WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawyers for President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, have asked the Justice Department to investigate close allies of former President Donald Trump and others who they say accessed and disseminated personal data from a laptop that he dropped off at a Delaware computer repair shop in 2019.
In a separate letter, Biden’s attorneys have 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, has no practical impact and does not commit federal prosecutors to take any 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 his 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 received Biden’s laptop in April 2019.
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, Trump’s close ally, 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 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, said he had not yet seen a copy of the letter but said it sounded “preposterous.” 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.
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 calls seeking comment.
Associated Press writer David Bauder in New York contributed to this report.
Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP