The owner of the Delaware computer repair store where Hunter Biden abandoned his MacBook filed suit against Hunter Biden, the Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign, Rep. Adam Schiff, CNN, and Politico in Delaware state court on Monday. The eight-count complaint alleged claims of defamation, civil conspiracy, and civil aiding and abetting against the defendants based on statements they made after the New York Post published the scandalous materials recovered from Hunter’s laptop.
John Paul Mac Isaac found himself thrust into the public eye after the New York Post on Oct. 14, 2020, published an exposé about the contents of the laptop Hunter Biden had abandoned at Isaac’s Delaware computer repair store. No sooner had the news broken than Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and backers of the Democrat candidate called the story Russian disinformation.
While Hunter Biden refused to comment on the story before the November 2020 election, after President Biden found himself safely in the White House, Hunter sat down with CBS News and when asked, “Was that your laptop?” the president’s son replied: “I really don’t know what the answer is. I have no idea.” But when pushed on whether the laptop could be his, Hunter responded: “There could be a laptop out there that was stolen from me.” “It could be that I was hacked. It could be that it was the — that it was Russian intelligence. It could be that it was stolen from me.”
Isaac’s lawsuit against Hunter alleges that, contrary to Hunter’s claims, he knew the laptop was his, as Hunter knowingly left the laptop with Isaac on April 12, 2019, and then a short time later returned to the store with an external hard drive for Isaac to transfer the data recovered from the laptop hard drive. Yet Hunter “knowingly broadcast the false and defamatory information about his laptop to third parties — viewers of the interview” that imputed that Isaac was “involved in one or more crimes including, theft of his laptop, hacking of his laptop, or being part of a plot by Russian intelligence.”
The Delaware store owner also sued the “Biden for President Campaign Committee,” or “BFPCC,” which served as Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. According to his complaint, the members of the BFPCC claimed the New York Post exposé was “a Russian disinformation operation.” A senior Biden campaign adviser would repeat that theme in an interview on MSNBC, saying that if then-President Trump “decides to amplify these latest smears against the vice president and his only living son, that is Russian disinformation.”
Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield, on behalf of BFPCC, likewise said of the information from the laptop “that what [Trump is] doing here is amplifying Russian misinformation.” And the candidate himself, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the complaint stressed, “representing the views of BFPCC,” said, “[t]here are 50 former national intelligence folks who said that what he’s accusing me of is a Russian plant. Five former heads of the CIA, both parties, say what he’s saying is a bunch of garbage. Nobody believes it except his good friend Rudy Giuliani.”
In his defamation count against BFPCC, Isaac alleged the campaign committee employees knew or should have known that the claims of Russian disinformation were false. Yet they published those statements about the laptop knowing they would subject Isaac to “distrust, scorn, ridicule, hatred, and contempt, which continues to this day” and that they imply Isaac “committed an infamous crime, i.e., treason and/or other crimes against the United States of America by participating in a Russian attempt to undermine American democracy and the 2020 Presidential election.”
Isaac also added Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., CNN, and Politico as defendants in the newly filed complaint. The Delaware store owner had previously sued those three defendants, along with The Daily Beast in a Maryland state court but later voluntarily dismissed that lawsuit. Isaac later entered into a confidential settlement agreement with The Daily Beast, according to his attorney Brian Della Rocca, before refiling the claims against Schiff, CNN, and Politico in the lawsuit that also named Hunter and the Biden campaign.
The claims against Schiff and CNN stem from the congressman’s appearance on the cable network to discuss the emails recovered from the laptop. Schiff told the network’s Wolf Blitzer during an interview that “we know that this whole smear on Joe Biden comes from the Kremlin.” Schiff had no evidence that the information contained in the New York Post exposé was part of Russian disinformation, however, and by representing otherwise, the complaint alleged, Schiff portrayed Isaac as a Russian agent or participant in a Russian disinformation campaign.
Isaac’s claim against Politico rests on that outlet’s publication of an article titled “Hunter Biden Story is Russian Disinfo, Dozens of Former Intel Officials Say.” The article then discussed the letter signed by more than 50 former senior intelligence officials that addressed the recent publication of Hunter Biden’s emails. That letter did not assert that the Hunter story was Russian disinformation, though, instead merely claiming it had “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
By framing the laptop story as actual “Russian Disinfo” in its title, Politico defamed Isaac, his attorney alleged, as the article “clearly identifies the information as coming from Plaintiff.” Thus, Politico’s reporting implies Isaac was “part of a Russian disinformation campaign” and/or “more specifically a Russian agent,” according to Isaac’s complaint.
A Promising Case
This recently filed defamation case proves promising for several reasons. First, the lawsuit follows the concession by several legacy media outlets of the authenticity of the laptop, making the defendants’ claims of Russian disinformation specious.
“Now that the world has a better understanding of the legitimacy of the Hunter Biden laptop story, it is clear that there was a concerted effort to kill the story by defaming John Paul and others,” Isaac’s lawyer Della Rocca told The Federalist. “This destroyed John Paul’s reputation and his business,” Della Rocca added, noting, “We now know how much of a role Representative Schiff and Hunter Biden played in the conspiracy to defame John Paul and it is time they, along with others, are held accountable.”
The lawsuit also proves significant for a second reason: By naming both Hunter Biden and his father’s presidential campaign, Isaac’s case holds the potential to uncover any complicity between the Bidens and the spinning of the story as Russian disinformation. And because Isaac named the presidential campaign and not Joe Biden, there is a chance that portion of the suit can proceed even while Biden is president.
Finally, Isaac’s lawsuit follows revelations that members of the FBI pushed Facebook to censor the story as Russian disinformation. Discovery should reveal whether the FBI, intelligence agencies, or other Democrat operatives pushed Politico, CNN, and other private organizations to block the story and, if so, how.
But first, Isaac will need to withstand a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which will likely be filed in the coming months.
Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.
Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time.
As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.
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