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On the hunt for Hunter: A man obsessed with the Biden family


Highlights: Garrett Ziegler has been collecting embarrassing details about Hunter Biden for years. Behind him is a whole network of MAGA conspirators. "I am convinced that no one in the Western world has dealt with the American First Family as intensively as we have," he recently said on YouTube. Hunter Biden sued him in federal court in California, calling him "a zealot who has waged an ongoing, disturbed and obsessive campaign against [Hunter Biden] and the entire Biden family for more than two years"

Status: 18.09.2023, 10:14 a.m.


Garrett Ziegler has been collecting embarrassing details about Hunter Biden for years. Behind him is a whole network of MAGA conspirators.

Washington D.C. — Lunden Roberts needed an expert to prove that Hunter Biden had the money to continue making hefty alimony payments for her four-year-old daughter. She then turned to Garrett Ziegler's legal team.

Ziegler does not have a degree in personal finance. He does not know the president's son personally. But Ziegler, whose first job after college was a minor helper in Donald Trump's White House, has become a specialist for Hunter Biden, compiling personal and financial records from anywhere he can get them. Then his non-profit organization puts them online.

Drug addiction and sexual escapades - Hunter Biden provides material for scandals

Ziegler claims that this archive provides the most comprehensive account of Hunter Biden's life, from his struggles with drug addiction to his sexual escapades and his business activities. "I am convinced that no one in the Western world has dealt with the American First Family as intensively as we have," he recently said on YouTube. "I'm obsessed with studying the family."

The 27-year-old Ziegler has tens of thousands of followers on social media and enjoys the attention of conservative media. He has made himself the main opponent of the younger Biden, which has led to lawsuits, a complaint to the tax authority and other legal actions from Hunter Biden's entourage.

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An entire network is looking for dirt on Hunter Biden

Ziegler is at the head of a wide-ranging network of Biden opponents, from right-wing media organizations to congressmen to MAGA activists, who are deeply involved with the president's son. They see Hunter Biden's activities as his father's biggest political weakness, a conclusion that is reflected in the recent decision of Republicans in the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings.

On Wednesday, Hunter Biden sued Ziegler in federal court in California. He claimed the activist violated privacy laws, calling him "a zealot who has waged an ongoing, disturbed and obsessive campaign against [Hunter Biden] and the entire Biden family for more than two years."


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After Ziegler, who served as an aide to Trump's adviser Peter Navarro, a MAGA hardliner and election denier, left the White House in early 2021, he began to turn his attention to President Joe Biden's son and devote his tremendous energy to figuring out every detail he could. Ziegler obtained some of the financial records from Hunter Biden and said he received them from someone who worked at Biden's bank. He has delved into Hunter Biden's business relationships. He even acquired a copy of the diary of Ashley Biden, Hunter's sister.

Hunter Biden's laptop to bring down father Joe Biden

His biggest project, however, was searching for embarrassing information, including nude photos and videos, from a laptop that Hunter Biden left in a garage in April 2019. Ziegler said in an interview that he received a hard drive containing the alleged contents of Rudy Giuliani's laptop before the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

In October 2022, Ziegler announced that the non-profit organization he founded, Marco Polo, had published an extensive report on the laptop, claiming to have uncovered at least 459 criminal or regulatory violations. This claim has not been verified, and Hunter Biden's team dismisses it as absurd. (The Washington Post has also obtained a hard drive purportedly from the laptop and confirmed some of its contents).

Garrett Ziegler, a former Trump White House aide, has dug deep into the history of the Biden family. "I'm sure no one in the Western world has researched the history of the first American family better than we have," he said in a YouTube interview. © Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

"We want (our report) to be on coffee tables and on bookshelves and to be brought out whenever you hear something on the news," Ziegler said in the interview. On his Telegram page, where he has around 100,000 followers, he added: "We believe this is the deepest digital colonoscopy ever performed on a sitting U.S. family head."

Inflammatory attacks on Joe Biden and his family

Ziegler has a smaller following than some better-known conservative arsonists. But this relatively low profile allows it to unleash inflammatory attacks with less attention, said Jared Holt, who studies extremists for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue think tank.

"There's an incentive for him to go a step further and be a little more outrageous because that's the kind of audience he's cultivated and the part of the ecosystem that he fits into," Holt said.

Some of Hunter Biden's associates fear that Ziegler, with his sometimes wild theories and encyclopedic knowledge of Hunter Biden's history, will influence both public discussion and the House investigation into the president's son.

