Hunter Biden, the president’s son, sued a former Trump White House aide Wednesday, alleging he violated state and federal data laws in connection with the online publication of laptop content attributed to him.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for Central California, Biden’s lawyers said Garrett Ziegler, his nonprofit group Marco Polo and 10 unidentified people violated state and federal laws about computer fraud and data access. Marco Polo describes itself as a nonprofit research group that exposes corruption.
“Although the precise manner by which Defendant Ziegler obtained Plaintiff’s data remains unclear, there is no dispute that Defendants have, to at least some extent, accessed, tampered with, manipulated, altered, copied and damaged Plaintiff’s data, and that their actions are illegal, unauthorized, and without Plaintiff’s consent,” they wrote.
Biden’s lawyers alleged that the defendants violated a federal statute that protects against the intentional, unauthorized access to a computer and acquiring financial records from a financial institution or card issuer.
In February, Biden’s lawyers sought a criminal probe into the laptop leak and asked the IRS to review Marco Polo’s tax-exempt status, arguing that Ziegler obtained and published on his website five Suspicious Activity Reports, or SARs, from JPMorgan Chase that involve or are related to Biden.
Wednesday’s lawsuit alleges that Ziegler created an online searchable database of 128,000 emails attributed to Biden, and it refers to public comments Ziegler has made claiming to have scraped data from Biden’s laptop as the basis for a document he titled “Report on the Biden Laptop,” published in October.
Biden’s lawsuit seeks an injunction that would bar Ziegler and others from accessing or tampering with his data, as well as general and punitive damages to be proven at trial and attorneys’ fees and costs.
Ziegler responded on Wednesday, saying he had not been served with a lawsuit.
“I nor the nonprofit, Marco Polo, have been served with any lawsuit,” he said in a statement, while adding that “numerous state and federal laws and regulations … protect authors like me and the publishing that Marco Polo does.”
Ziegler, who worked on trade policy in the White House under Trump adviser Peter Navarro, also questioned the timing of the lawsuit, “one day after an Impeachment inquiry into his father was announced.”
Lawyers for Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Tuesday that he would direct three House committees to open an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden amid Republican-led investigations into the president and his son.
Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Hunter Biden, criticized the impeachment inquiry Tuesday, saying it as “based on repackaged, inaccurate conspiracies about Hunter Biden and his legitimate business activities.”