Although Hunter Biden said "there could be a laptop out there" that once belonged to him that was the center of controversy during the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, he simultaneously raised the possibility that the computer and its purported contents might not, in fact, be authentic.
After the segment aired and CBS posted a version of it online, a rumor circulated about what the younger Biden had said about the controversial laptop that his father’s political opponents pointed at during the 2020 presidential campaign as evidence of the family’s alleged corrupt dealings.
According to right-leaning media outlets and supporters of former President Donald Trump, Biden’s opponent at the time, the laptop was allegedly left at a Delaware computer repair shop in spring 2019 and its hard drive contained emails supposedly detailing Hunter Biden’s correspondence with Ukraine officials that involved his dad. (See here for a more detailed explanation of the controversy, which stemmed from an October 2020 article by The New York Post, a conservative tabloid.) As of this writing, federal authorities are investigating Hunter Biden’s foreign business transactions, including in China — though it is unclear if, or to what extent, the laptop and its purported evidence were part of that probe.
The Biden family remained mostly silent on the laptop controversy during and after the 2020 election. But, according to a businessman in Sarasota, Florida, who authored the below-displayed Facebook post, that silence was broken in the spring of the following year, when Hunter Biden finally addressed the allegations in the CBS interview.
The underlying claim of the post — that Hunter Biden said the laptop “could be” his — is accurate at face value. However, it is erroneous to frame that statement as a confession to crimes or shady dealings purportedly documented on the hard drive, given that he also raised multiple hypotheticals to place the authenticity of the computer and the supposed evidence it contains in doubt.
First, though, Smith asked Biden if he regretted serving on the board for Burisma Holdings, one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies, during his dad’s tenure as U.S. vice president. “I don’t think I made a mistake in taking a spot on that board,” he responded. “I made a mistake in terms of underestimating the way in which it would be used against me.”
Moments later, an image of The New York Post’s story alleging evidence of “shady dealings” on the laptop flashed across the screen, and Smith narrated the article’s purported findings. Here’s Hunter Biden’s exchange with Smith, which we slightly edited for clarity since, at times, they talked over each other (a video of the full interview is below):
Smith: Was that your laptop?
Biden: For real, I don’t know.
Smith: I know, but you know that’s — this isn’t…
Biden: I really don’t know what the answer is. That’s the truthful answer.
Smith: OK, you don’t know ‘yes’ or ‘no’ if the laptop was yours?
Biden: I don’t have any idea — I have no idea whether…
Smith: So it could have been yours?
Biden: Of course, certainly. There could be a laptop out there that was stolen from me. There could be that I was hacked. There could be that it was, that it was Russian intelligence. It could be that it was stolen from me.
Smith: And you didn’t drop off a laptop to be repaired in Delaware?
Biden: No. No. Not that I remember — at all, at all. So, we’ll see.
In other words, he said “there could be a laptop out there” that once belonged to him, which his family’s political opponents somehow seized and hacked to try to further Trump’s political agenda. However, he denied remembering dropping off a laptop at the Delaware repair shop, contradicting a fundamental aspect of the “smoking gun” tabloid story.
Considering those comments, we rate this claim “True,” with the caveat that Hunter Biden also raised the possibility that the laptop and its purported contents might not, in fact, be authentic.
Below is the full CBS segment, with the in-question exchange beginning around the 7-minute mark: