WASHINGTON — A watchdog group said Tuesday it is suing to get FBI files that could shed light on the suppression of The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop scoops that link President Biden to his family’s foreign business deals.
Judicial Watch, which filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in DC federal court, noted cryptic messages between Twitter executives and the FBI around the time of the pre-election censorship.
“San Francisco FBI agent Elvis Chan ‘[sent] 10 documents to Twitter’s then-Head of Site Integrity, Yoel Roth, through Teleporter, a one-way communications channel from the FBI to Twitter,’ the evening before the release of the Post story,” the group noted in a statement,
Chan used the special transmission to send Roth and at least one other person the documents on the night of Oct. 13, 2020, hours before The Post’s initial laptop bombshells were published at 5 a.m. on Oct. 14.
Shortly after that first report was published, Twitter banned sharing of The Post’s article and locked The Post out of its accounts, citing a “hacked materials” policy despite no evidence the material was gathered in a cyberattack. Facebook limited distribution of the story pending “fact-checking.”
The Judicial Watch lawsuit seeks documents on the government’s role in other censorship decisions as well as those concerning The Post.
Catch up on Twitter’s censorship of The Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story
The lawsuit asks for “[a]ll records of communication between any official or employee of the FBI and any officer or employee of Meta, Twitter, or any other social media company regarding the laptop reportedly used by Hunter Biden, any news media reporting regarding the laptop and/or its contents, and/or the provenance of any information contained in any such reporting.”
It also seeks “[a]ll alerts, notifications, advisories, foreign threat indicators, or similar records provided by any official or employee of the FBI to any officer or employee of Meta (formerly Facebook), Twitter, or any other social media company regarding the threat of disinformation disseminated by foreign actors related to any US election.”
New Twitter owner Elon Musk last month released files on prior management’s role in censorship decisions — revealing the mysterious Chan communication on the eve of the initial laptop articles and raising other questions about whether the government violated the First Amendment by pressuring companies to censor domestic speech before the 2020 election, which Biden narrowly won.
The so-called “Twitter Files” also revealed that in July 2020 — three months before The Post broke the laptop story — Chan emailed Roth and suggested that beginning 30 days before Election Day, Twitter executives would be granted temporary security clearances to discuss threats with FBI officials.
The FBI paid Twitter $3.5 million from October 2019 to February 2021 to process the bureau’s moderation requests, according to records, but it remains unknown to what extent government officials weighed in on the laptop stories.
Other documents released by Musk show early internal doubts about claiming the laptop was hacked. The documents came from a Delaware computer repairman who produced paperwork showing Hunter Biden legally abandoned his computer.
Musk fired Jim Baker, a prominent Twitter attorney who joined the company in June 2020 after working as the FBI’s general counsel, in December for allegedly undermining his attempts to reveal internal documents detailing historical censorship decisions.
“The FBI was literally paying Twitter to censor Americans just before the 2020 election… The FBI seems to have interfered in the 2020 election to help Joe Biden by encouraging Big Tech to censor Americans about the Hunter Biden laptop and other debates,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said Tuesday. “And to add to the scandal, they are now covering up their misconduct.”
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, which was filed Jan. 11.
The Post’s first laptop bombshell revealed that Vadym Pozharskyi, an executive at the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, emailed Hunter in 2015 to thank him for the “opportunity to meet your father” — directly contradicting Biden’s 2019 claim that he’d “never spoken” with his son about “his overseas business dealings.”
Hunter Biden was paid a reported $1 million per year to serve on Burisma’s board while his then-vice president dad led the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy.
The Biden campaign vaguely denied that the meeting occurred, saying at the time, “[W]e have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place.” But Hunter later said the laptop “certainly” could be his and other outlets, including the Washington Post, New York Times and CBS News, belatedly verified the authenticity of its contents last year.
Photos and emails subsequently reported by The Post indicate Joe Biden attended a 2015 DC dinner with a group of his son’s associates, including Pozharskyi, one day before the email was sent. Hunter also invited Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina and her husband, ex-Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov. Baturina is Russia’s richest woman and a 2020 report from Republican-led Senate committees alleges that in 2014 she paid $3.5 million to a firm associated with Hunter Biden.
A second October 2020 bombshell from The Post described communications about Hunter Biden and his uncle Jim Biden’s business venture with the company CEFC China Energy. A May 13, 2017, email recovered from the laptop said the “big guy” would get 10% of the deal. The Washington Post later reported that Hunter and Jim Biden received $4.8 million from CEFC.
Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski alleges that he met with Joe Biden to discuss the CEFC venture on May 2, 2017, and that the president was the “big guy.” The author of the email, James Gilliar, also identified Joe Biden as the “big guy” in a communication retrieved from the laptop.
Further reporting has linked Joe Biden to his family’s pursuit of business in other countries, including Mexico and Kazakhstan and described Hunter Biden as being in close proximity to classified documents at his dad’s Wilmington home — even listing the home as his own residence on a 2018 background check form.
A special counsel, Robert Hur, is investigating Joe Biden’s handling of classified records dating to before his presidency. The probe could expand to investigate Hunter Biden’s role in the saga. The first son is already under investigation by the US attorney’s office in Delaware for possible tax fraud, illegal foreign lobbying, money laundering and lying about his drug use on a gun-purchase form.