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Feds thwarted probe into possible 'criminal violations' involving 2020 Biden campaign, agents say

Newly-discovered inquiry opened after the 2020 election into the payment of Hunter Biden’s overdue taxes by a lawyer, but like other investigative avenues there was 'obstruction' by prosecutors, Congress told.

Published: September 20, 2023 12:16am

The FBI and IRS probed allegations that Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign may have benefitted from “campaign finance criminal violations” by allowing a politically connected lawyer to help pay off Hunter Biden’s large tax debts but agents were blocked by federal prosecutors from further action, according to new information uncovered by congressional investigators.

The previously unreported campaign finance inquiry was first alluded to in transcribed interviews by House investigators with two IRS agents and a retired FBI supervisor, and the allegations since have been augmented in recent weeks by new evidence uncovered by the House Ways and Means Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight Committee.

That evidence includes a case summary memo written by IRS Supervisory Criminal Investigative Agent Gary Shapley to his bosses dated May 3, 2021 in which he alleged that Lesley Wolf, a top prosecutor in the Hunter Biden case inside Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss’ office, waived agents off the campaign finance case. Shapley provided the information to Congress under the protections of whistleblower laws, and lawmakers voted the information to be public

"This investigation has been hampered and slowed by claims of potential election meddling,” Shapley wrote in the memo, according to his now-public transcribed interview with House Ways and Means where he read verbatim a passage from the memo. “Through interviews and review of evidence obtained, it appears there may be campaign finance criminal violations.

“AUSA Wolf stated on the last prosecution team meeting that she did not want any of the agents to look into the allegation,” Shapley’s memo stated, according to his interview. “She cited a need to focus on the 2014 tax year, that we could not yet prove an allegation beyond a reasonable doubt, and that she does not want to include their Public Integrity Unit because they would take authority away from her. We do not agree with her obstruction on this matter.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told Just the News on Tuesday evening that the campaign finance inquiry is a newer matter under investigation by his committee but it fits a pattern of other investigative avenues ranging from search warrants to interviews that were inexplicably turned down by prosecutors in the Hunter Biden case.

"We're just getting into this issue and the concerns," Jordan told the Just the News, No Noise television show. "But it wouldn't surprise me if they were told to stand down because remember this investigation over a five-year timeframe was slow-walked."

"This is something that I think is a concern, because, you know, you had this individual come in and cover Hunter Biden's tax liability," he added. "That's kind of interesting. And then, was in fact that a contribution to Mr. Biden's campaign when he ran for president?"

Shapley wasn't the only federal agent to raise concerns about the campaign finance inquiry.

One of his subordinates, IRS Agent Joseph Ziegler, also referred to an effort to block an investigation into the Biden campaign during his transcribed interview to the House Ways and Means Committee this summer. He said agents learned about the allegations after the 2020 election but ran into opposition from prosecutors. Ziegler also provided the information to Congress under the protections of whistleblower laws, and lawmakers voted the information to be public

“Were you aware of any other limitations placed on investigators in this case that we haven't discussed?” Ziegler was asked by House investigators.

The question prompted a brief off-the-record interruption in the interview, but when it resumed Ziegler explained his concerns about the campaign finance inquiry being sidelined.

“Yeah, things related to the campaign were kind of, at least during the investigative stages, were off limits,” Ziegler testified.

“Do you mean the Presidential campaign?” he was asked.

“Yes, the Presidential campaign,” he answered.

“In 2020?” the House lawyer pressed,

“Yes, but we'd not have found out about it until after everything was done. So this would have been when we went overt. Does that make sense?” Ziegler testified, suggesting the allegations involved the 2020 campaign but were only discovered after the election when FBI and IRS agents began taking public action in the other Hunter Biden case starting in December 2020.”

House investigators also believe retired FBI Special Agent Timothy Thibault, the former No. 2 official in the bureau’s Washington field office, also may have been referring to the campaign finance inquiry in a transcribed interview he gave last week to the House Judiciary Committee.

In excerpts of that interview, obtained by Just the News, Thibault relayed an incident when a colleague in the FBI’s Delaware office and an official from FBI headquarters called and asked him to "take the temperature" of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington D.C. about a fresh aspect of the Hunter Biden inquiry.

That new angle was unrelated to the tax charges being probed in Delaware. He said he wasn’t even sure whether the FBI had formally opened an investigative file on the new allegation.

“They called me and asked me some questions,” Thibault told Jordan's investigators. “And (they) asked, it's almost like, you know, my background was public corruption and what not. So it was about: ‘Hey, in your experience, what do you think about this?’”

Thibault was asked whether he ever discussed the issue brought to him by Delaware and FBI headquarters with the office of Washington D.C. U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves, a Biden appointee. He said he reached out at the request of the Delaware FBI and the bureau’s headquarters.

“Not Mr. Graves. I spoke to a gentleman named J.P. Cooney,” he said. Cooney was an experienced public integrity prosecutor in Washington D.C. who worked on Jan. 6 prosecutions and is now a deputy to Special Counsel Jack Smith in the prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

“And had you spoken with Mr. Cooney prior to this?” he was asked.

“No.  It was only one phone call,” he answered. “It was at the request of the Baltimore Field Office and headquarters that I make that call."

“And was the call that they would, you know, push for a prosecution?” a congressional investigator asked.

“I don't want to get into it because I don't know if that matter was opened or not,” he answered. “…They were talking about a matter that maybe could have been venued in D.C.”

Thibault wasn’t more specific about the inquiry, the allegations or what was discussed in the call. And none of the agents specified in their interviews which defendants they may have been targeting or what specific charges they sought, To date, no one has been charged with any such wrongdoing.

In his transcribed interview, Shapley described the general theory of the newly-disclosed campaign finance allegations as relating to the payment of Hunter Biden's significant tax debts, which reportedly totaled more than $2 million just to the IRS and were extinguished by a third-party by October 2021, according to a document filed by prosecutors in the now-scuttled plea deal between Hunter Biden and prosecutors in Delaware.

Kevin Morris, a successful Hollywood lawyer and novelist, has been identified by The New York Times and others as the person who provided the money for Hunter Biden to pay his overdue taxes. The Times also reported Hunter Biden and Morris met at a 2019 presidential fund-raiser for Joe Biden.

Shapley also mentioned Morris in his transcribed interview.

“In late 2019-2020, a Kevin Patrick Morris comes into the picture. And he was described as meeting Hunter Biden at a campaign finance event. And he paid off several different tranches of tax due and owing, to include Federal and D.C. tax due and owing. And when they prepared some of these returns, they wrote that Kevin Patrick Morris gave him a loan for these. So that's also not taxable,” Shapley said.

Morris did not answer a text or call to his phone seeking comment Tuesday. Ian Sams, a spokesman for Joe Biden, declined to comment on the record. Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Hunter Biden, did not return an email seeking comment.

The new information from the agents is prompting new questions for congressional investigators, For instance, if the court document from the plea deal is correct and Morris is the third-party who paid $2 million in delinquent Hunter Biden taxes in October 2022, why were agents already investigating the matter a year earlier and believe it was connected to the 2020 elections?

Shapley's testimony suggested there were "several different tranches" of tax payments made in 2020-21. NBC News has reported that Hunter Biden and his ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, received an earlier tax lien from the IRS in November 2019 -- about the time Morris and Biden reportedly met -- and paid the lien off in the amount of $112,805.09 in March 2020, well before the election ended.

Likewise, the Free Beacon reported Hunter Biden was also hit with a state tax lien totaling $453,890 from the Washington DC government on July 9, 2020 and paid it off just six days later. The news organization noted that Hunter Biden made the payment despite claiming in an Arkansas paternity case at the time that he had "no discernible income."

Congressional investigators want to know how Hunter Biden afforded paying off those two pre-2020 election tax liens given his publicly acknowledged financial difficulties and whether Morris or another supporter provided any loans or assistance then.

Morris' support for the Biden family -- including donating more than $50,000 to Joe Biden's campaign and a super PAC supporting him in 2020 and providing legal advice to Hunter Biden -- was first flagged in a letter to the Hollywood lawyer from House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer a year ago.

"Your sudden patronage of the President’s son, enormous financial contributions to President Biden, and outsized role you are taking in defending against both congressional and criminal investigations raise serious concerns about whether you are providing in-kind contributions to President Biden’s re-election efforts," Comer wrote in June 2022. "Committee Republicans request documents and information regarding your actions to shield Hunter Biden and, ultimately, President Biden from congressional oversight."

Shapley’s attorney, Tristan Leavitt of the Empower Oversight whistleblower center, told Just the News this week that Wolf’s refusal to allow campaign finance charges was reported to his chain of command as evidence the probe was being obstructed.

“One of the examples of a case being shut down that … Shapley talked about in his transcript related to Hollywood attorney named Kevin Patrick Morris,” Leavitt told the "Just the News, No Noise" television show.

“….Shapley talked about how Morris met Hunter Biden at a campaign finance event. Morris paid off the taxes that were due in late 2019, early 2020. And then when agents went to Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Wolf, and said so that looks like there might be campaign finance criminal violations. Leslie Wolf specified that she didn't want them looking back at that. And she didn't want to have to include the Public Integrity Unit.

“She didn't want other people looking over her shoulder. And these are the types of disclosures that Gary Shapley made within his chain of command, saying this is obstruction and we think there's a real problem,” he added.

House Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith, (R-Mo.), is expected to hold a committee vote soon to release to the public additional new evidence his team has gathered in the Hunter Biden case, including some of the nine memos Shapley's lawyers referenced in a public letter last week. It also is expected that the May 2021 memo that Shapley referred to in his congressional interview may also be released.

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