In a recent court filing, former Trump administration aide Garrett Ziegler argued that Hunter Biden had failed to establish a causal connection between Ziegler’s actions and Biden’s claimed breach of privacy.
A former White House aide has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that he violated state and federal laws by uploading material purportedly taken from Hunter Biden’s laptop.
According to NBC News, the request concerns a lawsuit filed by Hunter Biden against Garrett Ziegler and his company, Marco Polo, this past September. In it, Biden claims that they broke federal law by creating an online database of more than 128,000 emails attributed to him.
However, attorneys for Ziegler—who contributed to trade policy under Trump administration adviser Peter Navarro—argued that Biden’s legal team had failed to establish a causal connection between their client’s conduct and Biden’s claims of injury.
“Plaintiff alleges no facts which demonstrate Defendants ever accessed any computer, storage, or service which Plaintiff either owns or has exclusive control over,” Ziegler’s attorneys wrote in their filing to U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
NBC News notes that, in the lawsuit, Biden’s legal team concedes that “the precise manner by which Defendant Ziegler obtained Plaintiff’s data remains unclear,” but that is nonetheless indisputable that Ziegler and his company had, “to at least some extent, accessed, tampered with, manipulated, altered, copied and damaged” data owned by or attributed to Biden.
Biden’s complaint indicates that much of the information uploaded in the so-called “Report on the Biden Laptop” was non-political in nature and, in some cases, personally sensitive.
“According to Defendant Ziegler, Defendants spent ‘a couple of months’ going through photos stored in Plaintiff’s data, organizing and modifying the photos (through what he characterizes as ‘redactions’), and subjecting the data to a ‘photo viewing app’ to allow Defendants and others to ‘view the metadata in the photos,’” Biden’s lawsuit alleges. “[…] Plaintiff is informed and believes … that the data Defendants have accessed, tampered with, manipulated and copied also includes Plaintiff’s credit card details, Plaintiff’s financial and bank records, and information of the type contained in a file of a consumer reporting agency.”
Ziegler has, in the meantime, suggested that his dissemination of Biden’s emails is tantamount to free speech, in that it “constitutes protected activity” involving “a public figure” and “is a matter of public importance.”
“It’s not worth the paper it’s printed on,” Ziegler said of the lawsuit in a September statement to POLITICO. “Apart from the numerous state and federal laws and regulations which protect authors like me and the publishing that Marco Polo does, it’s not lost on us that [President Joe Biden’s] son filed this SLAPP one day after an Impeachment inquiry into his father was announced.”
An attorney for Biden did not respond to media requests for comment on Thursday night.