The Funny Leak Denials of the So-Called IRS Whistleblowers

In the hearing platforming the complaints of two IRS agents who are angry their case against Hunter Biden wasn’t charged as a felony, Joseph Ziegler — who had previously made a big deal of hiding his identity — was given an opportunity to deny being a source for public reporting on the Hunter Biden investigation.

In the exchange, Ziegler only denied being the source for Garrett Ziegler’s site — he was not asked, and he never denied, being a source for other media outlets.

Tim Burchett: It’s also come to my attention that today, after this hearing was already under way, apparently oppo research is circulating from, quote, Hunter Biden’s legal team, unquote, suggestions that you had leaked SARs and other investigative information to someone that had released that information online. Is there a statement that you’d like to make about whether you’ve leaked any investigative information to someone to reveal on the Internet? And I’m sure Hunter Biden’s legal team, who’s obviously watching right now, and these dirt bags are trying to smear you through the press. And it’s disgusting. And I’d appreciate hearing a direct answer from you, Brother.

Ziegler: So there’s two parts to this. There was that release of that bank report, my name was listed in there. So my name was out in the public as one of the IRS agents working this case. And that was maybe two or three years ago. So that came out. And then on top of that, me and my husband were in a report that’s out on social media, on Twitter, by a person with the same last name that I have who I’ve never met, I’ve never turned over information to, we just happen to have the same last name. Okay? I was, for my sexuality, my sexual orientation, my husband was put out there, like information related to me, so it was in an effort to discredit me that I’m this person working for the liberal side and I must, must be a plant. And it was awful the things that they were saying about me. But I can tell you that I’ve never turned over any information regarding this case to anyone related to that Marco Polo report or, someone with the same last name that I have.

It was not, at all, a denial that he was the source for other leaks to the press. It was a very limited denial, limited only to Garrett Ziegler, not generally.

He has made at least one other denial of leaking, which I’ll return to.

For now, I’m interested in the way that his claim, given under cloak of anonymity, that he and his spouse were harassed because his name showed up in the SARs and other legal process at Garrett Ziegler’s site is one reason he gave in his Ways and Means testimony for harping on his sexual orientation — about which of course, no Democrat would give a shit.

I’m an American, and my allegiances are to my country and my government. I’m also a gay man. I have a husband, two dogs, a home, and a life full of family and friends. But above all else, I’m a human being. My sexuality doesn’t define me as a person. It’s just who I love.

I’d like to say one more thing regarding this topic of sexuality, especially since it’s the start of Pride Month. But people have said that I’m gay and people have said, because I’m gay and that I am working as the case agent on this investigation, that I must be a far-left liberal, perfectly placed to fit some agenda. This was stuff that was on social media regarding me.

I can tell you that I am none of those things. I’m a career government employee, and I have always strived to not let politics enter my frame of mind when working cases.

I’ve tried to stay so nonpolitical that in the last Presidential election I voted but had decided to not vote for the Presidential candidate because I didn’t want to be asked that question in a court proceeding in the future and I didn’t want to show any potential bias. [my emphasis]

His sexual orientation is relevant to his testimony to the extent that right wingers harassed him after his name was made public by Garrett Ziegler.

In his opening statement this week, he used his sexual orientation again:

I had recently heard an elected official say that I must be more credible because I am a gay Democrat married to a man.

He can’t be accused of lying because he’s a gay man, he parroted others — who again, must be right wingers — as saying. He couldn’t have an association with efforts to leak the contents of a laptop that started getting packaged up the very same month he himself opened an investigation into a relatively small international tax cheat based off payments to Russian sex workers, his very first investigation in the group, because he would be harassed by associates of someone like Garrett Ziegler for who he is. In both cases, he used his sexual orientation as some measure of credibility, one that would never be convincing for actual Democrats, because Democrats just don’t give a shit (and know well that prominent gay men like Ric Grenell are truly epic right wing trolls). But Ziegler wielded his harassment by presumed frothers as if it ensures he’d never associate with people whose readers would harass a gay man.

Meanwhile, at Wednesday’s hearing, Gary Shapley was asked about leaks several times. In one exchange, Ro Khanna attempted, with limited success, to ask him a series of questions. In Shapley’s first answer, he claimed that he was the one who reported the October 6 to “our Inspector General,” so presumably Treasury’s Inspector General, TIGTA.

Ro Khanna: Let me just ask you on the media. You’ve given testimony under oath that you have never spoken to the Washington Post — any reporter on this matter, correct?

Gary Shapley: That’s correct.

Khanna: Do you know — have you spoken to any media outlet on this matter?

Shapley: Uh, I have spoken, after the House Ways and Means Committee,

Khanna: Before that, have you spoken to any media — journalists on this matter?

Shapley: Absolutely not.

Khanna: Do you know if any colleague of yours at the IRS has spoken to any journalist on this matter?

Shapley: Absolutely not.

Khanna: Do you know of any investigation into the leaks on this matter?

Shapley: Uh, … so the October 6 leak, I was the person who referred it to our Inspector General.

It’s an interesting claim because his own exhibit shows the FBI agent, Darrell Waldon, responding to Shapley’s email, which Shapley sent after 6PM on Friday October 7, before 8AM on the Tuesday after a Federal holiday, saying that he, Waldon, would take care of that referral.

It may be that Shapley did make a referral, either via email over the weekend or after receiving an email saying someone else was taking care of it. It may also be that Shapley made his own referral even after Waldon did, which sure might raise questions at TIGTA. But Shapley’s own document raises questions about this claim.

As Khanna attempted to question Shapley further, Shapley kept talking over him, reciting an obviously rehearsed response.  James Comer even tried to force Khanna to relinquish his time so Shapley could answer the question Shapley wanted to answer before Comer realized that’s not how it works.

Khanna: Do you know if any of your colleagues are under investigation —

Shapley: There was a leak on December 9, 2020, around the day of action. And I know the IRS Inspector General and DOJ IG are looking into…

Khanna: Do you know if any of your colleagues are under investigation? Sorry, if I could just finish. Do you know if any of your colleagues are under investigation for that leak?

Shapley: I know of no colleague under investigation for that leak [glances towards the Chair].

Khanna: And just for the record, it is your testimony under oath that you have never spoken to any media person before the House testimony about this matter?

Shapley: It’s not only my testimony under oath today, I’ve provided an affidavit to the House Ways and Means Committee saying the same. I’ve said it to our Inspector General’s office as well. [Crosstalk]

Khanna: I appreciate that. I just want to make a final point on this. One, I think that —

Shapley: Mr. Chairmain, you mind if I — [Shapley’s lawyers consulting behind him]

Comer: Can the Gentleman answer the question you asked, Mr. Khanna?

Khanna: I just don’t want my time to be–

Jamie Raskin: If you’re granting him the time, Mr. Chairman.

Khanna: I just want a minute to wrap up if you’ll give me time.

Comer: Okay, you have a minute.

Shapley was asked about leaks twice more, both times by Dan Goldman. In the first instance, Goldman asked how the October 6 leak came up in the October 7 meeting.

Goldman: You’re familiar with an October 6 Washington Post story entitled Federal agents see chargeable tax gun purchase case against Hunter Biden, is that right?

Shapley: Yes I’m familiar yes.

Goldman: And this was, this meeting occurred October 7, the day after this, right?

Shapley: That’s correct.

Goldman: Was this article discussed at that meeting?

Shapley: It was.

Goldman: And what was the nature of the discussion?

Shapley: Uh, it’s in that document, that email, that basically says we’ve got to keep the sphere small–

Goldman: So it’s pretty clear, you would agree, that this was a leak to the Washington Post by law enforcement agents since it describes what Federal agents believe, right?

Shapley: So it wasn’t actually clear to me that it was because usually they’ll say that it’s a law enforcement source that provided it, and if you see at the bottom it says they corroborated independently and they did not mention law enforcement. [Shapley’s attorney leans over to whisper to him]

Goldman: You don’t think it’s a Federal agent, agents, who leaked this when the headline says, Federal agents see chargeable tax gun purchase case against Hunter Biden?

Comer: Gentleman’s time is expired but feel free to answer the question.

Shapley was being questioned. But Ziegler piped in and offers up a December 9, 2020 leak.

Ziegler: So there, prior to that if you go back to December of 2020, there was another leak to the Washington Post that got, we had to get Department of Justice OIG involved, TIGTA involved so there was other leaks that happened prior to this to the Washington Post that I think, are important for us to understand as well.

Shapley: It has similar information as the October 6 leak.

It’s interesting that Ziegler piped in here, because answering a question about October 6 by raising the December 9, 2020 leak is what he did in his House Ways and Means testimony, too. Ziegler described that he told TIGTA that he believed a December 9, 2020 leak came from DOJ or (!!) the defense. He also described that “we would constantly be talking about” this subject.

Prior to this, there were other leaks. After our day of action in December of 2020, we got word that a couple of the news sources were going to release an article on the investigation. This was a couple days prior to us going public — going overt.

So that leak happened, and nothing changed after that one. And everything indicated, even in communication in meetings from what I recall — we thought that the leak was potentially from someone in [the] Department of Justice. So we would constantly be talking about, yeah, it’s not an IRS person. It’s not anyone on the team. It’s always — it appeared like it was someone from Department of Justice. So that’s what kind of shocked me with this moving forward.

I was interviewed by an investigator — I think they were with TIGTA. I told them, I didn’t leak anything. I thought that the leak might have come from either defense counsel, or from DOJ like the other ones came.

But back to Wednesday’s hearing. Goldman asked Shapley again about leaks in a later round.

Goldman: Gentlemen, I want to return to the Washington Post October 6 article and I’d ask unanimous consent to enter it into the record. In your testimony, Mr. Shapley, before the Ways and Means Committee, you stated, quote, there was a leak, it appeared to come from the agents level, who was critical of the prosecutors for not charging the case. What you testified earlier was a little different. Which one do you stand by today?


Shapley: I’m sorry, could you repeat that?

Goldman, quoting: “There was a leak, it appeared to come from the agents level, who was critical of the prosecutors for not charging the case.”

Shapley: Yeah, I said it appeared, because I said it came from the agents’ level, but the source was a source familiar with the topic and it didn’t say it was a law enforcement source.

Goldman: Okay, that seems to be a distinction without a difference. And then, you understand that, obviously leaks of grand jury information is a felony, right?

Shapley: Leaking investigative information including 6103 would be a felony, yes.

Goldman: Well that’s true as well. So would you agree that there would be some skepticism from prosecutors about which of the agents may be the source of a leak?

Comer: Gentleman’s time is expired but feel free to answer the question.

Shapley: Since there have been multiple leaks in this investigation, and the one on December 8 or December 9, 2020, it appears to come from someone, as Lesley Wolf stated —

Goldman: I was just asking about October 6, 2022.

Shapley: So I

Goldman: It would cause anyone suspicion, right?

Shapley: If it says it comes from an agent level. [His attorney leans over, whispers something.]

Goldman: That’s what you said.

Comer: Gentleman’s time has expired.

Now, Goldman didn’t actually quote Shapley exactly. Here’s the full quote from Shapley’s Ways and Means testimony.

Q In No. 1 on this email you prepared, says: “Discussion about the agent leak — requested the sphere stay as small as possible…DOJ IG will be notified. FBI — HQ is notified.”

What was the specific leak?

A So there was a leak, I’m not sure what outlet, on October 6th of 2022 — it appeared to come from the agent’s level, who was critical of the prosecutors for not charging the case.

Q Okay. Talking about the Hunter Biden case?

A Yes, not charging the Hunter Biden case.

