends Bill Barr text stating, “Laptop on way to you”

July 9, 2020: [20-mj-162]

July 2020: Weiss obtains follow-up warrant, by description still limited to tax crimes (but almost certainly also including foreign influence peddling) [20-mj-165]

In August 2019, IRS and FBI investigators obtained a search warrant for tax violations for the defendant’s Apple iCloud account. 2

2 and a follow up search warrant, District of Delaware Case Number 20-165M.

July 16, 2020: [20-mj-177]

ND, 2023: FBI first does lab tests on gun and finds cocaine residue

September 14, 2023: Gun indictment

October 3, 2023: Arraignment

October 8, 2023: Request for discovery

On October 8, 2023, the defendant made a request for discovery under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 16.

October 12, 2023: First discovery production

On October 12, 2023, the government provided to the defendant a production of materials consisting of over 350 pages of documents as well as additional electronic evidence from the defendant’s Apple iCloud account and a copy of data from the defendant’s laptop. This production included search warrants related to evidence the government may use in its case-in-chief in the gun case, statements of the defendant including his admissions that he was addicted to crack cocaine and possessed a firearm in 2018, and law enforcement reports related to the gun investigation. [my emphasis]

November 1, 2023: Discovery production 2

On November 1, 2023, the government provided a production of materials to the defendant that was over 700,000 pages and largely consisted of documents obtained during an investigation into whether the defendant timely filed and paid his taxes and committed tax evasion. These documents included information of the defendant’s income and payments to drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs in 2018, the same year in which the defendant possessed the firearm while addicted to controlled substances.

November 15, 2023: Follow-up request for discovery regarding Trump’s interference and Brady channel

November 15, 2023: Abbe Lowell requests subpoenas for Trump, Bill Barr, and others

November 30, 2023: [23-mj-504]

ND, 2023:

Law enforcement also later obtained a search warrant to search the defendant’s electronic evidence for evidence of federal firearms violations and to seize such data.5

5 District of Delaware Case No. 23-507M

December 4, 2023: [23-mj-508]

December 7, 2023: Tax indictment

December 11, 2023: Hunter’s motions due

ND: Third discovery production

In advance of his initial appearance on the tax indictment, the government made a production of materials to the defendant on January 9, 2024, which included over 500,000 pages of documents and consisted of additional information related to the tax investigation.

January 11, 2023: Arraignment

Scott Brady Admitted He “Was in the Room” for One Partisan Errand; Was There for a Second?

It should surprise no one that in Scott Brady’s deposition before House Judiciary Committee last October, he refused to say whether he believes that voter fraud undermined the 2020 election.

Q Okay. All right. I think we’re almost done. You were U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh through, I think, you said the end of February 2021, correct?

A Correct.

Q So you were there during the 2020 election, correct?

A Yes.

Q Are you aware of allegations that there was widespread voter fraud in 2020?

Mr. [Andrew] Lelling. You’re a little outside the scope.

Q All right. So he’s declining. It’s fine. I’m just making a record. You’re declining to answer?

Mr. Lelling. He’s declining to answer.

Q Are you aware of allegations that President Biden was not fairly elected in 2020?

Mr. Lelling. Same. He’s not going to answer questions on that subject. [] Okay.

Q And do you believe that President Biden was fairly elected in 2020?

Mr. Lelling. He’s not going to answer that question.

This shouldn’t be a surprise because, in 2022, DOJ IG rebuked Brady for impugning a career prosecutor whose spouse signed a letter (also signed by Hunter Biden prosecutor Leo Wise, by the way) calling on Bill Barr to adhere to past practice regarding interference in voter fraud investigations.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) initiated an investigation after receiving a complaint regarding a then U.S. Attorney’s response, during a press conference on an unrelated case, to a reporter’s question about a letter signed by a number of Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSA) that was critical of a voting fraud investigations memorandum issued by then Attorney General William Barr. The complaint alleged that the U.S. Attorney responded to the reporter’s question about whether the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) had signed the letter by personally attacking the AUSA from that USAO who signed the letter.

The OIG investigation substantiated the allegation. The investigation determined that the U.S. Attorney, in response to the reporter’s question, sought to undermine the AUSA’s professional reputation by referencing that the spouse of the AUSA who signed the letter had previously worked for two U.S. Attorneys General of the previous administration, thereby inappropriately suggesting that partisan political considerations motivated the AUSA to sign the letter.

As with much of his testimony before House Judiciary, the Brady comment in question spun the adherence to norms as political interference.

“I can’t comment on any existing investigations,” Brady said. “To the second [question], one of our two district election officers, who was married to the former chief of staff of [Attorneys General] Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, did sign onto that unbeknownst to anyone in leadership before he signed onto that and did not talk about that with his fellow district election officer, who’s also our ethics advisor.”

Nadler’s staffers elicited Brady’s predictable non-answer about whether Joe Biden was fairly elected just as the deposition ended. Perhaps they asked the question to demonstrate Brady’s partisanship if he were ever to testify in impeachment.

But it’s worthwhile background to something Brady said that did shock me — more than his refusal to affirm that Joe Biden was fairly elected President, more than his blasé description of ingesting information from at least one Russian spy to be used in an investigation of Donald Trump’s rival.

Brady, the one-time US Attorney for Pittsburgh, similarly dodged when asked whether he believed that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election.

Q Okay. And were you aware of Mr. Giuliani’s claim that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 Presidential election?

A I don’t believe I was aware of that.

Q Okay. And just were you aware of the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia actually interfered in the 2016 Presidential election?

A Wait. Let’s unpack that. So could you ask that again, please?

Q Are you aware of the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 Presidential election?

A I am aware of allegations of Russian interference. Conclusive determinations by the entire intelligence community of the United States, I’m not certain, especially in light of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

Q Have you read the Mueller report?

A The whole Mueller report? Parts of it. I have read parts of it.

Because of that answer, Nadler’s staffers asked Brady if he was familiar with the Intelligence Community Assessment that Russia had interfered in 2016. After first suggesting that Barr’s stunts to undermine the Mueller investigation had raised doubts for him, Brady then admitted that the office he oversaw had investigated GRU both before and after Mueller did.

Q Okay. And so you don’t have any opinion of whether the findings, the conclusions of this report are true and accurate or not?

A Well, I don’t know what the findings are. I am generally aware of allegations of Russian interference in U.S. elections. My office has investigated Russian investigations I’m sorry. My office has investigated Russian interference in French elections, Georgian elections.

Q Uhhuh.

A So I have no doubt that Russia and other adversaries attempt to interfere in our elections on a regular basis.

Q And you have no evidence to dispute the findings of the Director of National Intelligence in this report?

A Other than what is publicly available given Mr. Mueller’s report and then his appearance before Congress and then General Barr’s disposition of that matter.

Q But you have no personal knowledge. In other words, you have not personally investigated the matter.

A Could I have a moment, please?

[Discussion off the record.]

Mr. Brady. I am aware of this.

Q Uhhuh.

Mr. Brady. The Pittsburgh office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Pennsylvania, had an investigation into the hacking of the DNC.

Q Uhhuh.

Mr. Brady. We were investigating that until it was transmitted to Director Mueller’s office for part of his investigation. So, yes, I am I am aware.

Andrew Weissmann has described that after Mueller’s team started, first Jeanie Rhee and then he asked for a briefing on the investigation into the hack-and-leak, only to discover no one was investigating the dissemination of the stolen documents.

As soon as the Special Counsel’s Office opened up shop, Team R inherited work produced by other government investigations that had been launched before ours: These included the Papadopoulos lead, the National Security Division’s investigation into Russian hacking, and the Intelligence Community’s written assessment on Russian interference.

