The enterprise highlighted by a timeline on FBI encounters with the Hunter Biden laptop

When it absolutely, positively has to be buried before the election.

A 25 July 2022 letter from U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray is making the rounds.  In it, the senator informs Garland and Wray that he has received information from “whistleblowers” about biased assessment and suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop and related probes in the fall of 2020.  The biased behavior allegedly came from Timothy Thibault, Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO), and FBI intelligence analyst Brian Auten.

The whistleblowers came forward in response to a May 2022 letter from Grassley asking for information on Thibault, in light of the special agent’s biased, partisan social media postings.  Grassley sent a letter on the same topic to the DOJ IG, also requesting information.

The timeline on the reported activities of Thibault and Auten is put in a very interesting light by juxtaposition with the known sequence of events surrounding the laptop.  A brief initial summary:

Grassley’s whistleblower information is that in August 2020, Brian Auten “opened an assessment which was used by a FBI Headquarters (‘FBI HQ’) team to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation and caused investigative activity to cease.”

Says Grassley:  “Based on allegations, verified and verifiable derogatory information on Hunter Biden was falsely labeled as disinformation.”

Senator Grassley letter of 25 July 2022 (link in text)

Obviously the use of the term “disinformation” is of special interest because of the letter published in October 2020 by “50 current and former intelligence officials” claiming that the Hunter Biden laptop bore the hallmark of a “classic Russian information operation” – the typical product of which is disinformation.

Also in October 2020, Special Agent Thibault is alleged to have “ordered the [Hunter Biden] matter closed without providing a valid reason as required by FBI guidelines.”

Grassley asserts that all of the reporting the FBI had processed incident to the Hunter Biden matter “was either verified or verifiable via criminal search warrants.”  That, he says, is what the whistleblowers have told him.

However, he continues, “Despite the matter being closed in such a way that the investigative avenue might be opened later, it’s alleged that FBI officials, including ASAC Thibault, subsequently attempted to improperly mark the matter in FBI systems so that it could not be opened in the future.”

Senator Grassley letter of 25 July 2022 (link in text)

That’s the gist of the information Grassley is working with, and the reason he wants documentation on what Thibault, Auten, and others whose work was relevant to the laptop matter were doing during that period.

As we’ll see, there are two dates of special interest in the course of the timeline.  As far as I know, the public record doesn’t have specific dates in the months involved.  Presumably Senator Grassley could narrow it down on at least one matter, which he refers to in the 25 July letter.  In August 2020, the same month Auten opened his file on the laptop, Grassley says “Senator Johnson and I received an unsolicited and unnecessary briefing from the FBI that purportedly related to our Biden investigation [an investigation being done separately, not based on the laptop] and a briefing for which the contents were later leaked in order paint [sic] the investigation in a false light.”

It’s not clear what day in August 2020 that unsolicited briefing occurred.  Grassley’s point that it seemed to game appearances about the senators and their investigation of the Bidens appears valid, particularly in light of other activities by congressional Democrats at the time.  It would be useful to know which day the brief was given.

But the dates of special interest are (a) when in August Auten opened his file on the laptop, and (b) when in October 2020 Thibault closed the laptop matter.

That’s because August 2020 is when computer repairman John Paul Mac Isaac began his attempt to contact Rudy Giuliani about the laptop; and – as noted – October 2020 is when the “50 intel officials” tried to shut down public dialogue about the laptop by suggesting it was Russian disinformation.

Meanwhile, the FBI had had the laptop and its contents since December 2019, when its agents retrieved them from Mac Isaac.  Given the incendiary nature of the contents, the delay in Mr. Auten’s generation of a file on the matter stands out in strong relief.

Alongside the FBI’s handling of the laptop was the aforementioned activity by Hill Democrats in 2020.  In the context of that activity, Grassley’s sense that there was an ulterior motive for the unsolicited FBI brief to him and Ron Johnson in August 2020 is understandable.

YouTube video

We had several previews of that Democratic activity back in 2020, when the Democrats’ theme-pushing – their attempts to solidify a narrative that anything adverse published about the Bidens was Russian disinformation – kept running afoul of the Office of the DNI.  It’s not just a reasonable conclusion:  it’s highly likely that that insistent pushing of a “Russian disinfo” theme was all part of the same Democratic info campaign, intended not just to deflect politically damaging information prior to the November election, but to impugn the Grassley-Johnson investigation.

It’s likely, in fact, that it was a next phase of the Impeachment I campaign, which had the same objective of impugning any facts about the Bidens’ activities as election-undermining conspiracy theories planted by Russia.

This timeline Is nowhere close to comprehensive, but the links, which include some other timelines, will expand on the background.

The short(ish), focused version of the timeline

12 April 2019:  Hunter Biden drops off his devices – three laptops with varying degrees of physical damage – at the repair shop run by John Paul Mac Isaac in Wilmington, Delaware.  (Most of the timeline for the laptop saga per se is taken from Miranda Devine’s Laptop from Hell, Chapter 21, starting on p. 193 of the 2021 hardback edition.)

21 April 2019:  Volodymyr Zelensky is elected president of Ukraine.  (This link has one of the extended timelines I referred to above.)

