Days after Joe Biden became president, his DOJ sought briefing on Hunter criminal case, memos show
The request for a roundup of Hunter Biden-related cases alarmed agents because some attendees from DOJ -- including Biden political appointees -- had no authority in the case. That puts Merrick Garland's insistence of "no DOJ interference" into serious doubt.
A mere 16 days after Joe Biden assumed the presidency, top officials in his Justice Department raised suspicion among career IRS agents by demanding a briefing on the criminal investigation into Hunter Biden, according to evidence turned over to Congress that raises new questions about Attorney General Merrick Garland's claims of an interference-free probe.
The Feb. 5, 2021 meeting between U.S. Attorney David Weiss' office in Delaware and a some of Biden's new assistant attorneys general in DOJ's Washington headquarters was chronicled in email exchanges between federal prosecutors and IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler. Weiss was leading the probe into the first son,
"The 5 attorneys have the briefing at 1130 with the AAGs," Delaware Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf wrote to the IRS and FBI agents working the case who were told their regular meeting with Wolf might be delayed by the briefing in Washington.
"It is scheduled for an hour, but if we aren’t on at 1230, you will know that it ran long. You guys can either start without us or people can log out and we will shoot an email out when we are done." Wolf said.
The recipients on Wolf's email included Ziegler, the IRS case agent on the Hunter Biden tax probe that was codenamed "Sportsman." A short while later, Ziegler's supervisor, Shapley, alerted the IRS chain of command about concerns that Biden's new DOJ officials were asking to join the meeting, including one from the National Security Division (NSD) that had no jurisdiction in the tax probe. Some of the attendees were Biden political appointees.
"We learned today that USAO and DOJ Tax are briefing the new AAG on the tax case today," Shapley wrote his boss. "NSD asked for a briefing so they could understand the tax side of the case. I don’t understand why this matters to them since they are NSD…but I just wanted to give you an update that this meeting was."
You can read those emails here.
The request for the briefing escaped public and media notice for two years and is now the earliest known evidence of intervention by Biden DOJ officials into the Hunter Biden case. It comes only weeks after reports disclosed that Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer had contact with Hunter Biden's attorneys in May during the effort to negotiate a now-abandoned plea deal that would have spared Hunter Biden prison time on tax evasion and gun charges.
Hunter Biden has since been charged with three gun felonies and remains under investigation for other potential offenses after a federal judge rejected his plea deal. Biden has pleaded "Not Guilty" to those charges.
The new revelation -- contained in documents that Ziegler and Shapley turned over during their whistleblower cooperation with the House Ways and Means Committee -- is certain to heighten concerns among congressional investigators who are suspicious of Garland's claims that his his DOJ kept hands off of the Hunter Biden probe and left all decisions to Weiss' office.
Shapley and Ziegler have been relentlessly attacked by Hunter Biden's attorney Abbe Lowell, who contended that both Shapley and Ziegler broke federal law when making protected disclosures to Congress. Lowell told CNN that the whistleblowers were "disgruntled agents with an axe to grind."
The two agents, however, have been authorized by Congress to make their disclosures public and have backed up their testimony with thousands of pages of documents.
The DOJ's history of obstruction in Hunter Biden-related cases, they testified to Congress, included being turned down for perfectly legal search warrants for Joe Biden's property and Hunter Biden's storage locker, being blocked from inquiring about Joe Biden or his grandchildren and being thwarted from doing a surprise interview with Hunter Biden. In fact, instead of allowing agents to simply interview Hunter Biden, DOJ officials contacted Joe Biden's team and told them ahead of time that they wanted to speak with Hunter Biden.
“I am blowing the whistle because the Delaware U.S. Attorney's Office, Department of Justice Tax, and Department of Justice provided preferential treatment and unchecked conflicts of interest in an important and high-profile investigation of the President's son, Hunter Biden,” Shapley testified to Congress this summer.
The IRS whistleblowers have also provided documentary evidence that the Biden-appointed U.S. Attorneys in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles blocked Weiss' efforts to charge Hunter Biden for tax crimes in their jurisdiction, including not paying taxes on $400,000 in income Hunter Biden received from his controversial work for the Ukrainian-based Burisma Holdings. Instead, the DOJ let the statute of limitations run on those potential tax crimes.
