Hunter Biden Claims All Zhaos Look the Same to Joseph Ziegler

From the time Gary Shapley provided Congress obviously flawed summaries of WhatsApp texts, stripped of their identifiers, from an iCloud backup of Hunter Biden’s, I’ve argued their treatment reflects badly on the IRS agents involved.

When Abbe Lowell claimed, before Hunter was charged, that the IRS agents had gotten the identify of Hunter’s interlocutor wrong, I noted that the summaries, lacking identifiers, prevented what should be easy adjudication of this dispute.

The summary matters, a lot. That’s because Lowell claims that Shapley — or whoever did these summaries — misidentified the Hunter Biden interlocutor whose last name begins with Z.

In one excerpt that has now gotten a great deal of media attention, Mr. Biden is alleged to have been sitting next to his father on July 30, 2017, when he allegedly sent a WhatsApp message, urging the completion of some business transaction. See Shapley Tr. at 14. The inference is that the referenced message was being sent to an official of CEFC (China Energy) to forward a false narrative about the Bidens’ involvement in that company. The facts, which some media has now reported, are that President Biden and our client were not together that day, the company being referenced was not CEFC but Harvest Financial Group (with a person who also had the initial “Z”), and that no transaction actually occurred. More important, your own actions call into question the authenticity of that communication and your subsequent use of it. In short, the images you circulated online are complete fakes. Many media articles confirm that data purported to have come from Mr. Biden’s devices has been altered or manipulated. You, or someone else, did that again. All of the misstatements about this communication and your use of a false text are good examples of how providing one-sided, untested, and slanted information leads to improper conclusions. [my emphasis]

This is a remarkable claim, because — if true — it suggests the IRS was investigating Hunter Biden based on wildly incorrect assumptions about the identity of his interlocutors.

Abbe Lowell claims that the IRS agents who investigated his client for five years — the son of the President!!! — didn’t know to whom he was talking! I’ve heard a lot of outlandish claims from defense attorneys (though Lowell is far more credible than the grifters who defend a lot of January 6 defendants), But this is an utterly inflammatory claim.

Had Shapley used responsible summaries, rather than the unprofessional script he did use, it might be possible to figure out who is right, here, because then we could compare the actual number or email account used.

When Luke Broadwater tried to manufacture a partisan both-sides dispute out of this discrepancy, I noted the real conflict came between Republicans, some of whom said the Zhao in question was Henry, others who said it was Raymond.

The summary and the fabrications of the text and Smith’s use of the initials “HZ” matter because there’s a dispute between Republicans and their IRS source about the identity of the person involved.

Shapley said the texts involved Henry Zhao, consistent with Smith’s fabrication.

But in a later release, James Comer described the interlocutor as Raymond Zhao — which is consistent with the interjection in the summary (and other communications regarding this business deal).

On July 30, 2017, Hunter Biden sent a WhatsApp message to Raymond Zhao—a CEFC associate—regarding the $10 million capital payment:

As we’ll see, Broadwater predictably “fact checks” this as a dispute between Democrats and Republicans. It’s not. Before you get there, you first have to adjudicate a conflict between the guy who led the IRS investigation for more than two years, Gary Shapley, and James Comer. It’s a conflict sustained by the shoddiness of the underlying IRS work.

This is a story showing not only that James Comer and Jason Smith don’t know what they’re talking about, but are willing to lie and fabricate nevertheless, but even the IRS agents may not know what they’re talking about, and if they don’t, it’s because the standard of diligence on the investigation of Joe Biden’s son was such that they didn’t even include the identifier of the person to whom Hunter was talking, which would make it easy or at least possible to adjudicate this dispute.

In Wednesday’s hearing, after such time as they had received discovery on this material, Hunter Biden and Abbe Lowell provided a new explanation for the discrepancy: That the first text (but only the first text) was accidentally sent to Henry Zhao, and the follow-up texts — which were therefore necessarily unrelated — came from Raymond Zhao.

Q This is a giant text pack prepared by the IRS investigators, summarizing, and in many cases, quoting WhatsApp message.

Mr. Lowell. Do you have the underlying message?

[Redacted] We have this document. This is what we have.

Mr. Lowell. I want to point out on the record that is all known to you that we have great reservations about the accuracy and completeness of what two IRS agents who have decided to go on television and try to promote what they believe should happen to Mr. Biden as having made a complete record.

And when there have been records, they have not been complete?

And when they make summaries, they are often quoting from texts or communications, which appear to have been altered by those other than themselves.

So with all that, you can certainly ask your questions. But I do not accept the premise that what you’re about to ask him is either an authentic or authenticated or a complete document.

[Redacted]: Okay.

Mr. Lowell. With that in mind, let’s go.

[Redacted] Okay.

BY [Redacted]:

Q Just to set expectations here, I’m going to refer to three. Okay? Then we’ll be done with this document for now.

A Page 3?

Q I’m going to refer to three sort of topics —

A Okay.

Q — within this giant document, not 148. We’re not going to go through every page. I’m sort of managing your expectations here.

A Thank you.

Q I’d like you to turn to page 4, and it’s a message dated July 30th, 2017. It’s about halfway down the page and it begins, “WA message with SM.” And that’s the — that stands for Sportsman, and that’s what they called you, and Zhao. Have you identified the one that I’m referring to?

Mr. Lowell. It’s down the page. It’s the only one for the 30th?

[Redacted]. Correct.

Mr. Lowell. Okay. Yes.

BY [Redacted]:

Q And so the text, according to the IRS, the Federal investigators, say, “Z, please have the director call me, moment James or Tony or Jim. Have him call me tonight. I’m sitting here with my father, and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled.

“I’m very concerned that the chairman has either changed his mind or broken our deal without telling me or that he’s unaware of the promises and assurances that have been made have not been kept.

“Tell the director I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand, and now means tonight. And, Z, if I get a call or text from anyone involved in this other than you, Zhang or the chairman, I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret  not following my direction.

All too often people make mistakes — sorry.

“All too often people mistake kindness for weakness, and all too often I’m standing over the top of them, saying, I warned you.

“From this moment until whenever he reaches me. It’s 9:45 a.m. here and I assume 9:45 p.m. there. So his night is running out.”

Zhao responds, “Copy. I will call you on WhatsApp.”

You respond, “Okay, my friend. I’m sitting here, waiting for the call, with my father. I sure hope whatever it is are you doing is very, very, very important.”

Then Zhao says, “Hi, Hunter. Is it a good time to call now? Hi, Hunter, Director did not answer my call, but he got the message you just mentioned.”

A Yeah.

Q Do you have any recollection of sending these?

A No, but I’ve seen this and —

Mr. Lowell. Is there a question?

[Redacted]. Yes. Does he have a recollection of sending the message?

The Witness. And I do not, but I do know this. I have now seen it, which it’s been presented. I would say two things about this message.

Mr. Nadler. Can you speak up?

The Witness. I would say two things about this message. The first thing is this.

Is that the Zhao that this is sent to is not the Zhao that was connected to CEFC.

BY [Redacted]:

Q Okay.

A Which I think is the best indication of how out of my mind I was at this moment in time.

Again, I don’t — my addiction is not an excuse, but I can tell you this: I am more embarrassed of this text message, if it actually did come from me, than any text message I’ve ever sent.

The fact of the matter is, is that there’s no other text message that you have in which I say anything remotely to this. And I was out of my mind. I can also tell you this: My father was not sitting next to me. My father had no awareness. My father had no awareness of the business that I was doing. My father never benefited from any of the business that I was doing.

And so, I take full responsibility for being an absolute ass and idiot when I sent this message, if I did send this message.

Q Okay.

[Redacted]. When you say it wasn’t Zhao from CEFC, who —

Mr. Nadler. Would you speak up, please?

[Redacted]. Which Zhao are you referring to if it wasn’t from CEFC?

The Witness. The number that I believe it went to was to Henry Zhao. Zhao is a very common — it’s not a surname — surname in China. I mean, obviously, very common surname. And I, like an idiot, directed it towards Henry Zhao who had no involvement, who had no understanding or even remotely knew what the hell I was even Goddamn talking about. Excuse my language

BY [Redacted]:

Q And he seems to —

A No, no, no, no, no, the Zhao — it’s a different — you’re conflating now.

Q Okay.

A And this why this report from the IRS is absolutely wrong. They’re two different messages.

The Zhao that calls me is not related to the message that was sent. I speak to him the next day. They’re two completely different sets of messages. One goes a number because, I made the Goddamn — excuse my language again — because I made like an idiot, and I was drunk and probably high, sent a — this ridiculous message to a Zhao, to a Henry Zhao.

But then the next day, I speak to a Raymond Zhao, who has never received the message that Henry Zhao got. And so that’s why this report is very misleading in many ways.

Mr. Lowell. That’s exactly why I raised the point before you decided to ask questions. The IRS agents —

The Witness. I gave —

Mr. Lowell. — took two different times and two different messages and conflated them. That’s what he’s explaining.

The Witness. And I can — and we can show you that.

And I also could show you that on that message, there was never a Chinese flag and a picture of it, as I think was shown in the Oversight Committee before. [my emphasis]

If I understand it correct, Henry Zhao was involved in an earlier business deal, Raymond Zhao is the one with ties to CEFC.

Here’s how Shapley presented the text in his first deposition.

And here’s the exhibit on which House Republicans are likely relying.

There are still a number of inconsistencies with this story, but it really doesn’t make sense to address them without full context (which Hunter presumably has).

In any case, the text string is still somewhat damning to Hunter; his conversations with CEFC continued the same thread, cutting Tony Bobulinski and the others out of the deal.

But I will say this: I already have questions about where WhatsApp texts got saved, not least because at the time, having access to one WhatsApp instance would give you access to the rest of it.

All the more so given that, if we can trust the warrant and Joseph Ziegler’s description of the source of these texts (Apple Backup 3, which the warrant describes as an Apple 6S backup), the timing is curious. Hunter used an iPhone 6S much earlier than 2017, and he initiated a new one on February 9, 2019, just as his devices were packed up for delivery to John Paul Mac Isaac.

Whatever the explanation, it seems that rather than work through a discrepancy, or just leaving out texts that couldn’t be explained, the IRS just blew through inconsistencies.

Lesley Wolf Vindicated by Alexander Smirnov Indictment

In the wake of the Alexander Smirnov indictment, the 51 former spooks who wrote a letter stating their opinion that the release of Hunter Biden emails to the NY Post is consistent with a Russian information operation have claimed vindication. That has led to this problematic Ken Dilanian report parroting David Weiss filings that deliberately obscured the evidence in the Hunter Biden case. And that, in turn, has led to a flood of people expressing opinions about the laptop turned over by John Paul Mac Isaac (Olivia Nuzzi, Reese Gorman) that exhibit no clue about how precarious that evidence is now.

In other words, that has renewed a debate consisting of misrepresenting the 51-spook letter, then misstating what the public evidence about the laptop shows.

I’ll return to the details about the laptop that these people are missing; hopefully until I get there, they’ll consider whether David Weiss’ claim that a Keith Ablow picture of a picture of a table saw with sawdust was instead Hunter Biden’s cocaine really validates the laptop, as they seem to believe it does.

But there is one person who has been vindicated: Lesley Wolf, the AUSA who aggressively pursued real charges against Hunter Biden, even while attempting to prevent repeated onslaughts of political garbage from tainting the case.

Among the many complaints the two disgruntled IRS agents aired, largely targeting her, one was that, “This investigation has been hampered and artificially slowed by various claims of potential election meddling.” That appeared in a memo submitted within the IRS in December 2020, probably written by Gary Shapley. The IRS agents believed they knew better than Lesley Wolf about efforts to interfere in the election.

The IRS agents and their allies in Congress bitched over and over that Wolf and others had not ingested politicized dirt into the investigation readily enough.

For example, Joseph Ziegler described that investigators asked to reinterview Tony Bobulinski after his October 23, 2020 meeting with the FBI, but were not permitted to do so because he “was not viewed as a credible witness” — and that was before Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, now backed by video, about the sketchy meeting Bobulinski had with Mark Meadows.

I can recall that agents on the investigative team brought up on multiple occasions to the assigned prosecutors that they wanted to do an interview of Bobulinski with the assigned case agents. I can recall being told that they would think about it and then ultimately being told there was no need for the team to interview Bobulinski and that Bobulinski was not viewed as a credible witness.

In his House testimony, Bobulinski backed off all the most inflammatory claims — such as that he attended a key meeting in Miami and witnessed Hunter receive a large diamond as a gift –made to the FBI.

Republicans in Congress have repeatedly complained that Tim Thibault shut down Peter Schweizer as a confidential human source in September 2020. Thibault explained to Congress that the Supervisory Special Agent called him and asked him to stop sending Schweizer’s reporting, because doing so would give Hunter’s attorneys ammunition if the case ever went to trial.

A I understand you don’t need the reporting anymore. I understand that if this goes to trial, Hunter Biden’s attorney —

Q Uh-huh?

A — could have some ammunition.

And Shapley specifically complained that Lesley Wolf withheld a particular email about some anomalies in the the hard drive image obtained from John Paul Mac Isaac.

