Emma-Jo Morris still remembers the phone call she got two years ago. “I have Hunter Biden’s laptop,” the voice at the other end said.
The scoop, one of the biggest in journalism in recent years, catapulted the then-politics editor at the New York Post to stardom. Now a national politics editor at Breitbart News, a premier conservative news site, her only regret is that she got it so early in her career.
“When you’re in political journalism, you’re always trying to be that person who breaks the Snowden story or who breaks the Pentagon Papers story. That’s the big goal of your entire career,” Morris, 29, told the Yated in an interview. “I feel like I kind of done that now.”
The laptop, which President Joe Biden’s son left at a computer repair shop in Delaware despite numerous requests to pick it up, is continuing to be mined by reporters for details on the Biden family dynamics and finances. The two biggest nuggets, though, were published by Morris in October 2020, weeks before the election which saw Biden elected president.
One was an email in which a Ukrainian oligarch thanked Hunter for arranging a meeting with his father, then the vice president — despite the elder Biden’s insistence that he knew nothing of his son’s affairs. The other revealed that a Chinese firm which hired Hunter was giving 10% “for the big guy.” A business partner of Hunter’s has since revealed that the president was the big guy.
Reaction was swift. Twitter suspended the New York Post’s account until it deleted its tweet about the laptop story, claiming without evidence that it was Russian disinformation. It also disabled any tweet that linked to the story, essentially depriving many people of access to it.
Morris, who is Jewish, is a Canadian émigré living in North Williamsburg. She recently wrote a feature debunking the New York Times piece on yeshivos which was published in September. She discussed with the Yated the Twitter Files that have dropped with regular frequency in the recent weeks, which proved her contention that the FBI knew the laptop was real but claimed otherwise to social media companies to help Biden win.
The next in the series of Twitter Files recently dropped, this time about how the firm censored Covid-19 facts and vaccine skeptics. I couldn’t imagine a better novel plot, with a guy going in and buying out the enemy and then spilling all its secrets.
That’s so true. You can’t make this stuff up. He’s just nuking these guys.
Listen, I don’t think Elon Musk is necessarily 100% altruistic. He definitely has his own interests that he wants to use Twitter for, but he got jammed up on that deal. He way overpaid for this absolute crime scene that he bought. Who knows what his reasons are for doing all of this? I could think of a few, but either way, it’s epic.
If you have a theory, I would very much want to hear it.
I didn’t talk to him, but I think he genuinely has negative opinions of the management of Twitter ethically. The laptop censorship was one of the impetuses for him to buy Twitter in the first place — he saw that and thought it was just so outrageous, as we all did, and said, this is clearly just a platform run on the basis of censorship. He wanted to see the potential for real conversation.
But along the way, everything went down — with him overpaying and then trying to renege on his agreement to buy Twitter and them pushing him back into the deal in court and then ultimately him being forced to buy it at the overshot price. Remember, while this was all being negotiated, he was realizing that so much of Twitter’s user base was fake; they had a lot of bots and they were pumping and inflating their numbers and lying to shareholders. That all came out during this negotiation.
So he ended up getting bound to a deal that was unfair, both according to him and according to reality. I think the combination of those two things, with him already thinking that these people were totally unethical in the way they were running Twitter and then them going and driving the knife in his back, he just feels like, why not?
I was thinking more along the lines of how wealthy people are used to getting their way, and with so much of his life bound up with Twitter, he just wants to have control over it. This is like how the Rockefellers of the Standard Oil Company in the 19th century bought out every piece of energy production — the oil sources, the coal mines — in order to control every part of it and monopolize it.
I think you’re right. He was, like, I have the power to buy it and I want to see what it can be without neurotic ideologues running it.
But I think this doesn’t address what you’re talking about, which is anti-trust, like the problem with the way things were run when the Rockefellers were doing business, that it created illegal monopolies. I don’t want to rely on a benevolent billionaire to allow free speech on the internet, and that goes for speech I agree with and speech I disagree with. Because unlike all these people, I actually do believe in free speech and that it’s healthy to have a space where that’s allowed and it’s very unhealthy to have a space where that’s not allowed. I still think this still needs observation by anti-trust regulators.
At the end of the day, we’re lucky that Elon Musk bought Twitter and he seems to have interests that coincide with the interests of free speech — sometimes. We just saw that he had a spat of bans that he did. He still bans, for instance, Susan Lee from Fox Business for reporting on him negatively. So he still definitely has his finger on the trigger of censorship. It’s just different censorship interests than the previous owners.
When he had banned a bunch of leftist reporters from Twitter, did you find that chilling in the same way they banned the laptop story?
I had really mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, you had a bunch of reporters from the Washington Post and CNN, some from Fox, and I think there was one from the New York Times, all these legacy media reporters all getting banned at once. I thought that was kind of funny to see the reaction — they were calling this a massacre and using outrageous language like “historic censorship.” They were in total hysteria. I was, like, are you serious? I posted on Twitter the cover of the New York Post of October 15, 2020, which said “Censored.”
They were all happy then.
Exactly. They had no problem when legitimate journalism was censored in an actually historic manner in the lead-up to an election. This is not to say that some censorship is worse than others — I think all censorship is bad — but I thought it was kind of ironic and that there was some hypocrisy to be commented on about the reaction to that versus their reaction to the Post.
