Federal prosecutors opened an investigation into Hunter Biden during the Trump administration, which resulted in charges of tax evasion and illegal gun ownership. He was set to plead guilty to those counts, but the plea deal fell apart in July. Now, prosecutors have issued new gun charges and are expected to file new tax evasion charges as well. Hunter Biden is expected to face trial.
A major catalyst for the controversy has been a laptop allegedly owned by Hunter Biden and left at a computer repair shop in Delaware. A few weeks before the 2020 presidential election, the New York Post published an article in which it claimed to have obtained a copy of the laptop’s data.
The article claimed the data contained evidence that then-vice-president Joe Biden had engaged in corrupt activities, specifically regarding foreign policy decisions designed to benefit his son and the companies Hunter worked with.
VERIFY has received dozens of questions about Hunter Biden’s laptop. Several viewers asked simply, “Is the Hunter Biden laptop real?”
VERIFY dug into this controversial story, and interviewed the Delaware computer repair shop owner.
Here’s what we can confirm to be true and false.
Does a laptop connected to Hunter Biden exist?
Yes, a laptop connected to Hunter Biden exists. The FBI seized it from a computer repair shop in Delaware.
WHAT WE FOUND
The New York Post said it obtained a copy of the laptop’s data from Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s then-personal lawyer, in October of 2020. Giuliani, through his own lawyer, obtained it from John Paul Mac Isaac, the owner of The Mac Shop, a computer repair shop in Delaware.
In an interview with VERIFY, Mac Isaac said that in April of 2019, Hunter Biden brought in a liquid-damaged laptop for data recovery. Mac Isaac said he was transferring files from the laptop to an external hard drive when he saw compromising materials.
“I realized that there was a lot of sensitive and embarrassing material on the laptop. Also, some questionable criminality as well. So I was concerned,” he said.
Mac Isaac said he reached out to Hunter Biden multiple times in early 2019, requesting he pick up the laptop and pay for the services, but neither happened. Later, Joe Biden announced his candidacy for president. Mac Isaac says he was uncomfortable possessing potentially compromising material about a presidential candidate’s family and wished to turn the laptop over to law enforcement.
“I just figured it was a matter of time before somebody would figure out that I had seen what I had seen, and I was in possession of what I was in possession of,” he told VERIFY.
Mac Isaac says his initial attempts to hand the laptop over to the FBI were rebuffed, but after a series of conversations with agents, he eventually received a subpoena for the laptop and handed over the device to investigators in December of 2019.
Mac Isaac says that after handing over the laptop and providing agents with some initial technical assistance, he was never again contacted by investigators. In the summer of 2020, he decided to reach out to Giuliani, seeing him as an authority figure who might be more invested in the computer’s contents.
“At the time, the person that I identified as probably the most knowledgeable on the events [regarding the Biden family] in Ukraine, and who was also a lawyer, and who was also representing the president of the United States, was Rudy Giuliani,” said Mac Isaac. “[I thought he] looks like somebody who's been actively pursuing the, what I perceived as, criminality on the laptop. Let me choose this guy.”
Mac Isaac said he identified a lawyer for Giuiliani, Robert Costello, and after exchanging initial emails, sent Costello a hard drive with a copy of the laptop’s data in late August of 2020, asking Costello to preserve his anonymity.
Multiple news outlets have obtained copies of the data found on the laptop, and given it to cybersecurity experts to analyze. Those forensic analyses concluded the data was genuine.
One, conducted by The Washington Post, found it was possible some documents that have circulated purporting to belong to Hunter Biden may have been tampered with, though the analysis could not say definitively. The analysts said the vast majority of emails related to Hunter Biden’s foreign business had no evidence of tampering.
Another, conducted by CBS News, with a copy of data obtained directly from Mac Isaac, found no evidence of tampering. The analysts hired by CBS concluded the data they looked at was genuinely Hunter Biden’s and could not have been fabricated, in part because of the sheer volume and complexity of the documents, photos, and emails it contained.
Has information from the laptop resulted in corruption charges for Hunter or Joe Biden?
No, so far information from the laptop has not resulted in any corruption charges for Hunter or Joe Biden. No corruption charges have been filed at all.
WHAT WE FOUND
As of yet, none of the multiple charging documents brought by the Department of Justice against Hunter Biden – either in July or September – have mentioned corruption, Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings, or Joe Biden.
The only time the foreign business dealings have come up publicly during the prosecution was when the plea deal fell apart, in part because of disagreement over whether the deal would protect Hunter Biden from potential prosecution for other crimes, including those involving his business abroad. Biden’s lawyers believed it would, but the prosecutors argued it would not. The debate led to the collapse of the deal, though still no corruption charges.
Photos and videos purportedly from the laptop have circulated widely over the past three years, often appearing to show Hunter Biden taking drugs or involved in sex acts.
During a committee hearing in July, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) displayed some of the graphic images, a decision that drew widespread condemnation.
However, no charges have been filed in relation to these images. They also did not provide new revelations about Hunter Biden’s struggles with drug addiction, something that has been public for nearly a decade.
Has the Department of Justice concluded its investigation into Hunter Biden?
No. The DOJ has filed new gun charges, and is expected to file new tax evasion charges as well. A trial is expected in both cases.
WHAT WE FOUND
Prosecutors recently withdrew the tax evasion charges, but are expected to re-file them in another district.
On Sept. 14, prosecutors working under Weiss filed a new indictment against Hunter Biden on three gun charges: one for possessing a firearm while addicted to drugs, and two for lying on federal forms about that addiction.
Similar charges had been brought in July, but the DOJ and Hunter Biden had reached a diversion agreement that would prevent prosecution if Biden agreed to certain terms. Prosecutors argue that agreement never took effect and became invalid when the rest of the plea deal fell apart.
Without any plea deal in place for the new charges, a trial is expected. Whether any information obtained from the seized laptop will be used as evidence against Hunter Biden in trial is to be determined. None was mentioned in the indictment.
David Weiss, the Trump-appointed prosecutor who has led the Hunter Biden investigation for years, was recently made Special Counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland. That appointment gives Weiss more autonomy in his investigation.
While there have been no corruption charges to date, the investigation continues.