WASHINGTON — The FBI “verified” the authenticity of Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop in November 2019 and a federal computer expert assessed “it was not manipulated in any way,” IRS supervisory agent Gary Shapley told Congress in explosive testimony released Thursday.
Investigators probing President Biden’s son for tax fraud and other crimes were not given full access to the laptop’s contents, however, Shapley told the House Ways and Means Committee during his May 26 deposition.
“The computer guy said that they could do a CSV list that shows when everything was created … the whole discussion was about can we rely on this information on the laptop, is it Hunter Biden’s? And their opinion was, it was, and it was not manipulated in any way,” he said.
Shapley confirmed key details in the chronology of the laptop, whose existence was first reported by The Post in October 2020 but dismissed as a “Russian plant” by then-presidential candidate Joe Biden.
“In October 2019, the FBI became aware that a repair shop had a laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden and that the laptop might contain evidence of a crime. The FBI verified its authenticity in November of 2019 by matching the device number against Hunter Biden’s Apple iCloud ID,” Shapley said.
The laptop’s contents linked Joe Biden to his son’s dealings, including in China and Ukraine — contradicting his public claims he never discussed business with his son Hunter or brother James Biden.
Despite the FBI’s internal corroboration, 51 former US intelligence agency leaders signed a pre-election letter saying that the laptop had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
Most news outlets ignored the laptop’s contents until well after Biden won the 2020 election, with the Washington Post and New York Times saying only in March 2022 that they had confirmed the authenticity of files.
But behind the scenes, “when the FBI took possession of the device in December 2019, they notified the IRS that it likely contained evidence of tax crimes,” Shapley said.
Shapley, who has worked at the tax agency for 14 years, supervised a 12-person team that determined Hunter Biden had failed to pay $2.2 million on $8.3 million in income earned between 2014 and 2019 from foreign countries where his father held sway as vice president, such as China, Romania and Ukraine.
The case was resolved Tuesday with the announcement of a probation-only plea deal with the first son, despite investigators attempting to recommend felonies, Shapley and another IRS whistleblower told the committee. The plea deal still must be approved by a judge.
On October 19, 2020 — the same date the “spies who lie” letter was fed to Politico — Shapley said he emailed Delaware Assistant US Attorney Lesley Wolf to tell her: “We need to talk about the computer.”
“My management has to be looped into whatever the FBI is doing with the laptop. It is IRS [Criminal Investigations]’s responsibility to know what is happening. Let me know when I can be briefed on this issue.”
Three days later, there was a meeting “with the prosecution team and the FBI’s computer analysis team to discuss Hunter Biden’s laptop,” Shapley said.
“We once again objected that we still had not been given access to the laptop,” he said. “Special Agent [redacted] asked about the full filter reviewed copy of the contents of the devices. He stated he had not been provided with the data. AUSA Lesley Wolf stated that she would not have seen it because, for a variety of reasons, prosecutors decided to keep it from the investigators. This decision is unprecedented in my experience.”
A second IRS whistleblower, who had worked on the case since it opened in 2018, told the panel that investigators were able to review some of the documents, but Shapley said that there was never a complete review, in part because of a “filter” process that withheld some communications on the grounds of attorney-client privilege or other reasons.
“Investigators assigned to this investigation were obstructed from seeing all the available evidence. It is unknown if all the evidence in the laptop was reviewed by agents or by prosecutors,” he said. “Based on guidance provided by the prosecutors on a recurring basis to not look into anything related to President Biden, there is no way of knowing if evidence of other criminal activity existed concerning Hunter Biden or President Biden.”
Wolf, a key figure in the investigation, “acknowledged that there was no reason to believe that any data was manipulated on devices by any third party.
She further supported this belief by mentioning that they corroborated the data with other sources of information received,” Shapley said.
“When we get any information, and even from the laptop and hard drive, it went through filter reviews, and we only saw what came back as nonprivileged.”
The filter team included IRS and FBI agents as well as Justice Department attorneys. It’s unclear from the testimony when exactly that process was conducted and investigators were discouraged from viewing press reports on the device to ensure they only viewed verified information.
Some emails were withheld, Shapley said, because Hunter’s attorney George Mesires was cc-ed.
One email chain was between Hunter and his associate Eric Schwerin, a key figure in the Biden family’s business dealings.
“They basically claimed privilege,” Shapley said, “on a huge amount of information.”