Trump’s “Hunter Biden” “Laptop” Consiglieres Want to Be Paid

I’ve been waiting for Robert Costello to sue Rudy Giuliani. After all, Costello’s firm successfully sued Steve Bannon to get nearly $500,000 he owed them.

Costello has been representing Rudy longer than he has Bannon. And — at least given the filings in Ruby Freeman’s lawsuit — Rudy’s a bigger deadbeat than Bannon.

Perhaps Costello hasn’t sued because he knows it would be fruitless. Rudy really is broke. Or perhaps it’s that he still believes he — and Rudy — should be paid by Trump.

CNN has a story about how Costello and Rudy went to Mar-a-Lago together in April to explain in person why Rudy should be paid (who could then, I assume, pay Costello).

With his attorney in tow, Rudy Giuliani traveled to Mar-a-Lago in recent months on a mission to make a personal and desperate appeal to former President Donald Trump to pay his legal bills. By going in person, a source familiar with the matter told CNN, Giuliani and his lawyer Robert Costello believed they could explain face-to-face why Trump needed to assist his former attorney with his ballooning legal bills.

Giuliani and Costello traveled to Florida in late April where they had two meetings with Trump to discuss Giuliani’s seven-figure legal fees, making several pitches about how paying Giuliani’s bills was ultimately in Trump’s best interest.

But the former president, who is notoriously strict about dipping into his own coffers, didn’t seem very interested. After Costello made his pitch, Trump verbally agreed to help with some of Giuliani’s legal bills without committing to any specific amount or timeline.

Trump also agreed to stop by two fundraisers for Giuliani, a separate source said.


[W]hat has surprised those in Trump’s inner circle is the former president’s unwillingness to pay for Giuliani’s bills, given Giuliani could find himself under intense pressure to cooperate with the federal and state prosecutors who have charged Trump. Giuliani sat down voluntarily with special counsel Jack Smith’s investigators this summer, and he was indicted this week in Georgia by the Fulton County district attorney.

“It’s not a smart idea” for Trump to refuse to pay Giuliani’s legal fees, one person close to the situation told CNN,

This claim–that Trump is notoriously strict about dipping into his own coffers?!?! It’s hogwash. Just between Stan Woodward and John Irving, Trump — or rather Trump’s PAC — is paying for the defense of eleven people who are witnesses in the stolen documents case alone. According to the latest motion for a Garcia hearing, at least two of those people aren’t even Trump employees.

So while it’s true that Trump is a notorious tightwad when paying for things out of his own pocket, and it is also true that Trump’s use of PAC funds to pay for the legal defenses of a growing mob of people likely stretches the bounds of legality, it’s not true he refuses to pay the legal defense of people who can hurt him.

As CNN notes, Trump’s PAC is the benefactor that — as described in a May filing in Ruby Freeman’s lawsuit — paid Trustpoint so Rudy could partially, but only partially, comply with discovery in that case.

Another source told CNN that Trump only agreed to cover a small fee from a data vendor hosting Giuliani’s records. And months later, Trump’s Save America PAC paid $340,000 to that vendor, Trustpoint, federal campaign filings show. CNN has now confirmed the payment was intended to settle Giuliani’s outstanding bill with the company.

So Trump at least coughed up to pay something to stave off an imminent holding of contempt from Beryl Howell. Trump’s PAC has reportedly paid for a good deal of document discovery firms, so this payment may be about the type of payment, not who got it.

Still, something has to be different about Rudy such that Trump’s not willing to pay. And it may actually overlap with one possible explanation for why Rudy with Costello thought an in-person meeting about Trump’s own best interests might be more persuasive, something about which CNN exhibits no curiosity.

After all, Costello is more than just Rudy’s lawyer. He’s also centrally involved in the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” caper, so much so he showed off to New York Magazine how he accessed the drive he got from John Paul Mac Isaac and rifled through the Venmo account that was both central to the predication of the tax case against Hunter Biden, but also potentially evidence of identity theft that IRS investigators simply watched as it happened.

The Mac Isaacs decided to alert Congress to the existence of the laptop. They reached out to the offices of Representative Jim Jordan and Senator Lindsey Graham but heard nothing back. They tried to get in touch with the president through the contact page on the White House website. While the process dragged on, Trump was acquitted by the Senate, Joe Biden clinched the nomination, and the pandemic shut down the world. Mac Isaac started to wonder, What if Biden was elected? Nine months after the FBI’s visit, he decided to pursue his fail-safe option.

The next link in the chain of custody was Robert Costello, the lawyer for the president’s lawyer. Costello was representing Giuliani in an FBI investigation into his own Ukrainian activities, and as such, he had asked the former mayor’s staff to be alert for new information coming in over the transom. On August 27, 2020, according to the text of an email Costello shared, one of Giuliani’s assistants forwarded a strange tip that had come in through the contact portal on the Giuliani Partners website:

From: John Paul Mac Isaac

Subject: Why is it so difficult to be a whistle blower when you are on the right?

For almost a year, I have been trying to get the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop to the proper authorities. I first reached out to the FBI and they came and collected it but I have reason to believe they have destroyed it or buried it in a filing cabinet … Luckily for my protection I made several copies and I have been trying quietly to bring it to people’s attention.

The tipster went on to claim to have “email proof” that Hunter and a business partner had been paid more than a million dollars in fees by Burisma and that they had used “their influence at the White House to pressure the Ukraine government to stop investigating” the company. “I feel the closer we get to the election,” Mac Isaac wrote, “the more this will be ignored.”

Costello wrote right back, telling Mac Isaac that he and Giuliani were “in position to get the information to the right places, provided the information is accurate and was obtained lawfully.” The timing was auspicious. A Republican-controlled Senate committee was working on an investigation of Hunter Biden, and Democrats were attacking the probe as a partisan smear job. The following month, the committee’s report would cite bank records to conclude that Biden and his business associates had received at least $4 million in fees from Burisma as well as millions more from other “foreign nationals with questionable backgrounds.” Trump was seeking to capitalize on the issue. His campaign soon started selling T-shirts that asked WHERE’S HUNTER?