So, obviously that was part of the discussion at the beginning. And there have been multiple leaks in this case going back, and this one was handled a lot differently because I guess it was purportedly from the agent’s level.

So this drastic — you know, they used that as an excuse to kind of — to do what they were doing to us after this meeting on the 7th, they kind of used that leak as an excuse to exclude us.

In context, the view from others was that this was an agent level leak. Given his later use of the word, “purportedly,” I’m not sure it was Shapley’s espoused view.

I’m more interested in other aspects of this exchange.

In May, when Shapley answered a friendly question from the Majority Counsel, he feigned uncertainty what outlet this was from. In July, in public, Shapely kept answering questions about the October 2022 leak by responding about the December 2020 leak — and Ziegler explained they were doing so because “there was another leak to the Washington Post,” which by his telling they talked about all the time.

More interesting, though, is Shapley’s claim that, “this [leak] was handled a lot differently because I guess it was purportedly from the agent’s level.”

Both he and Ziegler described that this leak was the excuse to start excluding the IRS agents from the case.

But Shapley’s claim that the October 2022 leak was treated differently is likely false.

As I noted in this post, there was another leak, to the NYT in March 2022 (right after the IRS agents submitted their prosecution memo and asked DC to partner on it). That same month, for what Shapley presents as discovery purposes, everyone was asked for their email. But even though he had attempted to interview Hunter Biden himself in December 2020, he didn’t comply with that request.

It is common practice for DOJ to ask for the case agents’ communications in discovery, as they might have to testify in court. However, it’s much more unusual to ask for management communications, because it is simply not discoverable.

In March of 2022, DOJ requested of the IRS and FBI all management-level emails and documents on this case. I didn’t produce my emails, but I provided them with my sensitive case reports and memorandums that included contemporaneous documentation of DOJ’s continued unethical conduct. [my emphasis]

After the October meeting, prosecutors came back to Shapley, and asked again, which he got really touchy about.

[T]his was the culmination of an October 24th communication from Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office and — well, it was really Lesley Wolf and Mark Daly who called the case agent, [redacted], on the telephone and said, hey, we need — we need Shapley’s emails and his — these sensitive case reports that he’s authored back to May.

And they didn’t ask for discovery for anybody else. They didn’t ask for, from the — mind you, the agents had provided discovery March-April timeframe, so there was 6 months or so of additional discovery, and they’re not asking for that, right? They’re only asking for mine.

So [redacted] sends me an email with Wolf and Daly on it that says, hey, you know, they asked for this, you got to talk to Shapley. I respond, hey, yeah, I’m available 9:15, let’s chat. And she sends that, she forwards my email to Shawn Weede, number [two] — a senior level at Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office.

And then he contacts me about this discovery, and he’s kind of putting a lot of pressure on me. So even Weiss called up, the deputy chief, to complain about timing of the emails that got turned over from me at that request. [my emphasis]

It appears that it’s not that DOJ treated the leak differently, it’s that they noticed that the first time they asked for emails, he had blown off the request.

Again, as I noted here, as Darrell Waldon, the same agent who said he’d take care of the TIGTA referral, started reviewing his emailsShapley asked for advance notice of anything suspicious — precisely the thing he said Hunter Biden should not get.

If you have questions about any emails I would ask you share it in advance so I can look at them and be prepared to put them into context. The USAO was so eager to got my emails (which they already had 95% of) … then surprise … they “might” have a problem with a few of them that memorialized their conduct. If the content of what I documented, in report or email is the cause of their consternation I would direct them to consider their actions instead of who documented them.

I have done nothing wrong. Instead of constant battles with the USAO/DOJ Tax, I chose to be politically savvy. I documented issues, that I would have normally addressed as they occurred, because of the USAO and DOJ Tax’s continued visceral reactions to any dissenting opinions or ideas. Every single day was a battle to do our job. I continually reported these issues up to IRS-CI leadership beginning in the summer of 2020. Now, because they realized I documented their conduct they separate me out, cease all communication and are not attempting to salvage their own conduct by attacking mind. This is an attempt by the USAO to tarnish my good standing and position within IRS-CI … and I expect IRS-CI leadership to understand that. As recent as the October 7 meeting, the Delaware USAO had nothing but good things to say about me/us. Then they finally read “discovery” items (provided 6 months previous — that are not discoverable) and they are beginning to defend their own unethical actions.

Consider the below:

  1. I am not a witness — therefor Jencks/impeachment is not an issue.
  2. I am not the receiver of original evidence nor engaged i any negative exculpatory language against the subject … My documentation only shows the USAO/DOJ Tax’s preferential treatment of this subject. [bold underline original, italics mine]

Shapley’s boss, Michael Batdorf, was, at that point, quite supportive of the possibility that Shapley would have concerns about prosecutorial misconduct. Two months later he began to put a hold on what Shapley and others were doing.

I don’t think any of this shows that these IRS agents were leakers one way or another, and I also think it likely that whoever did some of these leaks used a cut-out.

Shapley may not be the leaker. But he sure seems to be hiding stuff in his emails. And only after his emails got turned over did he start claiming to be a whistleblower.

The Smell of Flop Sweat and Circus Peanuts

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Buckle up, cupcakes. You know it’s about to go down when the ringmaster summons the clowns.

Like this sad doofus.

[Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R, GA-14) sharing stolen photos* attributed to Hunter Biden during a GOP-led House Oversight Committee hearing July 19, 2023.]

She can’t even entertain and distract us on her own without flesh-colored props stolen from someone’s computer.

How entirely predictable this goat rodeo was on Wednesday, though. You could set your watch by the triggers.

~ ~ ~

First, the truth is slowly beginning to seep into the public’s consciousness that lifelong scofflaw Donald J. Trump is in deep shit which is about to meet the oscillator.

As Marcy shared in a post on Tuesday, Trump had a tantrum in his personal social media platform. He acted out after Special Counsel Jack Smith sent him a target letter with a deadline Thursday — today — to appear in front of a grand jury.

Lashing out against law enforcement is far from constructive — unless it serves another purpose like whipping up the base for grifting.

Up to now the angry hyperbole flung at Special Counsel and other investigations hasn’t helped Trump much in public opinion, according to a Politico/Ipsos poll published July 6, a month after Trump was indicted related to possession of classified documents and presidential records.

While right-leaning outlets posted headlines like “Nearly a quarter of Republicans say classified docs charges make them more likely to support Trump: poll” in The Hill, Ipsos’ published its results under a headline which read, “Most Americans think Trump should head to trial before the 2024 election.

This is not a pretty picture for Trump one month after his indictment, before even more evidence emerges about the case.

Trump will continue to respond the same way until these numbers improve because he’s running out of options.

~ ~ ~

Second, in his tantrum online, Trump called upon the House GOP and whined for their support, demanding “REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS MUST MAKE THIS THEIR # 1 ISSUE!!!”

Why the GOP-led House and not some other political group? Because members of the House are protected by the Constitution’s Speech or Debate clause, Article I, Section 6, Clause 1:

“The Senators and Representatives…shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony, and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their attendance at the Session of their Respective Houses, and in going to and from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.”

Clowns like Big Marj and Jim “Ignore the OSU sex abuse” Jordan (R, OH-04) can blab in front of cameras and microphones, say the most obnoxious crap on behalf of their mob boss, and never be held to account so long as they do it while ostensibly representing their constituents.

They’ll keep doing this until voters get fed up with this trash juggling which does nothing to address the country’s real needs.

Really, what does a bunch of stolen nude images of Hunter Biden have to do with tax law enforcement — laws which have already resulted in Hunter Biden being charged with a guilty plea expected in court this next week. This isn’t even a question you’ll note.

These images had jack-doodley-squat to do with the investigation by IRS personnel who should have been looking for documentation of unreported income or fraudulent write-offs and not nudes of a white male in his late 40s engaged in consensual sex with adults.

Because the erstwhile IRS investigators have also not been held to account for their shoddy work which amounts to little more than digging through a digital underwear drawer, they’ll be used over and over again like goats in this clown-riddled rodeo.

~ ~ ~

Third, the influence operation(s) which resulted in disinformation relying on stolen digital nude photos is being picked asunder and exposed for what it is. This site’s readers who’ve been following Marcy’s painstaking effort digging through documentation know well the narrative created by Trump, the GOP, and other entities is falling apart.

One major tell: the attack on this website after Marcy published her most recent post examining media outlets’ role in the influence operation suggests the details she’s shared have hit a nerve.

Not only has the ringmaster summoned the clowns to change the subject as loudly and obnoxiously as possible, but an attempt was made to shut down and silence an open source investigation.

Can’t imagine why that would be necessary given how entertaining the truth has been.

~ ~ ~

Lastly, there’s another narrative both the ringmaster and a certain clown needed to drown out in a big fat hurry.


So utterly predictable which clown would be in the center arena of the big top Wednesday.

When the next federal indictment of Trump is announced, which flop-sweaty clown do you think will appear first? Place your bets.

Consider this an open thread. Bring everything not on topic in other threads to this one.

* Image blurred by me because nobody needed to see that; a citizen’s bodily autonomy and personal privacy deserved protection and shouldn’t have been treated like revenge porn without their consent no matter if they failed to pay some of their federal income taxes or carried a handgun while addicted to illegal substances.

WaPo Is Suppressing Information that Might Debunk Devlin Barrett’s Latest Spin

Last week, I asked the WaPo if they would release the two reports — one from Johns Hopkins professor Matt Green and the other from InfoSec expert Jake Williams — that were the basis of this report on the “Hunter Biden” “laptop.”

I had asked once before, in May 2022.

But since I had originally asked, a bunch of things had happened to make those reports more newsworthy. Hunter Biden had countersued John Paul Mac Isaac (here’s the WaPo’s report). James Comer has stumbled over and over in his unabashed effort to manufacture a scandal (in which the WaPo has played along, still treating it as a credible investigation). Delaware US Attorney David Weiss’ office released a plea deal to which Hunter Biden is expected to plead guilty next week (here’s the WaPo report). IRS agents claiming to be whistleblowers, Gary Shapley and Whistleblower X, shared notes that raised questions about the FBI treatment of the device (but WaPo didn’t mention that in their report). Abbe Lowell claimed that Shapley misidentified Hunter Biden’s interlocutors in some key WhatsApp messages (something else WaPo didn’t mention even while repeating the substance of the contested WhatsApp texts). Denver Riggleman, who has been working as part of a Hunter Biden team to examine what has been released, has alleged some of the data has been manipulated (something WaPo hasn’t bothered to cover at all).

That all led me to start looking at the publicly released (but unreliable) emails at BidenLaptopEmails dot com, where I’ve discovered that during a period when Hunter Biden was getting Ketamine treatment and bookended by two communications from him that indicated he was not getting outside comms, someone:

  • Split Hunter’s Uber account, on which his two iCloud accounts had previously been joined
  • Accessed Hunter’s rhb iCloud account from a browser
  • Changed the password and related phone numbers to his rhb iCloud account
  • Installed and gave full access to his droidhunter gmail account a real app, called Hunter, that can send email on someone else’s behalf
  • Signed into that droidhunter account using a new device
  • Again changed emails and phone numbers associated with his rhb account
  • Asked for a full copy of his rhbdc iCloud account
  • Reset the password of that rhbdc iCloud account
  • Made droidhunter account the notification email for the rhbdc account
  • Downloaded all Hunter’s Apple Store purchases
  • Made changes to the Uber (and Waze) account associated with an XS phone that would be included in the “laptop”
  • Restored rhb as an alternate address to the account
  • Restored contacts from an unidentified prior change
  • Obtained — including at the droidhunter email account — a download link of the entire rhbdc iCloud account
  • Backed up the XS phone to the laptop
  • Gotten a trial app of a photo editor
  • Backed up an iPad to the laptop
  • Changed the iTunes password
  • Added the Dr. Fone account, allowing you to adopt a chosen second phone number for a phone, to a second of Hunter’s accounts
  • Signed into the droidhunter account from a burner phone
  • Restored the prior trusted phone number
  • Added software that could record calls
  • Started erasing and then locked a laptop — probably the one that would eventually end up in Mac Isaac’s store
  • Got a new Mac phone for the droidhunter account

That series of changes are not the only emails in the MarcoPolo set that should raise questions about whether Hunter Biden’s digital identity may have been compromised.