But on the other hand, of course I don’t like to see that. Like I said, I don’t believe in censorship. I believe in the First Amendment. That’s why, again, I believe that we shouldn’t be relying on the mercy of a billionaire to allow us to speak freely.
With regard to your laptop story, do you think Twitter issued its ban because the FBI told them, “Listen, no more October surprises in the US — whenever anything happens, you got to ban it”? Or was it the Biden campaign that told Twitter “This thing is not true, and just take our word for it”?
I think it’s the other way around — this all originates with the Security State. What was going on was that the FBI and the Foreign Intelligence Task Force — it’s unclear what that is, but it’s apparently a domestic-focused agency which is also concerned with foreign influence censoring domestic speech; seems like bureaucratic-speak for basically just a censorship agency, but in any event it’s all part of the federal government. I think that the blob from the federal government was advising Twitter and also advising the Biden campaign.
I think the Biden campaign’s talking point about Russian disinformation came from the Security State. The first indication we had that there was some sort of involvement by the security apparatus was the Politico article published by Natasha Bertrand, which was headlined “51 former intelligence officials say that the Hunter Biden laptop story is Russian disinformation.” That came out on October 19, a few days after the New York Post published the story.
That article did two things. One, it buttressed the justification for censorship on social media and censorship of the story by legacy media. Two, it gave the Biden campaign that talking point. If you look at [Biden spokeswoman] Jen Psaki’s Twitter, literally within minutes of that article publishing she was tweeting out the headline. I think they got that line from the same place Twitter got that line, which is the same place that originated the Russia hoax story: the FBI.
You’re saying Twitter was not getting messages how to handle it, but rather that Twitter was part of the establishment over here and they wanted it to be Russia disinformation.
This is what I think the chain of custody, so to speak, of that lie is. I think the FBI originated it, gave it to Twitter, and told them they have to censor something being published imminently about Hunter Biden, because it’s Russian disinformation. Twitter goes ahead and does it. The editors and the producers of legacy media are all creatures of Twitter — they get all their information from Twitter, they get all their opinions from Twitter, for all intents and purposes. They censor on the same premise that Twitter censors.
So they’re not officially working together, but they’re kind of unofficially working together. They all got this line from the FBI that we can’t report on the laptop story because it’s disinformation. I don’t know if they believed it or they just wanted it to be true, but this is something they do all the time. They’ll say the government said so, therefore it’s true.
This is actually the opposite of what their job is, and this is why this is especially humiliating for the legacy media. The job of a journalist is to be critical and scrutinize the government in order to enforce accountability, and to be acutely aware of potential lies from the government. Your job is not to take what the government tells you and just regurgitate it on your homepage. Your job is to take what the government tells you and scrutinize it and question it and poke holes in it and force them to justify every single thing they say. That’s the role of the press — you learn that on day one of journalism school. These people have totally abdicated their responsibility and their role in the public conversation.
This whole “Russia” claim was something that originated in the FBI and had no basis in fact. I did not get a single call from CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC, asking, “Hey, what’s that subpoena you published about? Can I see what materials you have? I want to confirm it from my own reporting. Can I have Rudy’s number to call him to get to the bottom of what’s going on here?” I did not get a single call to that effect from any of them.
All they did was wait for the justification to not broadcast something they thought was politically unfavorable for their preferred candidate, and they went with it. They have really embarrassed themselves in this whole saga, which is why you don’t see them reporting on the Twitter Files.
Interesting point. It’s almost as if they believe that if it helps Trump, it must be suspect.
Exactly. Or that it needs to be suspect, because we don’t want to do this. Keep in mind the context of this — this is the first presidential election following 2016. That year, WikiLeaks published a tranche of incriminating emails from Hillary Clinton and the DNC, totally destroying them and exposing her as corrupt, fake, and a liar. They obviously had to report on that that, since it was extremely newsworthy. But in doing so, they believe that they cost her the election.
So now, we’re in 2020 and you have an eerily similar circumstance. You have a huge dump of internal information that has been exposed in the press, and they don’t want to do that again. We’ve seen that in multiple testimonies from various people.
Molly Ball of Time magazine published a shocking, scandalous story that they didn’t see it for what it was, obviously, because they’re ignorant and in a bubble. She wrote about “election fortification.” It was about how big tech and the media decided they were never going to allow 2016 to happen again and how they felt personally responsible for allowing Trump to be elected by reporting truthfully on Hillary Clinton. So they decided that in 2020, they would “fortify the election.” Basically, they were not going to report on anything negative about Joe Biden or Hunter Biden, who was obviously known to be scandal-scarred and corrupt.
This was their way of “protecting democracy.” It was outrageous.
In the Twitter Files, you see this too. Yoel Roth, one of the chief censors at Twitter, said, essentially, that this is very familiar to 2016 and that’s why we have to censor it, because we don’t want to be like 2016.
So they were already on a hair trigger, because of their perceived responsibility for electing Trump in the first place. And they could not have that happen again, so it didn’t matter to them if this was real or wasn’t real. Listen, the WikiLeaks stuff in 2016 was 100% authentic — there is zero evidence to the contrary — and they reported authentic, newsworthy information, which is their role. And now, they can’t do that.
Wow. If George Orwell would be around, he would have to write a sequel to Animal Farm, with all this talk about “protecting democracy.”
Yes. Some news is more worthy than other news.