Ingesting this information was the domain of Team R, and Jeannie had quickly gotten to work untangling and synthesizing the facts. A few weeks after I arrived, I asked attorneys in the National Security Division of the Department of Justice to give me the same briefing they had given Jeannie, so I could familiarize myself with the investigation they’d been conducting into Russian hacking.

The meeting was in a SCIF at Justice’s imposing art deco headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue.

[snip]

Because my debriefing with the National Security Division involved classified information, I cannot discuss its content substantively here. It took a couple of hours, as a team of NSD lawyers graciously walked me through what they had been up to and answered all my questions. As soon as I got back to our offices, however, I made a beeline to Jeannie’s office and immediately asked her: “What the fuck?”

“I know,” she said. She didn’t need me to finish my thought.

We had both been shocked by something we’d heard in our briefings—but it was less the substance of the Justice Department’s investigation than its approach. Jeannie knew that she was going to inherit some evidence that Russia had hacked the DNC and DCCC emails, but she was astonished that the National Security Division was not examining what the Russians had done with the emails and other documents they’d stolen from those servers—how the release of that information was weaponized by targeted release, and whether the Russians had any American accomplices. More alarmingly, the Department was not apparently looking beyond the hacking at all, to examine whether there had been other Russian efforts to disrupt the election. It was staggering to us that the Justice Department’s investigation was so narrowly circumscribed. Election interference by a foreign power was, inarguably, a national security issue; we expected the National Security Division to undertake a comprehensive investigation. Once again, Jeannie and I were left to speculate as to whether this lapse was the result of incompetence, political interference, fear of turning up answers that the Department’s political leaders would not like, or all of the above. The Intelligence Community’s investigation had assessed that Russia was behind the hacking, but remained seemingly incurious as to everything else. “The rest is going to be up to us,” Jeannie explained. [my emphasis]

The failures to investigate before Mueller got involved couldn’t have been Brady’s doing. He wasn’t nominated (in the same batch as the Jones Day attorney who represented him here, Andrew Lelling, in his deposition) until after this happened, on September 8, 2017; he wasn’t confirmed until December 14, 2017.

But his answer seems to reflect exposure to the investigation after the fact.

That makes sense, for two reasons. First, in October 2018, his office indicted some of the GRU hackers for their hack of the World Anti-Doping Agency. As I’ve noted in a post comparing the two indictments, that hack used some of the same infrastructure as the DNC hack did, though the WADA indictment adopted a different approach to describing the dissemination of the hacked materials.

Then, weeks before the 2020 election, his office indicted GRU hackers again, focused largely on NotPetya and the hack of the Pyeongchang Olympics, but also including the French and Georgian hacks that Brady mentioned. The primary hacker involved in the French and Georgia hacks, Anatoliy Kovalev was also charged in the DNC indictment.

The 2020 indictment adopted a different approach, a third one, to discussing the dissemination of the stolen files as I describe below.

But those later two indictments are one reason it’s so surprising that Brady would suggest any doubt on the DNC attribution. If you believe what was in the 2018 and 2020 indictments, if you signed your name to them, it’s hard to see how you could doubt the 2018 DNC indictment. They involved some of the same people and infrastructure.

The other reason I was alarmed by Brady’s comment is that he described these GRU indictments, along with the Rudy laundering project and the response to the Tree of Life synagogue attack, as the three events where Brady was in the room for the prosecutorial decisions.

Q Is it unusual for a United States attorney to participate in witness interviews directly, personally?

A No. It depends on the scope and sensitivity of the matter.

Q Okay. And have you, as a U.S. attorney, ever participated in a witness interview in an investigation or matter under your direction?

A As U.S. attorney, I have been involved in many meetings with the line AUSAs and agents, including our Tree of Life prosecution for the synagogue shooting. We had a number of highlevel investigations and indictments of the Russian intelligence directorate of the GRU, and I was in the room and a part of those meetings. I can’t remember if we had a witness interview that I was involved in, but I may have been.

This is where I took notice.

Particularly given my observation that one way in which the Macron hack-and-leak, the French hack Brady mentioned, differed from the DNC indictment released by Mueller is in the claimed failure to discover how the stolen Macron files got disseminated.

The Olympic Destroyer indictment obtained weeks before the election held Kovalev (and the GRU) accountable for the spearphish and communications with some French participants.

27. From on or about April 3, 2017, through on or about May 3, 2017 (during the days leading up to the May 7, 201 7, presidential election in France), the Conspirators conducted seven spearphishing campaigns targeting more than 100 individuals who were members of now-President Macron’s “La Republique En Marche!” (“En Marche!”) political party, other French politicians and high-profile individuals, and several email addresses associated with local French governments. The topics of these campaigns included public security announcements regarding terrorist attacks, email account lockouts, software updates for voting machines, journalist scoops on political scandals, En Marche! press relationships, and En Marchel internal cybersecurity recommendations.

28. KOVALEV participated in some of these campaigns. For example, on or about April 21, 2017, KOVALEV developed and tested a technique for sending spearphishing emails themed around file sharing through Google Docs. KOVALEV then crafted a malware-laced document entitled “Qui_peut_parler_ aux journalists.docx” (which translates to “Who can talk to journalists”) that purported to list nine En Marche! staff members who could talk to journalists about the previous day’s terrorist attack on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Later that day, the Conspirators used an email account that mimicked the name of then-candidate Macron’s press secretary to send a Google Docs-themed spearphishing email to approximately 30 En Marche! staff members or advisors, which purported to share this document.

29. From on or about April 12, 2017, until on or about April 26, 2017, a GRU-controlled social media account communicated with various French individuals offering to provide them with internal documents from En Marche! that the user(s) of the account claimed to possess.

But it professed utter and complete ignorance about how the stolen documents started to get leaked.

30. On or about May 3 and May 5, 2017, unidentified individuals began to leak documents purporting to be from the En Marche! campaign’s email accounts.

But they weren’t unidentified, at least not all of them! As a DFIR report released 15-months before this indictment laid out, while there was a Latvian IP address that hadn’t been publicly identified at that point (one the FBI surely had some ability to unpack), the American alt-right, including Stone associate Jack Posobiec, made the campaign go viral, all in conjunction with WikiLeaks.

[snip]

MacronLeaks was, openly and proudly, a joint venture between the GRU, far right influencers in Stone’s immediate orbit, and WikiLeaks. It was an attempt to repeat the 2016 miracle that elected Donald Trump, by supporting the Russian-supporting Marine Le Pen by damaging Macron.

That is, one of the three investigations in which Brady said he had a more involved role is the one where an indictment happened not to name the far right figures known to have “colluded” with Russian spook hackers.

On October 19, Scott Brady’s office released an indictment that pulled its punches regarding the Trump boosters who were involved in a Russian hack-and-leak operation. On October 23, his team laundered an uncorroborated accusation of bribery into the Hunter Biden investigation. Then less than a month after that, on November 18, Brady ignored a warning about protected speech and made a baseless accusation of politicization.

Scott Brady thought to raise questions regarding things to which others signed their name. But his HJC testimony raises far more questions about things to which he signed his name.

This post is part of a Ball of Thread I’m putting together before I attempt to explain how Trump trained Republicans to hate rule of law. See this post for an explanation of my Ball of Thread.

The Coke-in-Gun Actually Harms David Weiss’ Case

As prosecutors are wont to do, David Weiss’ prosecution team used its response to Hunter Biden’s selective and vindictive prosecution claim to air embarrassing dirt.

As dick pic sniffing scribes are wont to do, most outlets glommed onto those details — one in particular — rather than discussing Weiss’ legal arguments. NYPost, CNN, AP, WaPo all presented the following detail without any consideration of whether it helps — or hurts — David Weiss’ case against Hunter.

In 2023, FBI investigators pulled sealed evidence from the state police vault to take photographs of the defendant’s firearm. After opening the evidence, FBI investigators observed a white powdery substance on the defendant’s brown leather pouch that had held the defendant’s firearm in October 2018. Based on their training and experience, investigators believed that this substance was likely cocaine and that this evidence would corroborate the messages that investigators had obtained which showed the defendant buying and using drugs in October 2018. An FBI chemist subsequently analyzed the residue and determined that it was cocaine. To be clear, investigators literally found drugs on the pouch where the defendant had kept his gun.

At the very least, the incident betrays the lack of certain kinds of evidence that Weiss may need to defeat the filing in question — and arguably, helps to prove Hunter’s argument that Weiss only considered gun charges after Republicans started ratcheting up political pressure to do so.

As noted, this is a response to Hunter’s motion to dismiss on selective and vindictive prosecution grounds, in which he argued that:

  • DOJ would not charge other people based on the same set of facts — and indeed had guidelines advising against it
  • In response to political pressure, including but not limited to Republican Members of Congress and Trump, David Weiss reneged on a plea deal and decided to charge Hunter with three felonies rather than respect a diversion agreement
  • Congress forced this issue by demanding Weiss prosecute more harshly

Weiss’ response — written by Derek Hines, the same AUSA who simply did not address some of the evidence of politicization Hunter cited — spent over half the filing addressing Hunter’s selective prosecution claim, in spite of the fact that that’s the easiest claim to rebut. He simply repeated, as all such responses do, that Hunter hasn’t found someone similarly situated who wasn’t charged (the argument surely invites Abbe Lowell to raise Don Jr’s apparent impairment or Trump’s temporary possession of a gun after having been charged with dozens of felonies). There are weaknesses in that section — he ignores DOJ’s guidance, rather than addressing Hunter’s assertion that the charge is used in conjunction with other crimes, he instead uses data on straw purchases (which this was not) to claim Hunter’s lie was itself an aggravating factor.

With this chart, Hines is, at best, misleadingly presenting Hunter’s alleged false statement as a different, far more premeditated false statement than Hunter is accused of.

Abbe Lowell will have plenty of meat to respond to in that section, but as I have said repeatedly, Hunter probably doesn’t offer as much as he’d need to to win a selective prosecution claim.

A vindictive prosecution claim is something else. Hines admits that Hunter describes a right he exercised that was the reason for the vindictive prosecution, but complains that merely being the sole surviving son of Donald Trump’s opponent is not a constitutionally protected right.

The defendant does not attempt to show causal linkage between a legal right exercised by him and his prosecution. In his motion, the defendant appears generally to identify one legal right that he claims he exercised which he alleges caused his indictment: “engaging in constitutionally protected speech and political activity.” ECF 63 at 49. But he fails to identify with any specificity what his constitutionally protected speech or his political activity was. For example, he does not contend that he made a public political statement, nor does he identify which statement caused prosecutors to have animus. His failure to identify facts that support any actual legal right that he exercised should prevent this court from moving forward to even analyze his vindictive prosecution claim because no court has recognized a derivative vindictive prosecution claim based on a family member’s exercise of rights. [emphasis original]

Hines pretty much lies about how much Weiss ratcheted up the potential punishment against Hunter, which is the proof that prosecutors took vindictive action against Hunter for exercising his rights.

What Hines does not do — not in the least — is address Lowell’s map of how, as political pressure from Republicans ratcheted up, David Weiss reneged on the specific terms in a plea agreement. The latest communication from the ones submitted to the record that he cites was dated May 23, 2023, before the political pressure started ratcheting up.

For example, in an email to defense counsel dated May 18, 2023, about “a potential nontrial resolution,” Document 60-6 at p. 2, the AUSA stated, “As I said during our call, the below list is preliminary in nature and subject to change. We have not discussed or obtained approval for these terms, but are presenting them in an attempt to advance our discussions about a potential non-trial resolution . . .” The following week, in an email to defense counsel dated May 23, 2023, Document 60-9 at p. 3, the AUSA stated, “As we indicated in our emails and discussions we did not have approval for a pre-trial diversion agreement. As you know, that authority rests with the US Attorney who ultimately did not approve continued discussions for diversion related to the tax charges.” [emphasis original]

Hines ignores that, according to Chris Clark’s declaration and a great deal of back-up submitted with it, David Weiss was personally involved in language crafted two weeks after that May 23 email.

Later that afternoon, on June 6, 2023, I spoke directly with U.S. Attorney Weiss. During that call, I conveyed to U.S. Attorney Weiss that the Agreement’s immunity provision must ensure Mr. Biden that there would be finality and closure of this investigation, as I had conveyed repeatedly to AUSA Wolf during our negotiations. I further conveyed to U.S. Attorney Weiss that this provision was a deal-breaker. I noted that U.S. Attorney Weiss had changed the deal several times heretofore, and that I simply could not have this issue be yet another one which Mr. Biden had to compromise. The U.S. Attorney asked me what the problem was with the proposed language, and I explained that the immunity provision must protect Mr. Biden from any future prosecution by a new U.S. Attorney in a different administration. The U.S. Attorney considered the proposal and stated that he would get back to me promptly.

29. Later that same evening on June 6, 2023, at or around 5:47 PM EST, AUSA Wolf emailed me proposed language for the immunity provision that read: “How about this- The United States agrees not to criminally prosecute Biden, outside of the terms of this Agreement, for any federal crimes encompassed by the attached Statement of Facts (Attachment A) and the Statement of Facts attached as Exhibit 1 to the Memorandum of Plea Agreement filed this same day.” (Emphasis in original.) After speaking with Mr. Biden, I responded to AUSA Wolf that the language she sent me “works” and is suitable for Mr. Biden as well, at which point the Parties had a deal. A true and correct and correct copy of AUSA Wolf’s June 6, 2023, email to Chris Clark is attached hereto as Exhibit K.

30. On June 7, 2023, AUSA Wolf emailed me a revised draft of the Diversion Agreement that incorporated the language she had proposed in her June 6 email to me. In that draft, the revised Paragraph 15 provided that “The United States agrees not to criminally prosecute Biden, outside of the terms of this Agreement, for any federal crimes encompassed by the attached Statement of Facts (Attachment A) and the Statement of Facts attached as Exhibit 1 to the Memorandum of Plea Agreement filed this same day.” (Emphasis added.) A true and correct copy of AUSA Wolf’s June 7, 2023, email and redlined Diversion Agreement to Chris Clark is attached hereto as Exhibit L. [emphasis original]

That is, as late as June 6 — the day before that the pressure on Weiss started to publicly ratchet up — David Weiss had personally sanctioned a misdemeanor plea with a gun diversion. That was long after, importantly, the agreement to treat the gun charges via diversion.

That is, Derek Hines simply doesn’t address the abundant evidence that Weiss reneged on a commitment he had personally committed to after coming under political pressure.

As I have laid out, normally these kinds of vindictive prosecution claims are almost as easy to rebut as selective prosecution claims. I described what you might expect in a case arguing that a prosecutor decided to ratchet up charges in response to improper influence: Some kind of language addressing what changed to justify ratcheting up the charges.

You can see how this works in the case of Hatchet Speed, based on facts — involving felony gun charges in one district and the addition of a felony charge to a misdemeanor in another — not dissimilar from Hunter’s case. On January 6, Speed was an NRO contractor with TS/SCI clearance and a Naval reservist still training at Andrews Air Force Base. He had ties to the Proud Boys and expressed a fondness for Hitler. He went on a $50,000 weapon buying spree after January 6, including devices that — prosecutors successfully argued in a second trial — qualified as silencers under federal law. He was charged for unregistered silencers in EDVA and, at first, misdemeanor trespassing charges for his actions on January 6. Between the time his first EDVA trial ended in mistrial and a guilty verdict in his retrial, DOJ added a felony obstruction charge in DC, which his excellent FPD attorneys argued was retaliation for the mistrial. But DOJ responded with an explanation of the process leading to the addition of the felony obstruction charge: they added a second prosecutor, got better at prosecuting obstruction for January 6, found some more damning video of Speed at the Capitol, and came to recognize how Speed’s comments about the attack would prove the corrupt intent required for obstruction charges. They were pretty honest that they regarded Speed as a dangerous dude that they wanted to put away, too.

