Authored by Jonathan Turley,
We have been discussing the scorched earth campaign by the new legal team Hunter Biden as well as a type of legion of Doom of Democratic activists. That included seeking criminal investigations of critics while threatening a wide array of journalists and potential witnesses with civil lawsuits. Today, Biden moved against John Paul Mac Isaac, the repairman who revealed the laptop and its contents. The lawsuit, in my view, has serious flaws, but reflects the new “dark Biden” stage of this saga. The effort to go on offense against key figures and witnesses could well backfire for the Hunter Biden and his family.
In the 42-page filing below in the United Stats District Court for the District of Delaware that includes six privacy-related counts.
Previously, the new Biden team stumbled out of the gate first seemingly (and belatedly) admitted that the laptop is authentic and then backtracking. In an earlier column on the letters sent by Hunter Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell calling for criminal investigations, the removal of tax exempt status, and other measures targeting critics and media. It also appeared to confirm that the laptop is indeed Hunter’s. However, the next day, Lowell told NBC “These letters do not confirm Mac Isaac’s or others’ versions of a so-called laptop.” It is a curious position when asking for criminal investigations like asking police to look for people who may or may not have stolen a car that may or may not be yours.
In the new filing, the team continues to equivocate on ownership and even refuses to admit that Hunter Biden left the computer at the shop. Ironically, Hunter Biden hits Issac for conflicting accounts on how the computer can into his possession. In a filing alleging the loss of privacy and ownership of these files, Hunter Biden legal team still plays coy on the computer’s authenticity. At the top of the countersuit they state:
“In or before April 2019, Counterclaim Defendant Mac Isaac, by whatever means, came into possession of certain electronically stored data, at least some of which belonged to Counterclaim Plaintiff Biden.”
That line is then followed by this footnote:
1 This is not an admission by Mr. Biden that Mac Isaac (or others) in fact possessed any particular laptop containing electronically stored data belonging to Mr. Biden. Rather, Mr. Biden simply acknowledges that at some point, Mac Isaac obtained electronically stored data, some of which belonged to Mr. Biden.
It is still not clear what Biden is trying to suggest. Putting aside someone representing themselves as Hunter Biden, the other possibility is that someone stole the laptop of the son of the Vice President and then took the risk of bringing it into a shop for repair (while using the victim’s name).
The biggest problem facing Biden is that he abandoned the laptop unless he continues to maintain the possible evil twin or deranged thief theories. The filing, however, offers a new claim to get over this hurdle.
The standard agreement of the shop states “[e]quipment left with the Mac Shop after 90 days of notification of completed service will be treated as abandoned and you agree to hold the Mac Shop harmless for any damage or loss of property.”
Notably, Biden does not deny that he signed that agreement, but he refuses to say that he did. Instead, he claims that the provision is void under a Delaware law setting a period of a year to obtain lawful ownership over abandoned property. 25 Del. C. § 4001. However, the provision states that a person loses ownership claims if he “failed to otherwise assert or declare the ownership rights to the tangible personal property for a period of 1 year.”
The filing focuses on Issac disclosing the contents before the year period but ignores that Biden has not claimed ownership for multiple years. However, the counterclaim maintains that Issac did not even wait the 90 days to access and share some of the material.
It is a curious line of argument for a court, which is faced with an individual who continues to question his ownership of the computer while asserting ownership rights. He also questions whether Issac was premature to claim the property when he still equivocates over whether this is his property over two years after the disclosures.
If Hunter Biden abandoned this property, it is hard to see how he maintains privacy interests in files that he never sought to protect and still does not fulling admit are his.
For example, he raised the common tort of intrusion in his private affairs, but he may have effectively released that information into the public domain through his abandonment.
He also raises the common law torts of disclosure of embarrassing private facts. However, that tort has an exception for newsworthiness:
§ 652D Publicity Given to Private Life
One who gives publicity to a matter concerning the private life of another is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy, if the matter publicized is of a kind that
(a) would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and
(b) is not of legitimate concern to the public.
In the end, Biden could be seeking greater discovery on the involvement of political figures like Rudy Giuliani. However, discovery also presents a risk for Hunter Biden, who has yet to be fully examined under oath over his own actions and contacts in the matter. The refusal to admit ownership (or prior conduct) may be due to Hunter Biden remaining under criminal investigation in Delaware on matters potentially related to files found on the laptop. The Justice Department seized the laptop over a year ago.
Biden is asking a court to carry considerable water to allow him to advance such arguments while continuing to question the ownership of the computer or whether he signed the underlying agreement. Indeed, it is curious (if he did not sign the agreement) that there has not been an allegation of fraud or forgery raised by the team. Instead, the legal team attacks the agreement as possibly taking advantage of Hunter Biden, who is an attorney, by noting “the boilerplate terms of the Repair Authorization form used by Mac Isaac were contained in small-print font at the bottom of the page, well below the signature line.”
The question is whether this conflicted set of claims is “well below” the tolerance level of the federal court.