Here is something your readers should know. When you hear the word democracy, it is code language for “Democratic Party.”
Especially the past couple of months. In last month’s election, exit pollers were asking, “What do you care more about, inflation or defending democracy?” Well, nobody wants to destroy democracy.
They do this all the time. Black Lives Matter is a very similar thing. Do you believe that black lives matter? Of course, right? Who wouldn’t say yes? But Black Lives Matter in capital letters is a far-left progressive organization that wants to abolish the police and have reparations. It’s always these weird head games that they play with language, which is part of the reason why the left has been so culturally effective. They hijack commonly used language that is very noncontroversial, inject politics and controversy into it, and then put you in this position where you have to deny something that’s obvious and noncontroversial. It’s brilliant.
Besides for the Hunter Biden story, is there anything else in the Twitter Files that you found surprising or interesting?
I think the Twitter Files are really remarkable as a whole. If you take the 30,000-foot view of what’s the top-line takeaway from the files, and the answer is just that it’s a scandal that you can’t overstate how historic it is. The Security State, the federal government, is controlling speech writ large by circumventing the First Amendment by coopting a private company that has the right to censor — but not telling anybody.
What do we learn? That the FBI, CIA, NSA, all these secretive, powerful, and mysterious agencies, they insert their agents into private companies to the extent that the company is an arm of the agency itself.
Take, for instance, Twitter. Jim Baker, who was a former senior FBI agent, is the legal counsel at Twitter. So you make them completely pliable to your interests as a security agency, and then you approach them from the outside and they’re so primed for your influence, because all your people are on the inside, that you can really just direct the companies from the federal government without anybody knowing it.
This is something we’ve never seen before. You know, we were all under the impression that maybe Twitter was run by ideologues — it’s located in Silicon Valley, where they’re very liberal. Okay. That’s frustrating and unfair, but it’s not a scandal to the level we’re seeing, where you have the federal government deciding exactly what you can talk about and what you can see.
Keep in mind that Twitter is not only a platform for publishing public information, like your tweets and your thoughts and your dinner and your dogs. Twitter also has a function that is end-to-end messaging. So I can message you privately, and I was under the impression until a month ago that when I message you privately, maybe there’s some millennial somewhere who is able to access that — but I was not aware the FBI was able to access that via control of the platform.
So that violates my Fifth Amendment right and my Fourth Amendment right. You are not allowed as the US government to search my private space, and you are also not allowed to have me incriminate myself in any way by surveilling me. This runs roughshod over the Bill of Rights. It can’t be overstated how corrupt it is.
I think you just gave our readers a great introduction why Congressman Jim Jordan said that he’s going to audit the FBI, up and down, front to back.
They had 100% free rein. And you see in the Twitter Files that they were demanding personal information about certain accounts. Is the FBI allowed to kick your door in without a warrant and come and rummage through your nightstand? Is the FBI allowed without a warrant to listen to your phone calls with your friends, your wife, your parents? No, you have the right to privacy and you have the right to protection from undue search and seizure. And you have the right to remain silent.
The FBI’s powers were vastly enhanced after 9/11, when people were concerned about another terrorist attack. Ironically, the left was at the time bringing up the issue of personal liberties and privacy invasion in opposing these powers. Now, the tables are turned, with the threat of another terrorist attack not as acute and the left now the one pushing the FBI to be more intrusive, claiming there is a threat of white supremacy and domestic terrorism.
It’s sad. There are groups like the ACLU which were basically left-wing groups which fought tooth and nail on the principle of freedom of speech and civil liberties; they were impenetrable and unmoving on that point. They would defend the right of Nazis to protest in public. They might be vile and repulsive ideas, but they said, you know, you have a civil right to speak freely.
Now, what you see is the left being coopted by corporatists and ideologues who have decided that their interest is maintained by the Security State, and they are therefore now best friends with the Security State. This kind of bleeds into a class conversation, where you see that the establishment left is basically isolated to the most expensive cities on the coasts of the country, and they have their own interests which coincide with the same interests as the government.
It all consolidated into one amorphous large establishment that includes the finance world, the media world, and the government. They have now turned on regular people and no longer share interests with them. So who do you see defending this stuff? The major papers like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, NBC. Who are they? They’re New York elites. And they do not want to hear from the plebeian. They don’t care what the plebeians want, and in fact, their interests clash with those of the plebeians.
All these dystopian novels we learned about in high school — it’s really coming alive. But people are becoming more red-pilled on this issue. I think people are realizing, whether they’re on the left or the right, that if they’re not at the table where the establishment is sitting, they don’t have a say. That’s what the Twitter Files show.
I would think that if Republicans play their cards right, they will be able to use the Twitter Files as a springboard to basically overhaul the FBI.
Yes, exactly. And it’s not even a political talking point to overhaul the FBI. The Twitter platform has illegal things on it and you’re not concerned about that — you’re concerned about the New York Post. What are you there for? Why do you deserve one cent?
You wrote an expose of the New York Times after they hit the yeshivos in September. It’s amazing that they haven’t retracted anything after so much of it was proved wrong.
I know. That’s the thing about them, though. We’re talking about the Hunter Biden laptop — the New York Times called the laptop “baroque mythology.” That was how they categorized it in an op-ed a few days following the publication from the New York Post. They have not retracted that. You know, I’ve written columns that have called myself out for being wrong. The Times would never do anything even remotely like that.
But they did ultimately admit that the laptop story was accurate. They wrote a long article about it over the summer.
Yes. The Times is so obnoxious. They came out in April with a completely separate article regarding Hunter, and in literally paragraph 25, they write, oh, by the way, we have obtained documents that the laptop is real. They then went into one or two past articles about the laptop and stealthily deleted words such as “unsubstantiated” or other condescending words they wrote about the laptop, without alerts or putting in any Editor’s Note. I wrote a column calling them out about it.
About a month ago, CBS did have a story about the laptop, although most of the article was dedicated to claiming there’s no proof that “the big guy” is Joe Biden. My feeling is that they have to report on it, since Republicans are soon taking control and this will be a big story next year — and you can’t just go from “the whole thing is Russian disinformation” to honestly reporting it.
That’s what I think. Now that the Republicans are officially taken the majority, all these guys have to introduce their audience to the story, because as far as many in the audience are concerned, this doesn’t exist or it’s a conspiracy theory on the right. There’s obviously going to be public hearings and tons of news about it that they’ll have to cover. They can’t come out of nowhere and just cover it; they have to prime the reader.
What’s interesting is that Congressman James Comer, who is going to be the chair of the Oversight Committee, said that this investigation is not about Hunter, but about Joe Biden. Why do you think he said that?
I was happy he said that, since I was getting the impression from talking to Congress members and their staff in the months leading up to this that they didn’t fully understand what my reporting was about. Seeing this really makes me feel like that’s changing. I’ll explain.
When I attained the laptop in October 2020, I was looking at this massive trove of thousands of documents. I’m looking at somebody’s personal computer, and there’s thousands of emails, hundreds of thousands of documents in total. He had business all over the world. He had tons of deals, tons of contacts, tons of stuff going on. And I’m looking at this and I’m going crazy — where do you begin? It’s very overwhelming.
I called my editor-in-chief at the time, who was my editor for this project, and I said to her, “What’s the angle here? How do we even begin?” She said, “I know that Hunter Biden is sketchy and I know that he’s a consultant and I know that he’s doing all this stuff. How about Joe Biden? We don’t need to be reporting on Hunter Biden — get me Joe Biden.”
It was like a light switch went off in my head — of course, Joe Biden is the one who’s relevant right now. He’s the one up for election. So the whole focus of the reporting of the New York Post that I did was all about Joe Biden — “ten percent for the big guy,” “thank you for the opportunity to meet your father” — it’s all centered around Joe Biden. That’s the salient message I wanted to emerge from the reporting on the laptop.
Hunter is just a bad man. Hunter is just a conduit. He’s a vessel. The corrupt person we’re talking about is not Hunter; he doesn’t matter. Hunter is just a tool for Joe Biden — Joe Biden is the one who has a problem with corruption. Joe Biden is the one who’s really relevant in all this, because he’s the president, or at the time he was the one running to be president.
So I was actually excited to see that Congress finally understands this isn’t about Hunter’s problems. It’s about a compromised president.
It seems that Americans can’t square the image they have of President Biden with the image you lay out of him in your reporting. He’s always been a gaffe machine, but he seems like a very genteel person. He doesn’t seem to be a person that you could imagine is getting money from China or Ukraine. When you first saw these incriminating emails about Joe Biden, were you able to imagine that he is this corrupt?
Yeah. I know what you’re saying. It really takes some cognitive dissonance to understand that the dopey grandpa you see on TV is actually this corrupt person that you see in the laptop. But for me, honestly, the thing that made that click, that I think would be interesting for your readers, is that this is a person in crisis who is in terrible pain.
Hunter is a man who struggles with all kinds of addictions, and drugs isn’t the only one. He has a very empty life and a very sad life. He has kids, but no real relationship with them. For instance, every single message with his daughter is all about her asking him for money. “Daddy, my cards maxed out. Daddy, I need to pay my tuition. Daddy, I need to borrow $1,000. Daddy, just one more time, I need to borrow $500.”
He has basically no connection with his father. His father is constantly trying to get in touch with him, and he’s constantly kind of MIA. He has no communication with his ex-wife other than receiving letters from her lawyers. This is a man who is struggling in every single respect that you can imagine.
Imagine having a son like that. And then imagine you say to yourself, “You know what I’m going to do with this broken man? I’m going to put him into the arms of some of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the world. Like the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). Like the oligarchs in some of the most corrupt countries in the world — Ukraine, Russia.”
Imagine — this is a man who is falling apart, and you decide as a father that it is a good idea to thrust him into the arms of people who are only going to exploit him and only going to hurt him.
When you think about Joe Biden in that light, it makes you sick. And you realize, maybe he has this smile of pearly whites and he kind of makes these awkward gaffes and he forgets his lines and he reminds you of your grandfather and you have this affectionate kind of response to him. But when you think about him in terms of the way he treats his own son — his only living son, for that matter — you realize that this is a disgusting person. This is a person who has a lot to think about.
What about that voicemail that made the rounds in which Biden tells his son how much he loves him despite everything? Democrats swooned over that.
It’s so manipulative, it’s terrible. It’s like an abuser who tells you he loves you.
What should he have done? What would any father do in this situation? Addiction is a terrible thing.