24 April 2019:  Then-President Trump recalls U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from Ukraine.  If not something rotten, there seems to be something questionable there.

25 April 2019:  Joe Biden announces his run for president in the 2020 election.

Biden goes marching in. Oct 2020 campaign event in Warm Springs, GA; staged by M. Night Shyamalan. Fox News video via Twitter

12 July 2019:  The laptop and a hard drive, which Hunter Biden never came back for, become abandoned property at the Delaware computer repair shop.

Note that at this point, no information suggests the FBI or DOJ is aware of the laptop.

19 July 2019:  DNI Dan Coats appoints intelligence official Shelby Pierson to a newly created position “dedicated to overseeing and coordinating election security efforts across the broader intelligence community.”  Trust me for now; you want to know Coats did this, and when.

25 July 2019:  Trump and Zelensky hold their famous phone call.

12 August 2019:  The infamous “whistleblower” report on the Trump-Zelensky phone call is filed – bizarrely, since it’s not about an intelligence community issue, with the Intelligence Community IG.  (Another timeline link.  This one includes the very interesting and probably related concurrent drama of the resignation of then-DNI Dan Coats and his deputy, Susan Gordon.  Both resigned just after the “whistleblower” complaint was filed.)

The “complaint” was also sent to Adam Schiff and Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr on 12 August 2019.  But they said nothing about it until September 2019.

Pixabay; author

The “whistleblower,” as has been frequently noted, was on Vice President Biden’s national security staff for some time in the final years of the Obama administration.  Two close associates of the “whistleblower” in fact were hired on to Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee staff in 2019:  one in February, and one…

August 2019:  (Date unknown)  Former NSC staffer Sean Misko, an associate of the phone call “whistleblower,” is hired on to Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee staff.

26 August 2019:  ODNI sends the “complaint” to DOJ for an assessment as to whether it meets the “urgent concern” standard for ODNI to forward it to Congress.  This formality in spite of documented evidence that Schiff and Burr already have it.

September 2019:  (Date unknown)  John Paul Mac Isaac, having reviewed material on the surviving laptops, decides the FBI should be informed.  His father, a retired Air Force officer, connects with the FBI field office in Albuquerque to seek guidance.  The field office doesn’t want a copy of the laptop contents offered by Mac Isaac père, or the information the younger Mac Isaac can provide.

Note that this is the first time the FBI was advised of the existence of the laptop.  Although Miranda Devine doesn’t state that the contact with the FBI in Albuquerque was made in September (her account suggests it could have been as early as August), Fox News reported at the time that it happened in September 2019.

We can assume this information was not ignored.  The FBI knew at that point about the laptop and was presumably forming intentions about what to do.  That means people at other federal agencies probably knew about it as well, starting with DOJ staff.  Consider, in this light, the developments of September 2019 and the congressional hearings that followed.

3 September 2019:  DOJ says the “whistleblower complaint” doesn’t meet the “urgent concern” standard as an intelligence matter.

This leads to some theater with Schiff pretending to seek a copy of the “complaint” – which he’s had since 12 August – as the hook for a media campaign in which an anti-Trump narrative is introduced.  The implication of the dramatic “seeking” by Schiff is that the “complaint” was being suppressed.  The anti-Trump narrative becomes the narrative for Impeachment I.

9 September 2019:  Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee begins an investigation of the Trump-Zelensky phone call.

19 September 2019:  The first public media report emerges on the “whistleblower complaint.”

“Sometime in the fall of 2019”:  Michael Podhorzer, an assistant to the president of the AFL-CIO, “became convinced the [2020] election was headed for disaster–and determined to protect it.”  This is how Molly Ball began her notorious saga of the “cabal” (TIME’s word, not mine) that rig-fortified the 2020 election to keep Trump from winning it.

I include this in the timeline because the perspective is essential to understand that nothing done by the Democrats, media, or Big Tech in 2020 was being done randomly or in a vacuum, of either cabal-coordination or insider information.  According to Molly Ball’s account – which clearly had the blessing of the cabal itself (or TIME wouldn’t have published it) – the original impetus for the “shadow campaign” emerged in the fall of 2019, with Mr. Podhorzer as the center of organizing gravity around which it coalesced.

Via YouTube (Godfather video clip)

It’s obviously interesting that Podhorzer was struck by his bolt of lightning during the House hearings on the Trump-Zelensky phone call (the fall of 2019), which became the pretext for Impeachment I.  If we were to apply analytical thought to the Ball article, we would consider the likelihood that Podhorzer didn’t just get hit by some stray voltage out of the blue.  An alternative theory would obviously merit critical thought:  that he was a good candidate to coordinate the rig-the-vote aspect of a Stop Trump campaign, while other necessary aspects of the political rigging were tended to elsewhere, and that it was all part of the same effort as Impeachment I.

In that regard, it’s worth reviewing Ball’s summary of the “shadow campaign” to rig-fortify 2020:

For more than a year, a loosely organized coalition of operatives scrambled to shore up America’s institutions as they came under simultaneous attack from a remorseless pandemic and an autocratically inclined President. Though much of this activity took place on the left, it was separate from the Biden campaign and crossed ideological lines, with crucial contributions by nonpartisan and conservative actors. The scenario the shadow campaigners were desperate to stop was not a Trump victory. It was an election so calamitous that no result could be discerned at all, a failure of the central act of democratic self-governance that has been a hallmark of America since its founding.

