Hunter Biden’s legal and investigative operation has been conducting forensic tests on a MacBook Pro the president’s son lost track of in 2019, providing CBS News with what it says is the first public photo of that once missing laptop.
A team led by Kevin Morris, an entertainment lawyer best known for crafting a 9-figure deal for the creators of the animated series “South Park,” has been probing the backstory of how another Hunter Biden laptop containing what appear to be years of personal and intimate emails and business records found its way to news reporters and authorities. The effort appears to be aimed at blunting the impact of an ongoing federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s tax records and business dealings by sowing doubts about that computer, which made headlines in 2020.
A source from Hunter Biden’s team of advisers told CBS News the laptop now in their possession may be the key to determining if anything was altered or added to that second laptop discovered at a Delaware repair shop — or to the other hard drives that have journeyed through multiple sets of hands,
“We have the Rosetta Stone,” the adviser said.
“They can send us theirs and we’ll see what they have,” the adviser said, referring to news outlets and various critics of Hunter Biden who have copies of the laptop contents that first went public in the New York Post during the 2020 presidential campaign. “They should be the ones with the burden of proof in this nasty circus.”
Hunter Biden’s team has produced no evidence of alterations to the drives that have leaked.
Several news outlets, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, have reported in recent months that they have authenticated some of the files and correspondence contained on the laptop that made news in 2020. Hunter Biden is believed to have owned more than one laptop, and a Washington Post analysis raised questions about whether Hunter Biden may have had multiple computers. There is also the possibility that multiple laptops used by Hunter Biden could have contained different data or files.
The president’s son has been the focus of a long-running federal investigation into his finances, a probe that has involved the subpoena of financial records from a range of his past associates.
The legal team assembled by Morris has focused its energy less on the contents of the laptop than on where the infamous laptop has been.
What’s known about the chain of custody of the laptop in the photograph shared by Hunter Biden’s lawyer begins in February 2019, when Hunter Biden left it at the Boston office of a therapist he was seeing. The laptop was in the Newburyport, Massachusetts, office of Dr. Keith Ablow, when the office was raided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, an action unrelated to Biden. But his laptop was also taken by the DEA. A source close to Ablow confirmed this to CBS News and said Ablow then sought to have the laptop returned to Hunter Biden.
No charges have been filed against Ablow in connection with the raid.
According to documents reviewed by CBS News, it was a year later that a lawyer for Biden began working with the U.S. attorney’s office to negotiate that laptop’s return. Biden’s legal team provided CBS News with documentation showing the laptop was returned to Biden’s attorney on March 20, 2020.
It was just a few weeks later that the owner of a Delaware computer repair shop, John Paul Mac Isaac, said Hunter Biden sought his help in repairing what Biden’s lawyers say is a different laptop, but never came back to retrieve it. In a book excerpt published in the New York Post, he described how he had seen some of its contents and determined the material needed to be shared with authorities. In a later legal case, Mac Isaac said he had turned over the computer to the FBI, and he also provided a copy of its contents to a representative of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
In a two-hour interview with CBS News soon after the story broke, Mac Isaac noted that his vision was impaired, and he never had a clear look at the person dropping off the laptop. At the time, he had difficulty answering key questions about how the laptop ended up in his store, and he contradicted himself about his motivations in turning over the drive.
Hunter Biden’s legal team is alleging that whatever device Mac Isaac turned over to the FBI, it was not the one Hunter Biden left behind at Ablow’s office.
In the closing weeks of the campaign, the contents of the laptop from the Delaware shop — alleged by the New York Post to be Hunter Biden’s emails and photos — became a centerpiece of Donald Trump’s political attacks against his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden. Controversy surrounding the laptop grew as the Biden camp tried to cast doubt on its authenticity, even as several major news outlets confirmed that some files on the hard drive were real.
Hunter Biden has never given a clear answer to the question of whether he dropped a computer off at the Delaware shop for repairs. In 2021, Hunter Biden told CBS News he “really” didn’t know if the laptop left at the repair shop was his. “It could be that I was hacked,” he said. “It could be that it was Russian intelligence. It could be that it was stolen from me.”