GOP to put IRS Hunter Biden whistleblowers at center stage

House Republicans will put their claims of unequal justice for Republicans and Democrats at center stage Wednesday, bringing IRS whistleblowers before the public to blast the government’s investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of President Biden.

The hearing will serve in part as a way for Republicans to give former President Trump political cover as he faces a likely third indictment over Jan. 6, while also fueling a potential impeachment inquiry against Attorney General Merrick Garland.

IRS investigator Gary Shapley and an unnamed IRS special agent told the House Ways and Means Committee in May that they were displeased with the investigation into Hunter Biden’s tax matters, accusing prosecutors of slow-walking the investigation and allowing the statute of limitations to run out. Hunter Biden in June reached a deal to plead guilty to tax crimes for 2017 and 2018. 

In one point of drama, the identity of the unnamed IRS agent will be revealed at Wednesday’s hearing.

Republicans hope the credibility of the two whistleblowers will rub off on broader investigations of the Biden family’s business dealings. The House Oversight Committee claims it has uncovered financial documents showing that foreign companies funneled more than $10 million to Biden family members and associates, traveling through a web of shell companies.

“This is the A-team with the IRS. These two guys have stellar records,” House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said Tuesday.

The hearing could also help Republicans distract from Trump’s numerous legal problems after the former president said Tuesday that he expected an imminent indictment in relation to the Justice Department’s probe into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

The hearing fits in with a broader GOP theme that the federal government is “weaponized” against Biden’s political opponents.

“If you notice recently, President Trump went up in the polls and was actually surpassing President Biden for reelection. So what do they do now? Weaponize government to go after their number one opponent,” Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday. 

McCarthy complained that in Hunter Biden’s case, prosecutors waited until after the statute of limitations was up for some tax years, then brought charges on others. He also referenced Shapley’s complaint that Hunter Biden’s lawyers were alerted to investigators’ interest in a storage unit.

The White House in a statement criticized the attacks on Biden.

“Instead of wasting time on politically-motivated attacks on a Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney, the rule of law, and the independence of our justice system, House Republicans should join President Biden to focus on the issues most important to the American people like continuing to lower inflation, create jobs, and strengthen health care," said Ian Sams, the White House spokesperson for oversight & investigations.

The whistleblower testimony has prompted Republican accusations of corruption at the highest levels and led McCarthy to float a potential impeachment inquiry into Garland.

A key detail for Republicans in Shapley’s testimony is whether David Weiss, the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney for Delaware overseeing the Hunter Biden case, had authority to bring charges in other districts.

Shapley alleges that U.S. Attorney for D.C. Matthew Graves “did not support the investigation,” pushing Weiss to request special counsel status in order to be able to bring charges outside of his usual Delaware jurisdiction. According to Shapley, Weiss was denied that status.

Weiss and Garland have both denied this. Each said the Delaware prosecutor was assured he could seek special attorney status if desired, governed under a different statute that likewise would have allowed Weiss to bring charges in any venue. Graves has also said he did not oppose Weiss bringing charges in Washington.

Some lawmakers have argued Shapley’s testimony shows unfamiliarity with the statutes governing prosecutorial power.

“If you want to put the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney’s word up against a disgruntled agent — who clearly doesn't even understand the difference between a special counsel and a specially designated attorney under Section 515 — you’re playing with fire,” said Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), who before being elected to Congress served as a counselor in Trump’s first impeachment. 

But McCarthy said the differing accounts could be fodder for an impeachment inquiry, as Garland told Congress that Weiss had “full authority to make those referrals you're talking about or to bring cases in other districts if he needs to do that.” 

Democrats have also dismissed some of Shapley’s complaints, characterizing them as common differences of opinion between investigators and prosecutors.

Shapley’s testimony points to numerous instances where prosecutors expressed hesitation about taking any action that might influence the 2020 election. They appeared to be wary of repeating past actions that spurred criticism, notably former FBI Director James Comey’s statement about the Hillary Clinton investigation just days before the 2016 election. 

The Oversight hearing also demonstrates how Republican interest in Hunter Biden and the business dealings of Biden’s family has pushed them into multiple different directions — from tracking funds flowing to Biden family members; to alleged interference in the criminal case against Hunter Biden; to an unverified allegation that an executive of Ukrainian energy company Burisma (of which Hunter Biden was a board member) offered a bribe to President Biden. 

“There's really two investigations going on now. There's the investigation of the Biden crime, and there's investigation of a government cover-up,” Comer said.