Prosecutors deliberately withheld that email from agents who might have to testify to avoid making it Jencks production that would have to be shared with Hunter’s lawyers. Thanks to Shapley, it will presumably play a role in any suppression and Brady complaints tied to the laptop.

None of this is particularly noble on Wolf’s part. It’s typical, among prosecutors, in that they watch out for any evidence that would harm a case at trial, and avoid ingesting it in ways that would give defendants access to it. Lesley Wolf was not withholding details about problems with the hard drive JPMI provided the FBI to protect Hunter Biden. She was doing it to protect her case. In fact, her treatment of the laptop may be the one thing that helps bollox the case, if Leo Wise ends up needing any assistance on that front.

But it seems quite clear that efforts Wolf made to preserve a case for trial were instead spun by the disgruntled IRS agents as attempts to thwart the investigation. Their efforts to sell that spin have not only endangered the case, but also resulted in death threats targeting Wolf and her family.

Particularly given the timing of Congress’ focus on the FD-1023, including Bill Barr’s public commentary, Alexander Smirnov’s attempt to frame Biden is an important example of an effort Wolf made to protect a viable case against Hunter.

Gary Shapley released a memo that will be central to Hunter Biden’s bid to obtain discovery on the treatment of the Smirnov tip and the Scott Brady back channel, generally. It shows that the FD-1023, “was ordered to be received by this prosecution team by [Richard Donoghue]. It is happening on 10/23/2020 at 3pm in the Delaware FBI office.” It is proof that days after Trump yelled at Barr about the Hunter Biden investigation, DOJ ordered Wolf to accept this briefing.

Yet in his testimony, Shapley said that “We never discussed the form,” seemingly a reference to the Smirnov allegation.

After Barr ran his mouth to Margot Cleveland, both Ziegler and Shapley submitted supplements complaining that they hadn’t gotten briefed on the allegation. Shapley’s testimony, that neither the IRS agents nor the FBI agents, had checked out the allegation seems inconsistent with his claim never to have spoken about it.

Neither I nor the line IRS-CI agents acting under my supervision, nor the FBI agents working with IRS-CI, were ever provided the CHS information that Attorney General Barr recently referenced was sent to Delaware to have it “checked out.” Prosecutors never provided such information to IRS-CI. As such, neither IRS-CI nor the FBI agents working with him were provided the opportunity to conduct proper investigation into the allegations presented by this CHS. I, long with other IRS-Cl investigators, requested 10 be apart of briefings that the Delaware USAO and DOJ were having with the Pittsburgh USAO during the investigation, but our requests were denied.

Both further elaborated their complaints about not getting access to the FD-1023 in their public July testimony.

Then, even more forthcoming testimony Shapley gave to House Ways and Means served as a cue during Scott Brady’s House Judiciary Committee testimony, in which Brady described Lesley Wolf’s skepticism about the material being funneled from Brady’s office.

Q And were you ever told that the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office did not want a briefing from your office?

A I believe I was. I don’t remember. But I know that we had trouble scheduling it.

Q Okay. And then, further down, it states AUSA Wolf’s comments made clear she did not want to cooperate with the Pittsburgh USAO, and that she had already concluded no information from that office could be credible stating her belief that it all came from Rudy Giuliani.

Were you ever made aware of Ms. Wolf’s processing and decisions regarding this briefing, and why she didn’t want the briefing?

A I was not. We did, however, make it clear that some of the information including this 1023 did not come from Mr. Giuliani.

Q And did your team ever tell you that they were receiving comments from Ms. Wolf that she didn’t find the information your office was receiving credible?

A I don’t remember that, no.

Q If those conversations took place, would those have been between a AUSA at your office and Ms. Wolf?

A If they would have shared that with us at all, yes, likely, and had I been made aware, I would have called Mr. Weiss directly.

Q When you would have called Mr. Weiss directly, would you have told him the information the 1023 wasn’t coming from Mr. Giuliani, is that accurate?

A Yes, I would have, and that was already communicated to their office, that the 1023 was from a credible CHS that had a history with the FBI, and that it was not derived from any of the information from Mr. Giuliani.

Side note: The publicly released HJC transcript redacts several references to David Weiss, perhaps in an effort to hide the degree to which he is a witness to and therefore hopelessly conflicted on the Smirnov prosecution.

I’m guessing that neither Smirnov nor Hunter’s attorneys are so stupid that they can’t figure out who is named behind that redaction! But if they have any questions: Yes, Jim Jordan’s people really did redact references that make it clear what David Weiss personally witnessed in this transcript!

Unsurprisingly, in her testimony, Lesley Wolf did a far, far better job than Shapley and Brady adhering to her ethical duty to avoid speaking of an ongoing investigation. She also suggestsed that a lot of the decisions that Shapley and Ziegler complained about were made for ethical reasons, even an unwillingness on her part to risk her law license to take more aggressive steps. “Hey, I like my law license, and I know this person has a lawyer, so we’re going to have to work through counsel to get that interview you want,” she characterized such discussions with the investigators.

As a result of her strict adherence to prohibitions on her speaking about the investigation, her explanation for her reluctance to accept information from Brady’s side channel was very general. In her general explanation for why she might want to keep the existing Hunter Biden investigation separate from whatever Brady was doing, though, she provided the same reason Thibault got explaining why Delaware didn’t want to receive tips involving Peter Schweizer.

Q And during the course of your career, have you ever had a situation where you were reluctant to cooperate with a different U.S. Attorney’s Office? And by cooperate, I mean have meetings, take telephone calls.

[Wolf attorney Jenny] Kramer. I know this is almost too formal for this process, but I’m going to object to form. What does that mean, unwilling to cooperate? I’m just not clear on what exactly you’re trying to ask.

Mr. Castor. Unwilling to take meetings?

Ms. Kramer. Generally?

Mr. Castor. With a different U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Ms. Wolf. I can answer those questions, generally.


Q Sure, sure.

A I think as a general matter, the idea would be that you are coming from a place of cooperation and the common mission of the Department of Justice and what it is you’re trying to accomplish. But there may well be very, very valid means, reasons for a desire and an interest to keep investigations separate and apart. And in those circumstances, you would — and it wouldn’t be unusual to say, you know what, we’re not going to need to share information, we’re not going to do this. And it would just depend, again, on the particulars of an investigation and what the needs and what the various interests were at play.

Q Okay. Are you familiar with Supervisory Special Agent Gary Shapley’s testimony where he indicated you were unwilling to interact with Scott Brady?

A I’m generally familiar with Special Agent Shapley’s testimony, yes.

Q Okay. Are you familiar with that particular aspect of it?

A I mean, I’ve read his testimony.

Chairman Jordan. Would there be a reason not to interact and meet with Mr. Brady and his team?

Ms. Wolf. As that relates to a particular investigation, I’m not authorized to speak to that.

Chairman Jordan. You said there were some situations that — the general way of doing things is to, you know, “cooperate,” I think, is the word you used. And you said there are times that we’re not going to do that. Why would there be a reason not to do it in this situation?

Ms. Kramer. Chairman, respectfully, I think you had left the room when I had asked Mr. Castor earlier, please allow Ms. Wolf to finish her answers to the questions before —

Chairman Jordan. Okay, sure. I apologize.

Ms. Kramer. — and me as well, number one. And number two, I believe you mischaracterized her very recent answer. I don’t believe you said that there were times that you would refuse to cooperate, unless I misheard. So let’s break that down. I think your first question, Chairman Jordan, is what again, if you don’t mind repeating it?

Chairman Jordan. Would there be a reason not to cooperate with Mr. Brady’s office?

Ms. Wolf. As to this particular case, I’m not authorized to speak to that.

As a general matter, and I think to potentially recast and just reframe, the infusion on the point, there are valid investigative reasons in any given case that would need to be evaluated before joining, overlapping, even taking in information, and that would all be factored in, in any case, to deciding how to move forward in a matter, all in the spirit of advancing and the best interest of the investigation.


You know, to the extent that it then subsequently touches on an investigation or a matter in your district, I would expect that would be something that you would be aware of and usually the kind of thing that would probably take place above the line level. And that’s part of, you know, a sort of lack of clarity or understanding on how this sort of what is and isn’t typical. I hesitate to answer. And, quite frankly, I think in answering whether this was typical or atypical, it runs afoul of what I am authorized to discuss, because it essentially acknowledges or will be interpreted as acknowledging or denying or endorsing what may or may not have happened.

Wolf is being coy here.

But she’s also making it clear that she decided sharing information with Brady’s project would harm the investigation.

This is why I posted Leo Wise’s repeated, defensive rebuttals to David Chesnoff’s claim that the Smirnov indictment was “makeweight.”

It seems clear that Lesley Wolf left the Smirnov allegation well enough alone, knowing that the project generally was producing garbage that could only endanger the case.

Leo Wise seemingly used the Smirnov allegation as an excuse to reopen the case against the President’s son, only to discover it opened a nasty can of worms.  It gave Abbe Lowell the evidence to prove that the prosecution of Hunter Biden was infected by an effort by the Attorney General to accommodate the dirt that Trump’s lawyers picked up from Russian spies. And it gave Wise a real headache of a prosecution to deal with.

Lesley Wolf probably didn’t decline all the garbage from Scott Brady for noble reasons. She was just protecting her case. But having made the opposite decision, Wise may end up blowing that case.

You know who is vindicated by the Alexander Smirnov indictment? Lesley Wolf.

Rod Rosenstein’s Baltimore Club of Men Gunning for the Bidens

In an interview yesterday with Jake Tapper (transcript), Rod Rosenstein exhibited more familiarity with the Robert Hur report, which had been public for just three days, than he was about the Mueller investigation that he oversaw for two years, during ten months of which, Hur played a key role.

Tapper: He was your deputy at the Justice Department. Do you agree with his decision that Biden should not be charged, it was not a prosecutable case?

Rosenstein: Yes, Jake.

And it’s — most people haven’t read the entire report. And I don’t blame them. It’s 345 pages, about 1,400 footnotes. It’s very dense and well-reasoned. And I think, if you read the whole report, you will conclude that Rob reached a reasonable decision that, given all the circumstances, that prosecution is not warranted.

After all, Rod Rosenstein was personally involved in drafting (though did not sign) the Barr Memo making a prosecution declination for Trump for his obstruction-related actions. Yet not even Rosenstein, who had been involved in the investigation from the start, thought to address the pardon dangles — a key focus of Volume II of the Mueller Report — that continued to undermine ongoing investigations.

Then, over a year later and under pressure from Lindsey Graham for having signed the worst of the Carter Page FISA applications, Rosenstein agreed with Graham’s false portrayal of the investigation as it existed on August 1, 2017, when Rosenstein expanded the scope of the investigation.

Lindsey Graham: (35:02) I am saying in January the 4th, 2017, the FBI had discounted Flynn, there was no evidence that Carter Page worked with the Russians, the dossier was a bunch of garbage and Papadopoulos is all over the place, not knowing he’s being recorded, denying working with the Russians, nobody’s ever been prosecuted for working with the Russians. The point is the whole concept that the campaign was colluding with the Russians, there was no there there in August, 2017. Do you agree with that general statement or not?

Rod Rosenstein: (35:39) I agree with that general statement.

Rosenstein’s endorsement of Lindsey’s statement about the evidence as it existed in August 2017 was egregiously wrong. Mueller had just acquired a great deal of evidence of conspiracy, including several details implicating Roger Stone and Paul Manafort that were never conclusively resolved. Crazier still, George Papadopoulos had just been arrested for lying to cover up when he learned that Russia planned to help Trump, an arrest of which Rosenstein would have personally had advance notice.

By comparison, days after its release, Rosenstein exhibited great confidence in his knowledge of the 1,400 footnotes his former deputy included in the report.

To be sure, Rosenstein’s defense of Hur did not honestly present the content of the Report. For example, the only other reason  he provides for why Hur didn’t charge Biden, besides Hur’s opinion that Biden is a forgetful old geezer, involved the tradition of Presidents taking things home.

ROSENSTEIN: I think so, Jake.

And you identified the controversial elements of the special counsel’s report. It’s a very long report, 345 pages, and has a lot of information in there, other reasons why prosecution would not be warranted. And one of them is the history and experience of prior presidents and potentially vice presidents as well taking home classified documents.

This is simply a misrepresentation of the evidence.

Even if you ignore Hur’s misstatement of DOJ’s application of 18 USC 793(e) in cases where there is no other exposure (in something like a leak) or the challenges in applying it to someone who, like both Biden and Trump, didn’t hold clearance, for the primary set of documents he examined — the two folders of Afghanistan documents found in Biden’s garage — Hur admitted he couldn’t prove his already inventive theory of the case. He couldn’t even prove that the documents in question had been in Biden’s Virginia home when Biden made a comment about something classified in his home.

Rosenstein is, as Hur already did, emphasizing the most unflattering part of the declination decision, not the fact that after blowing  over $3M and reading through Joe Biden’s most personal thoughts, Hur simply didn’t find evidence to support a charge.

Twice, Rosenstein disputed that Hur’s focus on Biden’s age was the kind of gratuitous attack for which he had made the case for firing Jim Comey, the second time in direct response to a question about the memo he wrote.

Tapper: I want to read from a memo you wrote in 2017 in which you criticized James Comey’s infamous press conference in which he criticized Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified e-mails, even as he declined to prosecute her, a similar circumstance, although he wasn’t a special counsel — quote — “Derogatory information” — this is you writing — “Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions, but we never release it gratuitously.

“The FBI director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial, it is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do” — unquote. By going to the lengths he did to critique Biden’s age and memory, even as he was clearing him of a crime, how do you differentiate between what Robert Hur did that you say is OK from what James Comey did that you say is not?

ROSENSTEIN: Jake, there are several significant differences between those two examples.

One is, most fundamentally, that Jim Comey wasn’t the prosecutor. He was the head of the FBI. His job was to ensure the police collected the proper evidence, submitted it to the prosecutors. And, ultimately, it’s up to the prosecutors in the Justice Department and the attorney general to make a decision about what information is released.

Rob Hur was the prosecutor. It was his job to make that decision, to make that recommendation to the attorney general, who, as you acknowledged, has previously committed to make this report public. That’s one difference.

The second difference is the special counsel regulation. In the ordinary case, Hillary Clinton was not investigated by a special counsel. There was no procedure to make those reasons public. Here, it’s baked into this regulation.

Now we sit, Jake, 25 years down the road. That regulation was passed by Attorney General Reno in 1999. Now we have 25 years of experience. I think it’s worthwhile to sit back and ask whether or not this is the right procedure. Do we really think that we ought to have prosecutors writing reports for public release of everything they discover and all the reasons for not prosecuting?

Or is there a better way to do that without having all the embarrassing information come to public light?

The big tell in Rosenstein’s defense of his former deputy, though, is his suggestion there’s a comparison between Hur’s attacks on Biden’s age with what Mueller — under the direction of Rosenstein and Hur — included in his report, which spent far fewer pages laying out the prosecutorial analysis for far more potential criminal exposure by Trump.

The second issue is what you release in the public. And the problem here with — that’s really baked in the special counsel model is that it’s not really the function of a prosecutor to publicly announce the reasons why they’re not prosecuting.

And so when you layer that into the process, it can result in unfortunate consequences. The Donald Trump report, I think, got people upset in the same way that this one did.

Given his inclusion of Independent Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh here, Rosenstein’s comparison is insane, because he left out the Ken Starr Report (to which investigation, he reminded Tapper, he contributed), which included the most gratuitous descriptions of the subject of the investigation of any of these reports.

Rosenstein’s likening of the Mueller and Hur report is odd for a number of reasons. The part of the Mueller Report focused on Trump was 200 pages, far shorter than the Hur Report yet covering far more overt acts.

Mueller made absolutely no complaint that both Trump and his failson refused to appear before a grand jury whereas Hur’s attacks arose out of Biden’s willingness to sit for several days of a voluntary interview. Mueller let Trump’s decision to invoke the Fifth stand without ascribing criminal motive; Hur made Biden’s cooperation into cause for attack.

But even in smaller details, the reports don’t compare. One thing Hur made up, for example, is that Biden might have alerted his attorneys that there were classified records (in a ratty beat up old box) in his garage, but his team couldn’t find out because if they asked, the answer would be privileged.

We considered the possibility that Mr. Biden alerted his counsel that classified documents were in the garage, but our investigation revealed no evidence of such a discussion because, it if happened, it would be protected by the attorney-client privilege.

This claim only appears in the Executive Summary, where lazy journalists might find it. It appears nowhere in the body of the report (which has to deal with the fact that if Biden had really brought these documents home, he wouldn’t have so willingly let his attorneys search for them). It’s one of the things Biden’s attorneys asked to be corrected.

There are a number of inaccuracies and misleading statements that could be corrected with minor changes:

  • ‘We considered the possibility that Mr. Biden alerted his counsel that classified documents were in the garage but our investigation revealed no evidence of such a discussion because if it happened, it would be protected by the attorney-client privilege.” Report at 22. In fact, your investigation revealed no evidence of such a discussion because it did not happen–not because of any privilege. The President testified he was unaware that there were any classified documents in his possession. Tr., Day II, at 2, 41-42. You did not ask him in his interview or in the additional written questions if he had “alerted his counsel” about classified documents; if you had, he would have forcefully told you that he did not.

Hur’s decision to fabricate the possibility of an attorney-client conversation that did not happen — and his obstinate refusal to correct it — is especially telling given Mueller’s hands-off treatment of attorney-client privilege.

For example, Mueller didn’t even try to ask Jay Sekulow about his role in drafting Michael Cohen’s false claims about the Moscow Trump Tower, even though Cohen said Sekulow was involved.

The President’s personal counsel declined to provide us with his account of his conversations with Cohen, and there is no evidence available to us that indicates that the President was aware of the information Cohen provided to the President’s personal counsel. The President’s conversations with his personal counsel were presumptively protected by attorney-client privilege, and we did not seek to obtain the contents of any such communications.

Nor did Mueller attempt to interview John Dowd about whether he left a threatening voicemail for Mike Flynn’s then-attorney Rob Kelner, to find out whether Trump directed Dowd to make the threat.

Because of attorney-client privilege issues, we did not seek to interview the President’s personal counsel about the extent to which he discussed his statements to Flynn’s attorneys with the President.

In both cases, Mueller let privilege close off investigation into more egregious evidence of obstruction.

So where Mueller let Trump hide behind attorney-client privilege as a shield, Hur flipped that, and used a fabricated attorney-client conversation as a shield to insinuate evidence of guilt where none existed.

In short, Rosenstein went on teevee and made a bunch of cynical claims, defending Hur’s attack on Biden even while claiming that the Mueller Report was just as damning.

As I and others contemplate how Merrick Garland made such a shitty choice for Special Counsel here, I keep thinking about the fact that there’s a little club of Rod Rosentein associates gunning for the Biden men. There’s Hur, and Rosenstein’s hypocritical and remarkably hasty defense of him.

There’s also the reference that Gary Shapley, who is based partly in Baltimore, made about a prosecutor who became Deputy Attorney General, a reference that can only describe Rosenstein.

Mr. Shapley. No. I think I’ve said it, that this is not the norm. This is — I’ve worked with some great guys, some great prosecutors that went on to be U.S. attorneys and went on to be the deputy attorney general and, I think I have experience enough to where it means something.

After having agreed with the IRS that the case against Hunter Biden couldn’t move forward if Shapley were on the team, David Weiss then decided to appoint two AUSAs who would have worked for Hur and Rosenstein as AUSAs in MD USAO, in the case of Leo Wise, for years.

That is, the cabal of men gunning for Joe Biden and his son — all of whom have already engaged in questionable games — have ties to Rod Rosenstein, who still seems to be trying to make it up to Trump for his role in appointing a Special Counsel.

And Rod Rosenstein, as he demonstrated in that interview, is giving Hur, at least, special license to engage in precisely the kind of conduct for which he endorsed firing Jim Comey.

The Hunter Biden Laptop: Two CARTs before the Horse

According to the property receipt that has been posted publicly (but not, as far as I know, been made available as separate PDF), FBI Special Agent Josh Wilson signed the receipt for a hard drive and laptop obtained from John Paul Mac Isaac. The date is obscure, but consistent with receipt on December 9, 2019.

The admittedly inconsistently dark case file on that form, as right wing frothers never tire of pointing out, is a money laundering case file, 272D-BA-3065729.

According to the warrant return I liberated this week, on December 13, 2019, Josh Wilson received the hard drive and laptop again. He received the laptop not from an evidence locker, where it might normally go while an agent gets Office of Enforcement Operations approval and then gets a warrant from a magistrate judge, but from a Computer Analysis Response Team (CART) Computer Analyst named Mike Waski.

The warrant I liberated is not for money laundering. The only crimes listed on Attachment B are tax crimes: 26 USC 7201, 26 USC 7203, and 26 USC 7206(1).

According to the notes Gary Shapley took after it became clear that, after sharing the laptop with the FBI, John Paul Mac Isaac shared a copy with Rudy Giuliani, after Josh Wilson took possession of the hard drive and laptop (a second time), the hard drive, at least, went back to CART — this time, a CART Agent named Eric Overly.

In spite of the fact that Shapley made these notes in order to explain precisely what happened with the laptop, Shapley doesn’t mention where the laptop was between December 9, 2019, when Josh Wilson took possession from JPMI and December 13, 2019, when Josh Wilson took possession again.

Joseph Ziegler returned the warrant on January 30, 2020. But it wasn’t until March before the FBI got an image of the laptop (though this may have been after a filter team review). Josh Wilson got that personally, too.

Putting two carts before the horse is not normal, here. When the FBI accepts a laptop, even if it is being used in multiple investigations, they image it once and then — as ultimately happened here, probably multiple times — they obtain new warrants for the same device, first for the tax investigation, then for a FARA investigation, and finally, 81 days after indicting the President’s son for gun crimes, for a gun investigation.

But this laptop, Hunter Biden’s laptop, went from the blind computer repairman to Josh Wilson to CART to Josh Wilson and then back to CART.

I currently have theories why that happened. But no answers.

I’ve asked David Weiss’ spox for clarification about zscoreUSA’s observation: why the caption for the warrant obtained last month lists a different device serial number for the laptop:

Then the laptop for the actual laptop obtained from JPMI, which is what appears in the Attachments that were only released pursuant to Judge Maryellen Noreika’s orders after I made some follow-up calls.

The serial numbers are just off by two characters:


David Weiss’ spox hasn’t acknowledged that inquiry. This could be a typo or, as was suggested, FBI Agent Boyd Pritchard may have used the serial number for a laptop into which (as Shapley described) FBI dropped the removable hard drive from the laptop obtained from JPMI. In that case, it would normally note that the laptop contained the hard drive liberated from a prior laptop.

Perhaps all this will get sorted if and when Abbe Lowell makes good on his promised suppression motion. But until then, I only have theories, not answers.

Luke Broadwater’s Attempt at Fact-Checking Covers Up Fabrications and IRS Sloppiness

NYT has two articles out fact-checking GOP lies in support of impeachment.

One, from Adam Entous, is really worth reading. It describes how a text that Hunter Biden sent his daughter Naomi, which joked about the fact that Joe Biden had made his sons work their way through college, has been misrepresented to instead suggest that Hunter was giving his father 50% of his diminished 2019 earnings.

Hunter felt dejected, and, while apparently under the influence of drugs, wrote a series of angry and often nonsensical messages to Naomi in which he threatened to cut her off financially.

“Find an apartment with Peter by next week,” Hunter instructed. “And send me the keys and leave all of my furniture and art. I love all of you. But I don’t receive any respect.”

Then he sent the text message that Republicans have used to suggest that Hunter’s foreign income was going to enrich his father.


Hunter’s oft-told story about giving half of his salary to his father appeared to originate during his freshman year at Georgetown.

His roommate at the time recalled Hunter telling him and his twin brother “a million times” that then-Senator Biden encouraged him to work, saying, “You can keep half of the paycheck, but you have to hand over the other half for ‘room and board.’”

It was a story, and a theme, that Hunter continued to invoke, especially after he married Ms. Buhle and they had three daughters — Naomi, Finnegan and Maisy — all of whom attended Sidwell Friends, a costly Washington private school, where they were surrounded by wealthier families.

Hunter told close friends that he was worried that his daughters had become spoiled. According to family members, he would frequently tell them the story about how he had to work in college and pay half of his salary to his father, in hopes of encouraging them to be more self-sufficient.

In other words, Republicans are literally trying to impeach Joe Biden because he made his sons work their way through college, and at a time he was broke, Hunter tried to do the same with his daughters.

Note that the underlying back story Entous describes, in which Hunter attempted to find specialized medical care for his daughter Finnegan, shows that while in Fox News pundit Keith Ablow’s care, Hunter was somehow cut off from the digital world.

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.”

Hunter’s digital rupture from the outside world is part of the back story to how his digital life got packaged up for delivery, eventually, to Congress. And it should raise provenance questions about every other aspect of this investigation.

Which brings us to the other NYT story, an attempt to fact check that was, instead a confession that NYT scribe Luke Broadwater either doesn’t care or doesn’t know how to assess evidence and claims for reliability.

Broadwater feigns fact-checking Republican representations of a text Hunter sent in 2017, claiming to be sitting next to his father while he was trying to strong arm a business associate, which is another communication that Republicans are sure proves Joe Biden was in business with his son.

Before I show you what Broadwater wrote, let me reconstruct how we have the claim in the first place. Gary Shapley provided the texts to Congress in May. He shared them, he claimed, as proof that investigators were denied the ability in August 2020 to obtain location data — he doesn’t say for whom — and to search the guest house at Joe Biden’s house.

For example, in August 2020, we got the results back from an iCloud search warrant. Unlike the laptop, these came to the investigative team from a third-party record keeper and included a set of messages. The messages included material we clearly needed to follow up on.

Nevertheless, prosecutors denied investigators’ requests to develop a strategy to look into the messages and denied investigators’ suggestion to obtain location information to see where the texts were sent from.