Their work touched every aspect of the election. They got states to change voting systems and laws and helped secure hundreds of millions in public and private funding. They fended off voter-suppression lawsuits, recruited armies of poll workers and got millions of people to vote by mail for the first time. They successfully pressured social media companies to take a harder line against disinformation and used data-driven strategies to fight viral smears.  They executed national public-awareness campaigns that helped Americans understand how the vote count would unfold over days or weeks, preventing Trump’s conspiracy theories and false claims of victory from getting more traction. After Election Day, they monitored every pressure point to ensure that Trump could not overturn the result. 

Ms. Ball attempts to drape the cabal’s campaign in nobility:

That’s why the participants want the secret history of the 2020 election told, even though it sounds like a paranoid fever dream–a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information. They were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it.

Reading through the details of the shadow campaign, it’s clear that it was too comprehensive a group effort to be unrelated to the other things that were being done at the same time.  The idea is unrealistic that it had no intersection with Adam Schiff’s disinfo-leak shenanigans on Capitol Hill in 2020, or the coordination of media themes about the election, including the Russian disinformation allegations and the incessant flogging of the theme that Joe Biden was being victimized by them, and Trump was involved.

Indeed, one of the most egregious incidents of Big Tech affecting to crack down on disinformation was the suppression by Facebook and Twitter of the New York Post’s October 2020 articles on the Hunter Biden laptop, and Twitter’s actual suspension of the Post’s user account for more than two weeks that month – a suspension that ended less than a week before Election Day.  (See October 2020 entries below in this timeline.)

The laptop was a direct refutation of the theme that negative reports about Biden were Russian disinformation.  News about the laptop had to be suppressed.

Michael Podhorzer’s role is recounted as relating mostly to organizing the rigging of the vote.  But the overall context of the Ball article, along with other information about what the “cabal” was doing, indicates that a larger enterprise was in progress the whole time.

I don’t suggest that the timing of Podhorzer’s epiphany was due to the discovery of the Biden laptop, which again occurred for meaningful purposes in or about September 2019, when Mac Isaac Senior told the FBI field office in Albuquerque about it.

But we have good reason to suppose that all the actions of the “cabal” after that date were taken in the knowledge that that laptop was out there.

Pixabay

October 2019:  (Date unknown)  The FBI contacts John Paul Mac Isaac about the earlier report on the laptop made by Mac Isaac Senior to the field office in Albuquerque.

November 2019:  (Date unknown)  The FBI visits John Paul Mac Isaac and makes a copy of the laptop contents, but doesn’t take custody of the laptop.

Note that Mac Isaac has made a copy of the laptop contents for himself.

November 2019:  (Date unknown)  Another pulse-check with the “cabal”:  Molly Ball recounts that “In November 2019, Mark Zuckerberg invited nine civil rights leaders to dinner at his home, where they warned him about the danger of the election-related falsehoods that were already spreading unchecked.”

This meeting was explicitly about “pressur[ing] [social media] platforms to enforce their rules, both by removing content or accounts that spread disinformation and by more aggressively policing it in the first place.”

Per Ball:  “ ‘It took pushing, urging, conversations, brainstorming, all of that to get to a place where we ended up with more rigorous rules and enforcement,’ says Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who attended the dinner and also met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and others.”

Mark Zuckerberg speaks with NASA astronauts. YouTube, GamongwithSlinky

Social media’s suppression of information about the 2020 election has recently been eclipsed by news of Mark Zuckerberg’s funding of official election activities in swing states, which enabled “Zuckerbucks” to bias the execution of those functions.  (Peter Schweizer’s Foundation for Government Accountability has excellent summaries here; Mollie Hemingway also wrote extensively about Zuckerberg’s intervention in the 2020 election in her 2021 book Rigged.)

It’s important, as we assess the institutional handling of Hunter Biden investigations by media and the FBI and DOJ, to remember that there was a cabal cognizant of basically everything that was being done.  It’s impossible for Zuckerberg to have not known that his money way going to sway the vote toward Biden in the swing states, and that his premier social media platform would shut down 80% of the traffic to the NY Post story about Hunter Biden when he censored the story in October 2020.

It’s impossible for everyone in the cabal to have not known that.  The plan to engage in exactly such suppression of content was in progress at least as early as November 2019.

5 December 2019:  After an autumn spent “probing” the circumstances of the Trump-Zelensky phone call (which Trump released in its entirety in September), and in particular alleging that Trump’s intention was to damage Biden as an opposition candidate for the 2020 election, Nancy Pelosi calls for the drafting of articles of impeachment on President Trump.  Throughout the 2019 congressional hearings on the phone call, the media have touted the theme that Trump is attacking Biden with Russian disinformation.

9 December 2019:  The FBI finally subpoenas the laptop devices from Mac Isaac.  The original devices are turned over to the FBI.  It will be eight more months, according to Grassley’s whistleblower sources, before intelligence analyst Brian Auten opens his assessment file on the laptop.