While Comer said that the Ways and Means Committee and the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of Federal Government will also investigate any potential cover-up, he said that the Oversight panel is still focused on “following the money.”

Still, Oversight Republicans have gotten pulled into the cover-up allegations.

On Tuesday, Comer said in a statement that committee staff conducted an interview with ​​a former FBI supervisory special agent who confirmed some aspects of the IRS whistleblowers’ testimony — specifically, that the Secret Service and the Biden transition team were alerted to plans for the IRS to show up and seek an in-person interview with Hunter Biden that ultimately never happened.

Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said in a statement that Comer had “cherry-picked and distorted statements of a witness to advance Republicans’ false narrative about political interference in the Hunter Biden investigation.”

He’s also dismissed the GOP for fixating on investigations that Trump-appointed officials chose not to advance, pointing to Comer basing much of his investigation on a confidential tip about President Biden accepting a bribe that the FBI was not able to corroborate.

“There was an assessment opened up, and they decided not to move from the assessment level to either a preliminary investigation or to a full investigation,” Raskin said last week.

“They closed it down.”

This story was updated at 6:54 p.m.

DOJ, Hunter Biden team fight back on GOP probes 

Justice Department officials and Hunter Biden’s attorneys are ramping up their pushback against Republican claims the president’s son received preferential treatment during the investigation into his failure to pay taxes.

Republicans released a transcript from an IRS whistleblower who questioned the integrity of the Biden tax probe just days after his attorney announced they reached an agreement with DOJ officials in Delaware that would mean no jail time but require Biden to plead guilty in relation to two tax crimes.  

The deal — which has yet to be approved by a judge — and the investigation are already the subject of a three-committee probe after IRS investigator Gary Shapley alleged the criminal investigation was slow-walked by the DOJ. 

But the GOP focus on Biden is now generating a firmer response, particularly since Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested the episode could be grounds for impeaching Attorney General Merrick Garland. 

More from The Hill

Former GOP rep, Jan. 6 select committee adviser working with Hunter Biden legal team

Hunter Biden’s lawyer blasts IRS whistleblowers in scathing letter to GOP committee chair

One of Biden’s attorneys late last week penned a blistering letter accusing House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) of violating provisions that protect the confidentiality of tax information in his rush to release Shapley's testimony.

“Since taking the majority in 2023, various leaders of the House and its committees have discarded the established protocols of Congress, rules of conduct, and even the law in what can only be called an obsession with attacking the Biden family,” Biden attorney Abbe Lowell wrote in a 10-page letter.  

“The timing of the agents’ leaks and your subsequent decision to release their statements do not seem innocent — they came shortly after there was a public filing indicating the disposition of the five-year investigation of Mr. Biden. To any objective eye your actions were intended to improperly undermine the judicial proceedings that have been scheduled in the case. Your release of this selective set of false allegations was an attempt to score a headline in a news cycle — full facts be damned,” the letter continued. 

Lowell complains the agents who spoke to the panel — Shapley and another unidentified person — had an “axe to grind” and assumed they knew better than prosecutors managing the five-year investigation.  

Shapley asserts in his testimony that U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss asked for a special counsel to charge Biden in the District of Columbia, where more egregious tax conduct occurred, but was denied. Shapley also said D.C. District Attorney Matthew Graves opposed bringing charges in the District of Columbia.  

But Weiss has strongly rejected any claims his office did not zealously pursue the case, pushing back on the whistleblower’s claims. Weiss, a Trump appointee who was one of the few U.S. attorneys asked to stay on after President Biden took office, told lawmakers in June he had complete authority over how to handle the investigation. 

Weiss late Friday said in a letter to Congress that he could have asked for special counsel status if he wished to bring charges in Washington, and he was assured that option was available. 

“In my June 7 letter I stated, ‘I have been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when and whether to file charges.’ ... I stand by what I wrote and wish to expand on what this means,” Weiss said. 

“As the U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, my charging authority is geographically limited to my home district. If venue for a case lies elsewhere, common Departmental practice is to contact the United States Attorney’s Office for the district in question and determine whether it wants to partner on the case,” he added. 

“If not, I may request Special Attorney status from the Attorney General pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 515. Here, I have been assured that, if necessary after the above process, I would be granted § 515 Authority in the District of Columbia, the Central District of California, or any other district where charges could be brought in this matter.” 

Weiss has agreed to meet with the committee to discuss the investigation further “at the appropriate time.” 

Graves has denied stymying the Hunter Biden investigation, while Garland has said Weiss had full control to make any decisions he deemed necessary in the case. 

