West News Wire: After making broad allegations about malfeasance at the agency, the Republican chairs of three significant House committees have joined forces to look into how the Justice Department handled the charges against Hunter Biden.
Days after it was revealed last month that President Joe Biden’s youngest son will plead guilty to the misdemeanor tax offenses as part of an agreement with the Justice Department, the heads of the House Judiciary, Oversight and Accountability, and Ways and Means committees launched a joint investigation into the federal case involving him.
In the wake of their investigation, Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, James Comer of Kentucky, and Jason Smith of Missouri have submitted a number of requests for voluntary testimony from senior Justice Department, FBI and Internal Revenue Service as they investigate what they claim is improper interference. Republicans have also requested a special counsel review of supposed retaliation against the whistleblowers who came forward with the claims.
The congressional inquiry was launched after the House Ways and Means Committee, led by Smith, voted last month to publicly disclose hundreds of pages of testimony from the IRS employees who worked on the Hunter Biden case.
The transcripts of Greg Shapley and an unidentified agent detail what they called a pattern of “slow-walking investigative steps” and delaying enforcement actions in the months before the 2020 election won by Joe Biden.
The Justice Department has denied the whistleblower claims and said repeatedly that U.S. Attorney David Weiss in Delaware, the federal prosecutor who led the investigation, had “full authority” of the case.
The first IRS informant, Shapley, came forward in April after his lawyer contacted Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa to inform him that his client had information regarding a “failure to mitigate clear conflicts of interest in the ultimate disposition” of what was at the time an active criminal investigation involving Hunter Biden.
Shapley was interviewed for several hours by Smith, the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, which has oversight authority over the IRS, in late May. Shapley discussed the challenges he and other IRS agents working the case faced in trying to conduct interviews with potential witnesses or obtain search warrants.
The whistleblowers insist their testimony reflects a pattern of inference and preferential treatment in the Hunter Biden case and not just disagreement with their superiors about what investigative steps to take. Justice Department policy has long warned prosecutors to take care in charging cases with potential political overtones around the time of an election, to avoid any possible influence on the outcome.
The most disputed claim from the whistleblowers is that Weiss first appointed by former President Donald Trump and kept on by the Biden administration asked the Justice Department in March 2022 to be provided special counsel status in order to bring the tax cases against Hunter Biden in jurisdictions outside Delaware, including Washington, D.C., and California, but was denied.
A second IRS whistleblower, who asked the committee to keep his identity secret, described his persistent frustrations with the way the Hunter Biden case was handled, dating back to the Trump administration under Attorney General William Barr. He said he started the investigation into Hunter Biden in 2015 and delved deeply into his personal life and finances.
The three Republican chairs have given the department until Thursday to start setting up almost a dozen people for transcripts of interviews. They have threatened to use congressional subpoenas to compel cooperation if the deadline is not fulfilled.
Weiss stated in his most recent letter that he would be open to speaking with congressional representatives about such matters, but he reaffirmed that he is unable to address the Hunter Biden issue since it is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation.
Garland has made it clear that he won’t prevent Weiss from testifying in front of Congress. The attorney general stated, “I would support Mr. Weiss explaining or testifying on these things when he feels it appropriate.