To start, tell him, “No more business with the CCP until we can get you healthy.” It’s Joe Biden who was setting him up for that. It was Joe Biden who was bringing him on Air Force Two. It was Joe Biden who was putting him in a position where he’s on the hamster wheel that never stops. And I think Joe Biden is majorly, if not fully, responsible for the way that this has all gone down and the humiliation this has brought onto his family.
How about we start from the beginning? How did you get a hold of this laptop?
Let’s start from here. I’m from Montreal and I’m a dual citizen. I moved to New York in the summer of 2016 to take a job as a producer for Sean Hannity at Fox News. I didn’t have a lot of friends at first. One of my first friends was this guy named Vish Burra. He was working at a tech startup, but he was conservative and as a hobby wanted to get into politics.
A few years later, Vish got hired to produce Steve Bannon’s podcasts, called the War Room. I went to work at the New York Post, where I became the deputy politics editor.
Rudy Giuliani got his hands on the Hunter Biden hard drive when the computer repair shop guy called his lawyer to get it out to the press. So Rudy Giuliani opens it up and sees that it’s full of documents about China, and that’s Bannon’s expertise. So Rudy called Bannon and Bannon gets a hold of it. They then started talking about getting it out to the press, so my friend Vish says to him, “You know, I have this friend who’s the editor at the New York Post — she’s young but she’s very conservative and she would do good with it.”
Vish texts me in late September 2020 and says, “Steve Bannon is about to call you, pick up the phone.” I knew who Steve Bannon was, obviously, since he was a very famous political operative, but I didn’t know him personally. I get a phone call a few minutes later from Steve and he says, “I have a story that’s going to change your life.” I kind of laughed because Steve has very flamboyant language. And I was like, “Well, what is it?” I had no idea what he was going to say. And he says, “I have Hunter Biden’s computer.”
Before you go further, did it really change your life?
Definitely. It turned my life upside down. I remember the night before we went to publish. I was talking with Steve and he said to me, “I think your life is about to change.” And I answered back, “I don’t know for better or worse.” He said to me, “There’s a price to pay for front row tickets to the best show on earth.”
So you went into this with your eyes open.
Yes. I mean, you can never anticipate or expect how an experience like this will change your life or the reaction that it’ll get. I thought maybe this would go into circulation in right-wing media or maybe I made a horrible mistake and we were going to get sued to death and my career will be over. I didn’t know what to think. I knew it would be something, but I didn’t know it could be like this.
Keep in mind too, I was 27. I was kind of naïve.
You were just starting off your career, and all of a sudden you got the scoop of a lifetime.
Yeah, it’s true. It’s crazy.
Were you surprised by the reaction? Twitter cut the New York Post off. Facebook was not promoting the story.
I figured that there would be intense scrutiny and I figured that maybe distribution would get curbed. That was something I was highly aware of when I was doing the story. I made sure it was all buttoned up, that there was no exaggerations or leaps in logic because I was expecting to get scrutinized until the debate about the material was shored up.
But no, I could never have expected this. This was an unprecedented and coordinated censorship conspiracy. It’s never been seen before. There’s no precedent for it in American history.
The left basically said this was Russian disinformation. You had a letter from former intelligence officials saying this is Russian disinformation. What were you thinking?
I was thinking, “I got ‘em.” We release the story, and it gets cut off by social media in one fell swoop. And in the days following, Joe Biden just disappears. He goes into the basement and doesn’t show his face. And as this is going on, you have 51 former intelligence officials come out claiming that they think this is Russian disinformation. But if you look at that article, buried in like paragraph 15, Natasha Bertrand, the intelligence community’s stenographer, writes that the 51 officials haven’t seen the material, but are just saying this based on assumption.
When I saw this, I was thinking, so what you are saying is that you have no premise on which to base this theory — this is just propaganda by the CIA. I wasn’t nervous about the quality of my reporting, since at that point I understood I had hit the Biden campaign between the eyes and they had nothing to say, and now, obviously, the machine is going to work.
Did you have full backing by your employer, the New York Post, at the time?
Yes, 100%. I had hit pieces dropping on me every single day. There were accusations toward the paper: propaganda, disinformation, treason, hacking — they accused us of everything. They accused me of being antisemitic, if you can imagine. One article tried to link me to [the 2017 neo-Nazi rally in] Charlottesville. It was really pathetic.
Every time that happened — it was almost like clockwork — an article would drop and I would get a call from my boss who would say, “Don’t care about them, they don’t have anything. They’re attacking you because they can’t attack your journalism. You’re good. We have your back.” At one point, she said, “If these attacks continue, you’re going to have to retire with me.”
Let’s take a step back. You mentioned that you got the laptop, you saw tens of thousands of emails, and you decided to focus on the Joe Biden factor. How did you go through all these files so quickly? Some of these are lengthy documents and videos within emails.
It took a long time until we published. We can go back and talk about that timeline a little more closely.
I got that first phone call from Steve Bannon in late September, and we spent about a week going back and forth, because they wanted to just give me certain documents. They wanted to just distribute one document at a time to me and not give me possession of the hard drive itself. I told them, “No, sorry, you guys are all Trump campaign operatives. I’m not doing this unless I have the whole thing and I could see for myself.” We were going back and forth — they insisting on just giving me piecemeal work, and I was, “No, no, no.” This took about a week.
Finally, we get to, “Okay, you can go look at the hard drive. It’s at Rudy’s lawyer’s house on Long Island.” I go out to Long Island and I was pleasantly surprised at how open Rudy was. He sat me down at his desk and said, “Okay, you can look for as long as you want, you can look wherever you want.”
