- The New York Post inadvertently revealed details identifying the source of a dubious story published Wednesday on a “smoking gun email” between Hunter Biden and a Ukrainian employee while he was on board natural gas company Burisma Holdings.
- Two photos published in the story appear to point to a specific Mac workshop in the Trolley Square neighborhood of Wilmington, Delaware, owned by a man named John Paul Mac Isaac.
- In an interview with several reporters who searched for him, Isaac confirmed that he was the source of the story, but could not understand his facts when he described his memory of events in the history of the Post, reports The Daily Beast.
- The article contained a number of red flags that raised questions about its authenticity and sources immediately after its publication, and gained little appeal among more reputable sites.
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The New York Post sent shockwaves into politics on Wednesday when it published a dubious story alleging a “smoking gun email”
The story immediately ignited in conservative circles, and allies of President Donald Trump cited it as indisputable proof that the candidates are in consolidation with the Ukrainian government. Many also said it showed the former vice president was using his official government role to end an investigation into Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian natural gas company whose board is Hunter Biden until April 2019.
There were a number of red flags and loopholes in history that raised questions about its authenticity and sources, and it gained little appeal among more reputable sources.
The report says that in April 2019, an unidentified person removed a water-damaged MacBook Pro containing alleged emails and other compromising material about Hunter Biden at an unidentified service station in Delaware, the home of the Biden family. The report cites the owner of the service, who provides this information but does not provide details about his identity.
However, two photos published in the history of the Post seem to point to a specific business in the Trolley Square neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware.
The photos, which appeared in a connected slideshow, show the first and third pages of a MacBook laptop and external hard disk search. The metadata in both photos shows that they were taken at or very close to a local restaurant called The Mac Shop.
The owner of the workshop was not sure that the laptop belonged to Hunter Biden, but said that the machine had a sticker from the Bo Biden Foundation, according to the report.
The Post said the man who left the water-damaged laptop “never paid for the service, nor did he take it, nor the hard drive that stores its contents, according to the store owner, who said he has tried to contact the customer repeatedly “.
The store owner then contacted federal authorities about the laptop and hard drive, and he handed over the hardware in December after being summoned, the story goes. However, before handing them over, the Post said the store owner made a copy of the hard drive and gave it to a lawyer representing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The Post said it learned of the alleged emails after Steve Bannon, a former White House chief strategist and chief executive of Trump’s campaign, alerted the outcome of their existence late last month, and Giuliani told Post reporters drive on Sunday.
The article includes a photo of a federal court summons showing that the FBI seized the computer and hard drive in December. It is not clear why the bureau called or confiscated the hardware after the service owner voluntarily informed the authorities of its existence.
But the first photo in the Post’s history, showing the cover page of a subpoena, offers additional clues. If you look closely, you will notice faint handwriting between and behind the printed text, which seems to suggest that something is written on the back of the page. This would make sense, as the blank summons – Form AO 110 – contains a second page to be completed by the agent serving it.
Turning the image on the first page and superimposing it on a blank version of the second page of the subpoena clearly shows that the location of the weak handwriting is aligned with the location of the various fields and design elements on the second page. The same handwriting shows that the summons was served on a person or entity with four relatively short names, the third and fourth of which appear to begin with a capital letter “M” and a capital letter “I”. The owner of The Mac Shop appears to be a man named John Paul Mac Isaac.
Isaac later confirmed that he was the source of the Post’s story in an interview with several reporters who followed him to his store. His social media posts suggest he is an avid supporter of Trump, and he described the president’s impeachment as a “sham” in the interview, according to The Daily Beast. Isaac also cites the debunked right-wing conspiracy theory of the assassination of Democratic Party official Seth Rich.
More importantly, The Daily Beast’s report says that Isaac could not understand his facts when he laid out the chronology of how the laptop arrived at his store and when it disappeared.
“Throughout the interview, Isaac switched back and forth from looking for law enforcement after reviewing the files on the laptop, and said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had actually contacted him,” the report said. “At one point, Isaac said he sent an email to someone from the FBI about the laptop. At another point, he claimed that a special agent from the Baltimore office contacted him after alerting the FBI to the device. At another point. he said the FBI turned to him for “help accessing his device.”
This analysis also suggests that the summons was served by an FBI agent based outside the satellite office of the Wilmington Center office. The agent’s name, though not 100% legible, appears to be “Joshua Wilson.” Over the past decade, a number of news agencies have quoted or described an FBI agent of the same name.
Last year, The Star-Ledger described him as “a New Jersey-based FBI agent who spent nearly five years working full-time on child pornography.” In 2012, the same Joshua Wilson signed a criminal complaint accusing a man from New Jersey of collecting and distributing child pornography. The signature on this appeal clearly coincides with the irreversible signature of a subpoena published by the New York Post.
It is unclear whether the FBI employs more than one agent named Joshua Wilson. But available evidence shows that Joshua Wilson, who signed the summons for Hunter Biden’s laptop, and Joshua Wilson, who is investigating child pornography for the FBI, are the same person. This raises the possibility, which has not been explored by the Post, that the FBI has issued a subpoena for reasons unrelated to Hunter Biden’s role in Ukraine and Burisma.
However, Isaac told reporters on Wednesday that he “did not see child pornography” on the laptop, that the Post reported that it had been left in his store, raising further questions as to why the summons came from an FBI agent who specializes in investigating the question.
Isaac did not answer many phone calls and text messages asking for comment. The FBI also did not respond immediately to a request for comment.