But there is no reason to believe the FBI did nothing with the laptop material between September 2019 and August 2020.  Knowledge of the laptop trove’s existence could have affected decisions at FBI and DOJ in September 2019 and every month after that.  It could also have been a factor in the courses of action by congressional Democrats and their connections at ODNI and DHS.  (Remember, the Democratic Party’s institutional commitment was clearly to Joe Biden as the presidential candidate at this point.  Top challengers Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren got no love from the DNC.)

17 December 2019:  The House of Representatives votes to impeach Trump.

2020:  (Throughout the year) According to whistleblowers cited in Chuck Grassley’s 25 July 2022 letter, the FBI “developed information … about Hunter Biden’s criminal financial and related activity.”

Again, the FBI has had the laptop and a separate hard drive in its custody since December 2019.  A copy of the contents has been with the FBI since November 2019.  And Hunter Biden is being investigated by the FBI.

16 January 2020:  The House of Representatives conveys articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.

House impeachment managers ceremonially convey articles of impeachment to Senate on 6 Jan 2020. USA Today video, YouTube

22 January 2020:  NPR’s Noel King presents a recording of intel official Shelby Pierson (see 19 July 2019 entry) in an interview on 21 January, agreeing with King that the intel community has not drawn conclusions about the specific goals of Russia’s 2020 election interference effort.  About a week earlier, Pierson made similar statements at a conference on election security sponsored by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (see last link).

31 January 2020:  The Senate votes down the articles of impeachment, ending the process of Impeachment I.

13 February 2020:  Shelby Pierson reportedly gives a very different brief to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, informing them that Russia’s election interference in 2020 is intended to support Trump and damage Biden.  The New York Times reports this on 20 February 2020, emphasizing that Trump is said to be upset about the brief.

The same day:

20 February 2020:  Trump makes Richard Grenell acting DNI, while Grenell retains his post as U.S. Ambassador to Germany.  The NYT article on the Russian interference brief insinuates that Trump has made this appointment out of pique at the thrust of the Pierson brief a week earlier.

26 February 2020:  New Acting DNI Ric Grenell issues a rare public “clarification” that the ODNI briefer on 13 February, Ms. Pierson, did not characterize Russian interference as alleged in the 20 February NYT article.

The implication is that the NYT sources were motivated to plant a different story about that.  There is reason to suspect, at this point, that a campaign to flog the Russian-disinformation theme for the 2020 election is underway, and that it may make up its own “facts” about the U.S. intelligence position on the matter.

That in turn puts former DNI Coats’s creation of Shelby Pierson’s position, back in July 2019, in an interesting light.  Whoever’s motive it was to create the position, it was obvious that the person with that election security portfolio in the intel community would be a big target for Biden-backers in search of “leaked” narrative themes.

Richard Grenell. EWTN News video, YouTube

It’s notable that Grenell seemed to immediately grasp all that, and responded promptly.  The ODNI statement contained this language about the 13 February brief:  “This was an interagency briefing with pre-coordinated messages that had been briefed to other congressional committees.”

If you aren’t fluent in federalese, that means “I’m emphasizing that our messages are coordinated and consistent, and we – not the New York Times – will tell you what they are and aren’t.”

It won’t be the last time the DNI has to emphasize that in 2020.

3 March 2020:  Checking in with the “cabal,” Michael Podhorzer on this date “drafted a three-page confidential memo titled ‘Threats to the 2020 Election.’”

According to Molly Ball, “The memo laid out four categories of challenges: attacks on voters, attacks on election administration, attacks on Trump’s political opponents and ‘efforts to reverse the results of the election.’”

Podhorzer then “began working from his laptop at his kitchen table, holding back-to-back Zoom meetings for hours a day with his network of contacts across the progressive universe …”

“Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” Night Owl TV, YouTube video clip

Oddly enough, it was also in March, while Podhorzer the highly paid AFL-CIO advisor engaged in this charmingly homely shoestring effort, that “activists appealed to Congress to steer COVID relief money to election administration.”  Light bulbs began popping spontaneously across the progressive universe, like visions appearing to Mickey and Judy of a Broadway show in the barn to save Grandma’s farm.  The race to rig-fortify the 2020 election was well and truly on.

Fast forward to June 2020.

June 2020:  (Exact dates not given)  Molly Ball pointed out in her TIME article that the “cabal’s” career, while propelled mostly by progressive Democrats, came to sweep in participants from “across the aisle” as it developed throughout 2020.

Protecting the election would require an effort of unprecedented scale. As 2020 progressed, it stretched to Congress, Silicon Valley and the nation’s statehouses. It drew energy from the summer’s racial-justice protests, many of whose leaders were a key part of the liberal alliance. And eventually it reached across the aisle, into the world of Trump-skeptical Republicans appalled by his attacks on democracy.

A prime candidate for the across-the-aisle contingent was the Transition Integrity Project, a series of war games run by Republican and Democratic NeverTrumpers, which assumed Donald Trump would nefariously challenge the 2020 election.

Starting in June 2020, the TIP played out different election-challenge scenarios in which Trump would do everything wrong in relation to the election.