An FBI agent recently corroborated Ziegler's and Shapley's account about the blocked charges during an interview with the House Judiciary Committee, Just the News recently reported.
The evidence appears to be mounting: The criminal charges blocked from Washington and Los Angeles; the Deputy Attorney General Office's role in the disastrous plea deal this spring; and now the disclosure about a request for a briefing a scant 16 days after the inauguration.
Collectively, all of these documents and testimony have raised fresh doubts with House Republicans about the accuracy or truthfulness of Merrick Garland's statement to the House and Senate that Weiss' office was "left alone" to make decisions on the case, had full authority, and faced no interference from main DOJ staff or Joe Biden's political appointees.
“He has been advised that he should get anything he needs….I have not heard anything from that office that suggests they are not able to do anything that the U.S. attorney wants them to do,” Garland testified this spring. But after repeatedly being questioned by Sen. Chuck Grassley, Garland recently admitted Weiss that his prosecutors in Los Angeles and Washington DC. could have blocked the cases as the agent alleged.
House investigators recently sent DOJ a demand for documents and answers about some of the DOJ intervention. You can read that here:
Congressional investigators also are interested in why DOJ's National Security Division --- which faced sharp criticism for misleading applications for FISA warrants in the now discredited Russia collusion probe against Donald Trump and the 2022 raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in the classified documents case -- was trying to inject intself into a meeting about Hunter Biden's tax case.
"This could be the first glimpse into what I've been saying for a very long time about that team Obama had inserted into the National Security Division of the FBI and the Department of Justice," Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told the "Just the News, No Noise" televsion show on Wednesday evening.
"This is where the plumbers are. This is where the operatives are. This is where the people are that are doing the worst things at the Justice Department, throughout our government. This is where they live." Nunes said.
"This is what we found out during the Russia hoax. We now have found it out. John, through your great reporting on the Ukraine impeachment hoax. This is all hidden in the National Security Division," he added. "Why? Because it's the area where they can wall off the rest of the Department of Justice and the FBI and say, Oh, this is top secret Our nation is at risk. Things could blow up. People could die if nobody. If if people learn about this, this is why we have to keep it so secret," he continued.
In notes from an October 2022 meeting with the investigative team on the Hunter Biden case, Shapley wrote that Weiss—whose Delaware office is in charge of the Hunter Biden case—told the team that “He is not the deciding person” when it comes to how and when charges are brought against Hunter Biden because the alleged crimes occurred in other districts, principally Washington, D.C. and in California, where both U.S. Attorney’s Offices were occupied by Biden appointees.
Shapley wrote that before Weiss would be allowed to bring tax charges against Hunter Biden, he must get approval from the Justice Department Tax Division. “Tax will grant discretion/not approve,” Shapley noted.
Shapley also testified to congressional investigators that after his team planned multiple interviews related to the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Wolf told him and his team that “I do not think you are going to be able to do these interviews as planned.”
“She told us they would require approval from the Tax Division,” Shapley said of the interviews.
In another instance, after Shapley and his team at the IRS had completed their report into Hunter Biden which recommended filing criminal tax charges, the DOJ Tax Division prepared a “99-page memo” that Shapley understood supported the recommendations of the IRS team.
“I never saw it, but my understanding was, is that we were moving -- we were going to go to D.C., and we were going to charge, and here's the discovery. That was the trajectory there,” Shapley testified. “So I've never seen the document, but it's been described to me as supporting those years and charging those years.”
“Do you feel like the document was kept from you and your team?” Shapley was asked by congressional investigators.
“Yeah. I don't know there's any reason not to share it with us. I don’t know why,” he said. “And it's also outside the norm.”
Hunter Biden’s attorneys also repeatedly sought, and obtained, meetings with DOJ officials in order to pressure the Department into forgoing the charges against their client. According to Politico, from fall 2022 through spring 2023, Hunter Biden’s attorney Chris Clark, “sought meetings with people at the highest levels of the Justice Department.”
In multiple emails, Clark sought meetings with the head of the Criminal Division, the Tax Division, the Office of Legal Counsel, the Office of the Solicitor General, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and the Attorney General.