Two that are important to the topic of this post are, first, that a great many devices logged into Hunter Biden’s iCloud accounts in 2018 and 2019, yet many of them don’t appear to be tied to him getting his own new iPhone or computer, and only rarely are the existing devices shut down or passwords changed afterwards. The sheer number should have raised alarms that people had broken into Hunter Biden’s iCloud accounts when the IRS asked Apple for Hunter Biden’s subscriber information in November 2019, in advance of writing a subpoena for the laptop in custody of John Paul Mac Isaac. Additionally, there were a bunch of attempts to get into Hunter Biden’s Venmo account, and the account added two new Remembered Devices within 12 minutes of each other in August 2018, one in the LA foothills and the other in Las Vegas. That and other details (including texts and emails) might have raised questions about whether sex workers from the very same escort service on which the IRS had predicated this entire investigation took steps to compromise Hunter Biden’s devices.

But the timeline above provides some reason to believe that at the time the “laptop” was packaged up for delivery to John Paul Mac Isaac, Hunter Biden did not have complete — if any — control of his own communications.

I wouldn’t be able to prove whether Hunter Biden was hacked during this key period in 2019. It would require subpoena power and access to reliable data. But as it happens, Whistleblower X had subpoena power — and was already watching Hunter Biden closely — in precisely the period this happened.

For those of us who don’t have subpoena power, though, we have to rely on publicly available evidence, filtered through partisan gatekeepers alleged to have tampered with the device.

The two reports done for the WaPo are the only known assessments of the drive containing the “laptop” primarily using forensic — as opposed to a correlative — methodology. The correlative methodology, which shows all the communications on the drive confirm the others, unsurprisingly concludes that the “laptop” came from one of Hunter Biden’s several iCloud accounts.

The forensic methodology looked for digital verification — not just of email signatures, but also of the drive itself. Both Green and Williams raised questions about the treatment of and missing digital signatures on the drive, questions that seem to match what Riggleman’s team is seeing.

Indeed, the concerns that Green and Williams raised may explain something the FBI itself found. Shapley’s notes recorded that on March 31, 2020, someone wrote an email “about quality and completeness of imaged/recovered information from the hard drive” — an email that was being intentionally withheld from the agents (especially Whistleblower X) who might one day testify at trial.

This sounds like it might reflect the same concerns raised by anyone external examining the drive forensically. If it does, it would suggest that some of the irregularities everyone can see in drives released via Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon always existed, including in the one shared with the FBI and in any separate drive shared with Republicans in Congress.

Because of all the new questions raised about the “laptop,” and because of the centrality that the Republicans want it to have on the upcoming election, I thought it reasonable to ask the WaPo to do what even the Washington Examiner was willing to do: show their work. While the Examiner’s report from Gus Dimitrelos tellingly excludes many of the details I’ve laid out above and hides both some key later device accesses and types of apps — especially spyware — loaded onto Hunter Biden’s iCloud accounts, while the way the Examiner released it exacerbated the privacy violations on Hunter Biden himself, it nevertheless was useful for explaining how two iCloud accounts were loaded up onto one laptop and how the government was able to obtain WhatsApp texts that don’t show up on the unencrypted parts of the laptop.

After I made several requests, WaPo PR manager Savannah Stephens declined to release the reports, calling the two reports, “foundational reporting documents.”

Marcy, thank you for reaching out. We do not release foundational reporting documents. Our coverage at the time was transparent about how the study was conducted, including this report.

Even though it has two reports that could significantly impact fairly pressing debates — debates the WaPo itself treats as important — the WaPo refuses to release more on these expert reports on the laptop.

Instead of doing that, the WaPo is instead paying Devlin Barrett to do what he does best — write down as true what right wingers tell him to write, not what the public evidence actually shows.

In a story with Matt Viser (the same guy who repeated the content of contested WhatsApp texts without revealing that Abbe Lowell had contested them), Barrett wrote that the testimony of the men he calls “whistleblowers” “show Hunter Biden’s laptop had little role in the investigation into Hunter Biden.”

Barrett and Viser utterly misrepresent the debate over the laptop — dodging the question, in the lede, at least, of whether the laptop can help get to the truth — something once considered the purview of journalism and something WaPo’s own report on this drive had previously done.

For more than two years, Democrats and Republicans have hotly debated the importance of the “Hunter Biden laptop” — insisting that it was either key evidence of corruption or fool’s gold meant to con 2020 voters into abandoning then-candidate Joe Biden.

Both theories were largely wrong, according to two of the agents closest to the investigation of tax crimes allegedly committed by President Biden’s son.


But the agents’ accounts also indicate that the laptop played at best a small role in the criminal investigation into potential tax and gun-purchasing violations. Far from a smoking gun, the laptop appears to have been mostly an afterthought to the reams of text messages, emails and other evidence that agents gathered from Hunter Biden’s cloud data. A lawyer for one of those agents said he nevertheless was frustrated by the Justice Department’s refusal to let them review the laptop’s contents.

I’m very interested in the project of this column, because not only is this not what Shapley and Whistleblower X’s testimony said, but it misrepresented and misunderstands how evidence works.

This is a tax investigation. It came from, per Whistleblower X, his examination of what is probably a Russian escort service. But it’s a tax investigation: it relies on financial data that comes directly from banks and other financial institutions, institutions that are — to the extent they aren’t tainted by identity theft or hacking, like people seem to have tried to do to Hunter Biden’s Venmo — inherently reliable.

As for emails and texts, the IRS agents’ testimony (taken in conjunction with the report that the Washington Examiner was ethical enough to release), shows that the IRS didn’t obtain what is probably Hunter Biden’s rhb iCloud account — from which the cited, contested WhatsApp messages were probably obtained a second time — until August 2020, after it got some of the same material on the laptop. That potential taint may be why someone told Barrett to downplay the import of the laptop.

While the laptop may not have played a key role in substantiating a tax case against Hunter Biden, it may well have tainted the evidence in the case. It may well be part of the reason why Hunter Biden is getting to plead to misdemeanor rather than felony tax charges — because as even Whistleblower X explained that he had been told, there are emails that raised concerns about whether this could be charged at all, suggesting this case couldn’t withstand discovery.

Plus, WaPo is being coy here: The laptop may have played little part in a tax investigation reliant on bank records. But it did play a central part in allegations, including WaPo’s own reporting, of foreign influence peddling involving (among others), Burisma, the hack of which became public between the time the IRS started using this laptop as evidence and the time they learned Rudy Giuliani had a role in it.

That part is all pitch, though — yet another instance where Devlin Barrett writes down what right wingers tell him to say and WaPo reports it as if it were true. It’s what WaPo pays him to do.

It’s the claims about the laptop — from an outlet sitting on two reports that raise questions about its reliability — that I find especially curious. Start with this paragraph, which conflates the steps FBI took in November 2019 to authenticate that the laptop was Hunter Biden’s — subscriber information from Apple, a purchase record in Delaware, two but maybe only two phone calls with Mac Isaac, and “other intelligence” — with what the AUSA on the case said about it almost a year later.

After being handed the device by a Wilmington, Del., computer shop owner in 2019, the FBI quickly concluded by examining computer data as well as Hunter Biden’s phone records that the laptop was genuinely his and did not seem to have been tampered with or manipulated.

That last bit — “did not seem to have been tampered with or manipulated” — published by an outlet sitting on two reports that show the laptop was tampered with? It is a paraphrase from a meeting in October 2020, not a description of legal process served in November 2019. And therein lies a big part of the scandal.

In the actual quote, Wolf — painted as the bad guy here by the IRS agents — was saying that it “is not a priority” for the investigative team to see “if anything was added to the computer by a third party” even after learning that the lawyer for the President, whose demands for this investigation had raised influence problems from the start of the investigation, had some kind of tie to it.

This is as if Peter Strzok, rather than just failing to make sure people writing FISA applications had adverse information about the Steele dossier (which is what frothers think the IG Report showed), had instead said, “fuck it, I don’t care if it is tainted.” These notes show the Hunter Biden investigative team did what right wingers accuse the Crossfire Hurricane team of doing, blowing off the import of the involvement of a campaign in a key piece of evidence.

When the WaPo conflates those two items again later in the piece, they date the quote to May 2020.

Democrats suggested the data might have been doctored or possibly a Russian-backed disinformation campaign. The information provided by IRS agents to Congress seems to put both the accusations and counter-accusations to rest.

FBI agents were able to determine in early November 2019 that the device they had was registered to Hunter Biden, and phone records showed he had been in contact with the computer shop owner.

“We have no reason to believe there is anything fabricated nefariously on the computer and or hard drive. There are emails and other items that corroborate the items on the laptop,” Shapley wrote in notes that dated that determination to around May 2020.

Dating Lesley Wolf’s comment saying they had no reason to believe anything on the laptop was fabricated to May 2020 is either a deliberate error or a confession that two journalists proclaiming the laptop to lack any taint have no fucking clue what they’re reading.

Wolf said this, at a meeting the investigative team had on October 22, 2020, in the wake of the discovery that Rudy Giuliani had some tie to the laptop, as the team scrambled to memorialize how they had treated a key piece of evidence about which a bunch of questions would now be raised.

A Yes. So there are a couple significant parts of this. One was that, at this time, the laptop was a very big story, so we were just making sure that everything was being handled appropriately.

So we wanted to go through the timeline of what happened with the laptop and devices.

Because the laptop had become a huge story, “we were just making sure that everything was being handled appropriately,” Devlin Barrett’s star “whistleblower” explained.

And Shapley shows Wolf saying that they had no knowledge, in October 2020, of any fabrications on the laptop. But he records her saying that after “computer guy” said “they could do a csv list that shows when everything was created.”

That is, Wolf said this after “computer guy” described something they had not yet done ten months after obtaining the laptop, had not yet done two months after getting warrants relying on the laptop, that they would need to do to make sure the laptop had not been altered by third parties. Wolf said this after “computer guy” described that the FBI had not done very basic things to verify the integrity of the laptop they should have done ten months earlier, before relying on it.

Again, I’m not sure whether WaPo’s journalists are dishonest or just stupid. But this exchange is critical for another reason. Lesley Wolf’s assertion about the integrity of the laptop relied on correlation: by matching emails on the laptop with emails that could be obtained directly from the provider.

There are emails and other items hat corroborate the items on the laptop and hard dive.

This is the method that Washington Examiner’s expert used to proclaim the laptop authentic. It’s the method that a bunch of other right wing journalists have gotten experts to use to validate the laptop.

If you steal someone’s iCloud account, the way to prove that it is authentic is by proving that it is their iCloud account, which is what correlation does.

But “computer guy” was suggesting using a forensic method, ten months after the fact, to test the integrity of the laptop itself. DDOSecrets has done this test on the publicly released emails — and half of them have a last modified date of February 11, 2019, right towards the end of the timeline I show above.

