Before you jump on the IRS whistleblower bandwagon and his narrative about the smoking gun Hunter Biden WattsUp message screenshot, you may want to consider the following issues:
- The HB icon on the WhatsApp message (top left corner in the composite bellow) was scraped from an image taken on April 18, 2022, during the White House Easter Egg Roll. That’s five years after the alleged 2017 WhatsApp message was sent. There are two likely explanations for this:
- I. The WhatsApp message screenshot was collected from a device HB was using in 2022 (we assess this as a low probability).
- II. The WhatsApp message screenshot is a forgery (we assess this as a high probability).
- By early 2021, HB knew that his laptop/other devices/online accounts were being scrutinized. As a result, he conducted an extensive digital bleaching campaign (e.g., purging identifiable content on his PornHub page). Considering this, It is doubtful that he would have retained such a damaging message or even the WattsUp account a year later.
- The language and context of the WhatsApp message is anomalous and doesn’t match the pattern of HB’s business solicitation or writing style. The analysis of HB’s business communications shows that he doesn’t extort money from business partners under the threat of retaliation or threatens to use his father as an enforcer directly. The text of the actual message can still be authentic, but, it would have had to come from a source other than the laptop or phone.
- The WattsUp message contains similar text (regular and bold font variations of content). This appears to have been done for dramatic effect to re-emphasize the threat.
- Hunter was aware of the risk of interception and conducted sensitive negotiations (such as the one alleged in the WattsUp message) face to face or over the phone. There is no other similar evidence of such conduct in any of his extensive body of communications.
- Neither the HB laptop nor the phone backup found on the laptop has this message (the phone backup on the laptop does have HB’s WattsUp messages).
- The WhatsApp app for Mac desktops (the non-browser version) wasn’t available in 2017.
- The UI of the message doesn’t match the UI of the WattsUp used by HB on his cell phone/iPad.
- The image of the WattsUp message is a screenshot; the only way to obtain such a screenshot would have been through direct access to the device (i.e., HB’s cell phone or iPad). The IRS WB claims that this message screenshot was collected as part of a search warrant. This is unlikely because LEA typically collects text messages directly from the service provider/carrier (in this case WattsUp). The form of the collection should have been text and metadata, not a screenshot.
- The WattsUp message screenshot has no provenance or chain of transmission and can’t be authenticated.
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