Twitter files 7.0 show FBI pressured social media platforms to ‘discredit’ Hunter Biden laptop story


In the seventh instalment of Twitter files, Michael Shellenberger, an […]

In the seventh instalment of Twitter files, Michael Shellenberger, an independent journalist in a thread on the microblogging platform, on Monday, revealed that the “FBI and intelligence community discredited factual information” about incumbent United States President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s “foreign business dealings.” 

The move was also reportedly made after a New York Post report on October 14, 2020, regarding emails on Hunter Biden’s laptop. Authorised by the new Twitter owner and CEO, Elon Musk, “Twitter Files” has been a series of posts in the form of a thread of tweets which have been disclosing the company’s once-secret communications with the help of independent journalists. 

These tweets follow the sixth instalment by independent journalist and author Matt Taibbi which uncovered how the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) “relentlessly” sought to “exercise influence” over the microblogging platform, its users, content, and data. 


This time around, Shellenberger citing email conversations shows how the FBI alerted Twitter to suppress and “discredit” the Hunter Biden laptop story as a “Russian ‘hack and leak’ operation”. 

How did the New York Post get access to Hunter Biden’s laptop?

In late 2019, Delaware computer store owner John Paul Mac Isaac contacted the FBI informing them about the laptop which Hunter Biden had left with them which reportedly found “evidence of criminal activity”. Subsequently, a subpoena was issued and the laptop was taken by the agency, said the report. 

However, when by 2020 Mac Issac had not heard back from the FBI he reportedly emailed former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, who at the time, was a part of former US President Donald Trump’s personal legal team. “In early Oct, Giuliani gives it (evidence of criminal activity) to @nypost”, said Shellenberger. 

Documents posted by the independent journalist showed the communication between Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth and FBI Agent Elvis Chan hours before the Post broke Hunter Biden’s story in 2020. The agent used Teleporter, a one-way communication channel the FBI agent and sent at least 10 documents on October 13. 


However, Chan testified under oath that the FBI did not have any information about the alleged Russian campaign. Furthermore, following this exchange between Chan and Roth, Hunter Biden’s attorney George Mesires contacted the computer store owner Isaac after finding out the Post was going to publish its first story based on the files recovered from the abandoned laptop, the next day, the report claims. 

“The New York Post runs its explosive story revealing the business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Every single fact in it was accurate,” said the independent journalist about the story NY Post ran on October 14, 2020. 

According to Shellenberger, “within hours, Twitter and other social media companies censor the NY Post article, preventing it from spreading and, more importantly, undermining its credibility in the minds of many Americans.” 

Furthermore, there was a debate within Twitter about censoring a “wholly accurate article”, said the report. It added, “Since then, we have discovered new info that points to an organised effort by the intel community to influence Twitter and other platforms”. 

“First, it’s important to understand that Hunter Biden earned *tens of millions* of dollars in contracts with foreign businesses, including ones linked to China’s government, for which Hunter offered no real work,” claims the independent journalist. However, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies reportedly asked Roth to dismiss the reports as a “Russian ‘hack and leak’ operation”. 

Linking a video of Meta (Facebook and Instagram parent company) CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, Shellenberger quoting Zuckerberg wrote, “The FBI basically came to us [and] was like, ‘Hey… you should be on high alert. We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election. There’s about to be some kind of dump similar to that.’” 


Furthermore, citing multiple exchanges between Twitter executives and the FBI, the report also said that the former “reported very little Russian activity” to the latter. In November, Chan also admitted, “Through our investigations, we did not see any similar competing intrusions to what had happened in 2016”. 

Mounting pressure from the FBI 

In subsequent tweets, the journalist talks about how Roth repeatedly pushed back against the FBI, the first instance was a story by the Washington Post about the 2020 elections. FBI asked Roth about the WaPo story “on alleged foreign influence in a pro-Trump tweet” to which Twitter’s Roth says, “The article makes a lot of insinuations… but we saw no evidence that that was the case here (and in fact, a lot of strong evidence pointing in the other direction).”


In January 2020, Shellenberger claims that the FBI asked Roth to “get Twitter to share data outside of the normal search warrant process.” An email dated January 2020 shows that Roth’s sent an email saying, “We have seen a sustained (If uncoordinated) effort by the IC [intelligence community] to push us to share more info & change our API policies.  They are probing & pushing everywhere they can (including by whispering to congressional staff).”

Eventually, six months later, Chan arranges “temporary Top Secret security clearances for Twitter executives so that the FBI can share information about threats to the upcoming elections,” said the report. Subsequently, in August 2020, Chan “shares information with Twitter’s Roth relating to the Russian hacking organization, APT28”, Shellenberger said quoting an email sent to Twitter. 

Furthermore, Chan also asked Twitter, “does anyone there have top secret clearance?” when someone mentioned Jim Baker, who according to Shellenberger, is one of the most powerful men in the US intel community. The report also claims that “As general counsel of the FBI, Baker played a central role in making the case internally for an investigation of Donald Trump.”

However, he was not the FBI executive working at Twitter, “Dawn Burton, the former dep. chief of staff to FBI head James Comey, who initiated the investigation of Trump, joined Twitter in 2019 as director of strategy,” the report claimed. There were many former FBI employees working at Twitter by 2020 that they had reportedly created their own private Slack channel to onboard new FBI arrivals. 

In a recent interview, earlier this year, Roth claims that he was primed to think about the APT28 before the news of Hunter Biden’s laptop came out. Therefore, when it did, Roth said that “It set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 hack-and-leap campaign alarm bells.” 


After the article by New York Post was published on October 14, in an email Roth allegedly said, “it isn’t clearly violative of our Hacked Materials Policy, nor is it clearly in violation of anything else,” but adds, “this feels a lot like a somewhat subtle leak operation.” 

However, Baker reportedly insisted, “the Hunter Biden materials were either faked, hacked, or both, and a violation of Twitter policy. Baker does so over email, and in a Google doc, on October 14 and 15,” said Shellenberger. 

The article which was published at 5:00 am (local time) shook Twitter and by 10:00 am, “Twitter execs had bought into a wild hack-and-dump story,” Shellenberger claimed. He added, “The suggestion from experts – which rings true – is there was a hack that happened separately, and they loaded the hacked materials on the laptop that magically appeared at a repair shop in Delaware”, said the report quoting an email. 


“The influence operation persuaded Twitter execs that the Hunter Biden laptop did *not* come from a whistleblower,” said Shellenberger.  



 Notably, Jim Baker was fired by Musk, earlier this month, after his alleged role in attempting to stop the release of Twitter Files came to light.


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