What that Report Purportedly Authenticating the “Hunter Biden” “Laptop” Really Said
I’ve reported on the WaPo story on the security review of the disk drive commonly referred to as the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” a bunch of times.
But in advance of ripping apart this James Comer fan-fiction about Hunter Biden and before the Twitter thread I did disappears into the Elmo dumpster fire, I wanted to repeat it here. The WaPo asked security experts Matt Green (who worked with his Johns Hopkins students) and Jake Williams to review the drive to see what they could authenticate.
They discovered that people had kept adding content to the “laptop,” making it impossible to say what was on the “laptop” when it was provided to the blind computer repairman.
In their examinations, Green and Williams found evidence that people other than Hunter Biden had accessed the drive and written files to it, both before and after the initial stories in the New York Post and long after the laptop itself had been turned over to the FBI.
Maxey had alerted The Washington Post to this issue in advance, saying that others had accessed the data to examine its contents and make copies of files. But the lack of what experts call a “clean chain of custody” undermined Green’s and Williams’s ability to determine the authenticity of most of the drive’s contents.
“The drive is a mess,” Green said.
He compared the portable drive he received from The Post to a crime scene in which detectives arrive to find Big Mac wrappers carelessly left behind by police officers who were there before them, contaminating the evidence.
That assessment was echoed by Williams.
“From a forensics standpoint, it’s a disaster,” Williams said.
Still more important: some of the forensic data that would be necessary to authenticate the drive itself had been deleted.
Analysis was made significantly more difficult, both experts said, because the data had been handled repeatedly in a manner that deleted logs and other files that forensic experts use to establish a file’s authenticity.
“No evidence of tampering was discovered, but as noted throughout, several key pieces of evidence useful in discovering tampering were not available,” Williams’ reports concluded.
Williams was able to authenticate fewer than 10% of the files on the drive, though that included some emails involving CEFC China Energy.
The portable drive provided to The Post contains 286,000 individual user files, including documents, photos, videos and chat logs. Of those, Green and Williams concluded that nearly 22,000 emails among those files carried cryptographic signatures that could be verified using technology that would be difficult for even the most sophisticated hackers to fake.
In particular, there are verified emails illuminating a deal Hunter Biden developed with a fast-growing Chinese energy conglomerate, CEFC China Energy, for which he was paid nearly $5 million, and other business relationships. Those business dealings are the subject of a separate Washington Post story published at the same time as this one on the forensic examinations of the drive.
The “Big Guy” email could not be authenticated.
Some other emails on the drive that have been the foundation for previous news reports could not be verified because the messages lacked verifiable cryptographic signatures. One such email was widely described as referring to Joe Biden as “the big guy” and suggesting the elder Biden would receive a cut of a business deal.
There were authenticated emails from Burisma, but if Burisma was hacked (as a security company, Area 1 Security, said it was before the laptop was disclosed), hackers could have faked cryptographic signatures, including on those from Burisma advisor Vadym Pozharskyi that have been the focus of a lot of attention.
The drive also includes some verified emails from Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company for which he was a board member. President Donald Trump’s efforts to tie Joe Biden to the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating Burisma led to Trump’s first impeachment trial, which ended in acquittal in February 2020.
The Post’s review of these emails found that most were routine communications that provided little new insight into Hunter Biden’s work for the company.
Both Green and Williams said the Burisma emails they verified cryptographically were likely to be authentic, but they cautioned that if the company was hacked, it would be possible to fake cryptographic signatures — something much less likely to happen with Google.
Note, as I understand the timing, these emails could have been altered only if the laptop reaccessed the Burisma server after the hack.
In any case, the “laptop” is a completely unreliable shitshow precisely because Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon were in such a rush to make it a political scandal.
And yet the new Republican majority in Congress is sure it is “real.”
James Comer has kicked off his tenure as Oversight Chair by proclaiming that the forensic mess left behind by frothy conspiracy-mongers is, instead, “REAL.”
The treachery and sheer gall of modern Republican operatives continues to astound me. Even if Hunter Biden improbably stumbled into a nearly blind man’s kinda good repair shop and left his laptop computer or hard drive and never bothered to go back to pick it up, who would then take that hardware and hand it over to political opponents of that person’s father? Then, who would also have the gall to write bogus files to this drive/laptop and try to spin these bogus files and other obscure e-mails to business partners as some sort of global financial scandal? The perfidy and treachery associated with bullshit activity like that is just so hard to get my head around. Thanks for all of your efforts to expose this treachery and bring something resembling truth and facts to this insanity!
