The Justice Department and Delaware U.S. Attorney’s office went out of their way to hamper an IRS investigation of Hunter Biden’s taxes by consistently slow walking the case, preventing enforcement actions by the IRS and tipping off actions related to the investigation to Biden’s attorneys in advance, according to new whistleblower testimony released Thursday by the House Ways and Means Committee.
Following a closed executive session Thursday morning, the Republican-controlled committee led by Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) exercised its unique authority to publicly release information in the five-year federal investigation into his failure to pay about $1 million in federal taxes. Tax information is generally barred from disclosure by strict taxpayer privacy laws.
The released documents include transcripts of interviews by the committee with two IRS whistleblowers, an affidavit signed by one of the whistleblowers and internal IRS correspondence. The documents shed light on the experiences of two IRS investigators who said they were deeply concerned about the unusual handling of the Hunter Biden case, their perceived marginalization from decisions made by federal prosecutors and their eventual removal from the yearslong investigation.
Hunter Biden’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the documents.
Democrats on the committee, who all voted against releasing the documents, protested that Republicans improperly used their powers for law enforcement purposes and that government watchdogs for Justice and the IRS should be allowed to separately investigate the whistleblower allegations.
Democrats had used the same authority under the tax code to publish former President Donald Trump’s taxes last year, much to the outrage of Republicans. Committee ranking member Richard Neal (D-Mass.) emphasized that, unlike Republicans, Democrats considered the bar for releasing private taxpayer information to be “exceedingly high” and published Trump’s returns only after the Supreme Court affirmed that the action had a “legislative purpose.”
“There’s no corroboration of any of what happened today,” said Neal of the whistleblower testimonies, noting that law enforcement agencies should be able to interview 50 other government employees who were named in the transcript.
Smith insisted that Americans deserved to know about Justice’s unequal enforcement of tax laws evidenced by the Hunter Biden case that he said blatantly favor the wealthy and politically well-connected.
“I think you’ll see a level of criminality that I don’t think anybody expected to see in these whistleblower transcripts,” said committee member Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), a former federal prosecutor.
While Hunter Biden ultimately agreed to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors, as detailed in a Delaware court filing earlier this week, Smith said the IRS recommended that President Joe Biden’s son be charged with counts of attempting to evade or defeat tax and fraud or false statement, both of which amount to felonies.
“What plea deal did Mr. Biden just receive? A slap on the wrist for charges that have put other Americans behind bars,” Smith said.
In his interview with the committee, one of the whistleblowers, special supervisory agent Gary Shapley, describes a meeting in October 2022 between senior managers at the IRS, FBI and the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s office in which David Weiss, the attorney overseeing the probe, provided the “earth-shattering” news that charges brought against Hunter Biden were denied in D.C. — and that Weiss was subsequently denied special counsel authority by Justice.
Weiss then brought the materials to the Central District of California as a last resort, which also declined to bring the charges against Hunter Biden.
Shapley said it was clear to all the investigators present at that meeting that testimony provided by Attorney General Merrick Garland to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in March that Weiss has “full authority to make those referrals” and “has been advised that he should get anything he needs” was false.
The criminal tax investigation of Hunter Biden “has been handled differently than any investigation I’ve ever been a part of for the past 14 years of my IRS service,” Shapley said.
A second unnamed IRS whistleblower said in his testimony before the committee that the conduct of prosecutors on the case “has honestly been appalling, and I do not think that they are considering the human impact of the decisions they’re making.”
A DOJ spokesperson refuted the notion that Weiss had less than full control over the case.
“As both the Attorney General and U.S. Attorney David Weiss have said, U.S. Attorney Weiss has full authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges as he deems appropriate. He needs no further approval to do so,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
According to a statement by Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the White House, the president has been clear that his son’s case should be handled independently by Justice.
“He has upheld that commitment,” Sams said.
In a June 7 letter to House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Weiss wrote, “I want to make clear that, as the Attorney General has stated, I have been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges.”
“Throughout my tenure as U.S. Attorney my decisions have been made — and with respect to the matter must be made — without reference to political considerations,” Weiss said.
Ben Schrekinger contributed to this report.
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