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Lawyer for Delaware shop owner: FBI initially turned down purported Hunter Biden laptop

Attorney Brian Della Rocca provides detailed timeline of client's interactions with FBI, political figures and decries 'smear campaign' against shop owner.

Updated: October 30, 2020 - 3:40pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The family of the Delaware shop owner who says he came into possession of a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden first tried to turn over the computer to the FBI in summer 2019 but was rebuffed, only to have agents return months later during President Trump's impeachment proceedings, his lawyer said Thursday night.

In a lengthy statement to Just the News, attorney Brian Della Rocca provided a detailed timeline of the actions his client, John Paul Mac Isaac, says he took in trying to get authorities to investigate the laptop.

The lawyer also decried public figures on both sides of the aisle for politicizing the episode and for attacking the Delaware computer repairman without having the facts.

Mac Isaac "unwittingly became the target of a smear campaign by doing what he thought was right," Della Rocca said. "John Paul is not a right-wing fanatic, nor is he a Russian hacker."

In the statement that was originally drafted to be an op-ed, Della Rocca made several new revelations about the laptop that has stirred worldwide political intrigue on the eve of the American presidential election, an FBI investigation, and a news media and social media censorship campaign. Among the revelations:

  • A man claiming to be Hunter Biden dropped off three laptops on April 12, 2019 to Mac Isaac's shop to be repaired, and returned two days later with an external hard drive. The man believed to be Hunter Biden eventually abandoned one of the laptops and the external hard drive without paying for them.
  • Mac Isaac's father, a retired Air Force colonel, first tried to provide a copy of the laptop to an FBI office in Albuquerque, N.M., in summer 2019, but the bureau turned him away.
  • FBI agents from Albuquerque, N.M., contacted the father in October 2019, as impeachment proceedings were ongoing in Washington, to discuss the laptop and then to interview the younger Mac Isaac in Delaware. A few weeks later, FBI agents in Delaware seized the original laptop from Mac Isaac.
  • On Oct. 13 of this year, Hunter Biden's attorney contacted Mac Isaac to discuss the hard drive and followed up with an email but no further action.

You can read the lawyer's full statement here:

Three people familiar with the matter told Just the News on Thursday that the FBI has an ongoing investigation into business transactions involving firms associated with Hunter Biden and other business associates.

The investigation began in 2019 around the time the FBI followed up on Mac Isaac's concerns and has since expanded to issues raised by an IRS whistleblower complaint filed a year ago. The probe got new evidence in recent days when Hunter Biden's former business partner Tony Bobulinski turned over documents and other materials during an FBI interview, one person with knowledge of the case said.

The sources, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly, said no decisions have been made about whether wrongdoing occurred or whether charges are warranted against any person or institution.

Here are key excerpts from Della Rocca's statement:

Who is John Paul Mac Isaac?

"By way of background, John Paul has owned his shop for over ten years now. Prior to that, John Paul was the 'Lead Genius' at the Apple Store in Littleton, Colo., and New Castle, Del.  Once, while employed by Apple, he found himself in a situation where, while fixing a customer's iMac, he came across seemingly illegal material. He followed protocol and contacted the authorities. No one questioned John Paul's ethics then."

How did the alleged Hunter Biden laptop come into Mac Isaac's possession?

"Fast-forward to April 12, 2019 when a man claiming to be Hunter Biden walked into his shop. While John Paul was pleased that someone of Hunter Biden's notoriety was in his shop, he did not question why Hunter Biden was there. In fact, Hunter Biden had been referred to John Paul's shop. John Paul is well respected in the community and it would not have been uncommon for his patrons to refer others to his shop. John Paul provided a solution for one of Hunter Biden's three laptops on the spot. Another laptop was a complete write-off but the third laptop required more significant intervention. That laptop remained in the shop with John Paul. Hunter Biden returned two days later with an external hard drive to which John Paul would transfer the information.

According to John Paul, recovering the data was difficult because of the significant liquid damage to the drive. He would boot the computer and transfer as much as he could before the computer shut down. Then, he would boot up the computer again, verify what was copied, and then transfer more data until the computer shut down again. This process repeated several times. During this process, John Paul saw certain pieces of information but, at the time, he did not think anything of it. Instead, John Paul completed the work and contacted Hunter Biden to let him know. Hunter Biden never responded. As requested by Hunter Biden, a secure payment request was sent in an email but was never paid. John Paul contacted him at least one more time but Hunter Biden never responded. The policy of the shop is that items not picked up within 90 days of the completion of the services will be treated as abandoned property."