Lesley Wolf made her comment on October 22, 2020. No one in Gary Shapley’s interview asked him what happened after that. Nor does Devlin Barrett seem curious to ask.

If “computer guy” subsequently did this test, there’s good reason to believe he would have found what DDOSecrets did: that while these emails match the ones in Hunter Biden’s accounts, they were all packaged up on February 11, 2019, at a time it’s not clear Hunter Biden had control of his own digital accounts.

If you use a forensic method to validate these files, you’re not going to get the same results as a correlative method. That’s why it would be very useful for the debate about the laptop for WaPo to share the two known expert reports done using forensic methods on the drive itself, rather than correlation.

There’s one more hilarious thing about this Devlin Barrett creation. He, predictably, repeats his “whistleblower’s” complaints about not getting stuff pertaining to the laptop.

Shapley said a federal prosecutor on the case, Lesley Wolf, told him that the IRS agents couldn’t see the laptop. “At some point, they were going to give a redacted version, but we don’t even think we got a full — even a redacted version. We only got piecemeal items,” Shapley told the committee, voicing his frustration that he would have liked to see all the data.

Devlin Barrett — dishonest or stupid? — quotes Shapley’s testimony out of context. The full quotation makes it clear Shapley is referring, again, to a discussion that took place on October 22, 2020. More importantly, Shapley is not referring to the laptop!!

And when it came down to item number 33 on page 2, Special Agent [Whistleblower X] is saying like, well, I haven’t seen this information. And AUSA Lesley Wolf says, well, you haven’t seen it because, for a variety of reasons, they kept it from the agents. And she said that at some point they were going to give a redacted version, but we don’t even think we got a full — even a redacted version. We only got piecemeal items [my emphasis]

That particular quotation, identified clearly as item number 33, is the report about the laptop — which I’ll copy again here to make it so easy even Devlin Barrett might understand it:

To help a right winger allege corruption, Devlin Barrett quotes his complaint that his team was not given the actual forensic report about the laptop. Corruption, in this story, is withholding a forensic report that might tell people what they need to know about the laptop.

And yet that is precisely what WaPo itself refuses to do: release two reports that raise questions about the quality and completeness of the drive.

According to Devlin Barrett’s own standard — at least the standard he applies when he’s parroting right wingers — withholding such a report is a sign of corruption.

Even the plain language of Gary Shapley’s contemporaneous notes show that Devlin’s claim that, “information provided by IRS agents to Congress” “put[s] … the accusations” that “the data might have been doctored or possibly a Russian-backed disinformation campaign” … “to rest” is wildly false (dishonest or stupid?). It does the opposite: It shows that ten months after beginning to rely on the laptop, the FBI still had not done basic forensic checks of the data on it and the AUSA leading the investigation didn’t think doing so was a priority.

That should be the story. That’s the scandal.

And true to form, Devlin Barrett spins the exactly opposite tale.

The WaPo has in its possession some of the only available information that can help to explain what the FBI saw by March 2020, two independent equivalent reports to the one that Shapley implies it is corrupt to withhold.

And unlike the Washington Examiner, they won’t release it.

“I can get any source on the planet.” The Pre-History of Gal Luft’s Pre-“Whistleblower” Indictment

In this post I noted that Gal Luft — the guy who got James Comer all hot and bothered about having a “whistleblower” confirming his conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden — was indicted on November 1, 2022, before the Republicans even won back the House. The timing alone debunks Luft’s and GOP claims that he was charged as retaliation for coming forward to Republicans.

But he might have been charged even before that.

That’s because the statutes of limitation for many of the substantive charges against him — save the alleged conspiracy to violate FARA — would have expired before he was indicted if he hadn’t fled the country when the person referred in his indictment as co-conspirator-1, Chi Ping Patrick Ho, was arrested in November 2017.

Here’s what the charges, duration, and five year Statute of Limitation looks like for the indictment against Luft.

It seems exceedingly likely that SDNY charged Luft on November 1, 2022 because that’s the day the Statute of Limitations would otherwise have expired on the headline charge: the conspiracy to get James Woolsey to act on behalf of CEFC by using Luft’s NGO as a cut-out.

But the five year Statutes of Limitations would have started expiring on the other substantive charges starting in November 2020.

DOJ could still indict Luft on those charges because — as they allude to in the indictment — once his alleged co-conspirator Patrick Ho was charged in November 2017, he fled the US and never returned.

Since the arrest of an associate (“CC-1”) on different U.S. charges in mid-November 2017, LUFT has remained outside the United States.

The known Luft docket doesn’t show any complaint prior to the indictment. But SDNY doesn’t always include prior charges in the prosecution docket (note, for example, that the Oleg Deripaska docket starts with a superseding indictment as document number 1, thereby hiding the timing and content of the prior indictment).

But if DOJ wanted to preserve those other charges until such time as they indicted on the last-expiring one, they might have obtained one or several serial complaints charging them, in case Luft ever happened to fly into the US unexpectedly, which would otherwise have cause those Statutes of Limitation to expire. If that’s right, then SDNY may have started charging Luft as early as November 2020, with more controversial charges involving Iran and Libya the following year.

With that in mind, I want to look at what the Patrick Ho prosecution — Luft’s alleged co-conspirator in counts 1 and 2, as well as Hunter Biden’s associate and legal client through the beginning of Ho’s own prosecution in 2018 — says about the investigation into Luft.

Based on search warrant return dates, DOJ appears to have obtained probable cause against Ho by June 20, 2016 — possibly based off a FISA warrant noticed during the prosecution. Before his arrest, DOJ continued to obtain Ho’s cloud communications at least through March 6, 2017 — meaning they were collecting communications Ho had with Luft during the period he was cultivating the Woolsey deal, and would have been collecting emails with Hunter Biden, except — unless I fucked up the search — none of the noticed email accounts show up in the MarcoPolo set.

While it’s clear CEFC did use charity to try to cultivate Hunter Biden, it’s not entirely clear what role Ho’s NGO played in that process (or whether Hunter had direct involvement with it). It’s worth noting on this point, charges against the Chadian whom Ho was convicted of trying to bribe were dropped. And Woolsey is not known to have been charged, in part because the Chinese payments to him were too well laundered through (allegedly) entities like Luft’s own NGO — likely the same reason why Tony Podesta wasn’t charged for involvement in Paul Manafort’s Ukrainian influence peddling.

Ho was first charged by complaint on November 16, 2017, then arrested as he landed in JFK two days later. On his arrest, the FBI took possession of six USB drives, at least two phones, and an iPad, all of which they presumably searched.

In the wake of Ho’s arrest, DOJ took other overt steps, which they cited in a detention filing to describe how much more they learned after Ho’s arrest. Those steps including interviewing witnesses, executing search warrants — including for Ho’s Virginia NGO, and subpoenaing documents from third parties.

The government first publicly mentioned the arms and Iran conduct subsequently charged against Luft in an October 2018 motion in limine. Because Ho seemed to be preparing to claim his involvement in Chad and Uganda — the two countries he was charged with attempting to bribe — involved charity, a defense that would have skirted aspects of the charged crime, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the government argued they should be able to introduce evidence that Ho was pushing CEFC business, not just charity.

On October 2014, the defendant sent his assistant an email stating, “I am going to BJ [i.e., Beijing] this Friday to see [the Chairman of CEFC NGO and CEFC China] on Sat afternoon. The documents I want to send him before hand in separate items are: . . . 7. Iranian connection (brief).”4 On the same date, the defendant sent his assistant another email, attaching a document, which stated, in pertinent part:

7) Iranian Connection . . . Iran has money in a Bank in china which is under sanction. Iran wishes to purchase precious metal with this money. The precious metal is available through a Bank in HK which cannot accept money from the Bank in China which holds the money but is under sanction. The Iranian agent is looking for a Chinese company acting as a middle man in such transactions and will pay commission. (details to be presented orally) The Iranian connection has strong urge to establish trading relationship with us in oil and products . . . .

The following year, in June 2015, the defendant received an email that stated, in pertinent part: “The Iranian team will arrive in BJ . . . . See the attached.” The attachment referenced in the email was a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Presentation to Potential Partners Iran Petroleum Investments.” The next day, the defendant forwarded the email to his assistant, stating, “For writing report to [the Chairman of CEFC NGO and CEFC China].”

The following year, in June 2016, the defendant emailed another individual, blindcopying his assistant, and stated, in pertinent part, “Will get [two executives of CEFC China] to meet with [oil executive at company with operations in Iran] in BJ, and [another individual] also on another occasion if he comes. You can start organizing these. . . . Other matters ftf [i.e., face to face].” [paragraph 78]


The defendant also sought to and did broker arms transactions unrelated to the Chad and Uganda schemes charged in this case. For example:

In March 2015, an individual sent the defendant an email, stating, “I have the list and end user agreement. Pls advise next step.” On the same day, the defendant replied, in pertinent part, “Find a way to pass them onto me and we can execute that right away[].” The individual replied, “Attached. [W]e have the funding and processing mechanisms in place. If it works nice there will be much more. Also for S. Sudan.” The attachment to this email was a document entitled “End User Certificate,” certifying that the user of the goods in question would be the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Libya. The goods listed on the document included numerous arms. [paragraph 48]

The following month, the defendant sent an email that stated in pertinent part: “It so turns out Qatar also needs urgently a list of toys from us. But for the same reason we had for Libya, we cannot sell directly to them. Is there a way you could act as an intermediary in both cases?” The person whom the defendant emailed replied: “Qatar good chance bc there is no embargo. Libya is another case bc going against an embargo is tricky.” The defendant responded: “Qatar needs new toys quite urgently. Their chief is coming to China and we hope to give them a piece of good news. Please confirm soonest.” [paragraph 48]

As linked above, several of the documents described in this motion describing “other uncharged conduct” are documents listed in Luft’s own indictment. Given that he fled upon Ho’s arrest, he seems to have recognized the threat to himself at that point, in 2017. If not, the public docketing of these documents should have made that clear.

The government repeated these references to communications with Luft — among other places — in their sentencing memorandum for Ho, submitted on March 18, 2019, just days before the meeting with Luft in Belgium.

So Luft was on notice about this part of the criminal investigation into him when he arranged that meeting and pitched dirt on Hunter Biden. The meeting was literally days after Ho was sentenced on March 25, 2019.

SDNY didn’t charge Ho with either of the conspiracies in which he is named as Luft’s co-conspirator, even though their understanding of the arms control conspiracy was well-advanced by the time of his trial in November 2018. He remained imprisoned in the US until June 8, 2020, well over a year after the interview with Luft, after which Ho was deported to Hong Kong. Admittedly, that was the height of the pandemic and Ho was already 70, and so would have been difficult to keep jailed.

But the timing of Luft’s meeting with the SDNY and FBI — literally days after Ho’s sentencing — suggests that SDNY took that opportunity to advance the several overt prongs of the investigations against him, regardless of what dangle — true or not — about Hunter Biden Luft offered. They had already, publicly, made clear they believed it was criminal conduct.

Luft was on notice about that before the Brussels meeting and, as alleged in the indictment, he lied about the arms control scheme and discussions with Iran.

It probably would have been easier to extradite him from the US Embassy in Brussels than it would from Cyprus, so clearly SDNY wasn’t ready to arrest him yet.

There’s no False Statements charge in the indictment pertaining to Woolsey, however, so it’s unclear whether the FBI asked Luft about that.

Trump’s Criminal Division head, Brian Benczkowski, took credit for the Ho sentencing (and may have had to approve the meeting with Luft). So it seems likely even Bill Barr’s DOJ were fine with those two prongs of the Luft prosecution.

The Woolsey allegation, of course is a different matter.

So, too, might another one be.

Count 7 of his indictment charges Luft with violating sanctions against Iran. It starts, as such charges do, with an explanation of the IEEPA authorizing such sanctions, generally. It spends six paragraphs describing the sanctions regime against Iran. It spends eight paragraphs describing the charged conduct involving Iran. Then, before the two paragraphs charging Luft for evading Iran sections, his indictment includes this paragraph:

80. Several months later, on or about October 10, 2016, CC-2 emailed GAL LUFT, the defendant, that CC-2 had a Chinese client who needed Russian oil, which LUFT confirmed he could help provide: “I just got off the phone with Russia. They have this.” Forwarding this email to CC-1, LUFT wrote: “If [CC-2] really has this client we need to grab it. This is exactly what we need. . . . I can get any source on the planet.”

That’s not related to the current charges (though if Luft continued to pursue business with Russia, particularly after 2017 and 2022 sanctions, those might amount to IEEPA sanctions violations as well). But it suggests DOJ’s interest into Luft may extend beyond China.

Hunter Biden’s Uber Connection and the K Street Collision

On December 3, 2018, at least per emails in the MarcoPolo set at BidenLaptopEmails dot com, Hunter Biden accessed his Uber account by logging in using his phone, but logging in through what appears to be a Comcast connection in Newburyport, MA, where he was getting treatment from Dr. Keith Ablow.

I found this request as part of my effort to figure out which iCloud accounts were run by which devices during the period — roughly January 14 to February 15, 2019 — when his digital life was being taken over and packaged up as part of a huge political hit job to be used against his father the following year.

It was surprisingly common for Hunter Biden to access Uber by logging in using a browser from a Mac computer, not the phone app. I’m not an Uber user, but isn’t the point that the service relies on tracking you via your phone and its location data?

But when Hunter Biden logged into Uber using his phone, the normal way, he appears to have used his cell service. Again, the normal way.

But on December 3, 2018, Hunter Biden logged into Uber using some Comcast network — not his cell service — in Newburyport MA, in the town but not the exact location where Dr. Ablow’s practice was; this also appears to be a different location from where Hunter would stay in January, as well.

As I laid out in this post, there were several instances during the period where Hunter Biden appears to have been getting his digital life hacked where his communications didn’t connect, starting with an exchange in January 2019 that Keith Ablow facilitated, in Hunter’s first known email to the shrink. It was an exchange asking two doctors for assistance. Hunter asked at one point, “Guys are you getting my emails?,” and contrary to Ablow’s assurances, it appears they were not. If Hunter wasn’t accessing his cell service in this period, that might help to explain why he was sending messages that their recipients weren’t getting.

But this Comcast log-in to Uber is notable for several other reasons.

Around February 13, 2018, Hunter had added his rhbdc iCloud account — the account believed to be taken over a year later — to his Uber account; prior to that his account was exclusively registered to his rhb iCloud account — the account that would be exposed via an encrypted phone backup available through iTunes. For most of 2018, Hunter Biden’s Uber account was common to both of those iCloud accounts. Both emails would get a notice whenever he used the service.

On December 1, 2018, the password was changed, with notice to just the rhb account. There were a bunch of rides on December 3, paid by Venmo (Hunter’s Venmo had definitely been compromised earlier in 2018, but that’s for another post), the Uber receipts for which don’t appear to be in the MarcoPolo stash of emails. On December 3, the rhbdc account password was changed. There was one ride on the rhbdc Uber on December 3 in Newburyport, the same location where the password had been changed.

But from December 3, 2018 through at least February 8, at least per the emails that ended up in the MarcoPolo set, just his rhbdc iCloud account was getting notices from Uber. The first trip showing that Uber had been set back to the way it had been was on February 19, 2019. Then, in the very last days of this email set, following new devices being added to Hunter’s Uber account, three or even four receipts show up.

Some of the rides during this period are pretty interesting, too — such as a 50-minute, 15-mile drive (with no wait time) to go .1 mile around the corner on a key day of the account takeover.

And while it doesn’t show up in the emails, per Gus Dimitrelos — the forensics guy who did a long report for Washington Examiner — the iPhone XS that would be stored to iTunes (registered to the rhb iCloud) had an Uber account showing a modified date on November 22, 2018, a created date of January 22, 2019 — right in the thick of events, and an accessed date of February 3, 2019. I don’t believe those Uber events show up in the MarcoPolo set, even though the set includes emails from both the rhb and rhbdc iCloud accounts and so should reflect changes made on the rhb Uber account.

Among other things, by splitting these two Uber accounts, you might show “Hunter Biden” in two different places at one time. Imagine, for example, if the “other intelligence” the IRS used to justify obtaining the laptop from Mac Isaac was just one of two Uber accounts showing him to be in Delaware?

The possibility that a digital or even physical Hunter Biden was in two places at once in this period brings me to a story about Lyft.

In addition to Hunter’s failed attempt to email two doctors in early January 2019, this post describes a few other communication disconnects in this key period.

  • He failed to respond to Ablow’s practice manager when she tried to respond to his droidhunter88 account on January 15
  • On January 18, Ablow entirely rewrote a statement for Vanity Fair in such a way that Hunter’s attorney George Mesires — who appears to have passed it onto the magazine — would not have realized it

Metaphorically, at least, Hunter Biden was not publicly speaking for himself in this period.

But there’s one more potential communication disconnect from this period.

On January 24, 2019, an Ablow associate, Greg, had a meeting with Hunter Biden at which (per an email the associate wrote memorializing the meeting), it was decided that Greg would be Hunter’s “Chief of Staff.”

The email memorialization had a list of things Greg was going to do, including communication with two of Hunter’s kids and his lawyer.

And his father’s assistant.

Among the things on the list — right next to sky diving and flying lessons ASAP — was a note to talk to Katie Dodge: “ski’s and gear – need phone number and address to ship to.”

Katie Dodge was Hunter Biden’s long-time personal assistant, who already was doing the administrative things on this list, though not the flying lessons and sky diving. Dodge was doing those administrative things for income less than half of what Greg proposed he should be paid, to do what Dodge was already doing (again, less the flying lessons and sky diving).

On January 29, 2019, five days after this meeting at which Greg made himself Chief of Staff in charge of contacting Dodge about skis and boots — per SMS texts published by Dimitrelos — Dodge wrote Hunter and asked him about paying for his storage facility. At least per the published SMS texts, this was the first she had spoken to Hunter via SMS text since October 2018.

After an exchange about the storage facility, Hunter asked whether she could get his skis and boots and send them to him, “here,” by context, in MA.

Can you get my ski bag- and ski boots – from storage. Fed-ex can pick them up and deliver here or there’s another company that does that and I can get them if someone puts skis and boots where they can pick up.

She seemed surprised by the request, and asked if they had previously been at K Street. She agreed to go get the skis — but noted that would require paying the overdue storage bill — and asked where she should be overnighting them.

Also what resort do they need to go to? What are the dates?

Hunter had no idea where he’s going to be using these skis that he asked her to overnight to MA.

I have neither.

She appears to have sent them, because on February 8, 2019, she asked,

Did you receive your skis?

This SMS conversation — focused largely on paying bills — went on for almost two more weeks. Then, on February 20 (the day after Hunter’s Uber account was restored to the way it had been before December 3), in response to a question about a particular financial change he said he wanted to make, which they had already discussed on February 15, Dodge asked if he had made the call to make that happen.

He seems to have missed that instruction entirely — because of “limited access to communications on all forms.”

No didn’t ! I’ve got limited access to communications on all forms

Then — in what seems like a muddled voice-to-text transmission — he asked her about the skis that she appears to have retrieved from storage by February 8, as if he doesn’t know that.

Ivan you get the skis done I’ll send you a dress tomorrow

She already sent the skis somewhere, but he was offering to send her the address in MA “tomorrow,” so on February 21.

I’m interested in the skis and Dodge’s efforts to retrieve them from storage in the DC area and her follow-up about them on February 8 because one of the things in unallocated space that someone tried to delete — again, per Dimitrelos’s reports — were the February 7, 2019 texts and collision report from a Lyft driver who apologized to “Mr. Biden” for the collision they had had the previous evening, February 6, at roughly this ridiculous part of K Street in Washington DC.

Hunter Biden’s long-time assistant wrote him on February 8, asking if he got the skis she made significant efforts to send him from the DC area to MA a week earlier, with absolutely no awareness that Hunter — or someone presenting as Hunter Biden — was on K Street, side-swiping or getting side-swiped by a Lyft driver.

Now, certainly, it was possible that Hunter Biden drove from MA to DC to be present for a car accident on February 6, 2019. Maybe the trip — by whomever — served to pick up those skis.

But neither he nor his personal assistant seems to have had any clue that that had happened.

Update: After several tries, I’ve taken out errors regarding when the Uber for the XS was set up. Thanks to zscoreUSA for the persistence.

Related posts

The Laptop Everyone Knows as Hunter Biden’s Appears to Have Been Deleted Starting February 15, 2019: This post describes a number of the events that occurred in the key time period, and has a timeline that will have to suffice until I tidy up an updated one.

Gary Shapley and Hunter Biden’s Colleague Named “Z”: One thing that happened in the key period in 2019 is that Hunter Biden’s contacts were restored — which creates the possibility that the publicly released contacts reflect alterations.

Hunter Biden’s Matryoshka Cell Phone: How the IRS and Frothers Got Hunter’s Encrypted iPhone Content: The “laptop” as we know it appears to be the entire iCloud of one Hunter Biden account and a phone containing another iCloud account saved — during the period of compromise — to his iTunes account.

Keith Ablow’s Unallocated Space in Hunter Biden’s Memory: When Hunter Biden went to Newburyport, MA to get Ketamine treatment from Fox News personality Keith Ablow in early 2019, he had a series of communications failures that prevented him from speaking to others directly.

Jay Bratt to Chris Kise: You Already Made that Frivolous Presidential Records Act Argument

This post talks about the government’s legal argument against delay in the Trump stolen documents case. This other post talks about the filing’s description of the evidence in the case. 

My favorite part of the government’s reply to Trump’s request to put off his Espionage Act trial indefinitely comes in how they rebut Trump’s argument that there are novel issues that will require more time.

DOJ dismisses Trump’s suggestion that there’s a question about whether the Special Counsel could prosecute him by pointing to the appeal from the key witness protecting Roger Stone, Andrew Miller.

In re Grand Jury, 916 F.3d 1047, 1052–54 (D.C. Cir. 2019), the D.C. Circuit held that a special counsel appointed by the Attorney General has the authority to investigate and prosecute federal crimes.

More hilarious is the way they dismiss the claim that Trump needs a lot of time to make the Presidential Records Act argument he lifted from (noted non-attorney) Tom Fitton. They do so in several ways: noting that the argument really isn’t going to work and that even if they want to try it, the only thing they need to try is the indictment.

But then they note that Trump, with one of his existing counsel — Chris Kise, already made that argument, before Judge Cannon.

As for the impact of the Presidential Records Act on this prosecution, any argument that it mandates dismissal of the Indictment or forms a defense to the charges here borders on frivolous. The PRA is not a criminal statute, and in no way purports to address the retention of national security information. The Defendants are, of course, free to make whatever arguments they like for dismissal of the Indictment, and the Government will respond promptly. But they should not be permitted to gesture at a baseless legal argument, call it “novel,” and then claim that the Court will require an indefinite continuance in order to resolve it.