For example, we obtained a July 30th, 2017, WhatsApp message from Hunter Biden to Henry Zhao, where Hunter Biden wrote: “I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled. Tell the director that I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand, and now means tonight. And, Z, if I get a call or text from anyone involved in this other than you, Zhang, or the chairman, I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction. I am sitting here waiting for the call with my father.”

Communications like these made it clear we needed to search the guest house at the Bidens’ Delaware residence where Hunter Biden stayed for a time. [my emphasis]

Already, at this point, the savvy interlocutor would have asked Shapley, “why do you need location data? You get about five different kinds of location information in an iCloud warrant. What more did you need?”

Which might have led Shapley to confess he really wanted to get a location warrant targeting Joe, not Hunter.

If these texts were ever introduced at trial, Hunter’s lawyers would likely point out that they were obtained in reliance on the laptop obtained from John Paul Mac Isaac. At the point they got those warrants in August 2020 — effectively obtaining text messages that were available on the laptop — the FBI still had never validated the laptop to make sure no one had tampered with it either before it got into the custody of John Paul Mac Isaac or while in JPMI’s custody. That is, the warrant to obtain these texts may well be a classic case of poisonous fruit, and the texts could be affected by an alteration done to Hunter Biden’s contact list in the period in January 2019 when he was staying in Keith Ablow’s property and seems to have been partially cut off from the digital world; his contacts were restored — from what, it’s not clear — on January 24, 2019.

As Shapley was walking Congressional staffers through these texts, he admitted that they weren’t WhatsApp messages themselves, they were summaries. He wasn’t sure who had done the summaries.

Q Okay. And these aren’t WhatsApp messages, these are summaries of WhatsApp messages, correct?

A Yeah, that’s correct. Because it was something about the readability of the actual piece, right? It was easier to summarize in a spreadsheet.

Q Okay. And who did the summary? Who prepared this document?

A It was either the computer analysis guy or [Ziegler], one or the other.

Who did the summaries matters, because whoever it was did a shoddy job. In one crucial case, for example, whoever did the summaries interjected their opinion about what a screen cap that showed in the message was. It is the only indication in the exhibit shared with Congress that identifies the first name of Hunter’s interlocutor.

This interjection — a parenthetical comment recording that this was “(believed to be Zhao)” but included inside quotation marks as if it was part of the screencap — is the only place where Zhao’s first name is identified. Elsewhere, he is always referred to as “Zhao” or “Z,” even in a summary also referring to “Zang” and “Zhang.” Nowhere in this “summary” is his WhatsApp identifier included, as it would be in reliable WhatsApp texts summaries (here, from Vladislav Klyushin’s trial). It’s not the only parenthetical comment included as if it were part of a direct quote, but as we’ll see, it is a critical one.

Even in spite of the inherent unreliability of this summary, the shoddiness of the underlying IRS work, Republicans love it.

Jason Smith took these unreliable summaries and fabricated them into texts, creating the illusion that they had a solid chain of evidence for these texts.

Smith’s tweets of these texts went viral.

In spite of the fact that Abbe Lowell has attempted to get Congress to correct this viral claim twice, Smith left it up.

The summary and the fabrications of the text and Smith’s use of the initials “HZ” matter because there’s a dispute between Republicans and their IRS source about the identity of the person involved.

Shapley said the texts involved Henry Zhao, consistent with Smith’s fabrication.

But in a later release, James Comer described the interlocutor as Raymond Zhao — which is consistent with the interjection in the summary (and other communications regarding this business deal).

On July 30, 2017, Hunter Biden sent a WhatsApp message to Raymond Zhao—a CEFC associate—regarding the $10 million capital payment:

As we’ll see, Broadwater predictably “fact checks” this as a dispute between Democrats and Republicans. It’s not. Before you get there, you first have to adjudicate a conflict between the guy who led the IRS investigation for more than two years, Gary Shapley, and James Comer. It’s a conflict sustained by the shoddiness of the underlying IRS work.

This is a story showing not only that James Comer and Jason Smith don’t know what they’re talking about, but are willing to lie and fabricate nevertheless, but even the IRS agents may not know what they’re talking about, and if they don’t, it’s because the standard of diligence on the investigation of Joe Biden’s son was such that they didn’t even include the identifier of the person to whom Hunter was talking, which would make it easy or at least possible to adjudicate this dispute.

This is a story that discredits the IRS agents — for their sloppy work and for their bogus claims to need location data to further investigate this and the conceit that it ever would have been appropriate to get location data for Joe Biden or search his guest home in August 2020. It is a story that shows that when faced with uncertainty created by the sloppiness of their IRS sources, Republicans instead just make shit up.

But here’s how Luke Broadwater describes the conflict:

‘I am sitting here with my father’

One WhatsApp message that has received much attention was provided by an I.R.S. investigator who testified before Congress under whistle-blower protections. In it, Hunter Biden invoked his father, who was then out of office, while pressing a potential Chinese business partner in 2017 to move ahead with a proposed energy deal.

“I am sitting here with my father and we would like to know why the commitment has not been fulfilled,” the message states. On its face, the message seemed to suggest Joe Biden was in league with his son pressuring for a payment to the family.

But Democrats have argued it is more likely an example of Hunter Biden’s bluster than an accurate statement of Joe Biden’s involvement in a shakedown. A lawyer for Hunter Biden says he does not remember sending the message.

The president has denied he was present at the time.

Broadwater turns this into an unknowable question about whether Biden was sitting next to Hunter, and claims it’s just about competing partisan arguments.

But this is a confession about Broadwater’s own abilities or work ethic, not a fact-check of truth claims. Because if you don’t understand or explain that the claim itself builds off provenance problems, you’re actively covering up several layers of shoddiness in this impeachment stunt.

If the point is to test the reliability of the impeachment inquiry, it’s that other story that needs to be told.

John Paul Mac Isaac’s Undisclosed Home Movie

If John Paul Mac Isaac, the legally blind computer repairman who claims Hunter Biden abandoned a laptop at his repair shop, had had his way — at least as he tells the story in his book — he would have obtained video of a single FBI agent sitting on the white couch in his living room, accepting printed copies of certain documents that, JPMI would have narrated for the camera, showed Mykola Zlochevsky in direct contact with senior people in the Obama Administration and implicated Ihor Kolomoyskyi in some vague way.

I printed out a few emails mentioning Ihor Kolomoyskyi. He was on the run with the lion’s share of the billions embezzled from the IMF and Ukraine. He would be the most dangerous person involved if he had an axe to grind. I also included emails from Mykola Zlochevsky and Vadym Pozharskyi showing their access to high levels of the Obama administration.

According to the timeline in JPMI’s book, that exchange would have taken place on November 19, 2019, just as Democrats prepared impeachment.

According to the timeline memorialized by Gary Shapley, however, that first in-person meeting between FBI agents and JPMI happened on November 7, 2019, before the first public impeachment hearing. The timing matters, somewhat, given that JPMI’s book claims his decision to share the “Hunter Biden” laptop with the FBI was a response to impeachment. Using the FBI timeline, it would have anticipated much of it.

More importantly, the discrepancy raises questions about why JPMI would focus on the emails he claims to have.

For example, there are only a few email threads mentioning Kolomoyskyi in the public set of emails from the drive. One is a thread from former Bush official Frank Mermoud passing on a piece about parliamentary maneuverings in Ukraine that mentioned Kolomoyskyi alongside Paul Manafort’s backer, Rinat Akhmetov. Another includes a discussion about how to respond to questions from reporter James Risen, to which Vadym Pozharskyi was adamant that, “The role of Igor Kolomoyskyi is often misunderstood. He has never been involved with Burisma and certainly is not today.” Risen wrote about the resulting story the day the whistleblower transcript was released in September 2019. Hunter Biden was included on both threads, but did not comment. Hunter received a third email via BCC: a link to a New Yorker story about efforts to reform Ukraine after Maidan.

Those are the kind of emails that JPMI would have handed to the FBI on camera, as if they were a smoking gun.

I’m not aware there are any threads from Zlochevsky. There are, of course, a ton about him involving Pozharskyi. And Pozharskyi’s the one who came closest to having any contacts directly with Obama officials, including Hunter’s father. But three years after NYPost published what has been deemed one of the most damning emails, in which Pozharskyi thanked Hunter for, “inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father,” the best explanation for the “meeting” is that the Burisma executive attended a World Food Program dinner to which then-Vice President Biden stopped in, ostensibly to visit another attendee. The discussion, per Devon Archer, was about food security, not gas deals.

Nevertheless, JPMI describes that he told the FBI that the emails he had printed out showed Kolomoyskyi, along with Zlochevsky, using Hunter and his business partner to protect their stolen billions.

“This is information about Ihor Kolomoyskyi and Mykola Zlochevsky, and their involvement in using Hunter and Devon to protect the billions they embezzled from the IMF. I am afraid they would silence me for what I know,” I explained, sliding the paperwork across the table toward the two agents.

In other words, had JPMI’s set-up worked, the video showing the handoff would have been far more scandalous than the emails themselves have proven to be, particularly if it had come out just as Democrats moved to impeach Trump for demanding dirt on Hunter Biden. And it would have focused far more closely on Kolomoyskyi than the laptop contents justified.

It would have done what Republicans, to this day, demand should have happened: public notice that the “laptop was real.” It still doesn’t matter what is on that damn thing: it’s a shiny object, just like John Podesta’s risotto recipe, and Republicans know that’s all their followers need.

This was JPMI’s self-described plan for sharing the laptop with the FBI: It wasn’t so much that he wanted to hand off the laptop. He wanted to create a video of the FBI accepting paper copies that he claimed were something they weren’t.

As JPMI describes it, his plans to create such a video failed because, first of all, FBI agents always travel in twos, in part to ensure there are always two witnesses to conversations like this. One of the two agents coming to interview JPMI noticed and pointed to the camera the computer repairman had just installed in advance of the interview, so both agents chose to sit in a smaller loveseat, leaving JPMI facing his own camera.

I shut the door behind them and then closed the second, interior door. I saw Agent DeMeo point to the camera on the shelf, and the two sat down on the loveseat.

“Not a great start,” I thought, sitting on the couch facing the camera.

To my knowledge, such video has never been publicly released, perhaps because the agents also declined to take the documents with them when they left. But JPMI’s claim to have taken video, while it may explain the clarity with which he remembers telling the FBI he had documents implicating Hunter Biden in helping Kolomoyskyi, “protect the billions [he] embezzled from the IMF,” raises still more questions about the discrepancy between his timeline and FBI’s.

I reviewed JPMI’s description of his attempt to film the FBI agents as they picked up emails that don’t say what JPMI claimed they did, along with the discrepancies between JPMI’s claimed timeline and FBI’s, after I revisited how Rudy’s alleged efforts to extort legal relief for dirt transpired. That piece showed that Rudy’s efforts to find dirt — in 2019, ostensibly a year before JPMI first contacted him — parallel the JPMI timeline in interesting ways.

Rudy’s public, failed attempt to obtain dirt from Kolomoyskyi makes JPMI’s inexplicable treatment of the one-time Volodymyr Zelenskyy funder, to whose corruption JPMI dedicates a 3-page description elsewhere in his book, more interesting. Kolomoyskyi’s role in events leading up to impeachment is real. Lev Parnas has receipts from his trip to Israel in a failed bid to extort dirt from Kolomoyskyi, after which Rudy called out Kolomoyskyi publicly.

But there’s no reason for Kolomoyskyi to be in JPMI’s book, especially given JPMI’s admission, when trying to disclaim responsibility for the money laundering case number that appeared on the subpoena, that Hunter had no role in Kolomoyskyi’s corruption.

Agent DeMeo was based in Baltimore, but he’d never said anything about money laundering. The only discussion about anything remotely close to money laundering revolved around Ihor Kolomoyskyi and his Delaware assets. I remember discussing that, but it hadn’t involved Hunter Biden.

Whatever emails he printed out would have done little to substantiate the specific corruption claims he, by his own telling, made to the FBI. But JPMI claims that he tried to put them in his video as a prop anyway.

The first time I examined discrepancies between JPMI’s story and the one memorialized by Shapley, I had noted how a shift in JPMI’s timeline served to support his explanation that he shared the laptop with the FBI in response to impeachment. He described packaging up specific emails from the laptop to excuse Trump’s call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy (JPMI dates his own trolling of the laptop to this WaPo article, just days before the perfect phone call).

And of course I included the smoking gun, the one that could put an immediate end to this bogus impeachment: the initial email outlining Devon and Hunter’s plan to use Vice President Biden as the centerpiece of their plan to tap into the billions Burisma had to offer. The shady business dealings I had witnessed on the laptop, in my opinion, justified President Trump’s phone call with Zelenskyy.

But as I’ve focused more closely since, a more interesting discrepancy is that JPMI claims his father first reached out to the FBI on October 9 — around seven hours before Lev Parnas was arrested on his way to get a laptop in Vienna — whereas the FBI claims it happened on October 16, a week later. Normally, you’d trust the FBI’s timeline over JPMI’s.

But the blind computer repairman claims to have written Rudy a letter, the night before his father planned to go to the FBI. In the letter, JPMI explained his plan, in case anything bad happened. JPMI describes packaging this up on October 8 and giving it to a friend, Kristin, for safekeeping.