A first effort to turn over the computer contents to the FBI is turned away

"Around mid-July of 2019, news of Hunter Biden's business dealings with the Ukraine were coming more into focus and John Paul started to get uncomfortable with the information he had seen. He was unsure if the hard drive contained information pertinent to the legal investigation.

At that point, he reached out to his father, a retired Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, for advice about what he should do. They both decided that going to the FBI and handing over the Mac and the drive was their best course of action. Soon thereafter, John Paul's father took a copy of the hard drive to an FBI field office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The FBI turned John Paul's father away."

A return visit from the FBI

"In mid-October of 2019, an FBI Agent reached out to Colonel Mac Isaac and wanted to discuss the Mac and drive. At that point, Colonel Mac Isaac passed along John Paul's contact information. The FBI then reached out to John Paul and met him at his house to discuss John Paul's concerns. On December 9, 2019, the FBI served a Subpoena on John Paul for the computer, the hard drive, and all related paperwork. He willingly gave it to the FBI and was happy to see it go."

How the laptop’s existence became public?

"Out of an abundance of caution, John Paul made a copy of the drive in case he was ever thrown under the bus as a result of what he knew. As John Paul watched the impeachment trial, he wondered why there was no reference to the information he had provided to the FBI. As a result, starting in February of 2020 and until July of 2020, John Paul reached out to several members of Congress to notify them of what he had in his possession. His requests fell on deaf ears.

Out of frustration, in the beginning of September, John Paul reached out to someone he thought would be able to provide the information directly to the President. That person was Rudy Giuliani. A day after John Paul reached out to Giuliani's office, Robert Costello, Rudy Giuliani's lawyer, contacted John Paul to discuss the information and John Paul's concerns.

On September 24, 2020, John Paul then submitted information about the drive to Senator Ron Johnson through the whistleblower link on Senator Johnson's website. After that submission and while Giuliani's office was still trying to verify the information, Senator Johnson released the Senate report on the Biden business dealings."

What Mac Isaac claims to know for certain: 

1. "We know it is Hunter Biden's laptop because we have his signature on the Repair Authorization and Hunter Biden's attorney has reached out to John Paul about the computer."

2. "Hunter Biden never returned to retrieve the information rendering it abandoned property or, in other words, junk. We know that once you throw something into the trash, you relinquish your privacy rights to it, which is why so many investigations include a search of a person's trash."

3. "The FBI confiscated the computer and the external hard drive and left John Paul with a receipt."

4. "The information on the drive was leaked by someone prior to the New York Post exposé. John Paul has not released any information as he is cooperating with law enforcement and to do so could hurt the investigation."

Unanswered questions

"We do not know if all emails released by the New York Post were actually on the hard drive. We do not know if the initial leak was from Senator Johnson's office, from Rudy Giuliani himself, or from somewhere else."

The fallout from Mac Isaac’s actions

"He was trying to get the information to law enforcement and, in doing so, became a victim of politics. Although he is receiving support from many Americans, he is also the subject of death threats and will likely be out of business as a result of this whole affair. This take no prisoners approach to politics is where the problem lies — on both sides of the political aisle. The rest of us can easily get caught up in the information being presented as if it is fact when, in reality, much of what we hear or read is not."

"… The problem is not that John Paul turned over the information to those he believed he could trust, it is that politics today seems to revel in sensation and ignores the collateral damage left in its wake. Not only are our elected officials seemingly happy to obfuscate the facts in order to attack their opponents, they are also perfectly willing to throw everyday Americans under the bus for their own political gain."

Frustration with the media, social media

"Instead of reporting on the matter, news outlets are making the decision themselves as to the veracity of the claims about Hunter Biden's laptop. If you are an avid follower of CNN or Politico, you have already been led to believe that John Paul is a part of an overall Russian disinformation campaign.

"Twitter and Facebook have taken it upon themselves to relegate this story to a level equal to that of conspiracy theories. The actions by these social media platforms further hurt John Paul's reputation by advancing the notion that he is a part of a Russian disinformation campaign."

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