By Joseph Lord
The House Ways and Means Committee has issued a subpoena for officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate a particular claim that the agencies meddled to protect President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden against prosecution.
Specifically, the panel subpoenaed officials who were present at an Oct. 7, 2022, meeting. During that meeting, according to whistleblower testimony from IRS investigators Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, U.S. Attorney David Weiss indicated that he was being blocked from pursuing charges against the president’s son by higher-ups at the DOJ.
Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler reported being told by Mr. Weiss that he was “not the deciding person on whether charges are filed” against Hunter Biden.
According to a press release from the Ways and Means Committee, the DOJ and IRS, on multiple occasions, refused to comply with a request for voluntary interviews with the officials, prompting the legislative body to pursue a subpoena.
Four individuals reportedly present at the Oct. 7 meeting and who were included in the subpoenas are Michael T. Batdorf, IRS director of field operations; Darrell J. Waldon, IRS special agent in charge; Thomas J. Sobocinski, FBI special agent in charge, and Ryeshia Holley, FBI assistant special agent in charge.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who has also mounted probes into the Biden administration, released a joint statement on the new subpoenas, accusing the administration of “stonewalling” Congress.
The two also took a jab at Attorney General Merrick Garland’s decision to appoint as special counsel Mr. Weiss, who oversaw a controversial plea agreement that seems poised to fall apart.
“Our Committees, along with the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, have sought these interviews since IRS whistleblowers came forward with concerning allegations of political interference in the investigation into Hunter Biden’s foreign influence peddling and tax evasion,” they wrote.
“Unfortunately, the Biden Administration has consistently stonewalled Congress.”
They said the subpoenas would be crucial to “understanding how the President’s son received special treatment from federal prosecutors and who was the ultimate decision maker in the case.”
“Americans deserve to know the truth, especially now that Attorney General Garland has appointed as special counsel the same U.S. Attorney who oversaw Hunter Biden’s sweetheart plea deal and botched the investigation into his alleged tax crimes.”
According to testimony from Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler, the IRS investigation into the president’s son for tax crimes began in 2018 as an organic offshoot of an unrelated corporate investigation.
They said the IRS ultimately recommended three charges against Hunter Biden, who failed to report millions of dollars in foreign income during the late 2010s. The charges are a felony attempt to defeat or evade tax charges, making felony fraudulent or false statements, and willful failure to file returns, supply information, or pay tax.
However, it was only this year that the DOJ announced a far different plea deal with the first son.
Under Mr. Weiss, who led the investigation into Mr. Biden in his capacity as U.S. attorney for Delaware, Mr. Biden was offered an agreement to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax crimes and, in a pretrial diversion agreement, to have a felony firearm charge dropped.
The actual agreement was much broader. In addition to the relatively light charges compared to those suggested by prosecutors, the deal would give Mr. Biden near-complete immunity from future prosecution related to tax, gun, or drug crimes committed from 2014 to 2019.
Now with the powers of special counsel, Mr. Weiss requested, and Judge Maryellen Noreika agreed, to withdraw the earlier charges against Mr. Biden to allow for a new investigation and potentially new charges against the first son.
The future of Mr. Biden’s case remains up in the air, but Republicans have expressed keen interest in investigating the conduct of the investigation until now.
The DOJ has faced scrutiny for allegations made by Mr. Ziegler and Mr. Shapley, who suggested that the agency may have protected Mr. Biden from prosecution and other investigative action.
Mr. Shapley said in his testimony that “career DOJ officials dragged their feet on the IRS taking … investigative steps” that would have been normal in any other investigation.
Mr. Shapley also said IRS investigators were told by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf that, because evidence needed for the investigation would be found in a guest house owned by Joe Biden, “there is no way” that a search warrant for evidence would ever get approved. She cited optics as a primary consideration.
Additionally, Mr. Biden’s attorneys were allegedly given “crucial information” about the investigation.
In one such instance, the attorneys were allegedly made aware that the IRS knew about documents stored in a Northern Virginia storage unit, giving them time to remove any documents that could be used in the case against their client.
One of the most stunning allegations in the testimony, however, was that Mr. Weiss was blocked from submitting more serious charges against Mr. Biden in both California and Washington.
After this claim came to light, Mr. Garland was quick to deny the allegations.
“I don’t know how it would be possible for anybody to block him from bringing a prosecution, given that he has this authority,” Mr. Garland said. “I’d say he was given complete authority to make all decisions on his own.”
Mr. Garland suggested that Mr. Weiss had the same or more authority as the special counsel, which operates independently from the rest of the DOJ.
This echoed earlier comments by Mr. Garland.
“The US Attorney in Delaware has been advised that he has full authority to make those kind of referrals that you are talking about, or bring cases in other jurisdictions if he feels it’s necessary and I will assure that if he does, he will be able to do that,” Mr. Garland told Congress in March. “I have promised to ensure that he is able to carry out his investigation and that he be able to run it and if needs to bring it in another jurisdiction he will have full authority to do that.”
But in his testimony, Mr. Shapley alleged that in March 2022, Mr. Weiss sought to bring charges against Hunter Biden in the District of Columbia and was denied.
After this, Mr. Shapley claimed Mr. Weiss sought to receive the status of special counsel from the DOJ, a status that would have given him significant insulation from the DOJ and political office holders, but this request was also refused.
Mr. Weiss himself seemed anxious to protect the DOJ from the allegations, telling Congress in a letter that he had complete authority over the case and did not request elevation to special counsel status.
Republicans on the Ways and Means panel dismissed the decision to elevate Mr. Weiss to special counsel as a response to the plea agreement falling apart, and said it raises questions about whether Mr. Garland and Mr. Weiss were entirely truthful in their earlier statements to Congress.