Ziegler argues that he has an important role to play in scrutinizing the Bidens, mainly because, in his opinion, the Republicans are not cracking down on Hunter Biden hard enough. "The right wing totally screwed up this reaction," he said. "It was frustrating how fast it went. Now we've been at it for seven months, and I don't think they've subpoenaed Hunter."

Democrats want to portray Hunter Biden as purified

For the Democrats, Ziegler and his efforts embody everything that is wrong at a time when a single person can use the Internet to humiliate and slander a chosen target. Hunter Biden is a recovering drug addict who has experienced tragedy in his life, and whatever his weaknesses, they have no bearing on the president's performance, they say.

"Ziegler has proven to be a ruthless, irresponsible agent of chaos," said Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee. At a hearing in July, Swalwell raised concerns about Ziegler's postings attacking federal police officers.

Ziegler claims that his aggressive action is justified because his target is not Hunter Biden, but the president. He claims that Hunter Biden has been involved in shady deals with China-based firms for decades, and that the president knew about it, which made Senior Biden a follower of China.

Hunter Biden after a court hearing at the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on July 26 in Wilmington, Del. © Jabin Botsford7The Washington Post

"My focus is never on Hunter Biden — it's all about Hunter's relationship with Joe," Ziegler said. "All my obsession with the Bidens starts and ends with Joe. It doesn't start or end with Hunter."

Hunter Biden's legal team did not take Ziegler's efforts well. In his recent lawsuit, Hunter alleges that Ziegler and the other members of his nonprofit illegally hacked parts of Biden's laptop that were encrypted, and that they ignored requests to cease and desist, which Ziegler denies. Ziegler says he would not "honor" cease-and-desist letters on the matter because he believes his actions were lawful.

Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden is in a alimony battle

In February of this year, Hunter Biden's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, challenged the tax exemption of Marco Polo's parent company, ICU, writing to the IRS that it "operated as little more than a thinly disguised political operation to attack the Biden administration and the Biden family." Ziegler said that his personal criticism of the Bidens did not reflect the official views of his nonprofit.

Hunter Biden's friend and benefactor Kevin Morris has also sued Ziegler, accusing him of harassment and doxing. For example, after the settlement on child support, Ziegler posted the coordinates of Morris's plane on his public Telegram page and speculated about Morris' possible travels. Ziegler's lawyers have argued in court filings that he exercised his right to freedom of expression.

One of his most notable moves was for Ziegler to get involved in the controversial alimony battle between Roberts, an Arkansas resident, and Hunter Biden over their four-year-old daughter, Navy. Hunter Biden initially denied paternity for the girl until a DNA test proved the relationship, and he said he barely remembers his relationship with Roberts because it took place when he was in a spiral of drug addiction.

Roberts' lawyers requested that Ziegler be named as an expert witness, claiming in a court filing that he was "an expert on Hunter Biden, his life, his finances, his personal history, his financial history, the Biden firms, and the ways the Biden family interacts interpersonally and financially."

Hunter Biden's lawyers strike back

Hunter Biden's lawyers initially rejected Ziegler's inclusion — complaining about his lack of relevant expertise, his "background," and his alleged grudge against the Biden family — but eventually relented. Ziegler made an affidavit that remains sealed, but he never testified publicly in the case. Hunter Biden and Roberts eventually agreed to pay alimony.

Of greater importance to the impeachment investigation that has just begun is the business career of Hunter Biden, a topic of great interest to Ziegler. Hunter Biden has denied any wrongdoing in his financial dealings, and there is no publicly available evidence linking his father to criminal behavior.

The federal prosecutor's office has been investigating the president's son for more than four years and reached a settlement in June, according to which he pleaded guilty to two minor tax offenses and admitted to a weapons offense. After this deal fell through, the prosecutor investigating the case was appointed special prosecutor, and he recently obtained an indictment against Hunter Biden for the gun offense, suggesting that the case could go to court.

Beyond the president's son, Ziegler's general message often conveys a far-right worldview that mocks certain groups.

Garrett Ziegler finds his way to politics via Donald Trump

He spreads inflammatory memes and conspiracy theories. He has shared the rhetoric that Christians are better than others and that whites are particularly persecuted. He has disseminated Photoshopped images of women he doesn't like in compromising positions with Hunter Biden.