Mac Isaac replied to Costello by sending him an image of the signed repair order and the subpoena, which seemed to indicate that the laptop was relevant to a criminal investigation. Mac Isaac sent a copy of the laptop’s contents to Costello’s home, where he booted up the drive with the assistance of his son, who was handier than his dad was with computers.*

Everything fit on an external drive, a black box about the size of a pack of cigarettes. “It’s not big,” Costello said one morning in June this year, as he showed the drive to a reporter. “But it’s powerful.” Sitting at a desk in the living room of his home in Manhasset, the white-haired attorney, who was dressed for golf, booted up his computer. “How do I do this again?” he asked himself, as a login window popped up with a username: “Robert Hunter.” (Hunter Biden’s given first name is Robert.)

Like many Gen-Xers, Hunter Biden was apparently unwilling to entrust his data solely to the cloud. He used desktop applications and backed things up to a device, which was his undoing. Costello first scrolled through the laptop’s email inbox, which contained tens of thousands of messages, fragments of everyday existence: a Politico newsletter dated January 31, 2019; Wells Fargo statements; a Google alert for the name “Biden”; a youth-soccer-game reminder. “Going through it,” Costello said, “you become familiar with someone.” He opened an email from Venmo, a receipt for a $2,400 “art consultation” with a woman with a Russian-looking name.

Costello hasn’t hidden his role in the laptop caper; he bragged about it.

I can see how Rudy might imagine that Trump would want that side of the story suppressed. But I can also see how — even ignoring his ballooning legal bills — Rudy with Costello might visit Trump, in person, about all this in April.

Starting in February, Abbe Lowell started talking both civil and criminal consequences for the “laptop” caper. In March, Hunter counter-sued Mac Isaac, with plans to depose both Rudy and Costello. More recently, IRS Agent Gary Shapley shared contemporaneous notes showing that ten months after the IRS took possession of the laptop in 2020, DOJ still hadn’t done basic validation of the laptop and probably had used it to get further warrants targeting Hunter.

And given the collapse of the plea deal, that may lead to a giant game of chicken. Lowell has now taken the lead on Hunter’s defense, and I expect … something from David Weiss now that he has gotten Special Counsel status.

If Weiss charges Hunter with felony counts, it’s going to set off a discovery process that will be juiced by the public disclosures Joseph Ziegler and Shapley, among others, have made. Hunter Biden will be able to demand documents and depositions that prosecutors could normally suppress (and that Shapley had always assumed would be suppressed). That discovery process will raise real questions about why Ziegler kept collecting evidence that should have raised questions about whether the former Vice President’s son was in the process of being hacked, and yet Ziegler did nothing to stop it, but instead decided to keep building a criminal case off what was now tainted evidence. That should raise questions about why Hunter Biden is the one being prosecuted and not Rudy Giuliani.

All that might make Rudy, with Costello, more likely to get Trump’s assistance.

But then there’s that something else. Costello was also the lawyer who conducted the privilege review for the devices seized from Rudy on foreign agent charges in April 2021. Costello even submitted a declaration describing that at least seven of the devices seized by the FBI in 2021 were corrupted when FBI tried to image them (though he blames the FBI). However it happened, the corruption of those devices may be why Rudy escaped charges for soliciting something that looks just like the Hunter Biden laptop, down to the Venmos from Russian escorts. Except in that telling, Rudy was not getting the laptop via Costello from a blind computer repairman, but was instead soliciting it from people even Trump’s Administration deemed likely Russian spies.

Trump should pay Rudy’s defense, because if he ever got desperate enough to flip — if prosecutors ever believed they could make Rudy a credible witness — then he could provide really damaging testimony against Trump.

But if he ever decided to flip, it might implicate Trump in something, a direct conspiracy with Russian spies, that Trump has been fleeing since 2016.

Update: Corrected title of NY Magazine.

119 replies
  1. Just Some Guy says:

    New York magazine and the New Yorker magazine aren’t the same thing.

    Additionally it was reported a couple of weeks ago that Rudy put his corner unit in an Upper East Side co-op building up for sale. Asking price? $6.5 million.

  2. Peterr says:

    From that John Paul Mac Isaac email to Costello: “Luckily for my protection I made several copies and I have been trying quietly to bring it to people’s attention.”

    Protection from whom? Why would JOMI need protection at all?

    The only thing I can think of is that JPMI has the kind of fever dreams that make him afraid of the Clintons sending someone from the basement of a pizza parlor to turn him into the next Vince Foster, or else a future President Biden sending the CIA’s JFK Hit Squad to pay him a visit.

    • Fraud Guy says:

      Or as protection against his co-conspirators, showing the original state(s) of the drives compared to what was presented eventually to LE.

    • Cheez Whiz says:

      It can be hard to wrap your head around it, but down in the fever swamps where people like 4-names live, they Truly Believe. All of it. They are warriors in a fight with Ultimate Evil. All those people who will show up when Trump says “be there, will be wild!”, all the death threats, all the boat parades and flags and Let’s Go Brandon signs. They Believe. The only surprise (and maybe hopeful thing) is there’s not more direct action like the guy who attacked the FBI office with a nail gun.

      • Fraud Guy says:

        I live with a Q; hear it on the regular…

        However, lately it is more of a whine and complain about evil but really just use it for an excuse to socialize with like-minded people around the country, share recipies, and occasionally drop comments about the deep state.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      He wasn’t afraid of anything, he said that to make what he was peddling look more important, mysterious and desirable. If someone was trying to ‘get him’ for having it, it MUST be important, right ?

      Cutouts gotta cut.

    • BuffaloNick says:

      Not to mention from a forensic standpoint the copies are worthless unless there was clear chain of evidence the copy was a write blocked bit for bit image of the hard drive. Copies of an computer are taken in this way, then a “hashing function” which requires a bit of math to understand how, but that function computes a long string of numbers which would be drastically different, this image + hash combination is the absolute minimum needed in order to even begin to verify.
      I kind of answer my own question the copies weren’t for anything but political means and john Paul Mac iasac likely knew that.
      Goodness so many threads tying so many people. I need to create a Maltego map for myself to start to even begin to wrap my head around all of them.

    • wa_rickf says:

      Paranoid thoughts are the hallmark of Rwing conspiracy extremists. If that is not further evidence the Rwingerism is a mental illness…

  3. David in NYC says:

    Tiny typo. Costello talked to New York magazine, not The New Yorker. Though Olivia Nuzzi showed zero skepticism about the tales she was told in her 11000 word piece.

  4. ToldainDarkwater says:

    It’s a bit off-topic, but I am gobsmacked at a bill for $340,000 for data hosting. I can rent a server with 1TB of storage for $10/month. If I were to use an Amazon Web Services S3 (mass storage) it would maybe be twice that a month, but there wouldn’t be any cap on the data. But does Rudy’s case involve video? If not, how much data can there be? If he needed a petabyte of storage (which I doubt) that’s still 340 months, or 170 months on AWS.

    Ok, to be fair, there are software services layered on top of that. I have no idea what they might be. Maybe full encryption of the data? Knowledge of protocols used by Federal and state courts? There are lots of lawyers here, y’all probably know more about what this vendor is supposed to do, but that bill just seems ridiculous to me.

    Niche markets and sold to people who can pay, and all that. Nice work if you can get it.

    • Cheez Whiz says:

      Just for reference, a simple search turned up, a solutions company with a heavy focus on legal services along with a cloud component. Rudy wasn’t paying for a web server and disk farm.

      • ToldainDarkwater says:

        The thing is, “legal services” is very vague and handwavy. What services are those? They aren’t his representation in court. It doesn’t seem like they do legal research. What is it that they do for that money?

        They store data, definitely. They make it available securely. What other legal services are entailed? I have this suspicion that high-end law firms bill out filing clerks at $200/hour, and this seems kind of a piece with that.

        Sigh, that’s going to irritate some of you attorneys here, I suspect. Flame protection engaged.

        • Rayne says:

          It’s called “money laundering.” That’s $340,000 worth of money, laundered as an information service provided with legal services perks.

          • ToldainDarkwater says:

            A sort of modern version of Credit Mobilier? Perhaps one that stays within the bounds of the law, though? Is that what you’re intimating?

          • 2Cats2Furious says:

            No, it’s not “money laundering.” It is most likely – as I explained in my comment at 4:39 PM – a searchable database of documents/data for review and production in litigation, which includes various tools for attorneys to review, designate, and redact sensitive information for production, mark as attorney-client privileged for creation of privilege logs, etc.

            Such firms also provide training for users, ongoing customer service, and the Bates labeling and confidentiality designations for digital productions.

            If you’ve ever worked on complex civil litigation such as class actions involving hundreds of thousands or even millions of pages worth of documents – as I have – you would understand the need for, and expense of, such services.

            • Rayne says:

              I have actually worked for a Fortune 100 company’s customer service, legal, and finance departments as well as its IT department; I’ve worked on document collection for litigation, M&A, captive insurance/reinsurance, and subsequent audits by internal and external auditors. I’ve also worked for their IT contractor which itself was a Fortune 100 company.

              Based on my experience, $340K is a metric fuckton of money for this service.

              • 2Cats2Furious says:

                I appreciate your experience.

                However, document collection is NOT the same as a database set up for storage, review, designation, redaction, labeling, and production of of documents and privilege logs in a massive case involving hundreds of thousands or millions of documents for legal review and production. I’ve actually worked on such cases as the supervising attorney, and $340k is not out of line with the cost of such services, especially since we don’t know the time period over which such costs were incurred.

                • Rayne says:

                  Document collections for Fortune 100 companies aren’t just piles of Bates numbered docs. They’re in databases.

                  • P J Evans says:

                    The company I worked at has at least two doc database that were PDF files. I don’t know how many other databases there are, but I know there are at least three more, and a lot of the access is through graphics.

                  • 2Cats2Furious says:

                    Of course that’s not how document collection works, and I never suggested otherwise. I’ve handled litigation as outside counsel for multiple Fortune 100 companies, so I absolutely understand the process.

                    My point is simply that the collection of documents from certain users or databases is merely the 1st step in the process. Those documents then need to be stored, reviewed, identified as responsive, redacted, identified as privileged for privilege logs, labeled, and produced. In a matter involving merely hundreds or thousands of pages of documents, a 3rd-party service is not required for these tasks.

                    But once you get into the hundreds of thousands or millions of pages, it’s a different story.

                    Have you ever had to review documents on Relativity or a similar system? My guess is no, as your profile doesn’t indicate any background as a lawyer or even paralegal. Referring to companies that actually provide these services as “money laundering” operations is a pretty serious accusation that should not be made lightly, especially with no actual knowledge of the services provided.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Yeah? Well I have, and in criminal cases in addition to simply civil ones. The people running this place know what they are doing, and do not need your suddenly prevalent condescending bullshit. Take that somewhere else, Cats.

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      LOL. “[Y]our profile doesn’t indicate any background as a lawyer or even paralegal.”

                      That doesn’t say much for your reading comprehension or about how long you’ve read this blog. Not even worth buying the popcorn.

                    • Rayne says:

                      Thanks for confirming my profile remains obscure enough that I don’t have to worry about NDA violations or other blowback.

                  • BuffaloNick says:

                    Fortune 100 firms are big enough to have in house forensic experts. I’ve know close to fortune 500 companies that had to pay well over 100k for just processing large few hundered gb ~ mid 2000s. The niche is outsourced forensic eDiscovery services to companies with only system admins. Not making a comment on how much it costs, but they provide chain of custody and processing ac privileges stuff for in house counsel etc..

                    • Rayne says:

                      I was *hired* by a Fortune 100 company to handle documents because they didn’t want to be bled dry by contract service providers. As an employee I cost less than 20% of outsourcing the work.

                      I can’t and won’t disclose the firms or the projects on which I worked but they were and are household names. When I was spun off from my job to a Fortune 100 IT service provider who did contract service work like document management, I was told during an acculturation meeting my first week 1) the IT firm won the contract by overpromising services and expected to recoup with renewal contracts, and 2) they overbilled whenever possible by multiples in order to make up the overpromised underbid. Been there, done that, quit with a severance package because fuck that unethical shit.

                      You don’t think money laundering might be a factor? Okay, we’ll just call it “padded invoicing” and “profiteering.”

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      Rayne, given the piss poor policing the companies I worked for did with their rampant outsourcing, and their self-inflicted inability to resource or bring stuff back inside – it would have given the CFO heartburn – your former employer was playing the odds. I would have wanted to quit, too.

                    • Rayne says:

                      Nothing quite like telling people whose loyalties were forcibly changed and who still owned stock in their former employer that their job required fucking over their former employer.

                • emptywheel says:

                  So the $340K would have started no earlier than 4/28/21, when the devices were seized. The amount of discovery was fairly small, bc Rudy’s devices were corrupted. We’re talking Bates stamps of 200,000 series.

                  • 2Cats2Furious says:

                    I’m not sure I trust Rudy’s attorney’s representations re: the corrupted devices, but some of the expense involved may be trying to retrieve the data.

                    I also wouldn’t say that production of 200k in documents is “fairly small,” particularly when we don’t know what wasn’t produced. First, it’s likely that Rudy had a number of other documents he claimed to be attorney-client privileged. Second, a big complaint in the Freeman/Moss defamation case is that Rudy didn’t actually produce responsive documents, leading to the $90k sanctions order.

                    • BuffaloNick says:

                      There are “anti forensic” techniques which poison the data so the forensic process crashes. Though getting past SoTa FBI methods these types of methods would be used sparingly, but it is possible it was corrupted through whatever crazy means, anti forensics would not be out of reach for a nation state at all.

                    • emptywheel says:

                      The 200,000 number comes from either FBI or Special Master’s Bates stamps, not Rudy’s. So it’s a decent number.

                      And the corruption claim is consistent with emails Costello included.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  It’s a shame you don’t know whether this company provided any of those extensive services for Rudy.

                  • 2Cats2Furious says:

                    And it’s a shame you don’t know whether the company DID NOT provide such services to Rudy.

                    I’m basing my opinion on work with similar companies. What are you basing your opinion on?

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      What similar companies? Is Rudy and his data processing needs a “company?” He hasn’t had a serious practice for quite some time.

                  • 2Cats2Furious says:

                    Oh, and also earl, my prior comment about a poster’s profile indicating they were not a lawyer/paralegal was in response to Rayne, not bmaz. If I missed those
                    qualifications in Rayne’s bio, I do apologize.

                    But if you think I was referring to bmaz, then it is your “reading comprehension” that needs a tune-up.

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      Point taken. But you seem to have missed the part immediately above about the range of Rayne’s IT work. She’s actually done the type you would have consumed as in- or outside counsel for those famous Fortune 100 companies, a job description that’s not unique among commentators here.

              • BuffaloNick says:

                Couldn’t respond to lower comment lower in this thread but I wanted to make a few points.
                First, I am not making any claims into how legit the company in this article is/was.
                I can’t discuss specifics of what I know but I can say I know of a company who did 0 email retention for over a decade, then said company was hit with a lawsuit (company never had to go do court), what it did mean was the lawsuit was broad and basically meant every employee in a certain division was put until litigation hold to be safe. So at the time the company had no “retention policy” (e.g. delete all email over 7 years) and therefore the 100’s of email accounts with sometimes decade+ email now under lit hold need to be forensically processed so that if it does go to court all bases are covered.
                So said company has someone like me, very good sysadmin, AD/Exchange expert for the company, but armchair forensic guy.

                I have no clue how to do all of the “legal stuff” I just make sure mail flows, but I am also the key to getting that mail, because the lawyers don’t have the access or knowledge (likely some do) to export a full forensic copy of a mailbox to a PST file and the IT admins who can export that PST don;t know all the in’s and out’s of chain of custody, hence severely inflated “process your mail by $10 a megabyte” or whatever. Then you run into the situation if you don’t have in house expertise to determine what is relevant or not legally has to rely on some outside company to guide a sysadmin through a PST export in a specific way so that chain of custody is not questioned. The company pays to CYA because it has no confidence it’s computer geeks understand law, and rightly so.
                Again this is likely not relevant to fortune 100 companies who will have money and expertise to hire in house forensic experts. And I also agree that this market would be ripe for abuse in money laundering.
                Consider when you price by the MB, then someone emails a cat video to all people on you litigation hold list, that one attachment could cost the company tens of thousands of dollars. If you don’t have inhouse people hired and trained and you are facing a legal issue, the choice of hiring someone to deal with it in house you may only need for this one case vs paying 5x the price for a consultanting company. I’m saying sometimes it is justified but it for sure has potential for abuse.
                I can very easily see how less ethical companies could use these facts in order to launder money.

        • bmaz says:

          I can say this, and it was certainly pre-Musk, but I have subpoenaed Twitter before in criminal cases, and they were prompt and professional in their response.

        • Frank Wilhoit says:

          There are plenty of industries where you pay comparable markups in order to be able to “show” that you did “due diligence” on “risk management”. In many cases, the auditors have a (very short) list of data custodians, or other kinds of service providers, from whom you must pick. If you had a longstanding and satisfactory relationship with someone who did a better job, but is not on the list, too bad.

    • 2Cats2Furious says:

      It’s not just data storage. These types of firms make the data searchable for review so legal staff (most likely contract lawyers or paralegals) can review and mark each document as responsive/not responsive to discovery requests, subject to attorney-client privilege, make redactions as necessary to protect sensitive information (like SSNs), etc. And when a production set is identified, they can Bates label the documents to prepare them for electronic production to opposing counsel. There are a lot of services involved beyond just “data hosting.”

      • ToldainDarkwater says:

        This makes more sense, and I thank you for the information. It still seems like a very stiff bill for said services, if not completely nonsensical. I think the premium they collect is due to domain specific knowledge (They know what Bates labeling, and how attorneys need/want to do with them, for instance), and all the other functions you describe.

        None of that stuff is hard to do technically, but it’s still software, and it’s never easy or cheap to make it, even though it’s super cheap to reproduce it and scale it.

        • 2Cats2Furious says:

          Generally speaking, in my experience, the software has to be tailored to the specific needs of each case, which does require additional expense. For cases that require review of hundreds of thousands or even millions of documents, it can require quite a bit of time and effort on the part of the service provider.

          Also, it’s not clear to me what time period is covered for the $340k. In Rudy’s case, we could be talking about years.

          Think about the Dominion v Fox News defamation case. I’d be willing to bet that the legal data services used easily exceeded $500k, on both sides.

    • elcajon64 says:

      Coming into this VERY late but …

      There is no correlation between the value of services rendered and their actual cost/value compared to non-political work of a similar nature. None. Especially on the right wing.

      I have twice managed the largest political direct mail campaign in CA history (1998 & 2010, both for democrats or the “left”) and was married to the accountant for the leading right-leaning money-handling firm in CA for 17 years. Any amount you see for services rendered is a scant amount compared to what is raised. A $340K price tag represents double that in fundraising and less than half that in services rendered.

      • Notyouraveragenormal says:

        Adding my two cents from corporate deal-making world… have plenty of experience working with virtual data room providers who host documents for diligence purposes on a project-by-project basis. The service fees can be eye-watering, especially if you include lots of pages (the fees tend to be flat fee + per page) over a long period. $340k would not stand out as anomalous. Why not just use DropBox? Well, because it lacks the functionality and security you need. And if something goes awry, enjoy justifying cutting corners to save a few bucks on a multi-million dollar deal. i.e. in addition to the underlying service, you’re also paying a premium for liability management aka CYA. It was ever thus.

        Also, to elcajon64’s point, remember that companies price goods and services based on what the market can bear. No one prices based on cost + reasonable margin any more, for better/worse.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Like many Gen-Xers, Hunter Biden was apparently unwilling to entrust his data solely to the cloud. He used desktop applications and backed things up to a device, which was his undoing.

    The NY Mag seems a little far out over its skis. It assumes that Hunter has been “undone,” something Abbe Lowell might contest. It assumes that only Gen-Xers are wary of backing up to the cloud. And it assumes that Hunter was “undone” only because “he” backed up data to a physical device, instead of to the cloud. Has law enforcement never accessed data stored on the cloud? Asking for a friend.

    • ShallMustMay08 says:

      I had the same thought Gen (any) assumption. Lol -diner hubris. Lazy.
      I’m Gen Zero (friend).

      “Strict” (ly) making it up. /s

    • EuroTark says:

      If anything, it appears to be the opposite, as Dr Wheeler has been laying out for us. The cloud was breached to fabricate a physical device.

  6. Mike Stone says:

    The entire Hunter laptop story has never made any sense to me. Why would Hunter go to some blind guy in a dingy computer repair shop in a strip mall?

    It is possible that an expert was able to hack into his computer and copy the data and information and load it onto a laptop along with some small incriminating changes.

    Further, there must be a way to determine what was put onto that hard drive and when.

    Also, I think a lot of people make multiple copies of their hard drives since the consequences of losing years of data and information are so painful. Perhaps Hunter also kept copies of his hard drives that would contain most or all of the data and information on the possibly corrupted laptop. If so, maybe this would be worth a comparison for computer forensics experts.

    It would also seem that the FBI would want to check the validity of emails by comparing the messages on both ends of the communications especially for the ones that have certain details.

      • Unabogie says:

        This is what makes sense to me. Hunter was on a bender. Rudy and his drug dealers hatched a plan to do things like steal Ashley Biden’s diary and Hunter’s digital life. Once they got in (easier than they thought when socially engineering a guy high as a kite) they needed a way to launder it that wasn’t, “hey, it’s another hack just like Hillary that we definitely had nothing to do with!”

        So they cooked up this story and got a true believer to go along with it and of course it never made sense but no one wants to just say that.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          So you’re assuming that Project Veritas was acting as an arm of Giuliani when it acquired Ashley Biden’s diary? I may have missed a step, but I do not recall that as being established.

    • ShallMustMay08 says:

      Exactly. Has anyone anywhere mentioned (I try to keep up since Marcy’s alarming post few weeks back) but the real simple basic fact that it was commonplace to partition a hard drive (before cloud and after actually) or imagining drives to save for business (think NYC security) and then later hand off to cloud.

      Astounding. Death,birth, marriage, divorce. Everyday freaking hell for any normal life change abruptly. We want our pics of loved ones. Why is the press focused on a black box back up hard drive. They are lazy, stupid m, or just as Marcy points out of late (and fear most) loving the fascists. I hope they have some Marion KS come to whatever moments.

      • Knowatall says:

        I assume you mean “imaging”, not ‘imagining “. But the RWNJs are constantly doing the latter.

