The Twitter Files: Part 7 – The FBI & the Hunter Biden Laptop
Musk, through Schellenberger, releases The Twitter Files 7: The FBI & the Hunter Biden Laptop. The documents aim to show that the FBI and the intelligence community (IC) discredited factual information about Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings both before and after The New York Post revealed the contents of his laptop on October 14, 2020.
1. TWITTER FILES: PART 7
The FBI & the Hunter Biden Laptop
How the FBI & intelligence community discredited factual information about Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings both after and *before* The New York Post revealed the contents of his laptop on October 14, 2020
— Michael Shellenberger (@shellenberger) December 19, 2022
Schellenberger recaps that Biden’s laptop was confiscated by the FBI on Dec 20, 2019, after the agency was alerted by JP Isaac, the owner of Delaware computer store, where Biden had left the laptop for repairs. Even though Isaac had discovered evidence of criminal activity, the FBI had still not contacted him by Aug 2020, so he contacted Rudy Giuliani, who is under FBI surveillance. In early October, Giuliani gives the information to the Post.
At 7pm. October 13, after learning that the Post will publish the story, Biden’s lawyer contacts Isaac. At 9.22pm, FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan sends ten documents to Yoel Roth, Head of Trust & Security at Twitter, through Teleporter, a secure, one-way communications channel from the FBI to Twitter.
The Post’s story is published on October 14. Despite it being factually correct, within hours, Twitter and other social media companies censor the Post’s article, preventing it from spreading and, more importantly, undermining its credibility in the minds of many Americans.
Schellenberger says that during 2020 the FBI and other law enforcement agencies repeatedly primed Roth to dismiss reports of Biden’s laptop as a Russian “hack and leak” operation. They also approached Facebook. Shellenberger shows documents where Chan says there was no new intelligence to support this conclusion. Twitter staff also noted that there was little Russian activity on the site.
[W]e haven’t yet identified activity that we’d typically refer to you (or even flag as interesting in the foreign influence context).
On several ocassions Roth pushed back on the FBI’s claims, and resisted FBI efforts to get Twitter to share data outside the normal search warant process. In July 2020, Chan arranges for temporary Top Secret security clearances for Twitter executives so that the FBI can share information about threats to the upcoming elections. On August 11, 2020, Chan shares information with Roth relating to the Russian hacking organization, APT28, through Teleporter.
Schellenberger notes that there were so many ex-FBI staff at Twitter that they had their own Slack channel. High-profile hires included Jim Baker (Head Counsel), who played a central role in making the case internally for an investigation of Donald Trump, and Dawn Burton (Director of Strategy), the former dep. chief of staff to FBI head James Comey, who initiated the investigation of Trump.
In Sept 2020, Roth participated in an Aspen Institute “tabletop exercise” on a potential “Hack-and-Dump” operation relating to Hunter Biden. Schellenberger says the goal was to shape how the media covered it — and how social media carried it
By mid-Sept, 2020, Chan & Roth had set up an encrypted messaging network so employees from FBI & Twitter could communicate. They also agree to create a “virtual war room” for “all the [Internet] industry plus FBI and ODNI” [Office of the Director of National Intelligence].
On Sept 15, 2020 the FBI’s Laura Dehmlow, who heads up the Foreign Influence Task Force, and Chan, request to give a classified briefing for Baker, without any other Twitter staff, such as Roth, present.
On Oct 14, shortly after The Post publishes the laptop story, Roth says:
It isn’t clearly violative of our Hacked Materials Policy, nor is it clearly in violation of anything else…My personal view on this, unsubstantiated by hard evidence as yet, is that this feels a lot like a somewhat subtle leak operation.
The same day and the next, in response to Roth, Baker repeatedly insists that the Biden materials were either faked, hacked, or both, and a violation of Twitter policy. Schellenberger:
It’s inconceivable Baker believed the Hunter Biden emails were either fake or hacked. The Post had included a picture of the receipt signed by Hunter Biden, and an FBI subpoena showed that the agency had taken possession of the laptop in December 2019.
By 10am, Oct 15, Roth accepts the hacking story:
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 (and was coincidentally reviewed in a very invasive way by someone who coincidentally then handed the materials to Rudy Giuliani). Given the severe risks we saw in this space in 2016, we’re recommending a warning + deamplification pending further information.
In Dec. 2020, Baker and his colleagues sent a note of thanks to the FBI for its work.
Schellenberger notes that the FBI’s influence campaign may have been helped by the fact that it paid Twitter over $3 million for its staff time from Oct 2019.