Before working in the Trump administration, Ziegler had little connection to politics. Aside from his cousin Ron Ziegler, who was President Richard M. Nixon's press secretary, his family worked primarily in agriculture and insurance, he told his hometown, Illinois, newspaper in 2018. He graduated from St. Louis University in 2018 with a degree in economics before moving to Washington. He and his wife, Allie, have since moved back to Illinois, where he presents himself on social media as a devout Lutheran and family man.

At the White House, Ziegler worked for Navarro, one of Trump's most outspoken advisers, who was recently convicted of contempt of Congress after refusing to cooperate with the House investigative committee on the January 6 attack. In his role at the White House, Ziegler wrote reports on Chinese tariffs (which he said should be reciprocated by the US), the Covid-19 pandemic (which he said was planned), and the 2020 elections (which he said were stolen).

The committee finally came to the attention of Ziegler on Jan. 6, questioning him about his role in a tumultuous meeting at the White House shortly after the 2020 election, which resulted in a confrontation between some Trump aides who urged the president to stay in power and a group of aides who warned against it.

Following his questioning by the committee in July 2022, Ziegler unleashed a 27-minute diatribe on his Telegram page, calling the investigation discriminatory against whites and using sexist language to describe female ex-colleagues who cooperated with the committee.

Nasty attacks and insults against Joe Biden

"You see me as a young Christian who you can basically scare in, right? Ziegler said. He called the investigation a "Bolshevik anti-white campaign," adding that he was "the least racist person many of you have ever met."

He has accused several of Biden's allies of being Bolsheviks, prompting Jonathan Greenblatt, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League, to remark that such words "are often used as code for Jews." Ziegler dismissed any criticism from the group, saying that any position taken by the ADL "is probably a good indication of what I think is the exact opposite."

Ziegler has also posted photos on his Telegram page of his targets' daughters wearing swimsuits or partying with friends, sometimes making fun of the girls' appearance. In other posts he has shared with his followers, women are ridiculed as bad drivers or as supposedly biologically unfit for military combat.

Ziegler said his attacks on the women were legitimate, even if they were private citizens, as their public photos were "degenerate." He said he doesn't agree with every post he shares with his followers; he joked when he relayed memes about women's driving skills, he said, but he didn't think women should serve on the military front.

Connections to racists in the U.S.

Ziegler has also shared posts by white supremacist Nick Fuentes, claiming there is a "war on whites." Liberal activist David Brock, whose group Facts First USA has been following Ziegler's online comments, said he warned lawmakers, journalists and others about Ziegler's rhetoric and urged them to keep their distance. "He doesn't belong within 100 miles of Congress or a courtroom," Brock said in an interview.

Ziegler said he doesn't agree with all of Fuentes' views, but he believes whites are being unfairly persecuted, pointing to the government's efforts to reach a more diverse workforce. He was a "Christian and a nationalist," he said, but not a Christian nationalist.

House Republicans are stepping up efforts to investigate Hunter Biden, culminating in a Sept. 12 instruction from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to House committees to launch an impeachment investigation into President Biden, focusing on his son's business, some of the same areas that Ziegler has been investigating.

Ziegler said he had made contacts within the GOP congressional offices and given them copies of the report on Hunter Biden's laptop, though he declined to name specific lawmakers.

About the author

Meryl Kornfield is a political editor at the Washington Post.

However, some members of Congress have mentioned the report publicly. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said in an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, "You should read the Marco Polo report, which lists all sorts of crimes. (Todd countered that mentioning "possible" crimes was an "allusion.") Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) told Newsmax that the "positive" thing about the report was the inclusion of bank records.

Republicans are grateful for Ziegler's work

"The reaction of the Republicans who received the report was obviously grateful," Ziegler said. He added: "Sometimes they had an aversion to listening to me – and then when they looked at our work or our website . . . ." He broke off.

After Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) showed nude photos of Hunter Biden at a congressional hearing, Democrats noted that she had shown the photos in the same order and with similar redactions as in the Marco Polo report. Greene's office did not respond to questions about whether the photos were from Ziegler or his nonprofit, but he hinted at it.

"Some of our screenshots were used in the report," Ziegler said in the interview. "So I'm reasonably satisfied."

Jacqueline Alemany and Jeremy Merrill contributed to this report.

We are currently testing machine translations. This article has been automatically translated from English into German.

This article was first published in English by "" on September 18, 2023 - in the course of a cooperation, it is now also available in translation to the readers of IPPEN. MEDIA portals.

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-09-18

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