The same process might well happen if Lowell files a vindictive prosecution claim. Under Goodwin, Weiss might have to do little more than say there was a societal interest in jailing Hunter Biden to affirm the import of the gun laws his father continues to champion.

Normally, prosecutors simply point to some evidence obtained after an initial prosecution decision that changed prosecutors mind about charging.

But Hines doesn’t assert to have any of that in this filing!! Not even the argument I expected — that it’s important that Joe Biden’s kid be subject to the same gun laws that his father champions with everyone else.

What he has (as noted by the timeline below) are a series of dates — including for the discovery of the cocaine residue in the pouch — that Hines obscures.

Rather than a specific explanation of what changed to merit the three gun felonies instead of a diversion, there’s this patently dishonest claim about when the prosecution got evidence in this case.

First, the defendant claims, “DOJ obtained the facts underlying this case years ago and was satisfied the case did not warrant prosecution.” ECF 63 at 50. This is inaccurate. Many of the incriminating facts were discovered years after the conduct when prosecutors had received the defendant’s Apple messages and when the defendant released his incriminating book. There is no evidence that the DOJ decided that this case did not warrant prosecution “years ago.”

The thing about investigations into events that happened five years ago is that prosecutors can have obtained evidence “years ago” that they nevertheless obtained “years after” the alleged crime. Hines is playing word games: The indictment relies heavily on Hunter’s 272-page book, which had been out over two years before David Weiss personally blessed a diversion for the charges.

What prosecutors don’t say — what they would have to say to explain how new evidence led them to change their minds about charging — is that they obtained that evidence between the day David Weiss blessed a diversion agreement — well before June 6 — and the date he decided to charge felonies that Hines argues, while reserving the right to ask for a bunch of enhancements, expose Hunter to 15-21 months’ imprisonment.

Instead, Derek Hines hides what date prosecutors obtained that coke residue evidence. If I’m right that the warrant to search Hunter’s iCloud content was obtained in December — after indicting this crime — then it would be the opposite of proof (again, I’ve asked Weiss’ office for clarity on this point, because I can’t believe they’d only obtain that warrant after indicting). But that is consistent with the discovery motion that described the first batch of discovery only amounted to 350 pages of evidence (which, if it included the whole book would only include 78 additional pages of evidence).

On October 12, 2023, the government provided to the defendant a production of materials consisting of over 350 pages of documents as well as additional electronic evidence from the defendant’s Apple iCloud account and a copy of data from the defendant’s laptop. This production included search warrants related to evidence the government may use in its case-inchief in the gun case, statements of the defendant including his admissions that he was addicted to crack cocaine and possessed a firearm in 2018, and law enforcement reports related to the gun investigation.

More importantly is what this motion doesn’t say. First of all, in spite of falsely treating Hunter’s false statement as if it were a straw purchase to claim an aggravating factor, it provides zero evidence that Hunter had the intent of deceiving on that form. It provides evidence, instead, that Hunter was paranoid and trying to find a way to protect himself and totally out of his mind, the opposite of what you need to prove a willful lie.

Worse still, what the motion literally shows is the reverse of what Hines’ dick-wag in the paragraph all the dick pic sniffers have picked up on. Yes, “to be clear, investigators literally found drugs on the pouch where the defendant had kept his gun.” That impressed the hell out of the dick pic sniffers. But to be clearer, investigators literally didn’t look for drug residue on the gun until five years, possibly longer, after law enforcement seized the gun. 

Even if that drug residue had been found between July 26 and September 14, it’d still be proof that prosecutors never took basic steps towards charging gun crimes until after Republicans brought their heat. If it happened before June 20 in 2023, it’d be even further proof that that Devlin Barrett story did what it was designed to do: to politicize this case. If it happened in December, then it’s a sign of real negligence and dishonesty.

Whatever it is, it proved more useful for impressing the dick pic sniffers than it will in defeating Hunter’s vindictive prosecution claim.

Update: Weiss’ spox declines to comment beyond the court filings.

Update: Fixed the grammar in vindictive action.

Timeline

October 2018: The gun, ammunition, and speed loader were placed in evidence

August 2019: The tax and foreign influence peddling iCloud warrant Weiss claims to be relying on obtained

December 2019: When Weiss obtained the laptop, but he doesn’t provide the exact date or discuss the provenance problems of it

August 2020: An iCloud warrant, probably the fruit of the laptop and almost definitely also limited to tax and influence peddling crimes, that Weiss mentions in a footnote but doesn’t acknowledge in the text

April 6, 2021: Publication date of Hunter’s book, which specific date Weiss does not include in the filing.

March 2022: Prosecutors first inform Chris Clark they are considering gun charges.

October 6, 2022: Politicized leak to Devlin Barrett designed to pressure David Weiss into charging gun charges.

October 31, 2022: Chris Clark notes that prosecutors didn’t tell him of potential gun crimes until March 2022.

Since December 2020, nearly all of our meetings, phone calls, and correspondence with your Office have related to the Government’s investigation of Mr. Biden for possible tax offenses. It was not until a phone call in March 2022—over a year into our cooperative dialogue—that your Office disclosed a potential investigation of Mr. Biden for possible firearms offenses (the “Firearm Investigation”).

September 14, 2023: Weiss obtains gun indictment just before speedy trial clock expires.

ND: Prosecutors obtain a warrant, listed as 23-507M, to “to search the defendant’s electronic evidence for evidence of federal firearms violations and to seize such data.” The filing does not provide a date for this warrant, but 23-mj-504 was an arrest warrant obtained on November 30 and 23-mj-508 was an arrest warrant obtained on December 4, 2023. I have asked Weiss’ office for clarification on whether this warrant could possibly have been obtained in December, almost three months after the indictment.

ND: Sometime in 2023, date not given, but by description after the gun-related warrant, prosecutors access the gun that has been in storage for over 5 years and “notice” it has cocaine residue on it, which is when they first sent it for FBI analysis.

David Weiss Buries Bill Barr Right Alongside Tony Bobulinski

For a second time, David Weiss’ Special Counsel team has buried an inconvenient (some)body to avoid accounting for the politicization of the investigation they claim is not political.

This time, it’s Bill Barr.

Across three responses pertaining to political influence submitted yesterday — request for discovery, immunity through diversion agreement, and selective and vindictive prosecution — the prosecutors used a variety of tactics to simply avoid dealing with inconvenient evidence.

In the discovery response, after describing discovery production to date — 500,000 pages of which came on January 9 — Derek Hines argued that under Armstrong, Hunter Biden hadn’t reached the threshold for discovery, primarily addressing selective prosecution rather than vindictive (as I’ll show, Hines ignores much of Hunter’s vindictive prosecution argument). In claiming there’s no evidence to support discovery, his discovery response doesn’t address a single piece of evidence that Hunter showed to support his argument. Instead, it paraphrases Hunter’s two discovery requests (one, two) this way:

  • Emails, documents, and information reflecting deliberative processes and decision-making of DOJ concerning the investigation and its decision to bring charges against the defendant. ECF 65 at ¶¶ E, G
  • Emails, documents, and information concerning communications with Congress and “any person at the U.S. Department of Justice” “concerning the investigation or prosecution of Mr. Biden, including the decision to bring any particular charges.” ECF 65 at ¶ H
  • “All documents and records reflecting communications from January 20, 2017 to the present (the “Relevant Time Period”) to, from, between, or among Donald J. Trump, William P. Barr, Geoffrey Berman, Scott W. Brady, Richard Donoghue, or Jeffrey A. Rosen relating to or discussing any formal or informal investigation or prosecution of Hunter Biden, or a request thereof” ECF 66 at ¶ 1
  • “All documents and records reflecting communications from the Relevant Time Period to, from, between, or among Donald J. Trump, William P. Barr, Geoffrey Berman, Scott W. Brady, Richard Donoghue, or Jeffrey A. Rosen and any Executive Branch official, political appointee, Department of Justice official, government agency, government official or staff person, cabinet member, or attorney for President Trump (personal or other) discussing or concerning Hunter Biden.” ECF 66 at ¶ 2

The paraphrase ignores items in Hunter’s first request pertaining to John Paul Mac Isaac (yesterday’s filings reference the laptop without describing its provenance or whether and how follow-on warrants relied on it), to disciplinary investigations, leak investigations, and other communication with the press (one of which Hines specifically relies on in his responses), as well as draft 302s and FD-1023s like the one recording an unreliable Tony Bobulinski interview made after being hosted by Donald Trump (which, as I noted, Weiss distorted the facts to exclude from the tax indictment, just as he distorts the facts regarding Barr’s involvement) or an informant report obtained via a dedicated channel for Rudy Giuliani’s dirt.

That is, Hines simply ignores a number of items in Hunter’s request that prove Trump’s personal and ongoing tampering in this investigation.

The discovery response likewise ignores Hunter’s request for subpoenas for materials in the possession of Trump and others, including Barr, which was cited in Hunter’s own discovery motion, even though Hines dealt with comments Trump made on Truth Social this way, in his selective and vindictive response:

The next statements by Trump cited by the defendant in support of his argument (ECF 63 at 31) occurred in 2023, now on a website called “Truth Social.” After the defendant filed his motion, undersigned counsel have tried to gain access to the website to verify the authenticity of the “Truth Social” messages cited by the defendant, but the site apparently is not functional:

Accordingly, while the government has not verified the accuracy of the messages or been able to assess any surrounding context that the defendant may have omitted, it is still clear that these supposed messages do not advance the defendant’s claim.

“Let me subpoena all the threats made by Donald Trump on his social media site,” Hunter asked. And after Leo Wise claimed that’s not necessary, Hines professed to be utterly incompetent to be able to find those threats, including at least one targeting David Weiss personally, published publicly. That, even though other parts of DOJ have proven perfectly capable of accessing Truth Social — for example, after Taylor Taranto used the address for Barack Obama that Trump posted there to start stalking the Kalorama neighborhood of Trump’s predecessor. DOJ knows how to find threats Trump elicits on Truth Social, but poor Derek Hines claims he doesn’t have any way of doing that.

You know how you might get those posts, Derek Hines? A subpoena.

But it is in Bill Barr’s role where this response is most telling (particularly given Hines’ paraphrase ignoring FD-1023s).

Here’s how, in the selective and vindictive response, he addressed Hunter’s request for information from Bill Barr.

Even the contents of most of the tweets cited by the defendant contradict his claim that he is being selectively and vindictively prosecuted. For example, according to the defendant, on December 12, 2020, former President Trump complained that then-Attorney General Barr did not “reveal the truth” to the public before the election about Hunter Biden. ECF 63 at 29. If the DOJ was acting to pursue a political agenda, wouldn’t DOJ have done the opposite? The defendant says President Trump tweeted, “I have NOTHING to do with the potential prosecution of Hunter Biden, or the Biden family. . . ” Id. That claim of non-involvement does not support his claim. According to the defendant, in his book, Attorney General Barr stated he was asked by President Trump about the investigation of Hunter Biden, and Attorney General Barr refused to tell him about it. Id. at 30. This withholding of information does not support his argument.

And here’s how Hines dodged any discussion of the Deputy Attorney General’s role in channeling Russian disinformation — as well as an FD-1023 obtained via a dedicated channel from Trump’s personal lawyer — into the investigation of the son of Trump’s campaign opponent.

In this same section of his brief, the defendant cites testimony of an IRS employee who stated that DOJ made the decision not to take overt investigative steps that could influence the 2020 election. Id. The problematic conduct that the defendant complains of is that the Deputy Attorney General’s office during the Trump Administration was aware of and involved in some specific investigatory decisions in the most banal fashion possible—by waiting to take specific investigative steps at certain times out of caution so that that investigation would not influence a Presidential election. If the defendant’s vindictiveness allegations were true, wouldn’t DOJ prosecutors have done the opposite and permitted investigators to take overt steps that could have influenced the election? These claims show only that career DOJ prosecutors and DOJ leadership acted appropriately when investigating the son of a candidate for President. Moreover, against this backdrop, U.S. Attorney Weiss was then asked to remain U.S. Attorney during the Biden Administration, which further underscores the lack of discriminatory intent.

As Wise did in the filing claiming to need no subpoena, Hines did here: both completely ignored that Hunter has pointed to official records, which are in no way deliberative, showing that months after Donald Trump asked Volodymyr Zelenskyy to provide campaign dirt to Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr, days after (per Chuck Grassley) shutting down an investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky, the former Attorney General set up a channel dedicated to ingesting dirt from Rudy, including from Zlochevsky and known agents of Russia, to be laundered into the investigation of Hunter Biden.

That response ignores several aspects — either implicit or explicit — of Hunter’s request:

  • Joseph Ziegler initially claimed (he subsequently backed off this claim) that Bill Barr personally decided to put the investigation in Delaware, an appropriate venue to investigate Joe Biden, but not for Hunter’s suspected tax crimes
  • Bill Barr set up a back channel to receive Rudy Giuliani’s dirt targeting Hunter and Joe Biden, including dirt obtained from Mykola Zlochevsky and known Russian agent Andrii Derkach
  • Days after Trump harangued Bill Barr personally (described in his book as a response to the initial NY Post story published on October 14), Richard Donoghue ordered Weiss’ team to accept a briefing on the FD-1023 (which happened on October 23 — the same day Bobulinski met with the FBI)
  • Bill Barr told Margot Cleveland, for a story published just as David Weiss started reneging on a plea deal in June, that he was personally involved in sharing the FD-1023 with Weiss’ office

And if Weiss responded to Hunter’s request for “communications with Congress,” he would have to provide the following:

  • Discussions Barr had with Lindsey Graham about the dedicated channel he was setting up to target Hunter Biden
  • The correspondence via which DOJ told Jerry Nadler about the dedicated channel for Rudy’s dirt
  • The July 10 letter from Weiss to Lindsey Graham stating that the FD-1023 produced by that dedicated channel was still being investigated, crucial evidence of what I called the FARA headfake inventing a reason to reopen the investigation
  • Chuck Grassley’s October 23 letter to Merrick Garland describing that days before Barr set up that dedicated channel and around the time when Zlochevsky made unprecedented claims of having bribed Joe Biden, Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down a corruption investigation whence the FD-1023 would be reverse engineered via Barr’s dedicated channel
  • Scott Brady’s testimony describing:
    • The dedicated channel to launder dirt into the Hunter Biden investigation involved 5 prosecutors in Brady’s office (including him), plus some number of FBI people
    • Between January and October 2020, Brady spoke to Weiss every four to six weeks about this dedicated channel
    • Brady demanded — and after some “colorful” language with Weiss, got — interrogatories regarding the scope of Weiss’ investigation
    • In his initial explanation, Brady said his team found that lead via asking the FBI to search on “Hunter Biden” and “Burisma,” precisely the request Trump had made of Volodymyr Zlochevsky
    • The reinterview of the Zlochevsky informant came at Brady’s direction
    • Brady’s claimed vetting of the Zlochevsky lead included checking travel records (the dates of which were not included on the FD-1023) but did not include comparing Zlochevsky’s claims against the materials from impeachment or even public reporting that conflicted with it
    • He “reminded” Weiss of the obligation to investigate leads
    • He provided a report to Donoghue in September 2020 that would in no way be deliberative
    • He got Donoghue to intervene when Weiss’ team showed reluctance to accept his laundered dirt
    • Brady personally kept Bill Barr informed of his efforts
  • David Weiss’ testimony describing:
    • He never spoke with Joe Biden about remaining on as US Attorney, has not been supervised by any political appointee since 2022, and has never once spoken to his boss, Lisa Monaco
    • He did speak with Bill Barr about remaining on as US Attorney
    • He has never had direct communication with Merrick Garland save the written communication in which he asked to be made Special Counsel
    • The discussion he had with LA US Attorney Martin Estrada goes to the merits of the case that Estrada said would not be worth charging that Weiss has since charged
    • He always intended to continue the investigation into Hunter, a claim that materially conflicts with something that Chris Clark says Weiss’ First AUSA told him
    • He believes Leslie Wolf, whom he removed from the Hunter Biden team, is a person of integrity
    • The information laundered through Brady was still ongoing as of November 7
    • His office has been targeted by threats and harassment — and he himself raised concerns about intimidation
    • He still remembers Gary Shapley’s body language in response to Weiss’ comment about the merits of the case
  • Thomas Sobocinski’s testimony describing:
    • After Gary Shapley’s claims went public, threats to personnel on the team “absolutely increased”
    • He “definitely” had discussions with David Weiss about how Shapley’s claims would affect the case
    • After Shapley’s claims, the children of people on the team started getting followed
    • Leslie Wolf has concerns for her safety
  • Martin Estrada’s description of three reports he received, which convinced him it was not worth dedicating resources to prosecuting Hunter Biden for tax crimes in Los Angeles

In short, Hines simply refuses to deal with the evidence — some laid out explicitly in Hunter’s filing — that would substantiate how Bill Barr went to great lengths to let Trump’s personal attorney launder dirt into this investigation, and then continued to politicize this investigation during the period when Weiss’ team was subjected to increased threats.

The record already shows that Trump demanded an investigation, DOJ set one up in the way most likely to implicate Joe as opposed to Hunter, in the wake of pressure from Trump and during the campaign season, DOJ ordered Weiss to accept an informant report reflecting a suspect relationship between Zlochevsky and Trump’s attorney, and that back channel continues to be one of the ways Republicans have provably pressured David Weiss to prosecute Hunter more harshly, after which pressure Weiss did just that.

But by refusing to address the substance of the evidence Hunter laid out showing this investigation was politicized, Hines simply buried all that.

For Almost a Year, “Jim Jordan” Has Been Saying Hunter Biden Didn’t Need to Testify

I came to the Hunter Biden beat a bit late — only after I read Gary Shapley’s testimony. And so when Democrats mentioned that Abbe Lowell had sent Congress six letters in last week’s circus hearing — only two of which were cited in the contempt referral — I realized I hadn’t read them all.

I posted them all below.

It turns out, the two earliest ones — the ones I hadn’t read, ones which were sent to James Comer but not Jim Jordan — Abbe Lowell cited Jordan to lay out the impropriety of the requests for information from Hunter.

We know, from the Steve Bannon prosecution, that were the House to refer Hunter Biden for contempt, the first thing DOJ would do is ask for paperwork from both sides. On the January 6 Committee side, that all went through senior staffers. On Bannon’s side, Robert Costello claimed to have certain representations from Trump, but when asked, he admitted he didn’t have anything to backup that claim (Peter Navarro had still less since he didn’t lawyer up until after being charged). DOJ went so far as to get Costello’s call records to make sure there weren’t communications they didn’t know about.

Here, the first thing Abbe Lowell would do if Hunter were referred to contempt would be to share the six letters he had sent, documenting the authority on which he was relying for asking for further accommodations. The Oversight contempt referral — and even the letter issued Sunday moving toward setting up a deposition — made no mention of the earlier letters. As I noted, when DOJ asked the staffers in charge of the contempt referral what had happened, that hapless person would have to explain why the Committee withheld relevant documents from its contempt referral.

But as I also noted, even when relying on just the more recent letter, Jordan has said enough about the authority of subpoenas that he risked being a witness in any contempt investigation and then trial, something Bennie Thompson studiously avoided by letting staffers manage the guts of the legal issues.

That may explain why Jordan, whose chief counsel Steve Castor is bad faith but a good lawyer, saw the wisdom of issuing a new subpoena.

There’s still a conflict here. Lowell suggested hybrid accommodation in his letter from last week.

You have not explained why you are not interested in transparency and having the American people witness the full and complete testimony of Mr. Biden at a public hearing. If you issue a new proper subpoena, now that there is a duly authorized impeachment inquiry, Mr. Biden will comply for a hearing or deposition. 33 We will accept such a subpoena on Mr. Biden’s behalf.

33 During the January 10, 2024, Judiciary Committee markup, Representative Glenn Ivey suggested a procedure for a hybrid process—a public deposition/hearing with alternating rounds of questions for Republicans and Democrats, and with similar rules (e.g., role of counsel in questioning), as is done in a closed-door deposition. Four Republicans actually voted in committee in support of this process. Perhaps that could be the basis for our discussion.

In Sunday’s letter, Jordan and Comer rejected that, falsely claiming that the rules prohibit it (and ignoring Comer’s offer of public testimony in the past, something that came up in the contempt hearing).

While we welcome Mr. Biden’s public testimony at the appropriate time, he must appear for a deposition that conforms to the House Rules and the rules and practices of the Committees, just like every other witness before the Committees.26

26 For this reason, the Committees cannot accept the so-called “hybrid process” you propose. See January 12 Letter, supra note 1, at 8 n.33

I would not be surprised if Lowell did what Jim Comey did back in 2018, when House Republicans were conducting a similarly politicized non-public investigation into the Russian investigation. He sued to quash the subpoena, largely in an attempt to get some means of preventing Members from making false claims while hiding the transcript. That ended with an agreement that the House would release the transcript a day after the testimony.

The letter Lowell sent Mike Johnson on November 8 already extensively documented the false claims that Republicans had made about Hunter. There are some interesting false claims in the HJC report on the Hunter investigation that would not only further substantiate the need for transparency, but would also bolster Hunter’s claim — made in a motion to dismiss — that the House is unconstitutionally trying to conduct a prosecution of him.

Plus, there are other details of Jordan’s investigation — most notably the threats, which Becca Balint laid out during the contempt hearing last week. It is absolutely critical to Hunter Biden’s legal case that US Attorneys David Weiss and Martin Estrada as well as FBI Special Agent in Charge Thomas Sobocinski testified that threats were made in conjunction with this investigation, threats that in Delaware’s case preceded a radical reversal on the prosecutorial decision. Yet Jordan is sitting on that testimony.

Most people, myself included, think it’d be insane for someone fighting two indictments to appear before a hostile committee, much less without some means of acquiring his own record. But at the same time, Jordan keeps providing Lowell more evidence that the House, not DOJ, is the branch of government driving that prosecution.


1. February 9, 2023: Re request for documents [Comer]

[T]hen Ranking Member Jim Jordan (who sat next to you at your February 8th hearing) stated that a subpoena of President Trump and his family’s personal records was “an unprecedented abuse of the Committee’s subpoena authority[.]”1 Mr. Jordan described the subpoena for financial and business records as an “irresponsible and gravely dangerous course of conduct in a singular obsession of attacking President Trump and his family for political gain.”2 Mr. Jordan feared that Chairman Cummings would selectively release information gained from the subpoena “in a misleading fashion to create a false narrative for partisan political gain.”3

[snip]

Representative Jordan, citing Watkins, even emphasized that private persons have a limited place in Committee investigations: “[t]he Supreme Court has cautioned that Congress does not have ‘general authority to expose the private affairs of individuals without justification in terms of the functions of the Congress.’”4

2. June 14, 2023: Re records from art dealer Georges Bergès [Comer]

I am sure you will remember that it was now Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, in his hollering about the subpoena issued to the Presidents’ accounting firm, citing to the same Waikins case, who stated that private persons have a limited place in Committee investigations: “[t]he Supreme Court has cautioned that Congress does not have ‘general authority to expose the private affairs of individuals without justification in terms of the functions of the Congress. ™

[snip]

Let me remind you what then-Ranking Member Jim Jordan stated: that a subpoena of President Trump and his family’s personal records was “an unprecedented abuse of the Committee’s subpoena authority[.]”* (emphasis added). Mr. Jordan described the subpoena for financial and business records as an “irresponsible and gravely dangerous course of conduct in a singular obsession of attacking President Trump and his family for political gain.” (emphasis added). 1 explained in February that Mr. Jordan stated he feared that Chairman Elijah Cummings ‘would selectively release information gained from the subpoena “in a misleading fashion to create a false narrative for partisan political gain.”

[snip]

No sooner did You obtain these financial records then, as admitted in you letter, you released them to the public in your “First Bank Records Memorandum.” In so doing, you decided to ignore the warning of your colleague Chairman Jordan, who cautioned that Democrats would selectively release information gained from the subpoena “in a misleading fashion to create a false namative for partisan political gain.” Oh, what a difference a few years and a change in leadership has made.

3. September 13, 2023: Re Newsmax appearance [Comer]

I write on behalf of our client regarding your statement this morning, September 13, on Newsmax, in which you stated, “We’re headed to court, more than likely. We’ve requested bank records from Hunter Biden and Jim Biden early on, and obviously we never got a response back. We will re-request those this week; if they do not comply with our request, then we will subpoena and no doubt, undoubtedly head to court.”1 Your statement was surprising as it ignores our prior exchanges.

[snip]

We ask that you correct what you said, but more importantly, we remain available to have the discussion that I suggested some seven months ago.

4. November 8, 2023, to Mike Johnson: On false claims made by Republicans [Comer, Jordan, and Smith]

Chairman Jordan, for his part, used his airtime on November 1 to spew false, recycled, and debunked claims about Hunter’s time serving on the board of directors of Burisma, wielding it as an excuse to justify his obsession with pursuing an “impeachment inquiry” into President Biden when he declared: “Hunter Biden gets put on the Board of Burisma, fact number one. Fact number two, he’s not qualified to be on the Board of Burisma. Fact number three, the head of Burisma asks Hunter Biden, ‘can you help us relieve the pressure we are under from the Ukrainian prosecutor?’ Fact number four, Joe Biden does just that.” 9

[snip]

As to Chairman Jordan’s made-up, nonsensical claim that “the head of Burisma ask[ed] Hunter Biden, ‘can you help us relieve the pressure we are under from the Ukrainian prosecutor?,’” I simply would ask Chairman Jordan: what evidence do you have and when is it coming? The answer is “none” and “never.” For all the hours, months, and years Chairman Jordan and others (e.g., Senators Grassley and Johnson) have spent trying to invent a scheme in which Hunter assisted Burisma in any illicit or inappropriate way to “relieve the pressure” stemming from a Ukrainian corruption investigation, while his father was Vice President, they have produced an alarmingly scant amount of proof to show for their claims. Opposite evidence abounds.

5. November 28, 2023: In response to Comer’s Newsmax appearance [Comer and Jordan]

Mr. Chairman, we take you up on your offer. Accordingly, our client will get right to it by agreeing to answer any pertinent and relevant question you or your colleagues might have, but— rather than subscribing to your cloaked, one-sided process—he will appear at a public Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing. To quote your November 8, 2023, letter accompanying the subpoena, “Given your client’s willingness to address this investigation publicly up to this point, we would expect him to be willing to testify before Congress.”6 He is, Mr. Chairman. A public proceeding would prevent selective leaks, manipulated transcripts, doctored exhibits, or one-sided press statements.

December 6, 2023: Public testimony [Comer and Jordan]

As indicated in my November 28, 2023, letter, Mr. Biden has offered to appear at a hearing on the December 13, 2023, date you have reserved, or another date this month, to answer any question pertinent and relevant to the subject matter stated in your November 8, 2023, letter. He is making this choice because the Committee has demonstrated time and again it uses closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort, the facts and misinform the American public—a hearing would ensure transparency and truth in these proceeding

January 12, 2024: After contempt [Comer and Jordan]

And you, Chairman Jordan, during a House Republican leadership press conference immediately after the actual impeachment inquiry resolution vote finally occurred,stated: “I want you all to think about something. This morning, I was in an impeachment deposition, but then had to leave that to come to the floor for a vote on the rules for impeachment. That [] says it all about this entire process. And it is a sad day.” 11

[snip]

You noticed an impeachment deposition a month before an impeachment inquiry vote was held to authorize such a deposition. Astonishingly, the sequence of events was the same as 2019. Almost four years to the day that Speaker Pelosi made her statement authorizing impeachment-based subpoenas before a House resolution authorized them, it was now Speaker Kevin McCarthy who, despite criticizing his predecessor for trying to do the same thing, did the same thing. On September 12, 2023, Speaker McCarthy said: “These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction, and corruption. And they warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives. That’s why today, I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.” 12 Chairman Jordan, you should be similarly saddened by your own use of pre–impeachment inquiry subpoenas against Mr. Biden.

[snip]

Thus, “Resolution 660’s direction, however, was entirely prospective. . . . Accordingly, the pre-October 31 subpoenas, which had not been authorized by the House, continued to lack compulsory force.”19 As Resolution 660 was ineffective in 2019, so is Resolution 917 now. To quote you, Chairman Jordan, during the first impeachment of former President Trump, “[c]odifying a sham process halfway through doesn’t make it any less of a sham process.”

[snip]

Still further, on December 13, 2023, you issued a joint statement directly tying Mr. Biden’s subpoenasto the still yet-to-be-authorized impeachment inquiry: “Today, the House will vote on an impeachment inquiry resolution to strengthen our legal case in the courts as we face obstruction from the White House and witnesses. Today’s obstruction by Hunter Biden reinforces the need for a formal vote. President Biden and his family must be held accountable for their corruption and obstruction. And we will provide that to the American people.”27

The Non-Visible Networks behind the More Visible Networks of Fascism

There’s an RT posted at the Guccifer 2.0 Twitter account in 2016 that has always puzzled me: a stupid meme, posted on Labor Day, about what unemployed people do on Labor Day.

Virtually all Guccifer 2.0’s other public Tweets served to sustain a cover story about the hack-and-leak operation and its tie to WikiLeaks, disseminate stolen documents, or network with those who might be used to disseminate stolen documents. This RT does not do that — at least not obviously — and it deviates from the BernieBro culture adopted by the Guccifer persona up to that point. It suggests either there was an unseen tie to far right meme culture, or that someone had access to this account who was part of it.

The RT is especially interesting given that three different GRU indictments (DNC, Anti-Doping, Macron Leaks) adopt different approaches in discussing the dissemination of the documents stolen by GRU, which I’ve addressed here and here. In 2016, the Guccifer persona cultivated ties with Roger Stone and Alex Jones and released select files (on Black Lives Matter) to then-Breitbart, future-Sputnik writer Lee Stranahan. By the time of the Macron Leaks in May 2017, Jack Posobiec played an even more central, overt role in the leak part of the operation, via still unidentified Latvian account. But this meme suggests some other tie in real time.

Keep this RT in mind as you read the following discussion, about the extent to which much of what we visibly see in the Republican slide to fascism is just the public manifestation of a far more instrumental and far uglier infrastructure that exists in chat rooms.

Some of what we know about the 2016 state of that infrastructure comes from exhibits introduced at the Douglass Mackey trial. On the very same day Guccifer 2.0 RTed that meme, for example, the trolls in the Madman Twitter DM list were pushing memes to push a narrative, one picked up from Trump, that Hillary Clinton was unwell and might not make the election — a narrative about a Democrat replicated, with far greater success, in this election.

White nationalists plotted in private about how to get minorities to turn on Democrats. They explicitly focused on ways to affect turnout in ways that could swing the election.

As I’ve written here and here, the far right efforts to set a narrative that would (and did) help Trump win the presidency started over a year before the election. Both Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer — the webmaster for Daily Stormer — and Microchip worked hard in early months to professionalize the effort. They planned campaigns that would bridge from reddit, 4Chan, and The Donald onto Twitter, including efforts that started at Daily Stormer. This effort was transnational: the trolls reached back to efforts made during Brexit and looked ahead to EU elections, and planned to build a bigger bot army. They complained about Twitter’s shoddy efforts to moderate and plotted ways to defeat any moderation.

The effort by far right trolls to hijack the virality of Twitter to get mainstream journalists to echo their far right themes had at least two direct ties to Trump’s campaign. Anthime “Baked Alaska” Gionet, whom Microchip alerted when the FBI first came calling, claimed to be part of a Trump campaign Slack, to which he invited others.

More importantly, Don Jr has confessed he was part of this network (curiously, when the Mackey took the stand at trial, he claimed to know nothing about the identities of his unindicted co-conspirators. As I have noted, there’s a troll in that channel who used the moniker P0TUSTrump and whom other trolls called Donald that was pushing hashtags pushing stolen documents on the same days Don Jr was doing so on his eponymous Twitter account. From there, trolls like Microchip made them go viral. If P0TUSTrump is Don Jr, then, it shows that he was a key channel between WikiLeaks through this far right channel to make things go viral.

Between 2016 and 2020, people associated with this far right group orchestrated PizzaGate, may have had a hand in QAnon, and helped disseminated documents stolen by GRU from Emmanuel Macron. PizzaGate and QAnon served as powerful recruiting narratives. I’ve shown how Doug Jensen, the QAnoner who chased Officer Eugene Goodman up the Senate stairs on January 6, went from a lifelong union Democrat to hating Hillary to throwing away his life in QAnon to attacking the Capitol via that process of radicalization. Early prosecutions, at least, suggested that QAnon was actually more successful at getting bodies where they could obstruct the vote certification than the militias.

But even as that cult narrative of QAnon was radicalizing people from all walks of life, the same network was replicating networks of more overtly partisan, paramilitary mobilization.

I suppose I or someone else should draw a network map of this.

But we know that Roger Stone had a Signal list call Friends of Stone, which included among its 47 members Stewart Rhodes, Enrique Tarrio, Ali Alexander, and Owen Shroyer, along with anti-vaxxers, Bundyists, Mike Flynn associate Ivan Raiklin, and longtime aides Jacobs Engels and Tyler Ziolkowski (who, along with Tarrio, were both implicated in the meme targeting Amy Berman Jackson during Stone’s prosecution).

Both Rhodes and Tarrio ran parallel sets of communication leading up to the insurrection — more public, accessible communications, and more select lists (on Signal in Rhodes’ case and on Telegram in Tarrio’s) that planned for the operation. Unlike Twitter, Signal and Telegram would only be accessible to law enforcement after exploiting the phones on which they were used, and only then if the comms hadn’t been successfully deleted.

Tarrio would also be networked into the Latinos for Trump group, along with Bianca Gracia and Oath Keeper Kellye SoRelle, with whom he visited the White House in December 2020 and both of whom were present for the parking garage meeting Tarrio had with Rhodes on January 5, 2021. One court filing submitted in advance of the trial of the cop who allegedly tipped off Tarrio to his arrest shows Tarrio also has a “Christian Nationalist” group that officer Shane Lamond joined on November 9, 2020. Another filing shows how Lamond warned Tarrio about investigations into Harry’s Bar and the Proud Boys organizing on Parler.

Ali Alexander and Brandon Straka provided the January 6 Committee (entirely unreliable) descriptions of the all-important Stop the Steal threads on which Alexander organized — first — early mob scenes at state capitols and then events around January 6 itself (though unlike Alexander, who fully attributed getting the brand from Roger Stone, Straka disclaimed knowledge of all that). Straka did acknowledge that Paul Gosar had ties to the Stop the Steal effort. The sentencing memorandum for Alan Hostetter, a key player in the SoCal anti-vax community with ties to 3Percenters, actually contacted Alexander on December 16, 2020, to suggest Stop the Steal organize a rally for January 6, though it’s not clear via what channel he knew him. While the leaders of the Stop the Steal effort were on Twitter until a late move to Signal (again, if we can believe unreliable J6C testimony), it spawned a massive viral effort on other platforms, including Facebook.

In addition to being the big draw for the donation from Publix heir Julie Fancelli, Alex Jones has his own media infrastructure. Organizers claim some percentage — a fifth or a third — of those at the Capitol were there for Jones, not Trump. Like Alexander, he also mobilized the earlier mobs in the states.

It’s not entire clear how Baked Alaska continues to fit into this network. But in order to avoid felony charges (as Straka had earlier), he reportedly agreed to share the kind of network information that would further elucidate these networks.

And that network of lists and threads maps onto this one, the list of people who, in 2020, were the most effective at spreading disinformation on Twitter.

We just don’t know via what chat rooms and threads they map, who else is in that map, and what international ties they have.

What kind of chat rooms did Don Jr inhabit, four years after he networked with Douglass Mackey, that helped him direct a broader network to make false claims go viral? Today, as Ric Grenell — Trump’s troll turned Ambassador to Germany turned Acting Director of National Intelligence — returns from supporting a coup attempt in Guatemala, what international networks was he mobilizing?

I’m always most fascinated by the role of Mike Roman on this list, punching well above his modest Twitter following of 29,610 people. Roman, a charged co-conspirator in Trump’s Georgia indictment, is claiming Fani Willis has a conflict arising from a personal relationship with one of the prosecutors she brought in for the case. He’s often thought of someone who ferried documents from fake electors around, but before that he was a kind of internal intelligence service for Trump targeting Republicans, and before that, the Kochs. Like Grenell, he has branched out to push far right policies internationally, in Canada. None of those activities, however, explain what chat rooms he was in that allowed him to help spread the Big Lie in 2020. They must exist, and yet they’re not yet visible.

Mike Roman is one of the Trump associates whose phone DOJ seized before Jack Smith was appointed. To the extent he didn’t delete them, that should disclose his networks to prosecutors.

As I noted above, increasingly, these networks have moved to platforms, especially Telegram and Signal, that are harder to investigate, particularly without advance notice. It took years (starting before January 6, with the seizure of Tarrio’s phone, which nevertheless took a full year to exploit) before the government had collected at least three sets of the Friends of Stone list.

That’s true even though some network effect — whether including anyone named here or not — likely explains a swatting campaign that has targeted:

While not all targets are seen as adversaries of Trump, or even Democrats, his top adversaries have been targeted. The swatting campaign is, at a minimum, terrorism (and could be part of a campaign to do real violence).

And there’s a non-zero chance that behind it is the same kind of non-visible infrastructure the far right has been professionalizing for a decade.

My effort to describe how Trump trained the Republican party to hate rule of law will describe the visible aspects of that effort. But behind it all, these non-visible networks form an integral part of the effort.

Update: Took out reference to Pepe.

This post is part of a Ball of Thread I’m putting together before I attempt to explain how Trump trained Republicans to hate rule of law. See this post for an explanation of my Ball of Thread.

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