Most of the attention when this was first reported in 2020, and in the years since, has been on the prediction that Trump would question the voting results and the assignment of electors from the states.  Accounts of the TIP war games indicate they naturally focused on that aspect of the problem.

But as with the Ball narrative as a whole, the TIP war game series reminds us that as Congress and the media were performing their ritual dance with gamed “intelligence,” and John Paul Mac Isaac was pondering what to do with the contents of the Biden laptop, a “cabal” was moving across the progressive universe to rig-fortify the same election that the gamed “intelligence” and the laptop were relevant to.

Consider who was involved in the TIP war games.  With names like John Podesta, Jennifer Granholm, Donna Brazile, and Bill Kristol, there’s no way senior Democrats on Capitol Hill were unaware of them; or, indeed, were unaware of the “cabal,” whose activists had appealed in March 2020 for COVID relief funding to support the vote-by-mail plan.

War game villain.

The most pointed intersection of the “cabal” and the election theme about Biden being targeted by Russian disinfo was the social media suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop just before the election.  But it would be foolish to imagine that’s the only time the efforts overlapped.  If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that connections among Democratic election-rigging activities are probably more numerous and pervasive than we think – not less.

13 July 2020:  As recounted in the Grassley letter of 25 July 2022, Congressional Democrats send a letter to FBI Director Wray requesting a defensive briefing to members of Congress.  Their concern is that “Congress appears to be the target of a concerted foreign interference campaign, which seeks to launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity, public debate, and the presidential election in November.”

Russia, by this allegation, is targeting Congress in particular with this interference campaign.  Russia is implied to be using the Grassley-Johnson probe to shovel disinfo about the Bidens into U.S. politics.

Orient your thinking:  this is senior members of Congress requesting a brief from the FBI on something the intel community has not suggested is happening.  The origin of this concern from the Democratic leaders isn’t the U.S. intel community.

16 July 2020: Democratic Senators Peters and Wyden (ranking members of the Homeland Security and Finance Committees) “requested a briefing on matters related to [Senator Grassley’s] and Senator Johnson’s Biden investigation from the very same FBI HQ team that discredited the derogatory Hunter Biden information.”  The FBI briefing team requested (i.e., the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force) is the team whistleblowers have since linked with Special Agent Thibault and analyst Brian Auten.

To reiterate, these were the FBI officials who are said to have quashed the Hunter Biden laptop matter as “disinformation.”  In July 2020, the FBI had had contents from the laptop since November 2019, and the laptop itself since December 2019.

23 July 2020Politico reports that in response to packets of information sent to U.S. lawmakers by Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, Democrats are “sounding the alarm” that it’s a “disinformation plot” attacking Joe Biden, and Russia is behind it.  The public already knows Rudy Giuliani is behind it; he brokered the transaction.  The Democrats’ allegation is that it’s disinfo injected by Russia.  (Their allegation ignores the point that the information is verifiable from Ukrainian law enforcement records.)

29 July 2020Politico reports on a growing dispute between Democrats and Republicans in the Intelligence “Gang of Eight” (the respective leaders of the parties and intel committees in the two chambers of Congress) on election intelligence.  Specifically, the Democrats want themes to be briefed to the American public as intelligence community conclusions:  that Russia is interfering to boost Trump, and to defame Biden with fabricated information about the Bidens and Ukraine.

Politico summarizes it this way:

The latest dispute began after the Democratic half of the Gang of Eight, which includes Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, released a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray last week demanding a briefing for all lawmakers centering on unspecified threats to the integrity of the 2020 election. [See the 13 July 2020 entry.  Politico refers to the public release of that letter. – J.E.]

POLITICO later reported that those threats mentioned in a separate, classified letter included concerns about Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) investigations targeting Biden and his son Hunter, and efforts by Russian-aligned Ukrainians to influence GOP lawmakers with Kremlin-backed disinformation. Johnson has since responded to the claims, accusing Democrats in a scathing letter of running their own disinformation campaign to undermine and discredit his investigations.

31 July 2020:  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly expresses anger when ODNI counterintelligence official Bill Evanina (formerly with the FBI) fails to brief to Congress what she wants to hear about Russian meddling in the 2020 election.  As outlined by Politico two days before, what Pelosi wants to hear is that Russia is trying to defame Joe Biden with whatever allegations emerge about his and his son’s dealings with Ukraine.

(Note:  I wrote all this up at the time, in the summer of 2020 – links are in this article, and may also be found herehereherehere, and here – but many readers probably won’t remember that.  What this info campaign by the Hill Democrats clarifies is that the effort to turn the Bidens’ questionable activities into a themed accusation against Trump was a coordinated enterprise by Democrats and media.  See the activities of the “cabal” for the probable scope of that enterprise.  Suppressing the Biden laptop was – frankly, without reasonable doubt – a conscious component of the enterprise.  Throughout the time Hill Democrats were alternately seeking briefs from the FBI and berating its briefers for not pitching them enough accusations about Russia defaming Biden, the FBI was investigating the Bidens and had the Biden laptop.  Which in its turn proves how deeply and profitably Joe, Hunter, and Jim Biden were involved in dealings with Ukraine, China, and other countries.)

