The FBI authenticated Hunter Biden’s laptop as far back as November 2019, according to testimony from an IRS whistleblower released on Thursday, and knew the device was not part of a foreign disinformation campaign.
The Bureau learned of the laptop in October 2019, the whistleblower, IRS supervisory agent Gary Shapley said, and just one month later verified its authenticity. The IRS was notified about the laptop in December 2019 and told that "it likely contained evidence of a tax crime," the whistleblower said.
Shapley's stunning claims raise important questions about the Department of Justice’s conduct over the last several years.
FBI director Christopher Wray refused as recently as March to verify that the contents of Hunter Biden’s hard drive were not part of a foreign disinformation campaign. Numerous outside investigators and newsrooms, including the Washington Free Beacon, have concluded that Hunter Biden’s hard drive is authentic since its existence was made public by the New York Post in October 2020.
One week after the New York Post's initial report more than 50 former senior intelligence officials signed a letter alleging that it "has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation." Signatories of that letter included former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper, as well as former CIA directors Leon Panetta and John Brennan. That letter was later cited in an Oct. 22 presidential debate by Joe Biden, who said the release of the laptop was part of a "Russian plan." Since he took office, Biden’s White House has insinuated that the laptop was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
"I think it’s broadly known and widely known…that there was a broad range of Russian disinformation back in 2020," former White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Sept. 2021.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in August 2022 that the FBI briefed Facebook ahead of the 2020 presidential election about "Russian propaganda" and said his platform should be on "high alert." Zuckerberg said that meeting, which the FBI confirmed took place, was the rationale behind his company censoring all news stories that mentioned the laptop’s contents.
Shapley says the tax agency recommended felony charges against Hunter Biden and that the federal prosecutor handling the probe of the first son was prevented on multiple occasions from filing charges.
Federal prosecutors knew that no content on the Hunter Biden hard drive was fabricated prior to the 2020 election, according to a memo Shapley prepared on Oct. 22, 2020 and provided to the House Ways and Means Committee. Content on the hard drive were exact matches to files authorities had obtained from a search warrant of Hunter Biden’s iCloud account, the memo states.
"We have no reason to believe there is anything fabricated nefariously on the computer and or hard drive," the memo states. "There are emails and other items that corroborate the items on the laptop and hard drive."
Authorities also knew the New York Post explanation that Hunter Biden dropped his laptop off at a Delaware computer repair shop in April 2019 and then neglected to pick it back up, was accurate, Shapley said.
Investigators had obtained financial records and "other intelligence" showing Hunter Biden was in the vicinity of the computer repair shop the same day he dropped his computer off for repair.
"Financial records show [Hunter Biden] was around Wilmington DE shop at a cigar shop on the same day," the memo states.
The FBI determined the device was Hunter Biden’s by comparing its device number to Hunter Biden’s iCloud account.
""The FBI case agent, Josh Wilson, called up the computer shop owner, John Paul, and basically got the device numbers from him," Shapley said, according to an interview transcript released by the House Ways and Means Committee. "And then we bounced those device numbers off third-party records, and it showed that it was, in fact, Hunter Biden's device. So it was a very first important step."
This is a developing story.