The contradiction between the whistleblower and Weiss about where to charge Biden, and whether a special counsel and charging in D.C. was denied, is at the core of the House Speaker’s interest in an impeachment inquiry targeting Garland

McCarthy said Garland’s assertion before Congress and the public that Weiss had full control over the investigation could be grounds for impeachment if it’s determined that Shapley’s testimony is true.  

“He didn't get charged for some of the highest prosecution. They want to have a special counsel. And now we're seeing that the DOJ, the attorney general, declined that, even though he's saying something different,” McCarthy said on Fox News last week. “None of it smells right, and none of it is right.” 

Republicans have ramped up their investigations since the plea deal. 

Smith, along with House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), requested interviews with more than a dozen figures involved in the investigation to determine whether there was “equal enforcement of the law.” 

The panel wishes to speak with numerous FBI, IRS and DOJ employees.  

“It’s little surprise that Hunter Biden’s attorneys are attempting to chill our investigation and discredit the whistleblowers who say they have already faced retaliation from the IRS and the Department of Justice despite statutory protections established by law. These whistleblowers bravely came forward with allegations about misconduct and preferential treatment for Hunter Biden — and now face attacks even from an army of lawyers he hired,” Smith said in response to the letter from Lowell. 

“Worse, this letter misleads the public about the lawful actions taken by the Ways and Means Committee, which took the appropriate legal steps to share this information with [the] rest of Congress. It doesn’t even address concerns that counsel for Mr. Biden was regularly tipped off about potential warrants and raids in pursuit of evidence that implicated him, as well as his father. We will continue to go where the facts take us — and we will not abandon our investigation just because Mr. Biden’s lawyers don’t like it,” Smith added. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Wednesday spearheaded a letter signed by the three House chairmen asking for the Office of Special Counsel to review any potential retaliation against Shapley and the other whistleblower since they came forward.  

Shapley on Monday also submitted an affidavit saying he was not the source of leaks to the media about the Biden investigation, a possibility Lowell raises in his letter. 

Biden last month struck a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to tax crimes and enter into a pretrial diversion program relating to unlawful possession of a weapon. The charges come after a five-year investigation into him. 

Weiss said in a statement at the time the investigation was “ongoing.” 

Garland has said he remained uninvolved in Weiss’s investigation, arguing the U.S. attorney’s independence was key to ensure a proper investigation was led by the facts. 

He also defended the integrity of the Justice Department more broadly, pushing back on GOP claims of political bias. 

“Some have chosen to attack the integrity of the Justice Department … by claiming we do not treat like cases alike. This constitutes an attack on an institution that is essential to American democracy and essential to the safety of the American people,” Garland said in a recent press conference. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” 

Hunter Biden’s lawyer blasts IRS whistleblowers in scathing letter to GOP committee chair

A lawyer for Hunter Biden blasted two IRS whistleblowers who claimed there was political interference in the investigation into the president’s son in a scathing letter to the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday.

Biden attorney Abbe Lowell slammed Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.), alleging that the committee’s decision to release the testimony of the two IRS agents last week was “an obvious ploy to feed the misinformation campaign to harm our client, Hunter Biden, as a vehicle to attack his father,” according to the letter obtained by Axios.

Gary Shapley, an IRS supervisory special agent, claimed in an interview with the House Ways and Means Committee that Biden received “preferential treatment” and that the Justice Department “slow-walked” its investigation into the president’s son.

Two days before the committee released the transcripts, Biden agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor offenses for failing to pay income taxes in 2017 and 2018, in addition to entering into a pretrial diversion agreement on a separate charge of unlawful possession of a firearm while addicted to a controlled substance.

Lowell criticized Smith in Friday’s letter for improperly releasing tax and investigation information and disseminating “incomplete half-truths, distortions, and totally unnecessary detail” about Biden.

“It is no secret these interviews were orchestrated recitations of mischaracterized and incomplete ‘facts’ by disgruntled agents who believed they knew better than the federal prosecutors who had all the evidence as they conducted their five-year investigation of Mr. Biden,” Lowell said.

In the wake of the accusations by the IRS whistleblowers, Attorney General Merrick Garland has maintained that the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney overseeing the case, David Weiss, had full authority to decide what charges to bring against the president’s son.

After Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) floated the idea of an impeachment inquiry into Garland, the White House slammed House Republicans, suggesting that they were “desperate to distract” from their economic agenda.

Smith, alongside House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), requested interviews with more than a dozen individuals involved in the Biden investigation on Thursday.