My father called the next morning. His plan was to visit the FBI field office in Albuquerque around 10 a.m. the next day.

From there on out, I would have to be extra careful. After his visit, people beyond those we trusted would know of the laptop’s existence, introducing a whole new element of potential danger. For my safety net, I had to make sure to write Rudy Giuliani an attention-getting letter. I definitely didn’t want to come off as a nutjob or conspiracy junkie. The letter would have to be clear and to the point, explaining my actions leading up to my father’s FBI interaction without revealing his identity. I wanted to focus on my reasons for not trusting the FBI as well as my expectations for what could happen. More important, I wanted to let Giuliani know why, if he were reading the letter, I would need his help. Here’s what I came up with.

Rudolph Giuliani

Giuliani Security and Safety


If you have received this letter, I am in need of your help. Last April 12, Hunter Biden came into my Mac repair shop in Wilmington, Delaware, requesting data recovery from 3 of his laptops. I was able to check in the one working Mac and accomplished a data recovery. He has failed to return to pay or collect the recovered data or his laptop. As the events of the summer unfolded, and after the shop’s 90 day abandonment policy expired, I decided to poke around and look to see if there was anything topical on his drive. I discovered enough information that I no longer felt comfortable being in possession of his data and laptop. I decided that I wanted to turn over everything I have to the FBI or local police, but a major concern was what if compromised FBI or local police intercepted the data and destroyed it, preventing it from ending up in the hands of someone who can use it. I could not risk contacting anyone local so I mailed a copy of the drive out of state to a trusted person who would contact the FBI on Wednesday, October 9, and if trustworthy FBI were contacted, they were instructed to collect the laptop and data from my shop discreetly. If you are reading this letter, it means the compromised FBI has collected the laptop, data and possibly me. I have included a flash drive with some emails and files recovered from his laptop that could be useful in your investigation. If I am in the compromised FBI’s custody, it means that there are still members of the FBI who are working to protect a former Vice-President and silence those who provide proof to his corruption. I need your help, not just to get out of custody, but also to bring to light what has happened. I have included a full copy of the laptop on an external drive. You will need a Mac to access it.

Thank you for your time and help.

John Paul Mac Isaac [my emphasis]

According to this timeline, JPMI asked Kristin if she was willing to hold a copy of the drive sometime between September 24 and October 8. Then he wrote and printed out the letter on October 8, the day before his father would go to the FBI. After 7PM that day, he packaged up the drive, the letter, and “a flash drive consisting of documents summarizing the Bidens’ criminal activity” in a 5″X7″ padded envelope, and walked the package out to Kristin’s house in a residential area of Wilmington.

In August 2020, after JPMI reached out to Rudy and then spoke with Robert Costello, there were (per his book anyway), three versions of the hard drive, on top of what he had given the FBI: A copy he had kept and made a bunch of notes on, a copy in his uncle’s possession, and the copy he had given to Kristen for safe keeping — a copy that should have been in an envelope with a thumb drive with documents saved almost a year before.

That last drive is the one he sent to Robert Costello.

“Let me tell you about the Department of Justice,” Bob said. “When Rudy and I returned from Ukraine last year, we submitted over two hundred subpoena requests to the district attorney, and not a single one has been filed. Do you know what the term ‘slow walking’ means?” I said no.

“It’s when they deliberately drag their asses to delay or even prevent a case from moving forward,” he supplied. “That’s what the DOJ is doing to us, and that is what the FBI is doing to you. How quickly can you get me a copy of the drive?”

“I can drop something in the mail for you tomorrow.”

“Let me call you back in a few minutes,” Bob said. “Will you be around?” I said yes, and we hung up.

That wasn’t so bad! I had their attention, and it felt like I was talking to the right person. At this point I realized I needed a copy of the drive. My copy had all my notes, and because of this I felt it would be considered tampered with. My uncle Ron had the copy that originally had been in my father’s possession. That was too far away.

Then I smiled, remembering that the other copy I’d made back then had ended up with Kristen, and she was to hand-deliver it to Rudy Giuliani if all else failed. It was kind of funny that I could have saved myself nearly a year if I had just gone to him in the first place.

Bob called me back, and we agreed I would FedEx the drive to him the next day.


When we hung up, I dialed Kristen.

She answered quickly. “Is everything OK?” she asked. “What’s wrong?”

“Everything is OK,” I said, then amended that: “I think everything is going to be OK. I hope it’s not too late. I need to come over and grab something.”

August 28, 2020

I dropped the drive off at FedEx the next morning on my walk to work. It was done. The drive was on its way to the lawyer of the president. My work was done; I’d seen it through to the end.

Unless he repackaged it, the flash drive would have been sent along with the hard drive.

That flash drive with a few documents on it is one of the best explanations for the metadata on the documents shared with NYPost a year later. One, of a detailed email Hunter wrote about how Burisma should navigate the likely election of Poroshenko which noted Vice President Biden’s upcoming trip but which also recorded Hunter stating, “they need to know in no uncertain terms that we will not and cannot intervene directly with domestic policy makers, and that we need to abide by FARA and any other US laws in the strictest sense across the board,” has metadata reflecting a creation data on September 28, 2019, right in the period where, JPMI describes, he and his father were developing their plan.

Another document published by NYPost on October 14, 2020, an email in which Vadym Pozharskyi emailed Devon Archer and Hunter asking them to “use your influence to convey a message / signal, etc to stop using what we consider politically motivated actions” to prosecute Burisma (which led to a real effort to intervene on their part, albeit one carried out through paid lobbyists), has metadata showing a creation date of October 10, 2019 — after JPMI says he had already dropped off an envelope that would remain untouched for almost a year.

There are a bunch of other possible explanations for this metadata. But according to JPMI’s book, there would be documents saved to flash drive on or before October 8, then packaged up for a year.

But not after October 10.

True, JPMI accessed a similar set of emails again in the subsequent weeks, in preparation for his staged meeting with the FBI. But he describes those exclusively as printouts.

Ultimately, these are just weeds, inconsistent metadata that could either reflect sloppiness or could be intentional manipulation.

But they provide an interesting background to inconsistencies in the rest of JPMI’s story.

Jim Jordan Sniffs Dick Pics While Rome Burns

Yesterday, David Weiss, the US Attorney turned Special Counsel leading an investigation into Hunter Biden that has entered a sixth year, testified to the House Judiciary Committee.

His written statement debunked Gary Shapley’s claims about what he said in an October 7, 2022 meeting, as has the testimony of every other witness who attended the meeting, as well as US Attorneys Matthew Graves and Martin Estrada and (on other matters) Shapley’s supervisors and DOJ’s Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Tax Division, Stuart Goldberg.

Today, I am prepared to address the misunderstandings about the scope of my authority to decide where, when, and whether to bring charges in this matter. I do not intend to answer questions that could jeopardize the ongoing litigation, our investigations, or the rights of defendants or other individuals involved in these matters.

I am, and have been, the decision maker on this case. I do not, however, make these decisions in a vacuum. I am bound by federal law, the principles of federal prosecution and DOJ guidelines. As a result, there are processes that I must adhere to in making investigative and charging decisions. These processes did not interfere with my decision-making authority. At no time was I blocked, or otherwise prevented from pursuing charges or taking the steps necessary in the investigation by other United States Attorneys, the Tax Division or anyone else at the Department of Justice.

NYT reported that Weiss is fed up with Republican interference in his case.

That Mr. Weiss spoke to the committee before issuing a final report on the investigation reflected his mounting frustration with House Republicans, according to people close to him, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

Given Weiss’ insistence that “the career prosecutors on my team and I have made decisions based on the facts and the law” — a common incantation from Abbe Lowell — Weiss may also worry that Republican efforts have surfaced so much evidence that provides Lowell means to cast doubt on that.

Even though Weiss added to all the testimony debunking his conspiracy theories, Jim Jordan nevertheless ran to the frothy media with his attempt to spin some new scandal out of the testimony — this time that DOJ required Weiss to consult with the US Attorneys in DC and LA before asking for Special Attorney status.

Committee chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told reporters that Weiss said he initially requested special attorney status in spring 2022 from the Justice Department’s principal assistant deputy attorney general, but was not granted it.

“When he was specifically asked, ‘Did you ever request special attorney authority under Section 515?’ Mr. Weiss’ response was, ‘Yes, in the spring of 2022,’” Jordan said.

Merrick Garland has already explained that, publicly, to Jordan’s committee, with Jordan sitting in the room.

It is the normal process of the department is that a US Attorney in one district wants to bring a case in another, they go and consult. It’s perfectly appropriate. They do that in order to determine what the policies are in that district, what the practices are, what the judges are like in that district.

Given what we know from the abundant testimony in this pursuit, neither DC nor Los Angeles’ US Attorney’s offices decided to partner with Weiss on a case against Hunter Biden (the decision was made in both districts by senior career prosecutors, not the Biden appointees). There is reason to believe that all entities, including DOJ Tax attorneys, let Weiss proceed, but did not enthusiastically endorse the proposed charges against Hunter Biden. Estrada, for example, pointed to resource concerns. but also the Justice Manual that DOJ,

only prosecute cases where we believe a Federal offense has been committed and where we believe there will be sufficient admissible evidence to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt to an unbiased trier of fact.

These are the same principles of prosecution that Weiss mentioned in his statement, principles that say if you can’t prove a case, you don’t charge it.

But in spite of CDCA’s decision not to partner with Delaware, Weiss’ prosecutors had been granted Special AUSA status in Los Angeles even before Estrada was confirmed in September 2022 (and so a month before Gary Shapley had his meltdown), and Weiss and Estrada spoke as recently as September 19 of this year, suggesting ongoing matters in Los Angeles.

Mostly, though, members who attended Weiss’ interview complained that it was “tedious” and a “waste of time.”

Which is why it matters that even as Jim Jordan was blowing six hours on his already debunked conspiracy theories, Republicans were continuing to fail at their most basic job: funding government.

The clock is ticking. Mike Johnson’s House now has less than ten days to fund government, and he still hasn’t decided how he’ll do that.

All these Republicans know how to do — all they care to do — is keep sniffing Hunter Biden’s dick pics. That’s all they’ve done since they got a majority.

And meanwhile, they refuse to do their most basic job.

Gary Shapley’s Handlers Revisit Past Leak Investigations into Chuck Grassley’s Staff

According to a press release on the website for Empower Oversight–the group handling Gary Shapley’s now-debunked media tour–Empower’s founder, Jason Foster, was the subject of an FBI subpoena to Google in 2017.

Google first alerted Foster to the September 12, 2017 subpoena on October 19, 2023. That’s one of the reasons I find this FOIA so interesting. The notice came more than six years after the subpoena, suggesting FBI likely continued to investigate someone tied to the investigation for at least a year longer than statutes of limitation would normally extend.

Empower seems to suggest there’s a tie between the subpoena and one served on Google pertaining to Kash Patel’s personal email two months later, on November 20, 2017, as does Margot “Federalist Faceplant” Cleveland in this propaganda piece reporting on the subpoenas. While Empower says that this subpoena asked for information on other staffers, it only cites Kash to substantiate its claim that other staffers had also gotten notice of a past subpoena (Cleveland does report that a HPSCI staffer was also included).

Empower Oversight has information indicating that the other accounts listed in the subpoena belonged to other staffers, both Republicans and Democrats, for U.S. House and Senate committees also engaged in oversight investigations of the Justice Department at the time pursuant to their authorities under the U.S. Constitution.


Other former staffers have publicly referenced receiving similar notices, including former U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (“HPSCI”) staffer Kashyap Patel.

They’re from the same grand jury (16-3). But they not only have different file numbers, but the one on Kash’s subpoena — that is, the later subpoena, by two months — has a lower file number, 2017R01887, as compared to 2017R01896.

Kash is suing roughly the same people over his subpoena as Empower is FOIAing: Empower is asking about former DC US Attorney Jessie Liu, Rod Rosenstein, his one-time Principal Associate Robert Hur (currently the Special Counsel investigating Joe Biden’s classified documents), and Ed O’Callaghan, who replaced Hur, along with then DOJ Spox Sarah Isgur. Kash is suing Liu, Rosenstein, Hur, and O’Callahan, plus FBI Director Chris Wray and the two AUSAs behind the subpoena.

There are problems with both of their target sets. For example, Liu wasn’t even sworn in as US Attorney until September 25, 2017 — after the Foster subpoena (though before the Kash one). So Empower’s suggestion that Liu had some influence on the subpoena on him is nonsense. Rosenstein wasn’t sworn in until April 26, 2017, almost five months after the request for conversations with the press starts.

Similarly, Ed O’Callaghan, whom Kash describes as, “the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General for Mr. Rosenstein at the time in question,” didn’t move from the National Security Division to Rosenstein’s office until April 2018, after Hur was confirmed as US Attorney for Maryland and long after both the subpoena implicating Kash and his blow-up with Rosenstein. Though if these were really sensitive leak investigations, NSD may have had a role in them. (Empower includes NSD within its FOIA.)

Those details don’t seem to matter for their projects: both men appear to be using the subpoenas as an excuse to settle scores.