As with any pretrial dispositive motion, all that is necessary is the Indictment—which the Defendants have had for over a month. And in fact, Trump (including his current counsel) has already briefed in this Court a variation of this argument. See, e.g., No. 22-CV-81294-CANNON, ECF No. 171 (filed Nov. 8, 2022). The legal issues Defendants raise do not justify deviation from a speedy trial date, much less open-ended deferral of considering one.

Jay Bratt went easy on Trump: He doesn’t bother reminding Kise (and Aileen Cannon) how that worked out before the 11th Circuit the last time they tried it.

Ultimately, though, the core nugget of the filing is this: The Speedy Trial Act requires a judge to set a trial date.

Any discussion of setting a trial date must begin with the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, 18 U.S.C. §§ 3161–3174 (the “Act”). The very first sentence of the Act forecloses Defendants’ proposal here:

In any case involving a defendant charged with an offense, the appropriate judicial officer, at the earliest practicable time, shall, after consultation with the counsel for the defendant and the attorney for the Government, set the case for trial on a day certain, … so as to assure a speedy trial.

18 U.S.C. § 3161(a). The Defendants chide the Government for seeking an “expedited” trial (Resp. at 1, 2, 8), but in doing so they have it exactly backward. A speedy trial is a foundational requirement of the Constitution and the United States Code, not a Government preference that must be justified. See U.S. Const. amend. VI; 18 U.S.C. Ch. 208 (captioned “Speedy Trial”).


“That public interest cannot be served, the Act recognizes, if defendants may opt out of the Act entirely,” id., which the Defendants effectively try to do here by requesting an indefinite adjournment of the trial, for a minimum of some fifteen months.1 See Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 519 (1972) (noting the “societal interest in providing a speedy trial which exists separate from, and at times in opposition to, the interests of the accused.”).

This filing doesn’t get very deep into Trump’s claims about the election. It side-steps the issues I pointed to — voters’ need to know whether Trump reneged on the promises he made the last time he got elected. It acknowledges picking a jury may be tough but says that’s good reason to get started on it earlier. It even notes that Trump’s busy work schedule, like those of a lot of powerful people charged with a crime, is not an excuse to put off trial indefinitely.

[T]he demands of Defendants’ professional schedules do not provide a basis to delay trial in this case. Many indicted defendants have demanding jobs that require a considerable amount of their time and energy, or a significant amount of travel. The Speedy Trial Act contemplates no such factor as a basis for a continuance, and the Court should not indulge it here.

While I find several of these arguments persuasive, ultimately, it’s unclear whether this filing will work. We’re at the point where we’ll get the first hint of how Judge Cannon plans to approach this case.

But by laying out that she cannot do what Trump has asked, simply delay the case indefinitely, it simplifies her choices.

Keith Ablow’s Unallocated Space in Hunter Biden’s Memory

In the third part of Gus Dimitrelos’ report* on the laptop attributed to Hunter Biden, he examines what he could find in the unallocated space of the laptop — the place where deleted files go on computers until they eventually get written over. He does it, in laymen’s terms, to prove that there was someone at the keyboard of the laptop, deleting individual files by hand, which he claims (falsely) is proof that, “Robert Hunter Biden is in control of the MacBook Laptop.”

He shows remarkably little interest in what got deleted.

At least two of the files deleted from the laptop pertain to the therapist from whom the President’s son was getting Ketamine treatment during the period his digital life appears to have been taken over, Keith Ablow, and in whose office the DEA discovered different laptop owned by Hunter Biden in 2020.

According to two people familiar with the matter, a different Hunter Biden laptop landed in the custody of the DEA in February when they executed a search warrant on the Massachusetts office of a psychiatrist accused of professional misconduct. The psychiatrist has not been charged with a crime.

Hunter Biden was not a target of the search or the investigation, and his lawyer ultimately got his laptop back. It’s not clear why his computer was left in the doctor’s office.

Who is Keith Ablow?

One enduring mystery about the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” affair is why the son of a top Democrat ended up doing Ketamine therapy with a Fox personality just weeks short of allegations that the shrink had sexually harassed patients, an accusation that would lead to his suspension.

Ablow’s career on Fox extended back years by the time in 2018 when Hunter Biden got involved with him. He made obnoxious comments both about the Obamas and marriage equality and a ludicrous pitch in favor of Newt Gingrich. There’s no reason a Democrat should ever have trusted him.

And then, shortly after the time when Hunter Biden’s digital world appears to have been taken over by his droidhunter Gmail, several lawsuits accusing Ablow of sexual harassment went public.

The women allege that Dr. Keith Ablow, an author who was a contributor to Fox News network until 2017, abused his position while treating them for acute depression, leaving them unable to trust authority figures and plagued with feelings of shame and self-recrimination.

“He began to hit me when we engaged in sexual activities,” wrote one plaintiff, a New York woman, in a sworn affidavit filed with her lawsuit. “He would have me on my knees and begin to beat me with his hands on my breasts,” she wrote, “occasionally saying, ‘I own you,’ or ‘You are my slave.’”

The malpractice lawsuits, two of them filed on Thursday in Essex Superior Court and a third filed last year, paint a picture of a therapist who encouraged women to trust and rely on him, then coaxed them into humiliating sexual activities, often during treatment sessions for which they were charged. When the New York woman had trouble paying her therapy bills, she said, Ablow advised her to work as an escort or stripper because the work was lucrative.

The three lawsuits were settled. But as a result Ablow’s medical license was suspended. As noted above, for some reason the DEA searched his office a year later, where they found yet another Hunter Biden laptop left behind.

Update: Here’s a picture of Ablow speaking at a Trump rally in MA on March 4, 2017.


Deleting Ablow

In fact, the accusations against Ablow were one of two things that Dimitrelos found in the unallocated space of what would have been the laptop.

On February 25, 2019, Hunter Biden texted someone else a link to the BoGlo report on the accusations, which had been published four days earlier. “My psychiatrist,” Hunter Biden explained in a follow-up text. “I can’t catch a break,” he said in the third. If authentic, these texts appear to capture Hunter’s immediate response to the abuse allegations, and the four-day delay in his discovery of them.

That someone would delete those is interesting enough.

But I’m far more interested in the other file Dimitrelos found. It was a December 10, 2018 invoice, sent by iChat. It reflected the following psychotherapy sessions with Hunter, which were identified as “New Incident”:

  • November 10, 2018: 90 minutes
  • November 11, 2018: 90 minutes
  • November 12, 2018: 30 minutes
  • November 14, 2018: 60 minutes
  • November 14, 2018: 60 minutes
  • November 15, 2018: 60 minutes
  • November 16, 2018: 60 minutes

It was a three page invoice, but Dimitrelos only shows the first page, so there could be more sessions in the weeks between November 16 and December 10, 2018. All sessions were paid by credit card within days.

But even just that single page shows that Hunter was spending time with Ablow in the period when he obtained new devices — including the laptop believed to be the one that ended up in John Paul Mac Isaac’s shop.

It’s easy to see, then, how and when Ablow might have come into possession of a Hunter Biden laptop and Hunter Biden might have started using the new one that would end up becoming a big political hit job.

[Update: I corrected my timeline here. Hunter Biden started using the laptop believed to be the one brought to Mac Isaac’s shop in October, not November.]

Baystate or Bluewater

Dimitrelos says the invoice, “correlates [with] email communications with Keith Ablow and the Practice Manager.”

But the invoice doesn’t. It differs with the emails we see with Ablow and his practice manager, a woman named Tiffany Bartholemew, as they appear in the BidenLaptopEmails dot com collection, in at least one key respect. The bill is from “Bluestate Psychiatry.” But Bartholomew writes from “Bluewater Wellness.”

The discrepancy may arise from a difference in treatment: and therefore also payment schemes. Of the emails related to Ablow sent by Hunter, about a dozen had to do with accommodations, including:

  • Emails Bartholomew sent on December 4, 2018 (and so before the invoice) about payment for “this week” at Plum Island Rental
  • The confirmation for that reservation, sent the same date as the invoice, to the rhbdcicloud and cc’ed to Bartholomew, followed by one sent on January 3, not cc’ed to Bartholomew, providing instructions for getting in
  • An email sent on January 26 from the “manager of Dr. Ablow’s cottage”
  • Seven emails from a guy who seems to have made himself Hunter’s Chief of Staff at a meeting on January 24, all of which pertain in part or in whole to finding a new place in Newburyport, MA

Those were all sent to the rhbdcicloud. Another email from Bartholomew, sent to the same email, alerted Hunter to a rescheduled Yoga session while in Massachusetts.

There were several other more curious emails involving Bartholomew:

  • An email sent on January 5, 2019 to rhbdc at, seemingly asking Hunter for advice about how to deal with an insane temp leaving adverse reviews on Google
  • An MP4, dated January 8, 2019, titled Neverending story, sent first via Google Drive from a Gmail account, then forwarded the next day from her Ablew email account, both times to the rhbdcicloud

In this same period, Hunter paid someone with the last name Bartholomew but a different first name, via Venmo, for purchases at CVS, using his rhbrspdc account.

Guys are you getting my emails?

But several of the emails demonstrate Hunter’s communication woes during this period.

The very first email from Hunter Biden to Ablow in the Marco Polo set, sent on January 3, 2019, was misaddressed, and bounced. It was sent again, with the subject line “yyyy.”

While no body of that text appears in the Marco Polo set, Ablow responded to it, adding a third person, Rock, and asking for help getting a doctor to review Hunter’s daughter’s x-rays from a bad skiing accident.

Hunter responds, saying he is attaching the x-rays (and reply emails show jpg attachments):

I am attaching the X-rays and would so much appreciate your helopmputting [sic] them in the right hands.

Hunter and Ablow exchange two emails among themselves.

Then Ablow responds to his own email, which this time is marked [External], noting that “His [apparently meaning Hunter’s] email is screwed up,” and then saying he had texted Rock.

From: Keith Ablow <kablow[redacted]>
Sent: Thursday, January 3, 2019 11:40 AM
To: Positano [redacted]; rhbdcicloud
Subject: [EXTERNAL]Re: From Keith

CAUTION: External Email.

His email is screwed up

I texted you

The doctor responds — happy to help — and provides his contact. Ablow thanks him. Hunter responds to that, plaintively,

Guys are you getting my emails?

And though neither of the external interlocutors ever said a thing directly to Hunter, Ablow says, yes, suggesting they had gotten his emails, then instructs Hunter to contact the doctor and “send him the x-rays,” even though in the original email Hunter already sent 2 jpgs.

Hunter then tried to email the doctor directly, using the same email included in Ablow’s email (possibly even using the link from the doctor’s own email), and it bounces, “RecipientNotFound; Recipient not found by SMTP address lookup.”

At least based on the Marco Polo set, Hunter Biden didn’t send much between then and January 15 (though I may return to what he did send; he had important exchanges with his lawyer George Mesires).

Then he had another communication failure with Ablow’s team, though apparently of a different type.

On January 15, 2019 at 11:13AM, Hunter sent Ablow’s practice manager, Bartholomew. an email from his droidhunter account, asking “Schedule?” The email itself appears in the MarcoPolo collection, but any other body of the email is not preserved.

Bartholomew responded, on January 15 at 11:19PM, to the droidhunter account, describing his schedule for both “today” (seemingly meaning January 15) and “tomorrow,” his Ketamine treatment on January 16.

Then, just under 3.5 hours later, she sent that same email again, to both the droidhunter and rhbdcicloud with the message:

Below is the response I sent within minutes of receiving your email.

I called you this morning
Both Keith and I texted – I, multiple times, both on the group text and solo
I tried calling
I had Jodi text and call and you did not answer until 2pm

I texted you after sending the below email and mentioned adding yoga on for tomorrow – I did not receive a response and I will not waste people’s time booking them if you do not stay in touch

Bartholomew appears to have attributed this to Hunter’s mental struggles, and it may well have been (though it is notable since it is the sole exchange with her involving the droidhunter email).

The reason people love my Dad Chris iOS because he’s the son they hope to raise

The questions about whether Hunter was communicating externally — to say nothing of the effect of the Ketamine treatment, which by context would have been January 16 — makes me really uncomfortable with what happened with a statement Hunter Biden shared for this Vanity Fair story on whether Hunter’s problems were leading Joe to hesitate about running.

The exchange starts with Hunter forwarding an email he sent to Doug Brinkley on his rosemontseneca email to Ablow, using his rhbdcicloud email, with his long and very rough draft of a statement.

Ablow asks if he wants edits.

I could also make a few other edits, with humility. Would you like me to?

Hunter responds by saying it needs both edits and to be more concise. So Ablow promises to do it overnight.

I can make it all happen by 8 am.

Not to worry.

This is my thing.

Stay tuned.

As that exchange was happening, Hunter sent the statement to his lawyer, George Mesires, via his rhbdcme address. Mesires responded saying, “I can’t stop crying,” but providing no edits.

Hunter sends two snide comments to the journalist to his attorney George Mesires, from the rosemontseneca email, ccing Ablow.

Then ultimately he sends the statement as rewritten by Ablow to Mesires.

“FIXED A FEW OF MY TYPOS . . .” Hunter said of the statement substantially written by Ablow. Mesires would have no way of knowing that Ablow had made all the changes.

Vanity Fair removed one paragraph about Hunter’s own background as well as this significantly edited snide comment to him:

I hope that answers your question, Chris. I would ask this one of you: Are your talents best used as a tabloid journalist? If you were willing to endure more pain to make a more powerful contribution to our shared world, what would you do? What has stood in your way? My father would tell you this: Don’t let it. Reach deep down and deliver the gifts you were meant to give to others. And that’s the message Americans will see come to life in 2020.

At a time when Hunter Biden was in a communications vacuum, just days off a Ketamine treatment, and probably getting his life hacked irreparably, to become the non-stop political hit job of those trying to take down his father, Keith Ablow replaced Hunter’s statement with his own.

In the process Ablow replaced this fairly amazing paragraph about Joe Biden … [I’ve left all typos, including the charming, “iOS” instead of “is.”]

The reason people love my Dad Chris iOS because he’s the son they hope to raise he’s the parent they hope to be he’s the brother and friend we all look up to. They love him Chris because he is as real an American as they are and they all want to be. He’s not perfect’ he’s got a horrible temper, he spoils his grandkids, he loves my Mom almost too much and he still thinks he can still make me angrier than anyone on earth sometimes. There’s nobody I want to make more proud of me than my Dad and there’s no-one that I know can ever be more proud of me and my whole family. May Dad never has asked anyone of us to be less human he’s just taught us all what it means to be a good man in hard world. He taught me what his mom and dad taught him “Always remember no man is better than you and you are no better than you.”if er to break I m certain they would all say —no one will ever know you better than your brothers and your sisters you always take their side no matter how badly they screwed up. Every Biden kid knows there’s nothing that they could do to make anyone in this family to stop loving you. And finally always be kind to the people in pain (unless they hurt your grandmother your mom your aunt or your sister- then you’re free to beat the shit out of them if your sister hasn’t beat you to it.)

With this one:

I believe that my father has become an ongoing symbol of what it means to keep on fighting for what is good in oneself, in others and in our country. I can tell you that I wouldn’t be alive today, if my dad hadn’t kept fighting for me, too, through my darkest days. So the idea that tragedy or tough times or any number of trials would dissuade a Biden from serving his fellow man—whether a friend or a fellow citizen—could not be more misguided. My dad has proven, ag ain and again, that he is (as Teddy Roosevelt once said of himself) “as strong as a bull moose” and that America “can use [him] to the limit.”

There’s no sign Brinkley ever responded to Hunter’s email. Instead, Hunter sent him three emails — one, responding to an email Brinkley sent him in July 2018, saying,

Obviously I didn’t send that stream of conscience rant with personal attacks and 7000 grammatical spelling and plain unintelligible errors made tons of edits and cutout 80%.

A minute later he sent two more responding to the email he had actually sent Brinkley, quoting just the bolded part of this last line of his own second paragraph.

And its made us understand that the one thing that binds us all not just my family everyone you will ever meet is what it is to feel pain and how the even the smallest gesture of genuine kindness and love can make you hope for a better day.

That line about small gestures of kindness, like much else from Hunter’s own statement, had been removed.

It’s not yet clear what happened between Ablow and Hunter — or whether Ablow’s awareness of Hunter’s technical communication problems went further than that single email.

What is clear is that, in the process, Ablow managed to replace Hunter’s own, heartfelt words about his father and his own struggles.

* At least the first of Dimitrelos’ reports is on Scribe. He sent me copies, but would only permit me to repost them (which would take far more redactions) with some kind of indemnity for ongoing privacy violations. I instead reached out to Hunter Biden’s attorneys for permission to share it privately with some experts but have heard nothing.

When “Lock Her Up!” becomes “Wait Till Later!”

Last month, I did a post noting the legal significance of two paragraphs in Trump’s indictment, one quoting Trump’s promises to protect classified information during the 2016 election, and another quoting Trump’s rationale for (pretending to) strip John Brennan of clearance for using classified information for his own gain.

Here’s the paragraph quoting just some of the times Trump used a promise to protect classified information to beat Hillary Clinton.

22. As a candidate for President of the United States, TRUMP made the following public statements, among others, about classified information:

a. On August 18, 2016, TRUMP stated, “In my administration I’m going to enforce all laws concerning the protection of classified information. No one will be above the law.”

b. On September 6, 2016, TRUMP stated, “We also need to fight this battle by collecting intelligence and then protecting, protecting our classified secrets. . . . We can’t have someone in the Oval Office who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word confidential or classified.”

c. On September 7, 2016, TRUMP stated, “[O]ne of the first things we must do is to enforce all classification rules and to enforce all laws relating to the handling of classified information.”

d. On September 19, 2016, TRUMP stated, “We also need the best protection of classified information.”

e. On November 3, 2016, TRUMP stated, “Service members here in North Carolina have risked their lives to acquire classified intelligence to protect our country.”

The two paragraphs played a certain role in proving that Trump understands the import of classified information. But they also, I argued, bundled a public integrity component up inside this Espionage Act trial.

That is, they laid out how Trump himself has argued that voters need to know whether you’re going to mishandle classified information before they cast their votes.

Those paragraphs may come in handy as DOJ attempts to respond to Trump’s opposition to the government’s proposed schedule for trial. Because he is now arguing that he’s too busy running for President to take time out to be tried for stealing classified records.

Note that Trump misrepresents what his filing attempts to do (and few journalists are calling him on it). The filing is titled, “Response in Opposition to the Government’s Motion for Continuance and Proposed Revised Scheduling Order” — that is, it claims to be responding only to the government’s pitch for a December trial. But the first paragraph admits that it is also asking Cannon to entirely withdraw her own orders setting trial in August.

The Defendants, President Donald J. Trump and Waltine Nauta, in the above captioned matter, respectfully request that this Court deny the Government’s proposed scheduling order, withdraw the current Order (ECF No. 28), and postpone initial consideration of any rescheduled trial date until after substantive motions have been presented and adjudicated. [my emphasis]

As we all hold our breath to see how Cannon will respond to this request, understand that Trump has pitched this (smartly, probably), as him against the government, but there’s a tiny chance Cannon will be miffed Trump is downplaying her own authority both here and (as I note below) on picking a jury.

There are many reasonable parts of this filing:

  • Trump argues this case should get complex case designation, leaving a longer time for pretrial proceedings (though he falsely claims the government is asking for an “expedited” trial)
  • Trump states that CIPA is going to take some time
  • Trump claims that this trial will present a number of matters of first impression — or at least matters of first impression for this Circuit (for example, Trump and Paul Manafort, have already lost on Special Counsel authority in DC, but not in the Eleventh Circuit)
  • Trump unsurprisingly calls all the classified designations as “purported,” which reserves the issue for trial
  • Trump describes that jury selection will be onerous (this is one issue on which Cannon has already issued a ruling)
  • While Trump is bullshitting that he’s being tried by his opponent, it is true that there should be as little secret evidence in this case as possible

Much of it is typical defense attorney argument about the need to adequately review the evidence before figuring out where to go next — though this filing pitches what is actually fairly modest discovery, if you ignore the CCTV footage, as a great burden.

The Government anticipates producing discovery in stages due to the sheer volume of documents collected and because of procedural mechanisms necessary to protect against the unlawful production of classified information. The Government produced its “first production of unclassified discovery” on June 21, 2023. 1 That initial production was substantial and voluminous. Therein, the Government produced more than 428,300 records (in excess of 833,450 pages) consisting of approximately 122,650 emails (including attachments) and 305,670 documents gathered from over ninety (90) separate custodians. The initial production also included some 57 terabytes of compressed raw CCTV footage (so far there is approximately nine months of CCTV footage, but the final number is not yet certain).

There’s a hilarious line where the same guy who consented to a discovery vendor to turn some of this very same evidence for a Special Master review before this very same judge less than a year ago now says the use of such vendors will be impossible given the “sensitive and high profile” nature of the case.

Since, unlike most cases, all the discovery materials are sensitive and high-profile, the Defendants are unable to utilize contract or other third-party reviewers to the extent such resources would normally be available.

And Trump pitches a one year investigation as a totally long time — without mentioning that he, with Judge Cannon’s help, caused three months of that duration by demanding a stay in the investigation, to say nothing of his months of obstruction before that.

The Government’s investigation into the matters at issue in the indictment has been ongoing for over a year.

There’s a funny progression where Trump first says his day job running for President doesn’t leave him time to be prosecuted for stealing documents the last time he was President, then admits that he has found time in his busy schedule for two other trials.

President Trump is running for President of the United States and is currently the likely Republican Party nominee. This undertaking requires a tremendous amount of time and energy, and that effort will continue until the election on November 5, 2024. Mr. Nauta’s job requires him to accompany President Trump during most campaign trips around the country. This schedule makes trial preparation with both of the Defendants challenging. Such preparation requires significant planning and time, making the current schedule untenable and counseling in favor of a continuance


Finally, previously scheduled trials in other matters for both President Trump and defense counsel make it nearly impossible to prepare for this trial by December 2023. For example, President Trump and Mr. Blanche are preparing for a March 2024 criminal trial in New York Supreme Court; Mr. Kise and President Trump are preparing for a lengthy civil trial in New York Supreme Court commencing October 2, 2023;


The pendency of these other proceedings and their collective impact on the ability of defense counsel to prepare effectively for trial also support granting a continuance pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(B)(ii) & (iv).

But, given that he got elected the last time by promising he would be more careful with classified information than his opponent, the most remarkable paragraph in the filing is this one, where Trump says there is no exigency to scheduling this trial (as opposed to his hush money or corporate fraud trials) before the election.

While the Government appears to favor an expedited (and therefore cursory) approach to this case, it cannot point to any exigency or urgency requiring a rapid adjudication. There is no ongoing threat to national security interests nor any concern regarding continued criminal activity

I suspect the paragraph is designed to elicit a response to the question, “is there any concern regarding continued criminal activity?” That is, I think it is an attempt to probe for what more the government continues to investigate.

