Hunter Biden sued Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mr. Giuliani’s former lawyer on Tuesday for their roles in disseminating personal information about Mr. Biden said to have been taken from a laptop he left at a Delaware repair shop before the 2020 election.
The suit is the latest move by Mr. Biden, the president’s son, to take a more adversarial approach with opponents who have used his troubles as the basis for political attacks on his father. Mr. Biden, who long struggled with addiction to crack cocaine and alcohol, was indicted by federal prosecutors this month on charges of lying about his drug use when he purchased a handgun in 2018, and he faces a potential indictment on tax charges.
Earlier this year, Mr. Biden sued the owner of the store where he left the laptop, and last week he sued the Internal Revenue Service for the way it divulged his tax returns to Congress and a former Trump administration aide who has publicized information about him.
In the suit filed on Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles, Mr. Biden claimed that Mr. Giuliani and his former lawyer, Robert J. Costello, “have been primarily responsible for what has been described as the ‘total annihilation’” of Mr. Biden’s privacy.
“For the past many months and even years, defendants have dedicated an extraordinary amount of time and energy toward looking for, hacking into, tampering with, manipulating, copying, disseminating and generally obsessing over data that they were given that was taken or stolen from plaintiff’s devices or storage platforms,” including what they claim to have taken from the laptop, the suit says.
Among the laws Mr. Biden says that Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Costello should be held accountable for violating are the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and California’s Computer Data Access and Fraud Act. The suit did not name a dollar figure that Mr. Biden is seeking, saying only that it was over $75,000.
Ted Goodman, an adviser to Mr. Giuliani, responded in a statement: “Hunter Biden has previously refused to admit ownership of the laptop. I’m not surprised he’s now falsely claiming his laptop hard drive was manipulated by Mayor Giuliani, considering the sordid material and potential evidence of crimes on that thing.”
Mr. Giuliani began trying to promote the contents of the laptop in the weeks before the November 2020 election, hoping to give Mr. Trump an October surprise that could catapult him to victory over Joseph R. Biden Jr. The contents that Mr. Giuliani said came from the laptop included salacious photos of Mr. Biden as well as a trove of emails and text messages describing foreign business contacts and family matters.
As the contents of the laptop became public, Mr. Biden’s aides tried to raise questions about the validity of the material, and dozens of former intelligence officials released a letter that cast information becoming public as having “all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”
Mr. Biden has never directly acknowledged that the laptop from the repair shop was his, and the suit does not directly concede that it was. But some news organizations, including The New York Times, have authenticated some of the messages from it, and the suit appears to acknowledge that at least some of the information from the laptop was his, saying “some of the data that defendants obtained, copied, and proceeded to hack into and tamper with belongs to plaintiff.”
The suit appears to walk that line carefully, however. It contains a footnote saying that Mr. Biden was not making an “admission” that the computer store owner “possessed any particular laptop containing electronically stored data belonging to Mr. Biden.”
Instead, the footnote says, Mr. Biden “simply acknowledges that at some point,” the store owner “obtained electronically stored data, some of which belonged to Mr. Biden.”
The suit adds to a heaping pile of legal troubles for Mr. Giuliani. Last month, the Fulton County District Attorney’s office indicted him in connection with trying to reverse that state’s 2020 election result. Last week, Mr. Giuliani was sued by a lawyer seeking over a million dollars in unpaid legal fees.
The lawyer who sued Mr. Giuliani? Mr. Costello, his co-defendant in the suit filed on Tuesday.