August 2020:  (Date unknown)  The brief described by Grassley in his 25 July 2022 letter (p. 2)  takes place, in which he and Senator Johnson “received an unsolicited and unnecessary briefing from the FBI that purportedly related to our Biden investigation and a briefing for which the contents were later leaked in order paint the investigation in a false light.”  Grassley doesn’t clarify whether this was linked to the Democrats’ 13 July 2020 letter, and he doesn’t cite the evidence of its contents being leaked; e.g., a media article.  I haven’t been able to confidently identify a candidate for the latter.

There are numerous media stories insinuating that Russia is behind the information being probed by Grassley and Johnson, but fingering one as the result of a leak about this particular brief in August 2020 has been elusive.

August 2020:  (Date unknown)  FBI intelligence analyst Brian Auten “open(s)” the “assessment which was used by a FBI Headquarters (‘FBI HQ’) team to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation and caused investigative activity to cease.”  The team is the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force, which Hill Democrats asked for a brief from in the 16 July 2020 entry above.

Brian Auten, meanwhile, was closely involved in Crossfire Hurricane, and as noted by the Washington Free Beacon, was later tagged by the DOJ IG for, among other things, “failing to advise” other team members of inconsistencies and credibility problems with the Steele dossier.  As with Special Agent Thibault, Chuck Grassley is concerned about Auten’s motives because of Auten’s prior history of unprofessional conduct and apparent bias.

Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Wikipedia

Note, in case it needs saying, that this is especially significant given that both instances of Auten’s involvement are about bias in presidential election-related investigations in which Donald Trump was a candidate.  No analyst worth his salt would fail to see that as a very particular thread of consistent bias.

27 August 2020:  John Paul Mac Isaac, reportedly prompted by seeing Rudy Giuliani speak on TV about the Biden links to Ukraine, sends the first email to Giuliani hoping to apprise the former mayor and federal prosecutor of the Biden laptop’s existence.  (Miranda Devine cites this date in Laptop from Hell, p. 195.)

Fox News video

I remind readers the FBI was reportedly watching Giuliani’s cloud-hosted IT services prior to this time, surveillance that included email.  In an interview in late April 2021, Giuliani said this was happening during the first Trump impeachment trial (i.e., December 2019-January 2020) in connection with his representation of Trump, and in the same interview connected the monitoring with his (Giuliani’s) work investigating Biden activities in Ukraine.

The FBI could monitor such activity in a target’s cloud-involved communications profile without getting a probable-cause warrant from a court.  (At the most, in Giuliani’s Ukraine-related case, the FBI might need to invoke a national security letter to get the cloud-host to turn at least the metadata over.  The FBI might get access to contents, per se, by tying Giuliani to a FARA probe centered on his or an associate’s link to Giuliani’s Biden-Ukraine investigations.)

Thus, it’s not a stretch to suppose the FBI could be doing it again at any time, including in August 2020.  Especially with the probe being spearheaded by the Foreign Influence Task Force, which allegedly sought to discredit and bury the eminently provable Biden laptop.

Without asserting specific certainty, we may consider it likely that the FBI saw the email from Mac Isaac (the metadata, if not the contents) at about the same time Giuliani did.  Merely knowing Mac Isaac had contacted Giuliani would be enough to inform the FBI the game had changed with respect to the Hunter Biden laptop.

Moreover, it’s reasonably very likely that Mac Isaac was under the same sort of surveillance after his first direct interaction with the FBI in November 2019.  If Mac Isaac used telecom-served means to discuss the idea of contacting Giuliani with anyone prior to his email on 27 August 2020, it’s quite possible the FBI already had an inkling of what he was about to do.

YouTube video

We’ve learned from Russiagate/Spygate that it’s never a good idea to dismiss the opportunities the FBI and broader U.S. intel community have to conduct surveillance of Americans and gain knowledge of what their targets are doing, long before more old-fashioned shoe-leather methods, accompanied by old-school warrants, are used.  Rather, it’s mere analytical thoroughness and prudence to assume such surveillance was likely to happen.

In summary, the FBI probably knew Mac Isaac was giving Giuliani a copy of the laptop contents at the time he did it.  We can assume DOJ knew whatever the FBI knew, and can reasonably factor into our analysis the likelihood that Democrats on Capitol Hill, by September 2020, also knew the laptop would have to surface soon.  It’s not a slam-dunk – let me be clear on that – but it’s probable enough to carry with us moving forward.

28 August 2020:  DNI John Ratcliffe reportedly informs Congress by letter that the intel community will shift to providing written intel updates rather than closed-door, in-person briefings.  The topic at issue is election interference by Russia.  The reason for the new policy is that Ratcliffe doesn’t want lawmakers distorting intelligence conclusions with leaks that can be spun however the lawmakers want.

Remember the “clarification” Ric Grenell had to issue after just such a “spin” episode with a classified brief in February 2020.

Factor in also the Politico reporting in July 2020, which chronicled the Democrats’ dyspeptic pursuit of briefs on conclusions the intel community apparently hadn’t reached.  There is no reason to think the USIC thought Russia was behind all the bad news about Biden and Ukraine, yet was steadfastly refusing to tell Congress that, even behind closed doors.  The USIC wasn’t saying it because the USIC had not reached such a conclusion.