So I start to look at it. I leave there convinced that this is something. I didn’t yet know about confirming its authenticity or what we’re going to do with it, but I knew it was something. I called my boss and said this is legit. I took back a thumb drive with me, and I pulled some documents off the laptop I thought would do pretty good to make the case to my boss that this is worth pursuing.
For instance, I took some contracts that were on the hard drive that had Hunter’s signature on them that were relevant to possible reporting. I took a photo of his driver’s license that was on the laptop to verify his identity as the owner of the laptop. I took some personal pictures of him, personal pictures of his family that couldn’t have been fabricated, just to basically make the case to my boss of what I saw and why I thought that this was legit.
This was about a week after we initially made contact. We had some back and forth at the Post, and finally I get word that okay, we are pursuing this. I go back to Rudy and say, “Okay, give me the computer.” And he says, “No, we never agreed to give you the computer. We just agreed to let you see it.” I said, “No, I’m not doing it unless you give me the computer.”
So we again go back and forth in a negotiation. He ultimately asked me to promise him six covers of the New York Post. I told him, “If this is everything we think it is, I’ll give you 20 covers of the New York Post. Just give me the hard drive.”
Finally, he accepts. I went to his apartment and retrieved the hard drive. We published about five days later.
The way I was able to go through it is — first of all, I was on a round-the-clock schedule. There was barely any sleep in those days. And once I knew what I was looking for, once I knew that I was going to home in on Daddy, it got easier, because my search was more focused.
How did I begin? If you look at the first story we published, it was about the Ukraine deal. It was about the email, which we call the smoking gun email — and I stand by that categorization — from a board member of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company which employed Hunter. He was one of Hunter Biden’s colleagues and a Ukrainian oligarch. He emailed Hunter to say, “Thank you for the opportunity to meet your father.”
I got to that email when my editor told me that we want to focus on Joe Biden. So I’m thinking, “Okay, where do I begin?” The best clue that we had to Joe Biden’s involvement in his son’s business is a video which I’m sure you saw — it’s very famous now — where Joe Biden is sitting in 2018 at a Council for Foreign Policy event and he says, “I told the prosecutor, you stop investigating or you’re not getting the billion dollars.” He was holding a billion dollars from Ukraine on condition that Ukraine fire the prosecutor who was investigating Burisma.
I pulled up all the Burisma documents, and that narrowed it a lot. As I was going through the Burisma documents, all of a sudden, boom — “Thank you for the opportunity to meet your father.” That was the first one.
After that we did the story on the CEFC, which is a Chinese energy conglomerate. I actually stumbled on it — I was literally plastered to the screen as I was going through the emails, and all of a sudden I see this breakdown and it says, “10 held by H for the big guy.” H was Hunter, and I was like, “Whoa, that’s a story, who’s the big guy?”
Are there still any hidden nuggets in that hard drive that the media can still uncover?
I think we really got the good meat off that bone in the first shot, because since then almost every newsroom in America has the laptop, and I haven’t seen anything that bests my original work.
Besides for the big things, are there any weird nuggets you came across? Anything that didn’t necessarily make the news, but just made you feel like, “Whoa, that’s weird.”
There was one thing I really had a hard time with, and it’s actually one of the first things you see when you open the emails on the laptop. It’s an email Hunter sent to himself, like a diary entry. He typed it and then sent it to himself to have record of it. It’s basically just reflecting on his life.
If you know anything about the Bidens’ personal lives, they have been plagued with a lot of deaths in their family. Beau Biden, Hunter’s brother, is just the most recent; he died of brain cancer. Hunter also lost his sister and his mother in a car accident. There’s a lot of death in their immediate family.
The thing about Hunter is, he’s a human being. He’s a man, and like every man he is complicated. So you have this image of him that you’re going in with — that he’s corrupt at worst, and at best a degenerate with multiple addictions — but you don’t see him as a multi-dimensional and complicated person until you’re really in the most intimate details of his personal life, which are all recorded on his iCloud.
That was one of the first things I saw. I was reading it and I was like, “Oh my G-d, what am I doing?” I had a moment where I was thinking, “Am I going to actually rummage through the most personal outlet that this person has — his phone, his iCloud, his computer — and use it against him?” It was actually a really difficult little train of thought I had for a second, but I ultimately said, I feel bad that this is happening, but we’re talking about the president of the United States and I got to just do the reporting.
To answer your question, I was shocked and surprised to see that this is a complicated person, and as much as you want to try to villainize him and as much as you want to make him into the devil — which in some ways he is — in other ways, he’s just a human being.
When I talk about this in interviews or in public, I really try to say that it’s not personal. Your father represents this country. Your father makes huge decisions on behalf of this country. Your father has ordained you as his bad man for corruption. I try not to attack Hunter personally, because the truth is that I don’t know him and it’s not up to me to judge his character. I just try to talk about his business and his comportment as a representative of his father who is a representative of the United States.
What would you want Congress to look into, now that the Republicans will be in the majority?
I found it very promising that they were talking about looking into Joe Biden, and I think that that’s all that really matters. There are two tiers of things I think are worth looking at.
