WASHINGTON (AP) — A lawyer for President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, asked the Justice Department in a letter Wednesday to investigate close allies of former President Donald Trump and others who accessed and disseminated personal data from a laptop that a computer repair shop owner says was dropped off at his Delaware store in 2019.
In a separate letter, Hunter Biden’s attorneys also asked Fox News host Tucker Carlson to retract and apologize for what they say are false and defamatory claims made repeatedly about him on-air, including implying without evidence that he had unauthorized access to classified documents found at his father’s home.
The request for a criminal inquiry, which comes as Hunter Biden faces his own tax evasion investigation by the Justice Department, does not mean federal prosecutors will open a probe or take any other action. But it nonetheless represents a concerted shift in strategy and a rare public response by the younger Biden and his legal team to years of attacks by Republican officials and conservative media, scrutiny expected to continue now that the GOP has taken over the House.
It also represents the latest salvo in the long-running laptop saga, which began with a New York Post story in October 2020 that detailed some of the emails it says were found on the device related to Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings. It was swiftly seized on by Trump as a campaign issue during the presidential election that year.
The letter, signed by prominent Washington attorney Abbe Lowell, seeks an investigation into, among others, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, Trump's longtime lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Giuliani's own attorney and the Wilmington computer repair shop owner, John Paul Mac Isaac, who has said Hunter Biden dropped a laptop off at his store in April 2019 and never returned to pick it up.
The letter cites passages from Mac Isaac's book in which he admitted reviewing private and sensitive material from Biden's laptop, including a file titled “income.pdf.” It notes that Mac Isaac sent a copy of the laptop data to Giuliani's lawyer, Robert Costello, who in turn shared it with Giuliani, a close ally of Trump's who at the time was pushing discredited theories about the younger Biden.
Giuliani provided the information to a reporter at the New York Post, which first wrote about the laptop, and also to Bannon, according to the letter. Hunter Biden never consented to any of his personal information being accessed or shared in that manner, his lawyer says.
“This failed dirty political trick directly resulted in the exposure, exploitation, and manipulation of Mr. Biden’s private and personal information,” the letter says, adding, “Politicians and the news media have used this unlawfully accessed, copied, distributed, and manipulated data to distort the truth and cause harm to Mr. Biden.”
Mac Isaac declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press on Wednesday evening. Costello, asked to comment on behalf of him and Giuliani, called the letter “a frivolous legal document” and said it “reeks of desperation because they know judgment day is coming for the Bidens."
A lawyer who represented Bannon at a trial in Washington, D.C., last year did not immediately return a call seeking comment. A Fox News representative had no immediate comment.
The letter to the Justice Department was addressed to its top national security official, Matthew Olsen. It cites possible violations of statutes prohibiting the unauthorized access of a computer or stored electronic communication, as well as the transport of stolen data across state lines and the publication of restricted personal data with the intent to intimidate or threaten.
It also asks prosecutors to investigate whether any of the data was manipulated or tampered with in any way.
“The actions described above more than merit a full investigation and, depending on the resulting facts, may merit prosecution under various statutes. It is not a common thing for a private person and his counsel to seek someone else being investigated, but the actions and motives here require it,” Lowell wrote in the letter.
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment.
Separate letters requesting investigations were also sent to the Delaware state attorney general's office and to the Internal Revenue Service. Spokespeople there did not immediately return emails seeking comment.