A former Trump White House aide has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that alleged he violated state and federal laws in connection with the online publication of laptop content attributed to Hunter Biden.
The president’s son sued Garrett Ziegler and the company he founded, Marco Polo, in September, claiming they broke state and federal laws in an effort to create an online searchable database with 128,000 emails attributed to Biden.
Attorneys for Ziegler, who worked on trade policy in the White House under Trump adviser Peter Navarro, argued in a 30-page filing that Biden’s legal team had not established a causal connection between Ziegler’s conduct and Biden’s claims of injury related to the data and that they failed to state "a viable claim."
“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 a filing with a federal court in the Central District of California.
In their lawsuit, Biden's attorneys had acknowledged that "the precise manner by which Defendant Ziegler obtained Plaintiff’s data remains unclear" but said it was indisputable that Ziegler and Marco Polo had "to at least some extent, accessed, tampered with, manipulated, altered, copied and damaged" data attributed to Biden in a manner that was illegal and without his consent.
Ziegler’s legal team also argued that First Amendment protections apply in the case. His attorneys said Ziegler and the company’s conduct “constitutes protected activity because it involves a public figure and is a matter of public importance.” Ziegler is currently one of three members on Marco Polo's board of directors.
An attorney for Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night.
Separate from the lawsuit, Biden faces a pair of indictments stemming from a federal investigation. He pleaded not guilty to a three-count indictment tied to his alleged possession of a gun while he was using narcotics, and he was indicted this month on nine tax-related charges, including three felony counts. An arraignment in that case is scheduled for January.
House Republicans have also targeted Biden in their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. The president's son recently defied a congressional subpoena that requested a closed-door deposition. He instead offered to testify publicly, saying that would ensure that the Republican-led investigations "do not proceed on distortions, manipulated evidence and lies.”
CLARIFICATION (Dec. 22, 2023, 2:26 p.m. ET): This article has been updated to reflect that Garrett Ziegler is the founder of the company Marco Polo, and is now on the board of directors.