I smell something… Either it’s Project Veritas, Roger Stone or the FSB leaving an odor of a cross between a Denebian Slime Devil and Jabba the Hutt (no, it’s not Individual-1 though that’s a good guess). Recall how the diary was accessed by PV, so this kind of stuff is routine for RWNJs on a mission from their deity. The FSB in particular would doubtless have some way to inject authentic breadcrumbs into the mix.
As noted many times, the GQP will not look at facts, but froth. I only hope that when this does get into the committees, that the Ds use their time to get the inconsistencies out, and issue a minority report. Then, it’s up to the press to run with it.
We all know what’s coming, but I’m wondering if that smell permeates through 2024. There well could be a backlash against the Republican Congress and up/down ballot consequences should their ridiculousness extend beyond the tolerance of voters. Particularly if the Donald Circus comes to town.
Absolutely Nothing that might improve the lives of the American people will get done for 2+ years.
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We will remain a class 0 species, not for lack of trying, but due to the constant drag of those fighting against it.
That seismic grinding you hear is Nikolai Kardashev whirling in dirt.
Sentience requires self-awareness, something increasingly in short supply among certain populations of humans. But that couldn’t possibly become an existential risk, no sir.
I’ve told you on twitter and I’ve come here to say this to you EW, thank you. You are (so far) the only journalist getting in faces wanting them to do better in reporting. I watched that presser w/Comer and it was a shit show. The Q’s asked from reporters frustrated Comer as he only wanted to talk about Joe and Hunter and trafficking……. I about threw up. I’ve been depressed like I was w/the orange turd for 4 years. When the new year arrives, I hope to become a regular paying subscriber. thank you Marcy. keep up the excellent work.
It was an opportunity missed, and one hopes that the next presser humors Comer, where he’s asked about Biden using EW’s notes about the lack of provenance, chain custody and basic evidence management rendering this ‘laptop’ to be as useful as whale dung.
There is no Hunter Biden hard-drive…
If there was so much damning proof on the harddrive why didn’t Rudy go straight to Justice department instead of rightwing media circuit.
Why wasn’t the original hard-drive left pristine?…..Is there a pristine hard drive out there? There would have to be an original hard drive to make copies of..
Is there no original hardrive without added files ? Did the hard-drive in Rudy’s possession already have the added files before he passed it around?
Rudy is/was a lawyer, he would know about chain of custody, he would know adding data to the harddrive post Hunter’s possession would taint the evidence.
If Rudy had a smoking hun….No way he’d allow it to get spoiled by messing with it.
There is no Hunter hard drive…It is Russian didinfo.
If Rudy or some other Team Trump person has a smoking gun, it’s probably because they just shot themselves in the foot.
there’s a “Hunter Biden” “laptop”, but from what I’ve seen no proof that it was ever Hunter Biden’s. And they’ve never explained why, when he was living in L.A., he’d go all the way across the US to an obscure store with an owner who couldn’t identify him and leave his laptop without contact information or even a name attached.
The whole thing stinks of a planned “scandal”.
So are we supposed to believe that the Russians dropped the fake laptop off to the blind shopkeeper knowing that he would first go to fbi and then when fbi did nothing they knew he would go to Rudy?
Rudy Guiliani was working directly with a Russian intelligence agent named Derkach.
Did hackers hack Hunter Biden’s laptop, and then give it to Guiliani, who then made up the whole story about a blind computer repairman ( big Trump donor) and then let forgers work on it? Yep.
Did Guiliani attempt to create “evidence” that “proves” the false stories written by professional liar, Peter Schweizer? Yes he did.
Did Guiliani defraud a federal court, and the FBI, and the Justice Department and the State Department and the US Senate with these fraudulent forgeries? Why, yes he did.
Here’s my question: why isn’t that motherfucker Guiliani in jail ?
The issue with “chain of custody” isn’t necessarily about who dropped it off, it’s about who / how many people accessed it and potentially altered its contents, whether intentionally or unintentionally, after it left the owner’s hand.
So, if a cop takes possession of a vial of blood taken at the hospital obtained from an alleged drunk driver, and puts it in his unlocked glovebox for 8 hours in the hot sun, its value as an investigative tool is lost. The hot car and unlocked glove box that could potentially be accessed by others could mean that what was in that vial when it was handed to the cop at hospital by the nurse who drew the blood, cannot be guaranteed to be the same “blood” that was drawn. Not only could it have been accessed by someone else and altered, but it could have been compromised by the storage environment. Even if the vial is clearly labelled with suspect’s name and date of birth, any BAC testing that could be done on it would either be inadmissible in court or could very easily be dismissed as unreliable evidence due to chain of custody problems. It doesn’t matter whose name is listed on the vial’s label — because chain of custody was compromised, it can no longer be considered evidence of the DUI-guy’s guilt.
There’s an interview in Oct. or Nov. 2020 with Guiliani, conducted by Chris Cuomo, i think, when he was at CNN, where Guiliani rails on all the media outlets for refusing to report on the laptop’s contents before the election. The legacy media outlets, Guiliani complained, “keep saying they would need to verify who it belonged to and if anything allegedly written on it was indeed written by Hunter Biden….We didn’t have time for that crap. They needed to publish it now.” Shocking to be coming from the mouth of a lawyer. Perhaps a premonition guiliani would be disbarred. Such inscrupulous conduct.
WaPo did obtain digital copy of the hard drive, but it took weeks (months ?) to authenticate, so was only reported on by WaPo after authentication reviews were complete. And as Marcy said, only 10% of contents could be reliably linked (verified thru data triangulation — 3 total sources agree; laptop + 2 others) to H. Biden as unaltered material linked directly to HB. Lawyers on Judiciary & Oversight know that if only 10% of contents could be authenticated, 90 percent of laptop’s content was UNreal! Jordan’s not an attorney, tho. Don’t know about Comer.
Fox News’ Laura Ingraham is an attorney. Curious how she talks about it.
Jordan is indeed a lawyer, but by education only. To my knowledge, he has never practiced.
Forget where exactly I saw it yesterday (probably on a Twitter thread) but someone suggested that if you wanted to make a fake Hunter Biden hard drive, your best route would be to try and hack into his iCloud account, download, write to a hard drive, and insert the disinfo strategically. I’m not a techie, so I don’t know whether/how/if that process would leave fingerprints, though I suspect it would.
Also, last time I checked (yesterday, for my son, who is a convinced Hunter Biden’s laptop reveals corruption by dad believer) the Washington Post article did not throw up a paywall.
With respect to paywalls, I always urge people to check with their local public library. Many of them have subscriptions to various publications that you can use from the comfort of your home computer as long as you have a library card. Your taxes pay for it, so use it and give the library proof that money spent on it is making the voters happy.
Yes! My local library has subscriptions to most of the big publications. Library systems are truly National treasures.
If you’re on a Mac you can access some paywalled articles by switching to “reader” mode when available… look for the icon on the left side of the URL. Bonus: reader mode also displays the article without ads (a nice feature even if you are a paid subscriber). Reader mode only works for a limited number of paywalled articles (limited per day I suppose?)
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere recently, the only reason Comer isn’t regarded as Kentucky’s worst Representative is only through the “good” graces of… Thomas Massie. Though Andy Barr and Brett Guthrie aren’t far behind Comer, honestly.
Hal Rogers is just a measly grifter, “delivering” buildings to his district named after himself. What a world, wherein even Rogers, who voted against 2020 election certification, seems like a somewhat reasonably venal plain ol’ good ol’ boy politician in comparison with the rest of Kentucky’s GOP Congressmen (to say nothing of Randy and Mitch, of course).
The actual facts of Hunter Biden’s laptop fantasy are no more relevant than the facts about Comet Pizza, Benghazi!, Uranium One, or the countless other nonsensical crimes that are used to whip the gullible, fearful cultists into a rage. The strategy of simply pointing out lies has failed for decades now. It’s time to accept the reality that the we don’t have craven leaders at the head of an ignorant horde of frothers, but instead largely have opportunists (in both government and media) simply exploiting the fears of an irrational, superstitious population. Pretending that “if only they knew it was a lie” assumes a rationality that simply does not exist.
Just throwing’ this out there: if someone farts around with something known or suspected by them to be evidence of a crime, or if they create evidence of a crime and then lie about it, isn’t some sort of a crime being committed. I’m starting to think maybe an investigation into Hunter’s laptop might be kind of interesting.
If a congressional staffer is either reading EW or was paying attention to the WP article she cites, it could.
Unfortunately they probably aren’t.
Now that is a thought…Get Rudy to testify under oath…The geeky computer shop owner under oath…Get the FBI to testify under oath.
Because…As far as I’m concerned, any congressional investigation into Hunter, or anybody else for that matter…You must FIRST establish that any evidence you’re using to prosecute is real, which in this case, is the forementioned hard-drive/laptop….like ballistics on a gun, matching fingerprints.
They need to establish through testimony, facts and diagnostics if it’s real….They also need a clean(er) hard drive, if it exists… and they need to determine whether chain of custody issues disqualify the hard drive/laptop entirely.
However, it’s Jim Jordan and company, they won’t do that, they’ll us bogus evidence even if it’s proven to be nothing but a paperweight..
It’ll be Kangaroo court run by Gym Jordan
Too many kooks spoil the broth.
Just believing that the laptop/s belong to Hunter Biden requires about a half dozen Bob Beamon-esque leaps of logic.
The signature on the receipt doesn’t match HB’s known signature.
The blind repair dude has no proof it was HB that dropped off the laptop/s/.
Let’s go back a bit. The initial story claimed HB simultaneously managed to get THREE laptops waterlogged. What are the odds?
I’d wager the type of person that manages to simultaneously damage three separate laptops is also the kind of person that didn’t back up their files on the iCloud. Have you ever tried to recover data off a waterlogged device? I have. If I hadn’t backed up my files on the iCloud I would have lost the entire contents of my iPhone.
I’d also wager that the type of person that owns three Macbooks, bought Applecare. That would make repairs probably free and under warranty. There are at least a DOZEN Apple Store locations in LA County alone. Why would HB schlepp 3000 miles to an UNAUTHORIZED repair shop which would void his warranty?
Tech Crunch has an article that explains why it’s unlikely the contents belong to HB:
I agree that “this is actually Hunter’s laptop” should not be taken at face value. But it’s fairly easy to waterlog multiple laptops simultaneously. If you have multiple laptops for separate duties/functions, you often need to use them in tandem, which means having them open and close together. So the same accident that waterlogs one could waterlog 2-3 in theory. Or just have multiple laptops in a backpack/briefcase/satchel and like fall in a pool or something.
I carry up to three laptops – two for work, and one personal. Someone like Hunter having a personal laptop, one for BSF or Blue Star, and one for whatever company they were representing/consulting for sure seems possible, and certainly not a conspiracy.
The problem with this comment is that it provides plausibility. You — assuming your identity matches what I know — would have ample reason to carry 3 laptops.
Based on my experience working for executives with multiple roles, it’d be damned ridiculous for them to carry more than two, especially if they have to carry electronics with them going in/out of the country because one is enough of a nuisance. More than one becomes increasingly implausible.
From the standpoint of someone that has been an expert witness in regards to systems such as this, I wouldn’t be able to say that this system has been handled properly and therefore the system is suspect. I base this on the lack of chain of custody along with the fact that there have been folders/files created on the system after it was supposedly dropped off by Biden.
Thank you for all you do. I am banned from the Twit but I still read your tweets daily. You are amazing. Also, this entire Hunter’s hard-drive thing smells like an unwashed, 50 year old alcoholic’s arse. So much weird stuff going on. Rudy is in this all shady-like.
Be well EmptyWheel.
The laptop…what will it wear in court? A black dress, obviously, but will they be sensible shoes or fuck-me stilettos? A veil, maybe? As the ONLY witness to Hunter Biden’s perfidy and crimes against nature, I hope Ms Laptop doesn’t fall for the private dick protecting her. It. Whatever.
Not black. An unwashed dark blue dress with a few carefully preserved spots of spilt data.
I worked for an organization that routinely lost its PC’s to subpoena. Then they just took the hard drives. There was an issue that when someone opened an e-mail to read it a Microsoft Word macro would change the creation date to the date that the file was open again. After the SEC just took the drive we would replace it with another to make the PC usable again. This was a challenge because in the ’90’s the Compaq Computer BIOS was on the hard drive so there was some sort of rigmarole to get the BIOS on the drive so that you could load Windows on to it.
Hunter Biden’s biography on Wikipedia is worth reading.
Whether or not Hunter Biden’s laptop is authentic, the chances of Joe allowing him to have much to do with policy have been nil for a long time — in spite of the huge privilege of his family, drugs and alcohol have left him broke and largely failed as a dealmaker. One e-mail of his (not gonna influence policymakers and must register for FARA if required) makes it look like Hunter may simply have been too honestly lawful to supply the influence and access expected. Bmaz bad temper about speculation notwithstanding, there’s a heck of a lot of motive around for especially Russian spooks to put out a realistic copy of Hunter’s laptop and hard drive, and stuffing the right bits on a hard drive isn’t all that complicated if you have access to the original data.
Why is anybody giving credence or voice to the Hunter Biden junk?
I’m not reading that as credence. It’s another view of why it’s bogus.
Exactly. It’s important to showcase just how bogus the Republican narrative is. If there is no debunking then the Republican narrative prevails by default.
Every time I try to do that here the moderators censor my comments.
Didn’t Matt Gaetz enter the whole contents of the supposed hard drive into the Congressional record? In the Alice-in-Wonderland world that Trump Republicans have created for themselves, that is likely to be enough to confirm they are genuine.