    • vicks says:

      I’ll put $100 down on Russian hookers getting Hunter high and either hacking or setting up the hack for thier employers.
      Bonus points if they caused the water damage that got the laptop to John Paul, “I know a place!” Mac Isaac’s shop during one of thier photo shoots.

  7. PJB2point0 says:

    I get this analysis why Rudy might think having Costello with him could persuade Trump to loosen the purse strings. But, I don’t understand why, if Trump pays for other defendants, he is singularly tight about helping out Rudy? Is it because he thinks Rudy has already lost too much credibility to be of value to prosecutors as a cooperating witness and so Rudy is stuck defending no matter what?

    • BirdGardener says:

      That loss of credibility could also mean Rudy’s no longer useful to Trump. If Trump believes he has more dirt on Rudy than Rudy has on him, and Rudy’s not useful anymore, Rudy will become another of the many former close associates that Trump doesn’t know.

      • zscoreUSA says:

        Re: dirt Trump may have on Rudy

        Has it ever been narrowed down the Trump-Giuliani origin story? Those 2 go way back. Trump a long time money launderer for various crime families and most likely a federal informant on mob prosecutions, and spoke to FBI officials weekly for 40 years “in the pocket” and has hinted at deals w the govt; Giuliani the prosecutor obtained wiretaps and took down 5 mafia families

        A curious relationship

    • Ebenezer Scrooge says:

      A witness with zero jury credibility can still be valuable if the witness can point to other evidence, give information that can impeach adverse witnesses, or the like. And even very impeachable witnesses can be valuable if their testimony can tie the story together and you can corroborate everything they say on direct.

    • Critter7 says:

      Trump is pissed at Rudy because Rudy didn’t pull off the coup. Trump put Rudy in charge but he didn’t come through. Therefore, in Trump’s mind, Rudy is responsible for the current mess that Trump finds himself in. And Trump is all about retribution.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        That is Trump’s official reason for not paying Rudy (that Rudy “failed”). But he’s apparently subsidizing the defense of others who also failed. I have to wonder if Trump a) has been told Rudy isn’t a credible witness or b) has such physical contempt for Rudy’s farty, smelly, grubby loserness (that is, Trump’s horror vision of himself) that he wants to keep his small and germless hands far away.

  8. says:

    I think I’m caught up in reading all your recent HB posts, and you hint at above, but don’t squarely address, something that has EXCEPTIONAL repercussions in this case: the voluntary withdrawal, a few days ago, of HB’s primary/original lawyer who acknowledged he is now a likely WITNESS in Hunter Biden’s case. (This is what made Lowell de facto lead counsel now).

    In a prior post, you state Lowell’s court filing refers to “contemporaneous notes taken by prosecutors” about agreements, or understandings, being reached by parties, that disagree with statements made by the prosecution at the plea hearing. The EXISTENSE of those notes, being KNOWN TO DEFENSE at this stage — prior to discovery — is significant. There are two ways defense could know about these notes at this stage: defense counsel witnessed them being taken, or prosecution voluntarily showed them to defense at some point. There were meetings with both parties during plea negotiations; at least one, if not all, could have been face to face. No? So now we have a plausible event being ‘witnessed’ by former lead counsel, that compelled him to withdraw. I haven’t read the withdrawal request. I assume it’s been filed with the court?

    I hope I didn’t jump ahead of you in something you are currently working on or miss your mention of this somewhere prior. But, the reason Lowell may appear confident about “no trial occurring in the future” because “discovery and motions” come first, is that defense already has prior admissions by prosecutors of 4th and 6th amendment violations made by investigators, which drove prosecutors to seek a plea. This is what Lowell’s mention of “they called *US*, we didn’t call THEM” in his court filing implies.

    Evidence rules prohibit prosecutors from using statements made by defense in prior plea negotiations against the defense if the plea falls apart, but defense is allowed to argue all facts to exonerate their client. And fantastic, experienced defense attorneys don’t withdrawl from cases by fiat. The former lead attorney who just moved to withdraw, has WITNESSED something that helps exonerate, at least procedurally, if not factually, his former client.

    And former defense lawyers serving on the case, with textbook knowledge of all established facts, stipulations, and the law (and law’s loopholes), with rote memory of the Rules of Criminal Procedure and Rules of Evidence (and case law supporting each), can offer pretty powerful in-court testimony on the witness stand.

    • Shadowalker says:

      Let’s put it this way. No defense attorney would ever recommend his client plead guilty to a crime in the midst of an ongoing criminal investigation. The lawyer who withdrew was told by the prosecutors the investigation was over, which gave him the impression a plea deal was possible, which is why he withdrew and could be called as a witness. All plea deals I know of happen after the investigation was over and prosecutors had all the charges buttoned up and ready for trial.

      It’s quite possible that Hunter’s Fifth Amendment rights were violated.

    • bmaz says:

      This is not an issue at all. It sometimes happens. Abbe was always primary, they are fighting absolute garbage, and this is fine.

      • Shadowalker says:

        You would know better than I would, by a long shot. I also think you are correct that the deal may not be entirely dead.

      • emptywheel says:

        Abbe was NOT always primary. He only came in in the last year, and before the botched plea was not even formally part of the defense team.

  9. I Don't Remember my Name_17AUG2023_1742h says:

    Ghoolie owns a $6mil NY Suite. He is only cash poor.
    Rump claimed $10B personal wealth in 2016 but the media today is only saying that his PAC fundraising is not keeping up with his legal bills.
    It must be said that $10,000 Million {$10B} is a lot bigger than his $50 Mil in legal bills , just this year.

    Note: MAGA are fools paying Rump.

    BTW what name should I use?

    [Moderator’s note: If you are at the same location as you were a couple years ago, you last used both a too-short username only five letters long and a different email address.

