White House actions raise alarms about possible political pressure on DOJ in Hunter Biden probe
Despite repeated declarations of Hunter Biden's innocence from the White House, the actions of Biden's DOJ supported by leaks to Wall Street Journal are piling up, heightening impeachment inquiry questions.
The White House raised eyebrows back in spring 2022 when it made multiple proclamations that President Joe Biden believed his son was innocent even as his Justice Department was investigating criminal tax charges. The claims by then-White House communications director Kate Bedingfield and then-Chief of Staff Ron Klain raised enough concerns about possible political meddling that they even led to questioning at a Senate hearing with Attorney General Merrick Garland.
A year later, two whistleblowers provided fresh evidence underscoring those concerns.
IRS Supervisory Agent Gary Shapley and Special Agent Joseph Ziegler revealed to Congress this summer that right around the time of the White House statements last year a top career prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington told the investigative team he was “optimistic” about bringing a felony charge alleging Hunter Biden failed to pay taxes in income he earned as far back as 2014 from the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. The office had even assigned someone to prepare an indictment, the agents testified.
Then, almost as abruptly, the U.S. Attorney for Washington D.C. Matthew Graves, a Biden appointee, refused to bring the charges. Subsequently, the statute of limitations was allowed to expire for those charges, one of several actions inside the DOJ, IRS and FBI now under review by House committees investigating possible political meddling in the Biden case.
Shapley worked as a Special Agent for the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (CID) for 14 years, and Ziegler, who has described himself as a "gay Democrat married to a man" served as a Special Agent for 13 years in the CID. Both earned multiple commendations in their service careers.
On Monday, the head of the Empower Whistleblower Center who represents Shapley and Ziegler raised fresh concerns that the Biden White House might be exerting improper influence on DOJ, this time pressuring DOJ to prosecute the two IRS agents for blowing the whistle on irregularities in the Biden case.
Hunter Biden’s lawyers formally accused Shapley and Ziegler of "improperly leaking information to Congress" from the probe in a civil suit filed Monday against the IRS even though laws allow for such whistleblowing.
Tristan Leavitt, president of Empower, cited a Wall Street Journal article published this weekend in which anonymous sources were quoted as expressing frustration that Garland had not done more to punish the IRS agents for “leaking” by telling Congress their story. Biden's lawyers also complained about the agents talking to the press and public about the case.
“Some Biden aides also felt Garland should have taken a firmer hand after agents working on the case came forward to Republican lawmakers with allegations of improper interference in the investigation, which the aides viewed as agents improperly leaking investigative information,” the WSJ article stated.
Leavitt said such comments were evidence of intimidation tactics and meddling in what should be an independent probe, noting the law allowed Ziegler and Shapley to come forward to Congress with their concerns, adding that Congress formally voted to release the information publicly.
“They're just throwing spaghetti on the wall. And that's not of concern for us. What is a bigger concern is, you know, there are indications from, for instance, this weekend, The Wall Street Journal reporting the aides in the White House, are frustrated with the Justice Department, they think we should be taking more aggressive strategy, prosecuting our clients,” Leavitt told the "Just the News, No Noise" television show Monday night.
“That's concerning, because that's based on the same silly information. But unlike a suit against the IRS, if prosecutors come after you, you know, even if on unfounded charges, that's of greater concern. And we've seen them do, you know, we've seen them take direction from the White House, such as in 2022, when a White House spokesperson said the President believes that Hunter Biden has done nothing wrong."
"And the D.C. U.S. Attorney whose office was considering the case at that time, and had his first assistant recommending it, he reversed course at that point, and he decided to not bring any charges against Hunter Biden in D.C.," Leavitt added
The White House dismisses such concerns, and sent a memo to news media imploring them to attack the effort to investigate the Biden family, particularly in light of impeachment inquiries.
“For years, Republicans in Congress have tried to muddy the waters by attracting media coverage of their allegations, and as they choose to move forward with impeachment, it is the responsibility of the independent press to treat their claims with the appropriate scrutiny,” the White House said in a memo to news media organizations last week.
But the concerns about possible intimidation and political meddling range far beyond the IRS agents' legal team. Lawmakers now leading an impeachment inquiry against Joe Biden have gathered evidence in the last few months showing:
- Despite being told they had met the standard for warrants, prosecutors blocked agents from executing searches at Joe Biden’s guest house in Delaware and a Hunter Biden storage locker.
- The FBI Washington field office was asked by their colleagues in Delaware to stop working with an informant who was providing possible evidence against the Bidens in Fall 2020.
- DOJ officials tipped off Joe Biden’s transition office about IRS agents' plan to interview Hunter Biden in December 2020, thwarting the interview.
- Prosecutors allowed the statute of limitations to expire on some charges against Hunter Biden.
“The IRS whistleblowers stories haven’t changed at all. Witnesses subpoenaed by the Ways and Means Committee confirmed what they said. The Biden administration is the only one whose story keeps changing, but House Republicans' impeachment inquiry will expose the truth,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith tweeted recently.
Former senior State Department official Bobby Charles said Monday the latest revelations keep building toward an effort to manipulate justice: “This is the hub of a wheel that has many spokes, but to find another spoke in which it looks like you've shut down a source of truth is very disturbing.”