“During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Oversight of the FBI’s Cyber Division, Congressman Matt Gaetz submits the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop into the official record.
(U.S. House of Representatives, 3/29/2022)”
I’m looking forward to the hearings. At long last, we might learn what ‘the Hunter Biden laptop story’ actually IS in their fevered minds.
At the genesis of the whole thing; a repairman committed a crime (?), of hacking the hard drive.
He did recover the drive but I suspect it is not legal for him to read and peruse many or most of the files and images, and then make an unauthorized decision to turn over the HD to authorities. Isn’t that a crime also?
Therefore, shouldn’t the contents of the HD be “thrown out of court”, and considered inadmissible as evidence and of further exploration?
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I did onsite-warranty-repair-of-laptops (gig work—I don’t recommend it). When a hard drive was replaced the old one was Fedex’ed to the manufacturer by me or I did not get paid for that gig. The customer did have the option of keeping the old drive but they had to pay for it. That was not included in the warranty. It was expensive. I told the customers that were concerned about their grandchildren’s pictures being spread on the internet or whatever that if such a thing happened the computer manufacturer would lose all of their corporate customers.
No option to send it directly to Rudy Giuliani? 🤣🤦♂️
There was an option to send it to EDS actually but Ross Perot was no longer involved with the company.
I do want to point out that there’s another way for falsely-verified Burisma emails to exist on “Hunter’s Laptop”. If there was a Burisma hack, the hackers could duplicate/exfiltrate whatever keys they need from the email server, sign the fake emails, and then plant them directly on the Laptop (if they ever had control over it).
Of course, that’s like 2-3 “if”s distant from known facts, but it’s at least a possibility/plausibility.
“making it impossible to say what was on the “laptop” when it was provided to the blind computer repairman”
Like the butler, the blind computer repairman did it!
But I have a blind barber so I guess it could be true…
Instead of speculating what is on the laptop, check it out for yourself!
https:// bidenlaptop report. xxxxxxxxxxx. org/report_viewer/index.html#p=1
[I don’t know if I trust that link, so I broke it. People should be very careful about accessing it. – bmaz]
[LOL Nope, link is going buh-bye. No credible outlet asks for support at their sites located on “GAB RUMBLE SUBSTACK TELEGRAM TRUTH SOCIAL TWITTER.” Beat it with this crap, troll. /~Rayne]
Thanks for letting me know I need to blacklist another URL. Always nice to have support of community members. LOL
There is a very simple way for all this to just go away. Get Dad to do the same that was done for Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, and George Papadopoulos (and others) in the previous administration : grant him a pardon.
Problem is he hasn’t been convicted of anything (yet) to pardon. And so far, there is nothing on said laptop that would ever hold up in court. That won’t stop the Republicans from making political hay out of it. When will the American public realize its all b.s. and turn against them? Unfortunately, the public will see this is was way too similar to Hillary’s emails and the servers and allow the Rs to beat this dead horse to death. Difference is, Hunter has never worked in or for the government (or his Dad).
It is just all that “simple”? Really? Just so you know, which you appear not to, a conviction is not a condition precedent for a pardon. Thanks for dropping in.
My info source is wiki. Found this under “List of people granted executive clemency by Donald Trump” where I made sure I got my list of names right:. Under the Background section:
“A pardon is an official forgiveness for an acknowledged crime. Once a pardon is issued, all further punishment for the crime is waived. The president can only grant pardons for federal offenses.”
I guess I didn’t know about the only federal offenses. What additional fact do you know on pardons (that I might not)?
As for simple. That’s relative. The Rs will of course scream bloody murder despite what the former guy did. And yes, it smacks of favoritism which would surely backfire. Also part of the wiki above: ” A pardon is an official forgiveness for an acknowledged crime. Once a pardon is issued, all further punishment for the crime is waived” Thus, a pardon would absolutely shutdown any further R investigation in said laptop.
But, again, from what I read, pardon would not apply in this case (too bad).
LOL. Whatever happened to CBS? Walter Cronkite must be spinning in his grave. It now claims to have commissioned an “analysis” of Hunter Biden’s laptop, and the biased Catherine Herridge claims that it shows that the data is “real” and “has not been tampered with.” Herridge’s breathless report doesn’t mean Hunter Biden put it there. Nor does it deal with other analyses that claim that up to 90% of what’s on that computer was put there after Biden gave up control of it, or the inability to trace who’s had it since then.
they don’t care about convictions, which will be impossible if they do what they want. They only care about harming biden to voters.