Kash, ever the conspiracy theorist, brought a Bivens claim insinuating that Rosenstein and others violated Kash’s Fourth Amendment rights because DOJ served a subpoena — something not requiring probable cause under the Fourth Amendment — to obtain the subscriber information for a list of around 14 identifiers, of which his personal email was just one. There’s nothing on the face of the subpoena to suggest that DOJ knew his email was tied to someone who was a Congressional staffer at the time of the subpoena (though again, Federalist Faceplant seems to know at least one other person listed was a staffer). In fact, the subpoena asked for contact information going back to April 2016, a year before Kash moved from DOJ to HPSCI, so it could have pertained to a leak internal to DOJ.

Nevertheless, Kash spins a tale where the November 2017 subpoena is in some way connected with what he claims is Rosenstein’s threat, over a month later, to subpoena HPSCI staffers.

5. The illegitimate grounds for the subpoena were made clear when, shortly after the FBI and DOJ previewed what would become the “Nunes Memo,” which outlined significant issues with FBI’s and the DOJ’s manner of opening and conducting the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (“DAG Rosenstein”) threatened to subpoena the records of the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee staff, including Mr. Patel, during a closed-door meeting about producing documents requested by the Committee for their investigation into DOJ’s and the FBI’s, its subagency, conduct in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

6. The Department of Justice attempted to defend against the allegation of this threat to Legislative Branch employees, but admitted, at a minimum, that DAG Rosenstein did threaten to subpoena records of Congressional staff in contempt proceedings over the DOJ’s noncompliance with multiple subpoenas. Regardless, this characterization was disputed by multiple Committee staffers, and the matter was referred to the House General Counsel and Speaker of the House as a threat to subpoena records of staffers to halt their investigation.

7. DAG Rosenstein made this threat in January of 2018, approximately one month after his Department of Justice had already subpoenaed Mr. Patel’s email records from Google. This confrontation establishes that DAG Rosenstein and other Defendants were searching for a reason to subpoena Mr. Patel’s official accounts as well as the personal ones that DOJ was already improperly pursuing.

Contrary to Kash’s claim, DOJ didn’t concede Rosenstein threatened to subpoena the HPSCI records. According to a Fox News article Kash himself cites in his suit, DOJ said that Rosenstein was advising staffers to retain their emails so he could use them to defend against any accusation of contempt. Though Rosenstein did threaten to ask the House General Counsel to investigate Kash and whoever else was involved.

A DOJ official told Fox News that Rosenstein “never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation.” The official said the department and bureau officials in the room “are all quite clear that the characterization of events laid out here is false,” adding that Rosenstein was responding to a threat of contempt.

“The Deputy Attorney General was making the point—after being threatened with contempt — that as an American citizen charged with the offense of contempt of Congress, he would have the right to defend himself, including requesting production of relevant emails and text messages and calling them as witnesses to demonstrate that their allegations are false,” the official said. “That is why he put them on notice to retain relevant emails and text messages, and he hopes they did so. (We have no process to obtain such records without congressional approval.)”

Further, the official said that when Rosenstein returns to the United States from a work trip, “he will request that the House General counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers’ conduct.”

This all seems like a retroactive attempt to politicize the investigation into some contact Kash had, potentially even before he joined HPSCI with a lawsuit claiming a violation of the Fourth Amendment under Bivens for a subpoena for toll records that a former DOJ prosecutor, especially, should know are not entitled to any expectation of privacy.

Foster’s claim, which is only a FOIA, not a lawsuit, is a bit less ridiculous (so long as you ignore his demand for communications involving Liu before she started as US Attorney and Rosenstein before he was DAG).

He seems certain that the subpoena for his phone (which he says was used by his spouse) pertained to a leak investigation. He’s filing it to find out if Rosenstein’s office ever got the same scrutiny in leak investigations that (he seems sure) some Congressional staffers got in 2017.

It begs the question of whether DOJ was equally zealous in seeking the communication records of its own employees with access to any leaked information.


(5) All communications exchanged between members of the press and DAG Rosenstein, Robert Hur, Edward O’Callaghan, Sarah Isgur, aka Sarah Isgur Flores, and/or Jessie Liu for the period from December 1, 2016 to September 26, 2017, regarding (a) communications between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, (b) Carter Page, (c) Joe Pientka, (d) Bill Priestap, (e) congressional oversight requests, (f) Senator Charles Grassley, (g) Jason Foster, and/or (h) the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

(6)All grand jury subpoenas issued for personal communications of DAG Rosenstein, Robert Hur, Edward O’Callaghan, and/or Jessie Liu between May 1, 2017 and May 1, 2018.

(7) All communications exchanged between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the National Security Division, the Deputy Attorney General’s Office and/or the FBI and Verizon between March 15, 2016, and the present regarding obtaining communications data associated with devices that Verizon serviced for U.S. House Representatives or U.S. Senate. [my emphasis]

The time range of the Foster subpoena, December 1, 2016 to May 1, 2017, covers the period of the known leaks about Mike Flynn and Carter Page — the former, especially, one of the leaks Republicans have never stopped bitching because it wasn’t charged. Yet here, a key Republican is complaining there was “no legitimate predicate” in investigating people who were briefed on information that subsequently got leaked.

There appears to have been an extensive and far-reaching effort to use grand jury subpoenas and perhaps other means to gather the personal communications records of innocent congressional staffers and their families with little or no legitimate predicate.

Empower’s mention of Carter Page also situates the subpoena temporally. The subpoena that included a number associated with Foster was served in precisely the same time period that — the Statement of the Offense and sentencing memo for James Wolfe case show — FBI was investigating the leak of the Carter Page FISA. DOJ opened that investigation in April 2017. They had shown enough probable cause against Wolfe to obtain a warrant to covertly image his cell phone by October 2017. No one complained that Wolfe was prosecuted for his presumed role in leaking some of these stories, and his prosecution alone shows that the subpoena had predicate.

Foster may have other specific stories in mind too: In addition to the leaked stories about Flynn undermining US foreign policy with the Russian Ambassador, the FOIA asks about other Russian investigation stories, including Joe Pientka, whose role in briefing Mike Flynn Grassley made into a personal crusade.

Curiously, the Steele dossier is not on here, even though that was another personal crusade of Chuck Grassley.

All that said, the timeline included in the FOIA is broader than that. Here’s how the various timelines overlap, or don’t:

  • Scope of Foster subpoena: December 1, 2016 through May 1, 2017
  • Rosenstein sworn in as DAG: April 26, 2017
  • Date of Foster subpoena: September 12, 2017
  • Jessie Liu sworn in as US Attorney: September 25, 2017
  • Scope of Foster’s FOIA for DAG communications with the press: December 1, 2016 through September 26, 2017
  • Date of Kash subpoena: November 20, 2017
  • Scope of Kash subpoena: May 1, 2016 through November 20, 2017
  • Scope of Foster’s FOIA for grand jury subpoenas targeting DAG: May 1, 2017 through May 1, 2018
  • Scope of Foster’s FOIA for Verizon records of Congressional staffers March 15, 2016 through October 24, 2023

Foster is FOIAing Rosenstein’s office, first, for conversations with the press — including about him — starting on December 1, 2016, before Trump was inaugurated and months before Rosenstein was sworn in on April 26, 2017. He is FOIAing conversations with the press that continue through the day after Liu was sworn in September 2017, still months before O’Callaghan was part of DAG.

Then he’s asking for any grand jury subpoenas (which he knows would be protected under grand jury secrecy rules and so won’t get) from the end date of the subpoena targeting him, after which point both the Flynn and Page investigations were underway, until May 1, 2018 — still four months before Legistorm shows Foster leaving his SJC job on September 4, 2018, but perhaps not coincidentally ending before the time when the Mueller investigation started to more closely probe fellow SJC staffer Barbara Ledeen’s role in Mike Flynn’s 2016 rat-fucking and two weeks shy of an interview when Mueller asked Flynn about Ledeen’s investigation of the investigation. A September 17, 2018 interview asked very specific questions about people leaking claimed details of the investigation to Flynn, as well as Flynn’s contacts with unidentified Congressional staffers.

Again, this request is a test about whether Rosenstein’s office was targeted for leaks, but the leaks that Foster suggest this subpoena pertains to — Mike Flynn’s contacts with Sergey Kislyak and Carter Page’s FISA — happened before any of these people were in DAG. Foster seems interested in leaks about leak investigations, not the leaks themselves.

It’s the final bullet I find the most interesting though. None of the subpoenas he raises in his FOIA — not the subpoena of Kash’s personal email, not the subpoena of his own Google voice phone, and not the subpoena to Apple targeting HPSCI members — target official phone records. But Foster FOIAs for official records as well: All communications between DC USAO, NSD, DAG, and FBI with Verizon — communications that might be something other than a grand jury subpoena — about obtaining phone records for the Congressional devices serviced by Verizon. He’s asking for a much broader period of time, too: March 15, 2016 — early enough to include the start date of Kash’s subpoena, but also to include some of Barbara Ledeen’s rat-fucking with Mike Flynn — through the present, late enough to include any contacts in which Chuck Grassley staffers used their official devices to share information about the Hunter Biden investigation with the press.

This last request is not about Rosenstein; Rosenstein was only DAG for two of the seven and a half years covered by this part of the FOIA.

This FOIA is, on its face, totally uncontroversial (though it attempts to do with a FOIA what DOJ IG is already doing, which it notes). It purports to test whether Rod Rosenstein exempted his own top deputies from the kind of investigative scrutiny to which Rosenstein — always a leak hawk — subjected Congressional staffers. Hell, I’m fairly certain Rosenstein and his top deputies were key undisclosed sources for a bunch of bullshit comments (though most of them were false, and therefore not criminal leaks). Some of those anonymous comments were to the same stable of journalists who also happen to serve as mouthpieces for Chuck Grassley propaganda (and as such, Foster may have specific reason to believe that Rosenstein teed up journalists’ questions to or about him).

And the FOIA for contacts with Verizon gets at important separation of powers issues: under what terms the Executive Branch can investigate the official business of the Legislative Branch, including times when the Legislative Branch is screaming for investigations into leaks that probably (and provably, in the case of Carter Page) include Legislative Branch staffers.

But it also serves as a fishing expedition, by the entity that championed the now debunked claims of Gary Shapley, into potential investigations into transparent ongoing efforts by Chuck Grassley to release details of criminal investigations in the guise of oversight.

In a meeting agenda sent September 3, 2020, Joseph Ziegler included the Senate investigation led by Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson among topics for discussion.

No later than December 2020, a document shared by Empower Oversight client Gary Shapley reveals, the IRS agents running this investigation cared more about catering to demands from Congress, including from Chuck Grassley, than preserving the investigation.

The USAO and FBI received congressional inquiries concerning this investigation and have repeatedly ignored their requests, openly mocking the members of congress who made the request.

Another document shared by Empower Oversight client Gary Shapley shows that, in May 2021, the IRS agents running the investigation continued to be aware of — and interested in catering to — requests from Congress.

The USAO and FBI received congressional inquiries concerning this investigation and it’s believed they have ignored their requests.

A document released by Empower Oversight client Gary Shapley reflecting a January 6, 2023 call with IRS’ Deputy Field Officer Michael Batdorf alerting him — among other things — that he expected the Delaware US Attorney to make “nefarious” allegations against him, also recorded that by the time, two days after he notified IRS and DOJ IG Inspectors General he was seeking formal whistleblower status which happens to have happened on the day the GOP took the House, his attorney had already, “participated in calls and/or meetings” with “the Congressional Judiciary committees.”

DFO asked about the process and Shapley responded that the Congressional Judiciary committees, OSC, IRS OGC and TIGTA have been notified and have participated in calls and/or meetings with my counsel.

Yet when one of Shapley’s attorneys, Mark Lytle, formally contacted the Chairs and Ranking Members of those same “Congressional Judiciary committees,” the Chairs and Ranking Members of the relevant finance committees, along with Chuck Grassley on April 19, 2023, he did not treat those contacts with the judiciary committees as protected disclosures. The letter mentions that Grassley is a member of the Finance Committee, but doesn’t mention that Grassley is a member and former Chair of the Judiciary Committee.

That was the first moment, publicly at least, that Empower Oversight client Gary Shapley sought protection to share IRS protected information with Congress. That is, even according to Lytle, if Shapley shared any IRS protected information — to say nothing of grand jury protected information — prior to that, by the plain terms of his letter it was not under a grant of protection.

A month after Gary Shapley’s claims — facilitated by Empower Oversight — were soundly debunked by his own documentation and his colleagues, Empower Oversight filed a FOIA that would, among other things, attempt to learn whether the FBI was conducting any investigation of leaks to the press from Chuck Grassley’s staffers, covering the period in 2016 when a Chuck Grassley staffer attempted to reach out to hostile intelligence services to find dirt on Hillary Clinton, the period when a Grassley staffer was seeding press stories — some that were fabrications — about the Russian investigation, and the period of time when those investigating Hunter Biden were more solicitous of requests from members of Congress like Chuck Grassley than they were in protecting the ongoing investigation.

Gary Shapley’s “Red Line” Tantrum Actually Started Two Weeks Earlier

Days before an October 7, 2022 meeting at which, Gary Shapley has claimed for months, his “red line” was crossed, the thing he has used to excuse months of leaking as “whistleblowing,” he scripted the things — including a demand for a Special Counsel to make the decision that David Weiss announced having made in the meeting — that Shapley claimed to record in real time at the meeting.

Indeed, the documents House Ways and Means released last month purporting to support their complaints about the Hunter Biden prosecution show that Shapley’s tantrum had been going on for weeks and had started in significant part because the charges he was demanding wouldn’t be rolled out in advance of the 2022 election.

It has already been established that no other attendee at the October 7, 2022 meeting has backed Gary Shapley’s version of that meeting. No other attendee remembered David Weiss conveying that he didn’t have the authority to make this charging decision regarding Hunter Biden on his own. Most attendees have charitably explained that Shapley didn’t understand what he was hearing, particularly with regards to Special Attorney versus Special Counsel status. In his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, Matthew Graves attributed Shapley’s claims to, “the garble that can happen when you layer hearsay on top of hearsay on top of hearsay. And when you look at a lot of this, it’s someone said that someone said that someone said.”

Even just Shapley’s own notes undermine his claim. As I have noted, between his hand-written contemporaneous notes and his emailed memorialization, Shapley reordered how things happened at the meeting, moving the reasons Weiss gave on October 7 for why he wouldn’t charge 2014 and 2015 — the charges against Hunter Biden that would have to be charged in DC — after Shapley’s own claim that David Weiss didn’t have the authority to make that prosecutorial decision.

Per his contemporaneous notes, the first thing discussed after the discussion about the leak was Weiss’ rationale for not charging 2014 and 2015, the two more substantive years that would have to be charged in DC. Once you’ve explained that, then whether or not Weiss got Special Attorney status for DC is significantly moot (2016 was only ever treated as a misdemeanor).

In his email to his boss, though, Shapley moved that discussion to after his argument, covering the DC charges, the LA charges, and the involvement of DOJ Tax Attorney, that Weiss didn’t have authority to charge. If Weiss had already explained his prosecutorial decision about the most problematic Burisma years — something Shapley’s hand-written notes record him has having done — then none of the other complaints about these years (that Weiss or Lesley Wolf let the Statutes of Limitation expire, that Weiss didn’t get Special Attorney authority in DC) matter. Shapely reorders his notes to hide the fact that the DC decision didn’t matter.

Shapley’s hand-written notes record Weiss sharing a prosecutorial decision — not to charge the 2014 and 2015 tax years. By making a decision not to charge in DC, Weiss was exercising the prosecutorial authority Shapley claimed Weiss said he didn’t have. Once you describe Weiss making a prosecutorial decision, then any claim that he didn’t have prosecutorial authority crumbles.

It crumbles even more given a few other details.

Shapley’s retroactive memorialization of the October 7, 2022 expresses great fury over Weiss’ decision not to charge the 2014 and 2015 years, as well as the delay of charges until after the election.

But Shapley learned of this weeks and even months earlier. 

On July 29, for example, Joseph Ziegler asked Lesley Wolf about timing. Per Shapley’s own memorialization, she said Weiss was aiming to indict before the end of September, but Wolf herself expressed doubt that would happen. That comment on timing, coupled with her stated disinclination to toll the 2014 tax year, was a pretty solid indication that she was disinclined to charge 2014.


Any dates or goals?


David has indicated that the end of September would be his goal to charge. The is reflective of keeping everything on track. They do not want to get any closer to a mid-term. If doesn’t happen by end of September it would have to wait until November after the elections. She stated she does not think that is likely to by charged by September.

Sol on 2014 blows on November 8, 2022.

X Factor on timing will include any delay defense counsel has requested and that they would be amenable to toll statutes. She is not leaning toward tolling again…but it is possible.

Current plan is that the prosecution recommendation will be collaborative with DOJ Tax and USAO.


They will communicate any decisions on specific tax years and decision to charge or not charge to the prosecution team in advance of any final document. [my emphasis]

On August 16, the IRS investigators had a meeting with David Weiss, one that Wolf happily arranged on August 8. Because Wolf and other DOJ personnel could’t attend, that would be a second meeting the IRS had with David Weiss alone.

On August 11, DOJ Tax tried to set up a meeting for the following day, an invitation which Ziegler accepted; Shapley was not invited. There’s no memorialization of this meeting, at which DOJ Tax probably explained why it viewed the 2014/2015 tax years as weaker charges.

On August 15, in advance of the meeting with Weiss, Shapley reminded  Darrell Waldon and Michael Batdorf about the forthcoming meeting with Weiss. Only Michael Batdorf, the second-level supervisor who testified that Shapley had a habit of, “a tendency to go to level like grade 7 five-alarm fire on everything,” responded. Shapley’s August 17 memorialization of the August 16 meeting, shared with those supervisors again, showed that Weiss was “leaning” towards only charging the CA charges, 2017 to 2019. Shapley recorded Weiss aiming to charge by the end of September, but said himself it’d be “October/November” (even though, in July, Wolf had said that if it wasn’t charged by September, it would be after November).

Here’s what Shapley said about 2014 and 2015 in that email:

We again pushed back on not charging 2014/2015. DOJ Tax continues the position that the defenses (load/taxes paid by another person on half the income) would make it too complex for the jury. I believe their position is unsupportable–both considering precedent and evidence. I made it clear that not only do we disagree with that position but that we could provide countless prosecution recommendations that included diverted income to nominees and various loan claims to support our position. The USA agrees with us but then talks to DOJ Tax and they convince him otherwise. This has happened a couple times. As a result, we will continue to communicate our position to ensure this moves forward consistent with how other tax cases would be treated with similar fact patterns.

I explained that 2014 is not charged how it would severely diminish of the overall conduct and would essentially sanitize some major issues to include the Burisma/Ukraine unreported income. I also explained that if 2014 is not charged and/or included in a statement of facts in a guilty plea, that the unreported income from Burisma that year would go untaxed. I believe leaving out 2014/2015 would deliver a message that is contrary to IRS’s efforts to promote voluntary compliance. [my emphasis]

Some of this is about getting taxes paid — the explanation Shapley would repeat in his memorialization of the October 7 meeting. But some of it is about tying Hunter’s tax crimes to Burisma.

Once again, Batdorf was the only who responded. He said he would escalate Shapley’s concerns still further, so the Chief and Deputy Chief of IRS could “at least show full support for the 2014/2015 years.” In Waldon’s testimony, he expressed being surprised at the October 7 meeting, because “I was not fully aware of a decision regarding some of the investigative years,” (49) a view that may stem from Shapley’s efforts in August to reverse this decision.

On August 18, Mark Daly from DOJ tax sent the investigative team (but not Shapley) an email that seems consistent with presenting to grand juries in both Delaware and Los Angeles in September — but not DC, once again consistent with a decision not to charge 2014 and 2015. Of note: this email was saved on June 27 of this year, before Ziegler and Shapley testified to the Oversight Committee on July 19 and Ziegler offered to go back to find more materials. Ziegler appears to have already taken steps to share information that he feigned was just a response to Congressional inquiries.

Shapley appears to have memorialized an August 25 email from Lesley Wolf asking a newly added FBI agent, along with Ziegler and Mark Daly, not to use email to coordinate between meetings. Shapley wasn’t a recipient of this particular email. It’s an example of the double set of books Shapley confessed to in his original deposition.

On September 20, 2022, over a week before the interview of James Biden (Hunter’s uncle and sometime business partner and Joe’s brother) and the day after Martin Estrada was confirmed as US Attorney for Los Angeles, Shapley emailed Weiss, cc’ing no one else, asking for a call in the following two days. The next day, September 21 at 1:23PM, Weiss said he would set up a meeting “in the near term,” including IRS and FBI, to provide an update. This email thread, which Shapley would pick up over a month later, would become the one where Shapley’s paranoia about Weiss cutting off communication with Shapley first expressed. As we’ll see, this Shapley request to Weiss was also the ultimate genesis of the October 7 meeting.

Just over two hours after Weiss promised an update shortly on September 21, Shawn Weede, Weiss’ Criminal Chief, wrote to set up the meeting Weiss had promised, proposing the meeting for September 28 (still one day before the interview of James Biden). Shapley responded 22 minutes later, noting that he would be in the Netherlands on the day of the proposed meeting, but would be willing to call in.

The next day, at 11:15AM, Weede wrote back to say a “sanitized” meeting was unworkable, and so proposed the meeting for the week of October 3, after Shapley got back.

Also on September 22, Shapley memorialized a meeting that started at 2:30PM noting that Lesley Wolf and DOJ Tax’s Mark Daly joined the meeting late, but without documenting anyone else who attended. The memorialization was closely focused on briefings of Estrada’s office on the case (though Shapley refers to Estrada as “her”). It also clearly records DOJ tax still conducting their review, as well as a decision not to charge either the gun charge and/or anything else until after the election — precisely the eventuality that Wolf had warned would happen almost two months earlier.

Gun charge will likely not be indicted in October.


USAO and DOJ Tax made the decision not to charge until after the election. They said why should they shoot themselves in the foot by charging before.

Within an hour after the start of the call, Shapley was going ballistic about precisely that eventuality. Starting at 3:34PM, Shapley alerted Batdorf — but not his immediate supervisor, Waldon,

Big news on Sportsman. Joe Ziegler and I need to speak with you as soon as possible.

In a follow-up, Shapley explained that the “bad news” he had was precisely what he had been warned about in July, that the charges would be delayed until after the election.

Bad news. Continued inappropriate decisions affecting timing. i.e. Election. We can talk later if you are busy….I believe their actions are simply wrong and this is a huge risk to us right now.

Note: There was no risk to the IRS of delay after the election. It would mean the 2014 charges would toll (unless Hunter’s lawyers agreed to waive tolling, as they had before), but that’s another thing Shapley was warned about. A significant part of Shapley’s tantrum seems to stem from a personalized concern that charges would not come out before the election.

Batdorf ended the exchange by instructing, “Please ensure your ASAC and SAC are updated as well.”

Shapley did that, but not until almost two hours later, in a 5:28PM email to Darrell Waldon (his ASAC), Lola Watson (his SAC), and Michael Batdorf. Without noting that he had already bypassed chain of command, Shapley complained,

During todays SM call there was some information provided to the team concerning decisions made by the USAO and DOJ that need to be discussed. For example, the AUSA stated that they made a decision not to charge until after the election. In itself, the statement is inappropriate let alone the actual action of delaying as a result of the election. There are other items that should also be discussed that are equally inappropriate.

None of those other items “that should be discussed” were obviously reflected in his memorialization of that call.

At least on paper, this tantrum, made two weeks before a pre-election leak to the WaPo, was about something he had been warned of in July, not news at all, but one tied — explicitly in his mind — to the election, not timing per se.

Side note: Unlike Ziegler’s, many of the documents Shapley shared are stripped of all metadata. Not this email, though. This email — which he shared twice (Attachment 5, Attachment 24) — both reflect a creation date of September 20 (this is European notation), over eight hours apart, with the second reflecting Tristan Leavitt as document author.

That would mean these documents were saved after Darrell Waldon (September 8) and Michael Batdorf (September 12) testified. There’s good reason to believe these documents were chosen with some knowledge of the IRS supervisors’ testimony.

To make it plain: For months, Gary Shapley claimed that his red line was crossed on October 7, 2022. But the emails he himself turned over show that’s not true. His red line was crossed on September 22, 2022, and the red line had a lot to do with making charges public in advance of the election.

Importantly, that means his red line was crossed before the leak to the WaPo, not afterwards.

The day after Shapley’s tantrum started — which no one at DE USAO or FBI would have known about — the FBI ASAC seconded the plan to wait until Shapley returned before holding the meeting that would become the October 7 one, noting that then Weiss could be present.

Meanwhile, on September 28, Waldon emailed Ziegler and all the other people Shapley had involved in his tantrum, noting that he was trying to arrange a meeting with Weiss and Poole. Ziegler responded to everyone, on the morning of September 29, promising any update from prosecutors in CA. Waldon responded asking Ziegler to call him. And Ziegler responded, suggesting they should do a pitch on the 2014 and 2015 years to DC prosecutors: “we also need to request the presentation of 2014 and 2015 to the criminal chief / US attorney in DC – similar to what we would do in California for 2017 2018 and 2019.” Again: Waldon seems to have been surprised when, at the October 7 meeting, Weiss announced that the decision had been made.

That was at 11:11AM on September 29. At 2:25PM, Ziegler went into the interview with James Biden, Hunter’s uncle. Lesley Wolf and two other prosecutors who, like Ziegler, would not be at the October 7 meeting, also participated in the interview. The interview focused largely on the 2017 to 2019 years (though also asked questions that might reflect a campaign finance investigation into Kevin Morris), but which Ziegler now points to as critical testimony supporting his argument for felony charges in 2018. Shapley was already a week into a tantrum about charges not being filed before the election before this interview.

