In the spring of 2019, in between bouts of crack smoking and trysts with prostitutes, living out of hotels and stinking of smoke and booze, Hunter Biden made a strangely lucid decision. He got in a car, drove to a computer service shop, and dropped off his laptop for repair. The next day, he returned to give the clerk an external hard drive so that the contents could be extracted. Then he never came back.
Why Hunter decided to take his computer to a repairman (and ultimately abandon it) two weeks before his father's presidential announcement, rather than just buy a new one, could be an interesting puzzle for Freudian theorists. But out of that fateful decision comes Miranda Devine's fascinating book Laptop from Hell: Hunter Biden, Big Tech, and the Dirty Secrets the President Tried to Hide.
Devine's gripping account of the Biden family's sleazy business dealings, gleaned from the contents of Hunter's hard drive, picks up where the New York Post's stellar pre-election reporting left off.
Many of the details have been reported before in bits and pieces. Devine weaves them together with new direct reporting on correspondence and documents pulled from the laptop and puts them in context with what was happening at the time with Joe Biden's vice presidency and presidential run.
The book is a devastating chronicle of political corruption. From Ukraine to Mexico to China, Hunter Biden's private correspondence shows how he and his family leveraged his father's position to win high-paying, low-work gigs with shady foreign actors—and how Joe's official actions at times directly benefited his family's financial backers.
At best, Joe Biden comes off as a hapless father who facilitates his son's clearly unethical moneymaking schemes. At worst, and as some of Hunter's texts and emails suggest, Joe was a knowing participant and beneficiary of the family business.
The fact that Hunter's market value was derived from his father's position seemed to be a source of resentment for the younger Biden, even as he continued to cash in on the name. Hunter complained in texts to his daughter that he had financially supported the Biden clan for three decades and that "pop" takes a cut of "half [my] salary." Financial records and correspondence reported on by Devine indicate that money from Hunter's business accounts was used to cover Joe's AT&T bill and home maintenance expenses and that a portion of at least one major China deal was earmarked for the elder Biden.
As the 2020 presidential election approached, Hunter's correspondence sounded more and more like the impotent protests of middle Corleone brother Fredo in The Godfather Part II: "I can handle things! I'm smart! Not like everybody says, like dumb. I'm smart and I want respect!"
He sent long, passive-aggressive missives to his father.
"Your vision of me being a hapless degenerate drunken crackhead is so unbelievably hurtful," Hunter lashed out at Joe in a series of texts in July 2019. "For twenty years [it] has felt like you just needed me to go to my bedroom and be quiet while the grownups talk."
"I love you all. But I don't receive any respect," Hunter complained in an email to his daughter.
Unlike Fredo, Hunter would be shielded from the consequences of his destructive acts. So would the Biden family. After the computer repairman turned over the abandoned hard drive to the FBI (and then to Rudy Giuliani, who passed it to the New York Post), the legacy press and social media companies mounted an all-out suppression campaign against the Post's reporting, ensuring that the story was snuffed out before the election.
The lack of consequences was interestingly predicted by Hunter's lawyer, George Mesires, in a 2018 text message found on the laptop. Mesires sought to reassure the younger Biden that news of his Chinese deals would be brushed away by most of the press.
"At the end of the day," Mesires told Hunter, "I think people will jadedly say 'this is how the world works.'"
Laptop from Hell: Hunter Biden, Big Tech, and the Dirty Secrets the President Tried to Hide
by Miranda Devine
Post Hill Press, 224 pp., $28.00