The first tier is the Biden family corruption. Obviously, Joe is the head of it, and then you have roots that come out, whether they be son Hunter Biden or brother James Biden or sister Valerie Biden, who are all in the family business. So you want to look at the Biden family corruption, which I think Republicans definitely understand.
The second tier to be looked at is the censorship conspiracy around the publication of this material. You have multiple branches to that.
The first one is social media working in coordination with each other. The public face of social media is that these are all different companies — Twitter’s its own company, Google’s its own company, Facebook’s its own company, and Facebook is owned by Meta, which also controls Instagram.
So you have these ostensibly independent companies, but in this circumstance, those companies all acted in perfect coordination, almost to the second. You had Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google all censoring the same thing at the same time. I don’t know about you, but I do not publish the exact same story at the same time with the same wording as Fox News or the New York Post. We’re different companies, and different companies typically do not coordinate their behavior.
The fact that they had perfect coordination makes me think that Congress should probably be looking at that behavior and wondering if that is a violation of monopoly laws, which there are tons of regulations to prevent that.
Didn’t the head of Meta — I think it was Mark Zuckerberg himself — say that while he didn’t coordinate with Twitter, they did share notes about what to do?
Right. Is that a violation of anti-trust? I don’t know, I’m not an anti-trust lawyer, but I think that that’s worth looking at. Typically, anti-trust would prevent companies conglomerating like that. That’s one avenue.
The second avenue is members of the intelligence community using their access to classified information to use the media to basically create propaganda. By that I’m referring to that Politico story of the 51 intelligence officials, but you also have people like James Clapper, John Brennan, Michael Hayden, all these former CIA guys who all of a sudden have jobs at NBC and CNN. These guys all have access to classified information; they are, for all intents and purposes, spies, and they collaborate with the media to push narratives that are favorable to — I don’t know who, but that deserves to be investigated.
That’s part of a bigger story. You have many administration officials who leave the White House and then go work in some big company which just a couple of months before they were in charge of overseeing.
Exactly. But that’s all corruption. With media it’s especially insidious, because having a free press is important. If you have the CIA staffing up your press, it isn’t free. So I think that those questions deserve to be looked at, and this whole saga has really shined a light on why they’re important.
The third thing I think is worth investigating is this: Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with Joe Rogan that the FBI briefed him before the election to look out for “Russian misinformation,” and that when that occurs, they should censor it immediately.
So the third avenue to be investigated is how closely do sitting members of the government, specifically the intelligence and law enforcement community, work with social media to censor?
So this is basically the Biden administration telling social media companies not to allow access to information negative to Biden because it’s Russian disinformation.
In that case, it would have been the Trump administration. But what we’re realizing, and I think this is something that became very apparent during the Trump administration, is that you have the president and then you have the administrative state. And those two things aren’t the same. The administrative state is like an entity unto itself that basically works in complete secrecy.
So this would have been the FBI under Trump, but this is the same FBI that tried to have a soft coup on Trump, as seen in the Russia hoax. We clearly have some sort of entity in the Security State that has its own agenda and its own interest and is independent of elected officials like the president. That is the entity that was briefing the bosses of these social media companies to go and censor things. That would appear to be a flagrant violation of the First Amendment.
Let’s go back to the hard drive. You uncovered that line about “10% for the big guy,” which made the most waves. Besides for that, did you find supporting evidence that can show conclusively that Joe Biden was in on all this and that he was aware of his son’s business dealings, taking a commission?
The laptop is almost like a snapshot. Let’s say two people take a photo together. They’re standing next to each other and are clearly in the photo, but there’s a palm tree that is cut out of the photo. All you see in the photo is the two people standing on grass, so you can’t identify from the photo where they are. But the person who took the photo knows that there’s a palm tree outside the frame and they can say, “Oh, you’re in Florida.” That’s like the laptop. The laptop is a snapshot, but there’s so much more to the picture that you don’t see outside the frame.
On the laptop, aside from emails explicitly talking about Joe Biden being involved, maybe you could say there is plausible deniability within that snapshot — maybe Joe Biden didn’t know, maybe Hunter was acting as some sort of rogue actor — but there are whistleblowers who have since come forward to talk to the press, the FBI, and Congress, who can fill in what’s outside the frame of the snapshot.
For instance, Tony Bobulinski gave a press conference and then an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News three days after we began publishing the series at the Post. He said, “I’m in business with Hunter Biden, I was part of the CEFC deal — the 10% for the big guy deal — and I can tell you unequivocally that that big guy is Joe Biden, and I can tell you unequivocally that Joe Biden was intimately involved, that he had full knowledge of what was going on, and that I personally had a meeting with him where I discussed this business.”
So now you have all these people who are filling in the color on the rest of the photo, who are saying, “I met Joe Biden, Joe Biden knows me. Joe Biden knew I was a business partner and Joe Biden knew I was in the business.”
It looks like we’re in for some interesting days ahead.
I think it’s going to be good. The only thing is that the Republicans tend to have a light touch, to not go as hard as their constituents really feel. The evidence is all there for them. Members of Congress are already in possession of the laptop and have been for months. I can tell you that I was approached by members of Congress for my copy of the laptop and I surrendered it — I still have it, but I let them copy it.
So I know there are members of Congress who have had the laptop for a long time. I know that there are members of Congress who are fully and completely aware of the contents of the laptop and of what they need to do. Now it’s just going to be a question of, do they have the koach?
