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Hunter Biden sues Rudy Giuliani for 'total annihilation' of digital privacy

Anna Moneymaker
Getty Images

Hunter Biden is suing Rudy Giuliani and an associate for the "total annihilation" of the president's son's digital privacy and data, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who served as then President Trump's attorney, and Robert J. Costello "dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and energy" to hack, tamper with and disseminate over data "that they were given that was taken or stolen from [Biden's] devices or storage platforms."

At the heart of this issue is information obtained from what news reports have said is Hunter Biden's laptop. The lawsuit alleges that, in fact, Giuliani never had possession of Biden's laptop. What he and Costello had, the lawsuit says, was Biden's "external drive" that they called a "laptop." The lawsuit notes that the complaint is not an admission by Biden that his laptop was obtained by a Delaware computer repair shop owner; simply that the owner of the store obtained data, some of which belonged to the president's son.

At least some of the data that [Giuliani and Costello] obtained, copied, and proceeded to hack into and tamper with belongs to" Biden, the complaint alleges. "Plaintiff's data was manipulated, altered and damaged before it was copied and sent to" Giuliani and Costello, but their "illegal hacking and tampering has involved further alterations and damage to the data to a degree that is presently unknown to" Biden.

The lawsuit alleges that the pair's actions are unlawful under California law, and it says Giuliani and Costello have refused to return Biden's data.

Biden's laptop has been the subject of intense scrutiny and speculation since the New York Post reported weeks before the 2020 presidential election that the device was abandoned at the Delaware repair shop in 2019 and then obtained by Giuliani. The Post reported that the data in the laptop showed wrongdoing by then Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who subsequently won the election. Some of the data in the laptop was later ascertained to belong to Hunter Biden.

Hunter Biden's business activities at the time his father was vice president has become a key avenue for the impeachment inquiry launched by House Republicans into the president. No evidence has ever been presented that Joe Biden financially gained from his son's business activities.

Tuesday's filing comes days after Hunter Biden sued the IRS over claims the federal agency unlawfully released his confidential tax return information and failed to safeguard his private records.

The complaint alleges that IRS agents "have targeted and sought to embarrass Mr. Biden via public statements to the media in which they and their representatives disclosed confidential information about a private citizen's tax matters."

The developments come after the president's son was indicted on felony gun charges after a plea deal he struck with prosecutors fell apart. Earlier this year, Biden agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor offenses related to his filing of federal income taxes. Federal authorities also charged him with a felony firearm offense, for which he agreed to enter a pretrial diversion agreement that allows him to avoid prosecution. But that dealfell apart in July when the judge in the case demanded that lawyers from both sides make clear that the deal did not convey broad immunity offered to Biden from prosecution on his business dealings and foreign lobbying.

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Washington Desk