The Democrats nevertheless wanted the IC to inject that conclusion, purporting to be from “intelligence,” into the public set of talking points on Biden and Ukraine.

Then-Rep. John Ratcliffe participates in impeachment debate in 2019. Fox News video

My summation at the time:

Instead of playing Congress’s game, Ratcliffe is going to limit the elected officials’ opportunities to pretend they were told something at an in-person brief.  When the IC has information to convey, it will do so via a written record the Democrats on the Hill can’t preempt or alter.

Again, this struggle over the Biden-Ukraine narrative was raging throughout the summer, while the FBI had the Hunter Biden laptop, had had it since December 2019, and according to Grassley’s sources was conducting a wider-ranging investigation of Hunter Biden the entire time.  No way around it; that’s disgusting.

September 2020:  (Date unknown)  Per the Grassley letter of 25 July 2022, “Investigators from the … FBI HQ team … in communication with FBI agents responsible for the Hunter Biden information targeted by [Brian] Auten’s assessment … placed their findings with respect to whether reporting was disinformation in a restricted access sub-file reviewable only by the particular agents responsible for uncovering the specific information.”

The Grassley letter raises the obvious question whether these investigators wanted to keep quiet their dismissal of the laptop contents (and presumably other-source material) as “disinformation.”  As Grassley’s comments imply, sequestering the assessment argues an attempt to evade supervisory scrutiny.

Once more, keep in mind that this is being done at the same time a Democratic campaign to depict adverse information about the Bidens as Russian disinformation is sweating all over Capitol Hill and the media.

Speaking of which…

9 September 2020:  Adam Schiff tweets about receiving a “whistleblower complaint” from an analyst at the Department of Homeland Security.  The “complaint” alleges that the Trump administration has been altering intelligence to suppress evidence that the Russians are interfering with the U.S. election.

In the ensuing days, it comes to light that the “whistleblower,” formerly an FBI analyst, has failed to toe the party line on the nature of Antifa following the George Floyd protests, and among other exotic details was profiled as a sort of “Terminator” by Esquire in 2007.

For some reason or other, this new Schiff-whistleblower gambit sinks quickly with little trace.  It does, however, leave a marker indicating that DHS is another agency where manufacturing the intel-suppression theme, to accuse Trump and Russia of election interference, is a thing.

14 October 2020:  The New York Post first reports the existence of the Hunter Biden laptop, describing its provenance and previewing its contents.  This is the first public information about the laptop.

14 October 2020: Facebook and Twitter immediately step in to limit sharing of the Post story on the Biden laptop.  As previewed earlier in the timeline, the rapid reaction evokes, at the very least, the participation of Big Tech platforms in the “cabal” (TIME’s word, not mine) colluding to make sure Biden becomes the next president.  Shortly thereafter the Post’s Twitter account is actually suspended due to the laptop story, and is not reinstated for a resumption of tweeting privileges until 30 October.  Twitter loosens its clampdown on the Post article itself by 17 October, which means that other users (but not the suspended NY Post account) can share it.

Further particulars on this censorship incident are available all over the Web.  The important point is that Big Tech intervened to suppress exactly the news that contradicted the theme about Biden being a “disinfo” target of Russia, as part of Russia’s election interference campaign.

Big Blue Bird is watching you. ‘1984’ trailer, YouTube; bird images Pixabay; Author

19 October 2020:  The “50 intelligence officials” publish their letter claiming that “the arrival on the US political scene of emails purportedly belonging to Vice President Biden’s son Hunter … has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”

I explained here, on 20 October 2020, why the Biden laptop and its contents actually had no classic earmarks of a Russian information operation, starting with the point that any info operation relying on Hunter Biden to abandon a laptop with a legally-blind Delaware computer repairman who then had to deliver a copy of the laptop’s contents to Rudy Giuliani before the 2020 election in order to turn the disinfo into election interference, was too elaborate and ridiculous even for those diabolical plotters in the Russian FSB.

But that was aside from the point that there are real earmarks of Russian information ops, and the laptop’s history didn’t exhibit any of them.  Read the article for more on all of that.

October 2020:  (Date unknown)  According to the Grassley letter of 25 July 2022, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Thibault ordered “an avenue of additional derogatory Hunter Biden reporting” closed.  This is implied to be an avenue separate from the laptop; i.e., something that would corroborate and presumably augment the laptop contents.

“My office,” says Grassley in his recent letter, “has been made aware that FBI agents responsible for this information were interviewed by the FBI HQ team in furtherance of Auten’s assessment. It’s been alleged that the FBI HQ team suggested to the FBI agents that the information was at risk of disinformation; however, according to allegations [i.e., from the whistleblowers], all of the reporting was either verified or verifiable via criminal search warrants.”

Grassley continues:  “ASAC Thibault allegedly ordered the matter closed without providing a valid reason as required by FBI guidelines. Despite the matter being closed in such a way that the investigative avenue might be opened later, it’s alleged that FBI officials, including ASAC Thibault, subsequently attempted to improperly mark the matter in FBI systems so that it could not be opened in the future.”

