A bicameral group of five Republicans asked special counsel Henry Kerner on Wednesday to open an investigation into allegations the Department of Justice (DOJ) retaliated against Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents assigned to probe President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
Three House committee chairmen, Reps. Jason Smith (R-MO), James Comer (R-KY), and Jim Jordan (R-OH), as well as Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), asked Kerner to brief them by July 17 on actions he has taken to address their request.
“The DOJ and IRS must be held accountable for all instances of whistleblower retaliation and misconduct, and federal agencies cannot conceal their wrongdoing behind illegal nondisclosure directives and related documents,” the Republicans wrote in a letter to Kerner.
The lawmakers referenced allegations leveled by Gary Shapley, who serves as a supervisory special agent for IRS criminal investigations, and Shapley’s attorneys at Empower Oversight that Shapley and his team were removed in May 2023 from a years-long probe into Hunter Biden after Shapley reported alleged missteps in the probe to Congress.
Shapley, a 14-year veteran of the agency, wrote in an affidavit last month that he was removed by DOJ after reporting that he witnessed “conflicts of interest, preferential treatment, deviations from normal investigative procedures, and conflicting information provided by Attorney General Merrick Garland to Congress.”
Hunter Biden walks along the South Lawn before a ceremony for Thanksgiving at the White House in Washington, November 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The Republicans also allege to Kerner that a senior official in charge of IRS criminal investigations warned Shapley and others about reporting disclosures anywhere other than up the chain of command but that the official failed to include legally necessary anti-gag language in the communication.
The Republicans’ letter follows Jordan, who chairs the Judiciary committee, raising concerns to Garland about the timing of the IRS agents’ removal from the Hunter Biden probe, which Jordan said suggested “retaliatory conduct.”
Garland had kept on U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, to lead the probe, which spanned several years and required work by both the FBI and IRS. The probe remained ongoing while allegations swirled that Hunter Biden’s lucrative foreign business dealings improperly involved his then-vice president father.
In June, Weiss revealed through court documents that he had reached a plea agreement with the younger Biden in which Hunter would plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and see a felony gun charge dropped following a probationary period, a deal many Republican lawmakers have characterized as grossly mild.
Weiss has denied the claims DOJ retaliated against whistleblowers, telling Jordan on Friday in a letter obtained by Breitbart News that DOJ “did not retaliate against ‘an Internal Revenue Service (‘IRS’) Criminal Supervisory Special Agent and whistleblower, as well as his entire investigative team… for making protected disclosures to Congress.’”
The Republican lawmakers emphasized Wednesday to Kerner, “The importance of protecting whistleblowers from unlawful retaliation and informing whistleblowers about their rights under the law cannot be understated. After all, it is the law.”