    Pick a unique username at least 8-letters long; use it and the same email address every time you comment here forward. Make of note of your new name/address because the new comment system won’t allow “I Don’t Remember my Name” as a username. /~Rayne]

    • P J Evans says:

      The guy may claim he’s worth $10B, but there’s no verification of that, and we know he exaggerates to make himself feel good.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        He was probably worth less than a billion. But he’s made a lot of money since leaving office, thanks to the Saudis and the rubes. But he’s spent tens of millions already on legal fees for himself and others, who pose a threat to him if they cooperate. Both those bills have only begun to add up.

    • Skillethead says:

      This is the funniest name problem admission yet! If you need help, I’m good at coming up with memorable names.

      • Rayne says:

        It may be humorous to you but this stuff is annoying as hell and a time suck for me.

        We ask little of community members — no real name, no valid email address, no cell phone, no membership fees, no ads. Just pick a unique name with at least 8 letters, remember it and the email address used in order to comment, and then don’t be a dick in comments. It’s not exactly astrophysics.

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          I haven’t been a dick in the comments. Yet you still have me on auto-mod, creating more work for you for no good reason that I can tell. Is there something that I’m still unknowingly doing that ticks you off? If so, I’d much rather that you told me, so I can stop creating extra work for you.

          • Rayne says:

            You’re not the only regular community member who experiences auto-moderation.`

            My problem is with community members who can’t be arsed to remember their own names and their own addresses yet expect me to hunt them down for them. I’ve even had people approaching me in other social media platforms asking what their username is.

          • P’villain says:

            For reasons unknown to me, every comment I attempt to post from my laptop goes to moderation. Not so for comments posted via my phone. It’s a PITA, but it incentivizes brevity.

  10. MsJennyMD says:

    I have known Donald Trump for almost 30 years. And he has created and accomplished great things. But beyond that, this is a man with a big heart.
    Rudy Giuliani

  11. DChom123 says:

    I can almost feel pity for the man but nah, not really. I have seen Rudy in person walking down the street on the east side. Big flat feet like flippers slapping the sidewalk as he shuffles, he resembles some sort of freakishly obese waddling ogre penguin. Comeuppance is a bitch .

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You entered what looks like your RL name in the username field. I have edited it this once. PLEASE pay close attention to entries in Name/Email fields as the future comment system will not resolve this kind of error. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  12. greenbird says:

    okay, i’ll play. marcy’s twitter has a repost, but – seemingly out of the blue !!
    emptywheel reposted:
    Seth Hettena @seth_hettena
    Dec 12, 2019
    Sammy “The Bull” Gravano told Congress that he used singer Jimmy Roselli’s brother-in-law to “reach” Donald Trump. Who was Roselli’s brother-in-law?
    bet this is a clumsy attempt (by me) for what the hell it is i’m missing … loosely tied to ‘consiglieres’ ??

    “Jimmy Roselli’s brother-in-law”
    – wikipedia:
    After the war, he returned to Hoboken, where he married Angeline Giuffra and had a daughter.
    Was Jimmy Roselli married?
    Roselli’s first marriage, to Angeline Giuffra, ended in divorce.
    His survivors include his second wife, the former Donna Tumolo; a daughter, Anne, from his first marriage; and a grandchild.

      • ernesto1581 says:

        “Bobby” Sasso = Robert Sasso Sr., president of Teamsters 282, 1982-94. Resigned the day before he was to answer charges he was working for the Gambino family, steering construction contracts to John Gotti. He was the go-between Gravano indicated.

        (Not to be confused with his grandson, Bobby Sasso, a freestyle killer and extortionist, member in good standing of Bronx-based street gang Sex Money Murda, whose most recent arrest was for an execution-style killing in 2017.)

        Selwyn Raab article about Robert Sasso Sr. here:

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rudy wants to be paid, he also wants to remove his case in Georgia to federal court. Haven’t seen the motion online yet. Good luck establishing the foundation for that.

  14. 2Cats2Furious says:

    For bmaz – I couldn’t actually respond to your last comment because there was no reply button. That said, I fail to see how relaying my personal experiences as an attorney overseeing complex civil litigation, using third-party legal vendors, was “condescending bullshit” towards anyone here. If it was taken as such, I apologize.

    That said, I’ll repeat a prior comment that – because you are someone who throws an absolute fit whenever a commenter refers to Trump by a nickname, and calls such behavior “childish” – you’re not exactly covering yourself in glory when you refer to me as “Cats” or the “Cat person.” My nym is”2Cats2Furious,” which meets this site’s requirement for a unique name of 8 or more characters. If that is too difficult for you, I will also accept “2Cats” or “2C2F,” but not your childish nicknames.

    I genuinely appreciate the work that Marcy and others publish here, which is why I visit and comment, and will continue to do so.

    • bmaz says:

      You think you will continue to do so. With your attitude, and condescending bullshit, that may not be the case long term. And, to be clear, fuck your allegation of “fit”. And I do not care one lick what “you” accept. You are on thin ice. If you do not like that, I do not care. We are under constant assault, and neither I, nor anybody else here, has time for your bullshit. Dial it back. If not, then we shall see how it goes.

      • bmaz says:

        To Cats: I’m sorry, we run this place, not you. So, no, that comment will not fly. And, by tomorrow, you will be in permanent auto-mod, and your comments may never see the light of day. With 81 comments over less than a year, mostly extremely contrarian, you really are not that important. See ya!

      • MsDeirEzzor says:

        Honest question Bmaz: who or what are you under constant assault from? Stupid comments? Or something else?

        (Tweaked my username because it wasn’t 8 characters)

        [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum.

        Please get back on topic. We’ve had more than enough off-topic policing of comment moderation. /~Rayne]

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, I am sorry, who are you? We will take care of our own business, and do not need any assistance from you.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Thanks for the link. But “buy” a fucking public document from Pacer? Perhaps not. I don’t see how the scheduling in completely separate case in another jurisdiction is any of Kise’s business. The motion should be filed by Trump’s attorneys in DC. But that might be too much like lawyering instead of pampering the client.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I don’t think much of Dadan and Woodward’s motion in opposition to a Garcia hearing (Doc. 126). The potential for conflicts between representing a defendant and witness seem self-evident.

          A lawyer owes continuing obligations to maintain the confidentiality of a current or former client. How would they adequately cross examine a witness who is/was a current or former client and meet their obligations to both Nauta and the witness? They can’t.

          Woodward and Dadan propose a laughable solution to their predicament. The court should exclude the witness’s testimony. But Cannon….

  15. e.a. foster says:

    Costello might believe Trump ought to pay, but having watched Trump’s record, he doesn’t pay out if he can avoid it. In this case he thinks he can avoid it. Surely Costello is smart enough to know what Trump’s act is. recall reading an article back in the day where it was reported Trump stiffed a plumber for about $8K–l. My take on Trump not paying Guilliani’s legal bills is, Guilliani is no longer of any use to him. He is arrogant enough to believe Guilliani won’t turn on him. Then there is the no small matter of Guilliani’s age, 79. Some times people make decision on paying some one based on their age. Hold out long enough, maybe a year or so and viola, they are dead and you don’t have to pay.

    Haven’t been to law school, am not a lawyer, but I live in British Columbia and if there is one thing we know in this province is money laundering. There could certainly be some of that at play in this situation.

    Some of those posting this evening are in fine form and given there is nothing to watch on t.v., this is much better than the current shows

    Thank you

    • Gerontar says:

      The average life expectancy for an “average” 79 year old man is about 8 and 3/4 years. But who thinks Rudy is average?

      • e.a. foster says:

        Guilliani is “average” or “below average” in more than a few categories.
        As to his life span, I did consider his “life style” and the stress he is under at this time.
        Given the times he went through, there was smoking, drinking, long hours, etc. It can all take a toll. Of course there are those who lived very “interesting” lives and made it to 82 and one of them we just don’t know how they did it, smoke, drank, drugs–cocaine, drugs, sex and rock and roll, shot in the back once in France, had malaria which would come back to remind them of where they had been.
        So yes, Rudy may live for a number of years, but given how he looks these days, my pension cheque says, he dies sooner than later and that maybe why Trump won’t pay. I’ve seen this before, one of the partners walked but the firm continued to pay his life insurance premiums for a year, convinced he’d die within the year. He made it to 82, which was about another 40 years.

  16. zscoreUSA says:

    Amazing breakdown, I look forward to following further developments

    Among other things that are inconsistent in Mac Isaac’s telling of how he obtained the laptop with Hunter’s data, is the claim that Hunter walked into his shop shortly before 7pm with alcohol in his breath, coming from a cigar bar, where he had asked people at the cigar bar where there was a place that fixes Macs. Then came straight to Mac Isaac’s Mac Shop.

    Having now looked through a lot of the Hunter data, going to cigar bars or being in a social drinking setting was not really Hunter’s MO, at least during this period of time. Of course its possible Hunter really did go to a cigar bar and asked where to fix his Macs, it’s not an obvious pattern. But who does have a reputation of going to cigar bars? Google: Rudy Giuliani cigar bar **

    And the claim by one of Rudy’s associates that Rudy and Kerik drove down to Wilmington to “obtain the hard drives from a computer repair shop.” Weird conflict in details.

    After reading this article, I made note when Rudy hired Costello, which was 11/6/19, per Rudy’s tweet announcing hiring of Costello and Pierce Bainbridge.

    [Moderator’s note: ** link to Google Image results deleted because it includes tracking — enough that users can even see you used Firefox to perform that search. Let users search Google using those terms on their own, thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      You might also note the intersection of Giuliani’s link to the Grand Havana cigar club in NYC, which was where Paul Manafort and Russian political operative Konstantin Kilimnik met in August 2016.

      • zscoreUSA says:

        Yesss. Cigars and Russian agents/assets working on US political operations.

        Thanks for the note on Google search link meta data.

  17. Upisdown says:

    I wish the media would remind the public on the US policy regarding Ukraine under the Obama administration, and how it was supported by our European allies. Reporting in 2016 showed no change in the US position through the time when that administration ended. The goal was to promote Ukraine’s independence, to have them address corruption, and to help them gain energy independence from Russia. Actually, it was the revised platform of the Trump campaign that favored the ousted Ukrainian leadership that was aligned with Russia. Paul Manafort was eyeballs deep with the prior crooked regime.

    The two sides were clearly identified when Obama/Biden left office. It was only when Peter Schweizer released his bogus smear that history began a rapid revision to where Biden was protecting Ukraine corruption instead of fighting it. Things weren’t even remotely viewed that way until the media dove head first into Schweizer’s conspiracy pool.

  18. The Old Redneck says:

    Roger Stone bragged about keeping a little black book to make sure Trump would protect him. There must have been something good in there – Stone even got intervention, albeit pathetic intervention, from Bill Barr on his sentencing.
    Rudy didn’t have enough sense to do that, and now he’s fresh out of friends. And Trump probably figures he can stoke the Hunter Biden fire himself without any help from Rudy.
    Karma is a bitch, as the saying goes.

    • Rayne says:

      Sure would love to know what kinds of dirt Roger Stone accumulated over the years during his openly swinging lifestyle. Between Stone and Trump’s decades-long habit of eavesdropping on guests/residents’ communications, they must have intelligence rivaling nation-states’ collections.

      • e.a. foster says:

        the little black book is most likely some where off shore, where American athorities can’t touch it,. If you ever decide to go look for it, call, I’ll join you.
        If its in the U.S.A,. it won’t be in any “formal” safety box or vault.

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