By Zachary Stieber
A U.S. House of Representatives panel on Sept. 27 released additional information from whistleblowers who worked on the investigation into President Joe Biden’s son.
The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee voted behind closed doors to make public more emails and other documents received from IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Zeigler.
The tranche of materials includes an August 2020 email from Lesley Wolf, a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney helping to oversee the investigation of Mr. Biden, telling investigators to redraft a search warrant to remove mention of “political figure 1.”
That was a reference to then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, according to Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), chairman of the panel.
“It’s about a two-tiered system of justice. If Joe Biden’s name had been Smith or Jones or Johnson, he would not have been excluded from this search warrant. But he was. And we wouldn’t know that if the whistleblowers had not come forward,” Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.), a former U.S. attorney and member of the committee, told reporters.
Mr. Shapley and Mr. Zeigler were among the IRS, FBI, and DOJ officials probing the president’s son.
The officials were removed from the probe into Mr. Biden after they went to Congress, raising concerns of retaliation.
The DOJ has said the decision to remove the officials was made before they took their concerns to Congress.
Other newly released documents show officials advising more charges than were eventually brought against Mr. Biden.
In one, Mr. Zeigler recommended Mr. Biden be charged with felonies for intentionally not paying taxes on income received from 2014 through 2018 and submitting returns with false information because he allegedly mislabeled purported business deductions and failed to report money he received from one of his children’s college savings plan. Another shows that a phone call took place during which, according to Mr. Zeigler, DOJ prosecutors recommended three misdemeanors and a felony charge for the years 2017 through 2019.
Mr. Biden was ultimately only charged with misdemeanors for not paying taxes for two of those years.
The new information “is significant and reinforces the integrity of the whistleblowers and the high regard in which they are held by their colleagues, and it brings to light new evidence that builds upon their prior testimony,” Mr. Smith (R-Mo.), chairman of the committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Mr. Smith said the evidence supports the impeachment inquiry into the president, which he is helping lead.
“What you see from these emails, time and time again they’re thwarted from doing their job,” Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas), another member of the committee, said.
The IRS officials came forward earlier this year, raising concerns about how the probe was being handled.
“At every stage, decisions were made that benefited the subject of the investigation,” Mr. Shapley testified during a congressional hearing.
He cited in part that a search warrant was planned for President Biden’s home in Delaware but wasn’t completed because DOJ officials said they were concerned about the “optics” of executing such a warrant at the president’s residence.
Ms. Wolf, one of the officials, also told investigators they should not ask about the president in witness interviews even though some of Mr. Biden’s communications regarding business referenced his father, according to the whistleblowers.
The DOJ, after the whistleblowers went to Congress, charged Mr. Biden with two misdemeanor tax charges and a felony gun charge. Under an unusual agreement, he was poised to avoid penalties for the latter for pleading guilty to the former. The plea deal fell apart under questioning from a U.S. judge, and Mr. Biden pleaded not guilty to the tax charges.
Prosecutors have since successfully sought the dismissal of the tax charges, saying they wanted to bring them in a different venue, and charged Mr. Biden with three felonies for alleged illegal possession of a gun while being a drug addict. Mr. Biden has admitted in interviews and in his book to being addicted to drugs in the past.
“The lawsuit is about the decision by IRS employees, their representatives, and others to disregard their obligations and repeatedly and intentionally publicly disclose and disseminate Mr. Biden’s protected tax return information outside the exceptions for making disclosures in the law,” Abbe Lowell, a lawyer representing Mr. Biden, said.
IRS rules bar disclosure of tax return information, but exceptions exist, including for whistleblowers who believe returns “may relate to possible misconduct, maladministration, or taxpayer abuse.”
Mr. Shapley’s lawyers said in response that the suit “is just another frivolous smear by Biden family attorneys trying to turn people’s attention away from Hunter Biden’s own legal problems and intimidate any current and future whistleblowers.”