Closing out a controversial matter. ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ video clip, YouTube

The timeline ends here for now.  We don’t have a date for Thibault’s close-out of the “additional avenue” of derogatory information, but the supposition that it was shortly after the NY Post article on 14 October seems sound.

In summary:  the dates surrounding the laptop are obviously important, and what’s particularly interesting is watching it thrum slowly into range in 2019 and 2020, as a sort of torpedo stealthily approaching the Russian-disinformation theme built up by Democrats and the media to protect Biden on his family’s Ukraine activities.

The Democrats in Congress are seen pushing to establish a prior narrative that depicts any derogatory information about the Bidens as “Russian disinformation,” planted to help Trump.  That thread got its original impetus from a prejudicial and fact-free interpretation of the Trump-Zelensky phone call in July 2019, and carried through Impeachment I and the summer of 2020 with the briefs, leaks, and pressure on the intel community from Capitol Hill.

The same Hill Democrats, starting in early 2020, were pushing the “cabal’s” plan to transform voting practices across America, basically to make it easier for Zuckerbucks and related activities by other activists to affect the actual outcome of an election.  With the same officials performing interconnected functions in the cabal’s strategy, it strains credulity to suggest the senior Democrats weren’t witting participants in it.

Surprise. U.S. Mark 46 torpedo image Wikipedia; Author

The FBI knew about the laptop by September of 2019, and it’s virtually certain others in the “cabal’s” progressive universe, including lawmakers on Capitol Hill, knew about it too.  Whenever the “50 intelligence officials” found about it, the whole history of even an incomplete timeline makes clear that they didn’t have to have a sit-down coordination meeting in October 2020 with people at the FBI, like Auten and Thibault, to share the same “Russian disinformation” perspective about it.

Rather, the defensive move of calling every form of adverse information about the Bidens and their overseas dealings “Russian disinformation” was a common theme across the progressive universe, throughout the 2020 election cycle.  Like all the other stories parroted by mainstream news affiliates throughout the U.S., it was the prescribed way to talk about the matter.  Hill Democrats spent much of 2020 trying to force the U.S. intel community to talk about it that way.  We can know elements of the cabal were at work in the suppression events of October 2020, because everyone used the same terms and the same theme.

The laptop just threatened to blow it all up below the water line.

Feature image:  Hunter Biden, CNN video; Pixabay; Author.

 

8 thoughts on “The enterprise highlighted by a timeline on FBI encounters with the Hunter Biden laptop”

  1. Revised repost re: Obama’s ILLEGAL SPYING aka Warrantless Surveillance aka false or manufactured premises for FISA Warrants.

    Ø surveilled/spied on anyone and everyone he wanted!

    The Press – https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/05/20/shredding-the-constitution-obamas-attack-on-the-associated-press/?utm_term=.132867cdc4a7

    Congress – https://www.redstate.com/streiff/2017/03/05/flashback.-remember-obama-used-nsa-spy-congress/

    During the 2015-16 campaign, Ø used his Executive branch agencies to (try to) help Hillary win and after the election to try to remove President Trump and thus extend his own power and agenda past his lawful term. Hence the house down the street from the White House.

    Obama spied on Trump campaign – https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/999878016766361600.html

    Obama’s Illegal warrantless surveillance was not limited to the Trump campaign, or the press, or congress.

    There was such a dramatic rise in warrantless surveillance during the O years that it alarmed even the leftist ACLU:

    Obama changed the law twice (2013 & 2017) to make it easier to conduct warrantless data gathering:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/12/obama-us-intelligence-greater-access-warrantless-data-foreign-targets

    *http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/us/in-secret-court-vastly-broadens-powers-of-nsa.html

    85% of Obama’s warrantless surveillance searches were illegal: P 82 – https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/icotr/51117/2016_Cert_FISC_Memo_Opin_Order_Apr_2017.pdf

    Regarding spying on Trump – The FISA warrants were merely window-dressing! Øbama was likely surveilling Trump and his family, team, et al, without a warrant for a year at least, probably longer.

    When Nunes busted them – it all came out! We are just beginning to learn about the crimes committed by this lawless and unqualified traitor in the White House from 2008-2016.

  2. PS – Thank you for covering this matter.

    It will take a while to absorb your very detailed report on the Biden Laptop and the machinations of the agencies’ attempts to hide/cover up the contents.

    We always have total confidence in your accuracy and analysis of the facts in evidence.

    Only the Epstein client list more thoroughly locked down.

  3. The fix was in from the start. Remember, the Secret Service retrieved Hunter Biden’s illegal handgun (he was not yet sober, I believe) when Joe Biden was no longer VP and had not yet announced his presidential candidacy.

    The cabal wanted Joe installed as president because the Biden family was hopelessly corrupt and thus easily malleable. Trump was and is a threat to interfere with the Great Reset.

  4. It would appear Johnson and Grassley received that briefing on Aug 6, 2020.

    “The briefing was not specific. Moreover, it consisted primarily of information that we already knew and information unconnected to our investigation,” the letter stated. “We made clear to the FBI briefers on August 6, 2020, that the briefing was not relevant to the substance of our work.
    https://thefederalist.com/2021/05/03/sens-johnson-grassley-slam-intelligence-chiefs-for-partisan-information-leaks/

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