Seven minutes after the James Biden interviewed finished — based on public records, at least, the last major investigative step in the investigation, Weede proposed and the ASAC confirmed a meeting for October 7 at 11AM. The FBI ASAC confirmed as well. Then the next day, a Friday, the ASAC followed up to confirm once again, management and investigators would be present. She followed up again at end of day Monday, October 3, confirming she and her boss, Thomas Sobocinski would attend. Weede confirmed. The ASAC touched base once again on Tuesday morning.

Only at that point, on October 4 — with no record in the thread that Shapley had told his own boss, Waldon, that this meeting was in the works, did he respond to the ASAC alone, asking for her top three items “so we can be on the same page.”

His own list might was effectively a first draft of the things he would record as having happened in notes and a memorialization email days later: Special Counsel, the delay until after the election, and venue.

At 2:26PM, WaPo posted the story that preempted prosecutors’ decision to wait until after the election before charging — the decision Shapley first learned of in July but staged a tantrum about more recently.

At 4:34, the ASAC responded, asking if Shapley’s ASAC (Waldon) would attend, and describing her own agenda as:

  • Delays
  • Venue
  • Communication
  • Anything further that develops by tomorrow

Of course: that “anything further that develops” had already developed: the story in the WaPo.

Shapley responded a minute later, saying, he had just tried to call her, but that yes, both Shapley and his SAC would attend.

Nine minutes after that exchange occurred with no mention of the WaPo story, Shapley informed his bosses about it.

Just an FYI that there was a media leak today purportedly from the “agent” level on Sportsman. I imagine it will be a topic of discussion at tomorrows meeting in Delaware. I spoke with Justin Cole about this to provide anything he may need.

I have no additional insight that is anything but a rumor.

Federal agents see chargeable tax, gun-purchase case against Hunter Biden –

Just keeping you informed.

[Link to original WaPo story, but note that Shapley shared an Espotting link]

As I’ve noted, Shapley’s reference to rumors is inconsistent with his past statements about the leak.

As all that was going on, the other DE AUSA besides Wolf, Carly Hudson, wrote Ziegler at 10:07AM on October 6, asking him what he was supposed to remind her about — something he heard immediately after the James Biden interview on September 29.

David asked me to remind him what you [s]aid “regarding the call you received from management after the James Biden meeting.”  I’m not 100% sure what he means.  Would you mind reminding me about that call so I can remind him?

Ziegler didn’t respond until 6:51PM, well after the WaPo had published the story. Ziegler explained that IRS management had been informed that DOJ Tax didn’t anticipate charging until 2023; they weren’t done with the approval process.

They heard from DOJ-Tax that they don’t expect the case to be indicted until 2023 as they still have various levels of approval. I think this is what you are asking about.

There’s no documentary record of it, but it would be inconceivable that Ziegler hadn’t shared this with Shapley when he heard it, on September 29. Which is to say that Shapley knew there were reasons — beyond the fact that James Biden wasn’t interviewed until September 29 and beyond the election — why Hunter wasn’t going to be charged until after the election.

Nevertheless, going into a meeting he would much later pitch as his “red line,” a meeting that ended up significantly focused on a pre-election leak promising charges, Shapley would claim the election was what was causing the delay.

“JIM IS COMING FOR YOU:” Aspiring Speaker Jordan’s Stochastic Lynching as Oversight


Because the way Capitol Hill beats work, the prospect of a vote that could put Jim Jordan second in line to the Presidency has focused on horserace.

To be sure, given the narrow margins and the historic incapability of Republican men to count votes, the horserace will be determinative. For example, to succeed, Jordan would not only have to win the support of most of the 55 people who voted against him last week in a secret ballot where he had no challenger, but if only 205 Republicans vote — as reportedly happened in that poll — then Hakeem Jeffries would be elected Speaker with the 212 Democrats expected to show up and vote for him.

But almost no reporting has focused on how catastrophic a Jordan Speakership would be — the earliest death knells of democracy that the election of Trump, which a Jordan Speakership would primarily serve, would guarantee.

What reporting there has been has focused on Jordan’s role, 30 months ago, in Trump’s attempted coup, which the January 6 Committee summarized this way:

Representative Jordan was a significant player in President Trump’s efforts. He participated in numerous post-election meetings in which senior White House officials, Rudolph Giuliani, and others, discussed strategies for challenging the election, chief among them claims that the election had been tainted by fraud. On January 2, 2021, Representative Jordan led a conference call in which he, President Trump, and other Members of Congress discussed strategies for delaying the January 6th joint session. During that call, the group also discussed issuing social media posts encouraging President Trump’s supporters to “march to the Capitol” on the 6th.661 An hour and a half later, President Trump and Representative Jordan spoke by phone for 18 minutes.662 The day before January 6th, Representative Jordan texted Mark Meadows, passing along advice that Vice President Pence should “call out all the electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.” 663 He spoke with President Trump by phone at least twice on January 6th, though he has provided inconsistent public statements about how many times they spoke and what they discussed.664 He also received five calls from Rudolph Giuliani that evening, and the two connected at least twice, at 7:33 p.m. and 7:49 p.m.665 During that time, Giuliani has testified, he was attempting to reach Members of Congress after the joint session resumed to encourage them to continue objecting to Joe Biden’s electoral votes.666 And, in the days followingJanuary 6th, Representative Jordan spoke with White House staff about the prospect of Presidential pardons for Members of Congress.667

To be sure, in his role in the attack, Jordan exhibited utter contempt for democracy.

But what has gotten less attention is the degree to which Jordan has used his position chairing the Judiciary Committee and Weaponization Committee to serve the longer slow-moving attack on democracy.

A Jordan Speakership would undoubtedly escalate Jordan’s assault on rule of law generally and any prosecution of Donald Trump specifically. It would likely directly (by platforming Russian disinformation) and indirectly (by undermining further US aid) help Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Both would make it more likely Trump would win the 2024 election.

Indeed, that’s a telling aspect of Matt Gaetz’ comments when he first announced his (ultimately successful) attempt to depose Kevin McCarthy. Gaetz repeatedly complained that the House hadn’t yet subpoenaed Hunter Biden, and demanded that Republicans use “the power of the purse” to,

zero out the salaries of the bureaucrats who have broken bad, targeted President Trump, or cut sweetheart deals for Hunter Biden.


Joe Biden deserves impeachment for converting the Vice Presidency into an ATM machine for virtually his entire family.

At least for Gaetz (who might well be rewarded with a gavel in a key committee, were Jordan to succeed), this is about shutting down investigations into Trump and fabricating investigations into Biden from the fumes of five year old dick pics.

There’s a specific aspect of Jordan’s actions, however, that deserves more attention in advance of tomorrow’s scheduled public vote: The degree to which Jordan has used the power of his gavel to engage in the same kind of stochastic terrorism that Trump uses to enforce his will.

I’ve already noted how the Gary Shapley media tour (in which Jordan cooperated with James Comer and Jason Smith) ended up getting the team of investigators, including ones still pursuing indictments of Hunter Biden, targeted. As Thomas Sobocinski — who continues to oversee FBI agents investigating Hunter Biden — explained in testimony in early September, the family members of his own team have been followed and AUSA Lesley Wolf has faced specific threats.

[T]his is affecting my employees. I now have FBI employees that names are out there. I have FBI employees and former FBI retired agents who’ve served for 20plus years whose parents are getting phone calls, whose photos with their girlfriends, who their children who are being followed. That is not something that we were prepared for, and I was concerned about having that continue or expand to other one of my employees.


[W]ithout going into specifics, my office and the FBI have done things and initiated things to ensure that [Lesley Wolf] remains safe.

Again, some of these people are currently trying to indict Hunter Biden, and they’re getting swarmed by a mob teed up by Republican efforts.

In the recent Matthew Graves testimony, Graves repeatedly refused to name the members of his team because he knew the transcript would be made public, resulting in threats against prosecutors, on top of the ones DC prosecutors have already faced.

What I can tell you is, I’ve unfortunately had way too many instances of documents getting into the public domain that have our prosecutors’ names in them and me receiving what we call urgent reports about security concerns because of threatening or harassing behavior that they’re receiving … and that we’ve had to take steps for a number of people in our office to mitigate the risk.

Nevertheless, Jordan persisted, to his very last question to include those names in this transcript (I assume he’ll send out letters under their names, as he has with others involved in these investigations).

In the Tim Thibault interview, in which it became clear over time that Republicans had ruined the career and reputation of the guy who had led investigations into two Democratic members of Congress and single-handedly opened an investigation, in 2016, into the Clinton Foundation off of Clinton Cash based off the unsubstantiated claims of others trying to get payback, Thibault described not just how he was targeted — for which he accepted a good deal of the blame on account of his social media posts — but how others were impugned by association.

[T]hose two agents that worked on the Tony Bobulinski EC, I’m aware that they received significant backlash for only doing their job. Why? Because of my social media conduct and Mr. Bobulinski thinking I was a bad agent, that put them in a bad spotlight. Those are the guys that are the victims, the true victims. And no one came and spoke on their behalf. Right? They — they’re just line agents doing their darn job.

As one Democratic staffer noted, though none of 18 sources for such claims to Jordan’s committees have offered any corroboration for the claims, Jordan and his staffers nevertheless continued to push the claims to the media. “[T]he public push or allegations that were being sort of repeated by this committee never stopped.” Jordan is cultivating rumors about the FBI and other agencies to foster retaliation campaigns in the media.

His actions with Fani Willis are perhaps most telling. Jordan first started tampering in Willis’ investigation in August, though — perhaps having learned his lesson when he similarly tampered in Alvin Bragg’s case — he has chosen to send letters rather than subpoenas.

As is the norm for Jordan, his claims are based on conspiracy theories from biased sources. His most recent letter for example, dated to September 27, sources his claim that “there are credible reports” that Willis coordinated with Jack Smith to two articles, one ten months old.

Finally, there are credible reports that your investigation and indictment was coordinated with the Department of Justice and Special Counsel Jack Smith. 30

30 Josh Gerstein, Prosecutor in Trump documents case has history pursuing prominent politicians, POLITICO (June 13, 2023); Jerry Dunleavy, Trump special counsel Jack Smith was involved in Lois Lerner IRS scandal, WASHINGTON EXAMINER (Nov. 25, 2022). [links added]

Not even the propaganda outlet, Washington Examiner, supports Jordan’s claim. Neither of those stories even mention either Willis or Georgia.

Notably, Jordan doesn’t note that in his September 12 interview — an interview conducted just over two weeks before he sent this letter — Thibault denied interacting with Willis’ team four times: “No, ma’am. … Never. … Never. … No, ma’am.” Jordan doesn’t note that this particular conspiracy theory — which, even if true, would be squarely within the expectation that state and federal law enforcement can cooperate and share information — has not been substantiated by a guy who would have had firsthand visibility (though, because of the delay in predicating an investigation against the fake electors, only on the earliest parts of the DC investigation; Jordan did not, publicly at least, ask Steve D’Antuono this question during his June interview).

A far more important detail from these letters is in Willis’ first reply, dated September 7 (which she resent as part of her recent response). After laying out constitutional reasons why Jordan shouldn’t get involved and referring him, as a non-member of the bar, to where he could information on Georgia’s RICO law, she provides ways that the House Judiciary Committee could more usefully spend their time, such as on funding for victim-witness advocates.

She then notes that Jordan should show more concern about the safety of people involved in the criminal justice system — precisely the kind of people that Jordan has instead sown threats against.

As it seems you have a personal interest in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, you should consider directing the USDOJ to investigate the racist threats that have come to my staff and me because of this investigation. For your information, I am attaching ten examples of threats this office has received. See Exhibits F through O. I am providing these examples to give you a window into what has happened to my staff and me as I keep the promise of my oath to the United States and Georgia Constitutions and do not allow myself to be bullied and threatened by Members of Congress, local elected officials, or others who believe lady justice should not be blind and that America has different laws for different citizens.

As noted, she included a number of the threats she and her office have received. We always hear about such threats, but only get to see what they include if they get charged.

The dripping racism of many of these threats is breathtaking.

Of particular interest are the two threats sent on the same day that Jordan first targeted Willis, on August 24, especially the one that echoes things Jordan included in his letter — such as the paragraph in which Jordan argues Willis should have charged this in 2021 and since she didn’t was obviously just trying to impact the election. Even more notably, this threat appears to invoke Jordan’s campaign against Willis explicitly.


This is, quite simply, the language of the lynch mob.

And if the taunt, “Jim is coming for you,” is, indeed, indication that the person who sent this threat had read Jordan’s earlier letter to Willis, it means it took just hours for Jordan’s threats, posing as oversight, to translate into violent racist threats against Willis, her daughter (in the other threat sent that day), and the entire city of Atlanta.

This is not new. Jordan has been sowing threats against Donald Trump’s enemies for years, since the focus on Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

But even in his current position, Jordan is using his gavel as a means to tee up threats based on conspiracy theories, threats designed to make every single imagined opponent of Donald Trump worry about their careers, their safety, their life.

This week, Jordan will and already has been mobilizing similar mobs against his fellow Republican members of Congress in order to pursue even more power, an even bigger gavel.

Which is why all the stochastic threats Jordan has already mobilized deserve more attention.