President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden filed a lawsuit Wednesday under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) against a former policy analyst in then-President Donald Trump’s White House for allegedly “hacking into” an “encrypted iPhone backup” as part of related efforts to comb over and expose the “hard drive of the claimed ‘Biden laptop.'”
Hunter Biden filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Garrett Ziegler, whom he described as a “zealot” with a “right-wing agenda,” 1-10 unidentified Does, and Ziegler’s “so-called ‘nonprofit research group'” ICU LLC, doing business as Marco Polo and based in Wyoming.
Ziegler, who according to the lawsuit also worked for former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro as associate director in the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and the other defendants are accused of unlawfully spending “countless hours accessing, tampering with, manipulating, altering, copying and damaging computer data that they do not own and that they claim to have obtained from hacking into Plaintiff’s iPhone data and from scouring a copy of the hard drive of what they claim to be Plaintiff s ‘laptop’ computer.”
In the opening lines of the lawsuit, Biden’s lawyers Paul B. Salvaty, Abbe Lowell, Bryan M. Sullivan Zachary C. Hansen, wrote that while Ziegler “is entitled to his extremist and counterfactual opinions, he has no right to engage in illegal activities to advance his right-wing agenda.”
The California lawsuit comes months after Hunter Biden countersued John Paul Mac Isaac in Delaware federal court, claiming that the laptop repairman invaded his privacy through the “knowing and intentional distribution of Mr. Biden’s personal and sensitive data […] to try and expose Mr. Biden’s data to those that he knew or should have known would intend to create embarrassment and harm for Mr. Biden” and to “assist then-President Trump” in his reelection campaign.
In the counterclaim, Biden made reference to Ziegler, alleging that indicted Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and pardoned Bernard Kerik provided a copy of the data — “more than 120,000 emails, photos, and other files that he claimed belonged to Mr. Biden” — to Ziegler, files that were then uploaded to Marco Polo’s website.
The latest lawsuit was filed that same day that Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives launched an impeachment inquiry to investigate President Biden’s involvement in or knowledge of the son’s foreign business dealings while Joe Biden was the vice president in the Obama administration.
The California suit, alleging that Ziegler “waged a sustained, unhinged and obsessed campaign against Plaintiff and the entire Biden family for more than two years,” now seeks a jury trial, damages, punitive damages, “disgorgement of all money obtained by Defendants as a result of their unlawful and otherwise wrongful conduct,” and an award of attorneys’ fees and costs.
Biden also seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction blocking defendants Ziegler, ICU LLC, the 1-10 Does, and “their officers, agents, employees, and attorneys, and those in active concert or participation with any of them” from “[a]ccessing, tampering with, manipulating or copying Plaintiff’s data.” Biden also asked a judge to restore to him “any money or property which Defendants have acquired by means of such unlawful and unfair conduct including but not limited to any data in their possession that was sent to them or that they obtained from any account, device/hard drive, back up files, ‘cloud’ files or copies of the same belonging to Plaintiff.”
The lawsuit said Biden was left with no choice but to file the case since cease and desist demands went unheeded.
“Rather than comply, Defendants have derided Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s counsel for making the demands, and they have vowed to continue violating the law with impunity,” the filing said. “Within the last two weeks, Defendant Ziegler went so far as to declare on social media that efforts by Plaintiff to serve him with legal process in the future would met with violence: ‘If the US pResident’s son sends a proxy [i.e., a process server] to illegally trespass on my property I will blow their f—ing brains out.'”
The suit alleges three claims in support of the requested judicial relief: that each of the defendants violated the CFAA, a federal statute, that they violated California’s Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, and violated California Business & Professions Code barring unfair competition through “any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice and unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising.”
Biden contends Ziegler et al. violated the CFAA by “intentionally accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access, and thereby obtaining information contained in financial records of one or more financial institutions or of one or more card issuers.”
In addition, Biden claims defendants “knowingly and with intent to defraud, access[ed] a protected computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access, and by means of such conduct further[ed] the intended fraud and obtain[ed] one or more things of value.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the court docket did not list an attorney of record for the defendant(s). It’s unclear if the defendants have been served the lawsuit yet.
Read the suit here.
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