Hunter Biden prosecutor’s office briefed on bribery allegation before 2020 election, senator says
Grassley demands answers from US Attorney David Weiss, claiming “hundreds” of people have had access to FBI informant memo.
The office of a Trump-era federal prosecutor who has led the investigation of Hunter Biden was briefed two weeks before the 2020 election that the FBI had allegations from an informant suggesting Joe Biden was involved in a bribery scheme involving Ukrainian business interests, according to new information released by a top Republican senator.
In a letter made public Monday, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss when he first learned about the October 2020 briefing the FBI gave to one of his top prosecutors, Lesley Wolf.
“Based on information provided to my office from individuals aware of the meeting, on October 23, 2020, Justice Department and FBI Special Agents from the Pittsburgh Field Office briefed Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf, one of your top prosecutors, and FBI Special Agents from the Baltimore Field Office with respect to the contents of the FBI-generated FD- 1023 alleging a criminal bribery scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and Hunter Biden,” Grassley wrote in the letter dated Sunday.
You can read the letter here:
The existence of the FD-1023 informant memo was first disclosed by Grassley and House Oversight committee Chairman James Comer earlier this spring, transforming the congressional investigation into Hunter Biden into an inquiry also involving his father, the 46th president.
Lawmakers who have seen the memo say it indicates the FBI first learned about the bribery allegations in 2017, and the FBI has told them the allegations remain part of an ongoing investigation. The allegations specifically claim Joe Biden was part of a scheme in which $10 million was paid to his family in return for unspecified policy decisions, lawmakers have said.
Congressional investigators’ interest in the memo heightened in recent days when an IRS whistleblower, Supervisory Agent Gary Shapley, revealed to Congress he was never told about the informant allegations, even though he was leading the IRS team investigating Hunter Biden‘s finances.
Grassley wrote that while IRS agents weren’t included in the October 2020 briefing, many government officials had access to the sensitive informant report.
“Based on information provided to my office, potentially hundreds of Justice Department and FBI officials have had access to the FD-1023 at issue, which begs the question that I’ve been asking since the start of my oversight in this matter: What steps have the Justice Department and FBI taken to investigate the allegations? You, Attorney General Garland, and Director Wray have failed to answer,” the veteran senator wrote.
Grassley asked Weiss to answer a half dozen questions, including:
- When he became aware of the October 2020 briefing provided by Justice Department and FBI officials to Wolf;
- Whether he is aware of any steps Wolf and the Baltimore Field Office took to investigate the bribery allegations;
- Why IRS agents on the case weren’t included in the October 2020 briefing;
- Does the scope of Weiss’ probe include the alleged criminal scheme between a foreign national and Joe Biden;
- Has Weiss taken any steps to recover the alleged audio recordings and related evidence the informant alleged existed.
Weiss has declined to answer most of lawmakers’ questions, saying he must protect private information during an ongoing investigation.
Hunter Biden has been charged with two tax misdemeanors and a gun felony and is expected to plead guilty to the tax charges in a plea deal. His first appearance is slated for later this month.
Weiss, however, on Monday, disputed one aspect of the IRS whistleblowers’ testimony, saying he never requested or was turned down to be a special counsel in the case.
“To clarify an apparent misperception and to avoid future confusion, I wish to make one point clear: in this case, I have not requested Special Counsel designation,” Weiss wrote Sen. Lindsey Graham.