Top Republicans prepare to investigate Hunter Biden case

Top Republicans prepare to investigate Hunter Biden case

Republicans heading three key US House committees are joining forces to investigate the Justice Department’s handling of the charges against Hunter Biden after making sweeping claims about misconduct at the agency.

Leaders of the House Committees on the Judiciary, Oversight and Accountability and Ways and Means opened a joint investigation into the federal case of President Joe Biden’s youngest son days after he announced last month that he will plead guilty to petty tax offenses as part of an agreement with the Department of Justice.

Since then, Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, James Comer of Kentucky and Jason Smith of Missouri have issued a series of requests for voluntary testimony from top officials from the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service as they investigate what they claim it is undue interference. The Republicans also requested a special counsel review for alleged retaliation against whistleblowers who filed the claims.

The congressional investigation was launched after the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Smith, voted last month to publicly release hundreds of pages of testimony from IRS employees. in English) who worked on the Hunter Biden case.

Transcripts from Greg Shapley and an unnamed agent detail what they called a pattern of “slow investigative steps” and delays in enforcement actions in the months leading up to Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.

The Justice Department has denied the whistleblowers’ claims and has repeatedly said that U.S. Attorney David Weiss in Delaware, the U.S. attorney who led the investigation, had “full authority” over the case.

Here’s what you need to know about emerging research.

IRS Whistleblower Complaint Investigation

In April, the first IRS whistleblower, Shapley, came forward when his attorney approached Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa to say that his client had information about a “failure to mitigate clear conflicts of interest in the final disposition” of what it was then an ongoing criminal investigation related to Hunter Biden.

Smith, chairman of the Ways and Means Commission, which has jurisdiction over the IRS, brought Shapley in for an hour-long interview in late May, where he described various obstacles he and several other IRS agents encountered in the case when dealing with to interview relevant people. to investigate or issue search warrants.

The whistleblowers insist their testimony reflects a pattern of inference and preferential treatment in the Hunter Biden case and not just a disagreement with superiors over what investigative steps to take. Justice Department policy has long warned prosecutors to exercise caution when prosecuting cases with potential political overtones at the time of an election, to avoid any potential influence on the outcome.

The most controversial claim by whistleblowers is that Weiss, first appointed by former President Donald Trump and retained by the Biden administration, petitioned the Justice Department in March 2022 for special counsel status to bring the tax cases. against Hunter Biden in jurisdictions outside of Delaware, including Washington, DC, and California, but was denied.

A second IRS whistleblower, who asked the commission to keep his identity secret, described his lingering frustrations with the way the Hunter Biden case was handled, dating back to the Trump administration under Attorney General William Barr. He said he began the investigation into Hunter Biden in 2015 and delved into his personal life and finances.

Investigation of complaints of retaliation

Both men have testified that they faced retaliation at the IRS after raising concerns about the handling of Hunter Biden’s case. Shapley, who was a career monitoring agent, told the committee that Weiss helped block his job promotion after the tax agency employee contacted congressional investigators about the Biden case.

The second unidentified whistleblower said he was removed from the Hunter Biden investigation around the same time as Shapley, who was his supervisor. Although IRS officials informed him of the decision, the second whistleblower believes his removal was actually ordered by Justice Department officials. Neither of the men provided lawmakers with evidence that this was the case, instead citing what they had witnessed internally as they pushed through various investigative steps.

The three Republican chairmen, along with Sens. Grassley and Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, sent a letter to the Justice Department requesting an immediate review of the retaliation claims.

“The importance of protecting whistleblowers from unlawful retaliation and informing whistleblowers of their rights under the law cannot be underestimated. After all, it is the law,” the lawmakers wrote.

Rejection from the Department of Justice

The Justice Department has denied the whistleblowers’ allegations, saying Weiss has had “full authority on this matter, including the responsibility to decide where, when, and whether to bring charges as he deems appropriate. He doesn’t need any more approval to do it.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland also rejected the idea that Weiss, a veteran prosecutor, would ask to be appointed as special counsel.

“The only person who has the authority to make someone a special counsel, or refuse to do so, is the attorney general,” Garland told reporters last month. And he added: “Mr. Weiss never made that request.”

In a June 30 letter, Weiss also denied the claims, telling House Republicans that the Justice Department “did not retaliate” against Shapley. He also said the department assured him that if he sought to bring charges against Hunter Biden somewhere other than Delaware, he would be granted special status to do so. In general, US lawyers stick to their own jurisdictions when bringing criminal charges.

Next steps

The three Republican lawmakers have set a Thursday deadline for the department to begin scheduling transcribed interviews of nearly a dozen people. They have said that if the deadline is missed, they will resort to issuing congressional subpoenas to force cooperation.

Weiss said in his recent letter that he would be willing to discuss those issues with congressional officials, but reiterated that he cannot release information about the Hunter Biden case because it is an active criminal investigation.

Garland has publicly said that he will not stop Weiss from testifying before Congress. “I would support Mr. Weiss in explaining or testifying on these matters when he deems it appropriate,” the attorney general said.

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Written by Editor TLN

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