And yes, the government may well respond to this by answering, “funny you should mention ongoing threats to national security because we’re still looking for all the things that disappeared up at Bedminster.”

But the underlying premise is even more remarkable, given how Trump’s got elected the last time.

Trump says that there is no exigency in telling the citizens and voters of the United States whether the last time he was President, all the promises he made to get elected were just bullshit, because in fact he used his position of power to steal the nation’s secrets and store them in his chandeliered bathroom.

There is a lot that is reasonable in this filing.

But at its core, it argues that a guy accused of using the access to the nation’s secrets he got by getting elected President on false promises the last time, should get a shot at accessing those secrets again, without first letting a jury decide whether he had abused his position of power the last time.

Trump promised voters in 2016 that he would protect classified secrets; it’s actually a key part of how he got elected. Now he says voters shouldn’t have a chance to find out whether he broke that promise before going to the polls again.

Update: This post originally suggested current Trump lawyer Todd Blanche was on Paul Manafort’s team when he tried to challenge Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel authority. That’s not the venue in which Blanche represented Manafort.

Update: Judge Cannon has reset the CIPA conference for Tuesday afternoon, as all parties had agreed would work.

How Jonathan Swan Covered [Up] John Durham’s Corruption

Something funny happened yesterday.

Full-time Trump-whisperer Maggie Haberman, Trump-whisperer Jonathan Swan, and DOJ reporter Charlie Savage wrote a story responding to Trump’s promise to appoint prosecutors to investigate Joe Biden and his family just like Biden’s own DOJ has done (which they note). They described that if Trump won a second term, he would “appoint an ally who would bring charges against his political enemies regardless of the facts,” then described how Jeffrey Clark and Russell Vought were already working on the plan.

Mr. Trump appeared to be promising his supporters that he would appoint an ally who would bring charges against his political enemies regardless of the facts.


Mr. Clark and Mr. Vought are promoting a legal rationale that would fundamentally change the way presidents interact with the Justice Department. They argue that U.S. presidents should not keep federal law enforcement at arm’s length but instead should treat the Justice Department no differently than any other cabinet agency. They are condemning Mr. Biden and Democrats for what they claim is the politicization of the justice system, but at the same time pushing an intellectual framework that a future Republican president might use to justify directing individual law enforcement investigations.

They make no mention of the cases on which Bill Barr attempted to do just that — bring charges against Trump’s political enemies regardless of the facts: Greg Craig, Jim Comey, Andrew McCabe, John Kerry, among others (though Savage has covered them).

The only mention of Barr’s unprecedented past success at politicizing DOJ includes an important error.

Under Mr. Barr, the Justice Department overruled career prosecutors’ recommendations on the length of a sentence for Mr. Trump’s longest-serving political adviser, Roger J. Stone Jr., and shut down a case against Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who had already pleaded guilty. Both cases stemmed from the Russia investigation.

Barr’s DOJ did not succeed at shutting down Mike Flynn’s prosecution, in which a sentencing memo, approved by Barr’s DOJ, had already been submitted by the time Barr commenced his efforts. Emmet Sullivan was still deciding whether to grant DOJ’s request to throw out Flynn’s guilty plea when Trump pardoned Flynn; and when Sullivan finally did dismiss the case, he reaffirmed Flynn’s guilty verdict.

NYT’s silence about how Trump really overturned Flynn’s conviction, a pardon, carries over generally. These journalists join Kaitlin Collins in warning of future Trump corruption without bothering to catalog or hold Trump accountable for his past unprecedented corruption, the pardons he used to reward those who lied about what really happened with Russia in 2016. That’s the opposite of accountability journalism, warning of future corruption while remaining silent about the similar corruption that already happened.

But the weirdest thing, coming as it does from a team including both Swan and Savage, is that NYT made no mention of the Durham investigation, in which a Special Counsel appointed under Trump literally did, “bring charges against [Trump’s] political enemies regardless of the facts.”

The silence from Savage is unfortunate given that he has done such important work laying out how that’s what Durham did.

Swan’s silence is more inexcusable.

That’s because — as I documented in real time — Swan was absolutely central in disseminating Durham’s unsubstantiated insinuation that a “Clinton/Dem operative” (Durham’s claim itself relied on exaggeration) was behind the pee tape.

Swan’s judgement, a neutral journalist not just magnifying and repeating Devlin Barrett’s shitty reporting on the Igor Danchenko indictment (Barrett said charges, plural, were tied to Charles Dolan and falsely claimed that Durham had alleged Dolan was the source for the dossier, “rather than well-connected Russians”), but adding his judgment that it “doesn’t get much worse,” went viral, accepted as fact.

I pointed that out, with a hot link to his earlier Tweet.

Swan responded. He ignored the clear factual error about Flynn and the point about pardons, but he conceded that his Tweet “is inaccurate.”

So he deleted it, with only this Tweet recording that he did so and no apology to the two innocent men, Charles Dolan and Igor Danchenko, he falsely accused and — with his viral tweet and his considerable credibility as a journalist — led others to falsely accuse, having done so because of the deliberately misleading way Durham had presented his charges against Danchenko.

Most curiously, Swan explained that he, “never covered Durham.”

It’s absolutely true that he never laid out how Durham, a Special Counsel Trump demanded and got, brought “charges against his political enemies regardless of the facts,” as Savage has. Swan never even, as Barrett did, reported on an indictment and misleadingly claimed uncharged allegations in it were charged conduct. Swan wasn’t the experienced DOJ reporter who first fell for Durham’s affirmatively misleading charging document, Barrett was.

But as a journalist, Swan disseminated Durham’s unsubstantiated, uncharged claims, exacerbated by Barrett’s shitty reporting, and people took his report as true. Swan played a key role in leading the public to believe that a prosecutor who charged Danchenko for making a literally true statement to the FBI about his contact with Dolan had instead found something so bad that, “it doesn’t get much worse.”

Perhaps his role was unwitting. But Swan played a key role in helping Durham to make and lead the public to believe in false claims, “regardless of the facts,” precisely the topic that Swan and his colleagues suggest is just a prospective threat from Trump.

And much of the public still believes Durham’s false claims, in (small) part because of Swan’s own actions.

John Durham is going to go before Congress next week and be asked to explain and repeat demonstrably false claims — outright fabrications, in some cases — that he made in his report. Durham will likely renew his claims, made in his report, that Michael Sussmann and Igor Danchenko lied, even though two juries told him that he made those accusations, “regardless of the facts.”

And Swan, who generously describes that, “the pee tape rumors didn’t bear out,” rather than that a prosecutor made the claim “regardless of the facts,” Swan, who believes the topic of prosecutors who make false claims “regardless of the facts” is a topic worth reporting, thinks that deleting evidence of his own role in disseminating such false claims is sufficient, even as Durham continues to do Trump’s bidding of making false claims in real time.

John Durham is precisely the threat that Haberman and Swan and Savage warned about prospectively, but Swan, having played a role in leading the public to believe Durham’s false claims “regardless of the facts,” thinks that merely deleting the evidence that that’s what Durham has done is sufficient.

If the threat of prosecutors charging Trump’s enemies “regardless of the facts” is worth reporting, than Durham’s ongoing corruption must be covered, not covered up.

On Judge Aileen M. Cannon

The New York Times is out with a long, interesting, piece on SDFL Judge Aileen M. Cannon by Schmidt and Savage. I won’t call it a hit piece, but it is extremely negatively framed, and in some regards disingenuously so. For a news article, there is no way not to view it as a position piece.

“Aileen M. Cannon, the Federal District Court judge assigned to preside over former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case, has scant experience running criminal trials, calling into question her readiness to handle what is likely to be an extraordinarily complex and high-profile courtroom clash.

Judge Cannon, 42, has been on the bench since November 2020, when Mr. Trump gave her a lifetime appointment shortly after he lost re-election. She had not previously served as any kind of judge, and because about 98 percent of federal criminal cases are resolved with plea deals, she has had only a limited opportunity to learn how to preside over a trial.”

That is the opening salvo. Okay, Cannon is a newish federal judge. So what? You take your federal judges as you get them, not as you want them. Criminal trials are not the only trials federal judges do, they also do civil trials. And complicated criminal hearings, including evidentiary ones, pre-trial that most often lead to pleas. The NYT did not delve into that, to any extent it may exist. The fact Cannon has only four criminal jury trials is not shocking in the least. Importuning that she is incompetent because of that is lame.

In Arizona state courts, I have Rule 10 right to notice a change of judge as a right within 10 days of arraignment or assignment of judicial officer.

There is no such availability in federal court. You get what you get. TV lawyer gadabouts like Norm Eisen are shouting that Cannon MUST recuse, and if not Smith must affirmatively move for her disqualification. Based on a ruling in a short civil matter involving Trump previously. Granted her action in that matter was dubious, to be overly kind. But even the hideous 11th Circuit slapped that down, and she complied with the edict. This is a non-starter, and Smith would be an idiot to attempt it. Attempt that and lose, and you almost certainly would, now you really have a problem.

Would Cannon self recuse? There is no evidence of that to date. My friend Scott Greenfield thinks she should for the sake of her career, while acknowledging there is little to no chance of forcing her off like windbags like Eisen clamor for.

I, which rarely happens, disagree with Scott. It would torpedo her career and be a tacit admission she is a right wing nut job incapable of presiding over any partisan issues. That would not be a good look, does not look like a career enhancer in a jurisdiction like SDFL to me.

Back to the NYT article. It reports:

“But the chances appeared low. Under the Southern District of Florida’s practices, a computer in the clerk’s office assigns new cases randomly among judges who sit in the division where the matter arose or a neighboring one — even if the matter relates to a previous case. Nevertheless, Judge Cannon got it.

That is completely contrary to the facts as I understand them. As I have related in comments previously, anybody who took the job seriously enough to check with the clerk’s office, and current status of the SDFL bench could have seen this coming. Not just as a freak chance, but arguably a likelihood. Smith chose to put his eggs in that basket, and did so.

Another portion of the report literally made me roll out of bed and laugh:

“At the same time, they said, she is demonstrably inexperienced and can bristle when her actions are questioned or unexpected issues arise. The lawyers declined to speak publicly because they did not want to be identified criticizing a judge who has a lifetime appointment and before whom they will likely appear again.”

Seriously?? That describes pretty much EVERY federal judge I have been in front of, irrespective of how long they have been on the bench. This is completely silly land.

Here is another one:

“The Trump case is likely to raise myriad complexities that would be challenging for any judge — let alone one who will be essentially learning on the job.

There are expected to be fights, for example, over how classified information can be used as evidence under the Classified Information Procedures Act, a national security law that Judge Cannon has apparently never dealt with before.”

Seriously? There are a LOT of very experienced federal District judges that have never had to meaningfully deal with CIPA at trial. And most of the ones that have are in DC or EDVA. Again Smith chose this locus, he, and we, will have to live with it. So too should the NYT instead of posting up a somewhat dubious and negative filled report.

The Times report goes on to belittle Cannon’s background and qualification to even serve. But Cannon is nowhere near as bad as many of Trump’s appointments. She is a graduate of Duke and then the University of Michigan Law School. She worked for years at Gibson Dunn and as an AUSA. She is fully qualified, even if you think she should not have been nominated. And the NYT citing “ABA” ratings as still being relevant in any regard seems quaint, at best.

Read the NYT article. I am sure it will inflame your passions. But this is federal court, and the law, where not your passions control things. Am I warm and fuzzy about Judge Aileen M. Cannon? No, not whatsoever, but that is irrelevant. Here is where the issue is, for better or worse. Unless Cannon self recuses, that is where it shall remain.