Biden son countersues laptop repairman

Hunter Biden walks on the South Lawn of the White House with son Beau Biden Jr. and wife Melissa Cohen in December. (The Washington Post/Al Drago)

Hunter Biden has filed a countersuit against the computer repair shop owner who said Biden dropped his laptop off and never claimed it, a legal action that escalates the battle over how provocative data and images of the president's son were obtained nearly four years ago.

In the counterclaim, filed Friday morning in U.S. District Court in Delaware, Biden and his attorneys claim that John Mac Isaac had no legal right to copy and distribute private information. They accuse him and others of six counts of invasion of privacy, including conspiracy to obtain and distribute the data.

"As a result of Mac Isaac's unlawful agreement and his conspiracy with others, Mr. Biden's personal data was made available to third parties and then ultimately to the public at large, which is highly offensive, causing harm to Mr. Biden and his reputation," the suit states.

The move is a response to a suit filed by Mac Isaac last year and amended several times since, alleging that Biden defamed him by saying he had illegally accessed the data -- when in fact, Mac Isaac contends, the laptop became his property when it was abandoned in his shop. The repairman's suit also targeted CNN, Politico, his father's presidential campaign and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Biden is seeking a jury trial to determine any compensatory and punitive damages. The suit also asks the court to require Mac Isaac and others to return any copies, or partial copies, of any data belonging to the president's son.

Biden does not concede in his lawsuit that he dropped off the laptop, received an invoice or neglected to pick it up. In response to such claims by Mac Isaac, the filing states, "Mr. Biden is without knowledge sufficient to admit or deny the allegations."

But he does acknowledge that some of the data that has been released publicly belongs to him and concedes that Mac Isaac could have obtained it in April 2019.

Biden argues that if even Mac Isaac did have his unclaimed laptop, Delaware law would have restricted his ability to access or distribute the data on it.

Mac Isaac and his allies have often pointed to a signed receipt saying that any property not retrieved after 90 days would be forfeited. But Biden's attorneys say that agreement had flaws.

The boilerplate terms, they say, were contained in small print at the bottom of the page, well below the signature line. Delaware law states that personal property is only deemed abandoned after one year, and certain steps have to be taken, such as posting public notices asking that the owner retrieve the property.

The counterclaim also argues that even if the laptop had been abandoned, that would only give Mac Isaac the right to the equipment, not the data stored on it.

The countersuit also cites Mac Isaac's statements that he made copies of Biden's hard drive and distributed them to a number of people, including his father, Richard Mac Isaac, his uncle Ronald Scott Jr. and Robert Costello, an attorney for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

"Mr. Biden gave none of the individuals identified in this counterclaim permission to access, copy, disseminate, post or otherwise distribute any of his data, however they came into possession of it," the filing states.

An attorney for Mac Isaac, Brian Della Rocca, said they were declining to comment at the moment on Biden's counterclaims.