Unkempt and unshaven, the man stumbled into the nondescript computer store at a Delaware shopping mall.
Entering The Mac Shop carrying three water-damaged computers, he approached owner John Paul MacIsaac, who later claimed that he smelled alcohol on the customer’s breath.
Mr MacIsaac was able to fix two of the machines, but the third was beyond repair. Then the customer gave his name: Hunter Biden.
The seemingly innocuous encounter on April 12, 2019, has now become a global news story reaching the White House via Silicon Valley and inhabited by a colourful cast of characters.
New laptop revelations: An IT expert last night described as a ‘national security nightmare’ and ‘classic blackmail material’ the revelation that Hunter Biden protected his laptop – which was filled with with a treasure trove of top-secret material – with a single, simple password: Hunter02. He is pictured with what appears to be drug paraphernalia in his mouth
As well as the albino shop owner, there’s Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a burly wrestler turned US Navy officer, a nerdy tech wizard and the President himself.
Mr MacIsaac, 44, completed a one-page form with Hunter’s name, address and mobile phone details – all of which have been verified – and a bill for $85 due on completion of the work.
He told his customer he would need to copy the contents of the MacBook on to an external hard drive to recover them and the process would take a few days.
The man left – but never returned. Under US law, when 90 days had passed, the uncollected laptop legally became Mr MacIsaac’s property.
A contact database of 1,500 people on the laptop included the numbers of Bill and Hillary Clinton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, her ex-husband Coldplay singer Chris Martin, former Presidential candidate John Kerry and ex-FBI boss Louis Freeh
Unpaid bill: A message from porn site Jasmin, shows Hunter’s attempt to buy credit was ‘declined due to insufficient funds on the credit card’. He shelled out more than $21,000 to one adult ‘live cam’ porn website
He decided to look at the recovered material on the laptop – which is now in the hands of the FBI as part of an investigation in which Mr MacIsaac is a material witness – and says a chill ran down his spine.
The Mail on Sunday today reveals some of that material for the first time – exposing how the son of the man tipped to be America’s next President left himself wide open to blackmail.
Mr MacIsaac fears repercussions. ‘I have everything documented. I have everything saved. But the shop is over. I won’t be able to sustain my business… too many people are angry.’
Personal documents including Hunter’s passport, driver’s licence, social security card, credit cards and bank statements; were also contained on the laptop – raising fears about blackmail threats to the
Gift for identity thieves: Hunter Biden’s social security card
Joe Biden’s personal mobile number and three private email addresses as well as the names of his Secret Service agents. A credit card is pictured
He eventually alerted the FBI who collected the laptop on December 9, 2019. An agent left a ‘receipt for property’ and a Grand Jury subpoena ordering Mr MacIsaac to testify about its contents.
At this point, the story becomes murkier. Mr MacIsaac began emailing various senators about what he had found. After getting no reply, he contacted Mr Giuliani who put him in touch with his lawyer, Robert Costello.
On October 14, the New York Post ran a front-page story with the headline: BIDEN SECRET EMAILS. Inside they published a few emails relating to Hunter’s business dealings in the Ukraine and alleged links to his father. Joe and Hunter Biden have denied any impropriety.
Emails sent to Hunter Biden displayed the phone numbers of prominent figures within Barack Obama’s administration
Hunter’s laptop contains 11 gigabytes of material and covers the period from when Mr Biden served as Vice President under Mr Obama to when Hunter dropped it at the Mac Store in Wilmington. His driving license is pictured
Hunter’s Amex card. IT experts said grave consequences could have followed ‘If a hostile state or individual had managed to hack into Hunter’s computer –and it wouldn’t have been difficult considering the lack of security on it’
Strangely, the story got little traction in the US media. Stranger still, Twitter blocked the New York Post’s account while Facebook and Google censored any mention of the article. Under pressure, they relented.
Even when Tony Bobulinski, a former US Navy serviceman and ex-wrestling champion who was Hunter’s business partner, went on Trump-supporting Fox News to confirm he had emails verifying those on the laptop, the story was largely ignored.
Meanwhile, a cyber-security expert hired by a freelance journalist drove to Mr Costello’s home on October 19 to copy the hard drive.
He then spent ‘hundreds of hours’ verifying the information and satisfying himself that the data had not been interfered with.
Finally, as Mr Trump fumed about the absence of media coverage for the Biden Files, the material was offered to The Mail on Sunday and MailOnline.
Twitter boss berated for censoring story
In an act of ‘politically motivated censorship’, Twitter deliberately prevented users from sharing a link to a front-page newspaper article about Hunter Biden’s private life and his controversial business ties to Ukraine.
It included the claim that he arranged a meeting between his father Joe and a Ukrainian energy company on whose board Hunter served.
Both men have denied any impropriety but normally an accusation alone of this nature involving a US presidential nominee would set the news agenda alight.
But with Facebook also imposing restrictions pending ‘independent verification’ by ‘fact checkers’, the article published by the New York Post fizzled out.
In what became a curious case of a disappearing story, Republicans claimed it had been suppressed to avoid helping President Trump’s re-election campaign.
Twitter boss Jack Dorsey (pictured) Twitter was criticised after the site prevented users from sharing a link to a front-page newspaper article about Hunter Biden’s private life and his controversial business ties to Ukraine
Quizzing Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey during a virtual Senate hearing last week, Texas senator Ted Cruz asked: ‘Who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear?’ Mr Dorsey has apologised for Twitter’s action and said its treatment of the New York Post story was ‘unacceptable’.
Republicans have long accused the bosses of technology companies of double standards for editing, deleting or fact-checking Mr Trump’s posts while allowing harmful hate speech to remain on their services.
But anger over the Hunter Biden story has not been confined to the Right.
Last week investigative Left-wing journalist Glenn Greenwald resigned from The Intercept, the news website he co-founded, after claiming he was silenced over an article critical of Joe Biden.
‘The Intercept’s editors, in violation of my contractual right of editorial freedom, censored an article I wrote this week, refusing to publish it unless I remove all sections critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all New-York-based Intercept editors involved in this effort at suppression,’ he wrote.