I find that Democrats tend to overreach — like, when there is a Republican president, they won’t just fight him, they’ll impeach him — so Republicans say, “No, we’re not going to be like that. We’re going to show what real governance is.”
Right. The problem with Republicans is that Democrats are so overzealous, and then Republicans will say, “We’re not like them. We have the higher moral ground. That’s our principle.” But the problem with that principle is that it’s self-defeating. This is not just my opinion, this is the attitude of Breitbart and it’s why I’m such a perfect fit to be an editor there. The GOP takes that stance where, “We have principles, we’re going to be decent human beings, we’re not going to act like Democrats.” But by doing that, you allow yourself to be eaten alive every time you lose power.
I’m hoping that Republicans realize that, especially as Democrats have the Department of Justice on their side this time around, with the January 6 committee where you see people like Steve Bannon literally getting sentenced to prison for not complying with congressional subpoenas. I hope they realize that the Democrats are not going to take after their “principles” — I’m rolling my eyes — of decency or whatever they’re trying to do. I hope they realize this is a blood sport, so either get in or get out, but don’t talk to me about principles when they’re locking Bannon up.
My feeling is that Joe Biden’s fate will be decided sometime before January 3 in the vote for who’s going to be the House Speaker. There will be a certain number of conservative congressmen who will get together and tell Kevin McCarthy, “If you want our vote to be speaker, you have to commit yourself to X, Y, and Z — whatever X, Y, and Z will be.”
In my opinion, this is already starting. McCarthy was recently at the border where he declared that he was going to impeach Secretary Mayorkas of the Department of Homeland Security. I don’t think that just came out that day. That probably came out of the apprehension you see in the Freedom Caucus and by people like Rep. Matt Gaetz, who are saying, “We don’t know if we’re voting for this guy.” He then comes out and goes hard, and I think that that was a gesture to them to say, “I’m in your corner and I’m ready to go.”
It’s not a bad thing. As a conservative, I’m not happy that the majority is so thin, but I do think it’s not necessarily a bad thing that he has to prove himself. We’ve had so many House speakers in the past, like Paul Ryan and John Boehner, who have been so disappointing. Let him fight, let him have to prove himself. That’s good for the constituents.
Back to the laptop — how do you feel about it? Would you do it all over again if given the opportunity?
Yeah, I mean, I guess. On the one hand, it’s been an amazing experience. It’s been amazing for my career, obviously. It’s made history, and part of me feels like, how could I ever wish that I sat on the sidelines of history? You go into the media industry wanting to really make an impact, and this definitely did that.
But on the other hand, it’s thrusted me into a position of intense scrutiny, of intense pressure that I had never known before. I feel like I’ve adjusted all right, and I’ve had great people in my corner mentoring me through it, but it hasn’t necessarily been all pleasant.
On the whole, I’d never take it back. I could never wish for anything else. This was all meant to be.
You’re in this country for six years and you made it to the top of the media world. How did that happen?
I was born and raised in Montreal. I moved to New York in 2016 because I got hired to produce Hannity. I had no idea at the time what my career was going to look like when I graduated school; I just got that opportunity and took it.
I was doing TV for four years when I met Miranda Devine, who was a columnist at the New York Post. She had just come to New York from Australia and she had this fascinating career. We connected ideologically and personally and we became really fast friends. We were talking and I was saying, “I don’t know if I really like TV. I don’t know if I still want to do it.” Then the position to be an editor at the Post opened up and she told me, “You have to apply, this would be a great position for you.” So I applied and I moved to the Post in 2020.
I was deputy politics editor at the Post in charge of national politics coverage. During the day, I would be assigning stories and then editing them. About a year after I broke the laptop story, I got poached by Breitbart. They called me up and just gave me all these great opportunities that just felt right. I had always been a big fan of Andrew Breitbart, the namesake of the website who died in 2012. He was a huge inspiration for me.
A fellow Orthodox Jew.
Absolutely. There are a few Orthodox Jews who work at Breitbart — Joel Pollack is one, and the CEO, Larry Sala, as well; he was a childhood friend of Andrew’s. I always felt that Breitbart has been a kindred spirit and it just felt right, so I made that jump in November of 2021. And here we are. I mean, I don’t have a very long career. I’m only 29.
I wonder if the reporter who broke the Pentagon Papers ever broke another major story after that.
Yes, that’s that I mean.
I’m trying to pivot a bit after the laptop story. It just feels like when you’re in political journalism, you’re always trying to be that person who breaks the Snowden story or who breaks the Pentagon Papers story. That’s the big goal of your entire career. As you’re working toward that end game of breaking that story that makes history and is taught in journalism schools forever after — I feel like I kind of done that now.
And that happened at 27, which is a shame because I have a good 30 years to go in front of me. Because of that, I’ve become a little bored of day-to-day politics reporting. I mean, I still edit and I have a great time doing that, and thank G-d I have amazing reporters who work under me who are so passionate and inspire me. But in terms of my work and my writing, I’ve shifted it to interest stories, culture stories, features reporting, enterprise reporting — like the story on the New York Times and yeshivos. It’s not politics, exactly. It’s more like human interest and corruption.
I’m writing about various things, mostly culture, just because I find that in politics, I beat the game, so I got to find something else to do. It’s a funny place to be.
You know, in response to your last question, I would never say that I wish I didn’t do it, but I wish it would have happened when I was in my 40s.