June 19, 2024

IRS whistleblower in Hunter Biden case says he “felt your hand” during 5-year investigation

The Internal Revenue Service case agent who handled “95%” of the tax evidence in the Hunter Biden investigation told CBS News that he “felt your hand” during the five-year investigation and was discouraged from seeking leads he thought might implicate Hunter Biden’s father, President Joe Biden.

Second IRS whistleblower in Hunter Biden investigation – “Agent X”

Special Agent Joseph Ziegler, a 13-year veteran of the IRS, is the second IRS employee to come forward to demand the federal tax investigation into criminal charges backed by the president’s son that are more serious than the tax misconduct charges he plans to plead guilty to next week as part of a plea bargain.

“When you’re banned from going down certain roads, I think I don’t know what could have been found if we weren’t on a handful or without your hand,” Ziegler told CBS News.

Ziegler, known only as “Agent X,” revealed his identity Wednesday at the request of lawmakers, who called him before a House committee to describe his role in the federal investigation into Hunter Biden. As the IRS’s chief case agent, he worked with supervisor Gary Shapley and says the evidence they uncovered “supported felony and misdemeanor tax charges.”

Zeigler’s investigation involved both the Trump and Biden administrations.

“I’m a Democrat. In the last presidential election, I didn’t really vote,” Ziegler said. “I thought it would be irresponsible for me to do that because I didn’t want to show a bias one way or the other.”

The reaction of the Democrats

An attorney for Hunter Biden, Christopher Clark, previously said that the suggestions that the investigation was not thorough are “preposterous and deeply irresponsible.”

At Wednesday’s hearing, Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Mary, said he has not seen evidence that Hunter Biden “received any kind of official favor in this prosecution for being Joe Biden’s son.”

“The main point, Mr. Chairman that America needs to understand is that the only political interference here is coming from Donald Trump and my Republican colleagues,” Raskin said.

During an executive session in June, the Ways and Means committee voted to publicly release the transcripts of Shapley and Ziegler’s whistleblower testimony, keeping Ziegler’s identity hidden. The committee’s most senior minority member, Democratic Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts, said during that closed door meeting that Republican efforts to make public the tax records of private citizens was an example of “blatant partisanship, and stoops below the status of this Committee.”

Democrats also targeted Shapley and Ziegler’s choice of legal representation; their attorneys were involved in Republican Party politics. Those attorneys counter that they have worked with both Republican and Democratic whistleblowers and organizations. Democrats also questioned whether the two agents lacked visibility into the factors prosecutors faced when making decisions about which charges to bring. And they noted that Hunter Biden has repaid the taxes he owed.

Questions about deductions

Ziegler alleges that the evidence he collected showed how Hunter Biden improperly claimed business deductions for a variety of personal expenses, such as his children’s college tuition, bills for lavish Hollywood hotel stays, payments to escorts, and no-show employees. In 2021, Ziegler says he drafted a memorandum recommending that prosecutors charge Hunter Biden with multiple felonies and misdemeanors.

“In August of 2022, we had a phone call with all of the assigned prosecutors and they had said that all four of them were recommending the approval of felony and misdemeanor tax charges,” Ziegler said.

Hunter Biden’s legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ziegler said Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a Trump appointee, told him he agreed to certain felony charges, but there was resistance from other Justice Department officials who thought a jury might be sympathetic to Hunter Biden’s drug addiction and the death of his brother, Beau Biden.

“David told us…’I’m concerned about the Justice Department’s Tax Division, the evidence that may come in regarding his substance abuse and the death of his brother, Beau Biden, that could sway the jury’s opinion,'” Ziegler said.

Unsealed court filings showed last month that the US attorney’s office finally agreed to a deal that would charge Hunter Biden – to which the president’s son agreed to plead guilty – to two misdemeanor tax counts and a felony gun charge to which Biden agreed to enter a diversion program. Biden pleaded not guilty to the gun charge, which will be dismissed if he meets certain conditions. That move must be approved by a federal judge, who has scheduled a hearing on the matter for next week in Delaware.

“At the end of the day, it’s a question of are we treating everyone the same? Are we treating every taxpayer the same?” Zielger said. “And in this case, no, I don’t think so.”

IRS whistleblowers were confused by Hunter Biden’s charging decision

The decision not to charge the president’s son with tax felonies remains a matter of concern and confusion for the two IRS agents who have now spoken out about the matter. Both men worry about the possibility that Biden’s Justice Department could somehow obstruct the case.

Weiss pushed back in last month’s letter stating that he had the final authority on these matters and “has never been denied the authority to bring charges in any jurisdiction.”

The U.S. attorney’s office for Delaware declined to comment for this story.

Attorney General Merrick Garland – who retained Weiss to complete the Biden probe – previously said in response to the allegations that Weiss “was free to continue his investigation and decide to prosecute in any way he wanted and in any area he wanted.”

Ziegler and Shapely told congressional investigators and CBS News that they were told prosecutors in Delaware were barred from bringing charges in other jurisdictions — including California and Washington, D.C. — and Shapley said Weiss told him the Justice Department had denied him special counsel status.

“DC said, ‘No, we’re not going to help you bring charges in our district. And we don’t think you should bring these charges forward in our district,'” Ziegler explained to CBS News.

The whistler “felt your hand” during exploration

During the investigation, Ziegler said he “felt handcuffed.” For example, he says he wanted prosecutors to get a search warrant to access a Virginia storage unit to search for potential business records but they refused to do so. He said prosecutors were frustrated by requests to interview Hunter Biden’s grown children about the tax payments, saying the requests could “get us into hot water.”

Zeigler’s requests to pursue several avenues of investigation came when Trump was still in office and Attorney General William Barr had instituted a policy that required him to personally approve any investigation into a president or presidential candidate. Ziegler told CBS that he was “not aware” of any approval being sought from Barr at the time.

On Monday, after the Oversight and Accountability Committee interviewed an FBI agent from the Wilmington Field Office, the top Democrat on the committee, Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, accused Republicans of “distortion[ing]” evidence to “promote the false Republican narrative of political interference in the Hunter Biden investigation.”

Hunter Biden’s claim about his father in a WhatsApp message

In another case, Ziegler said he tried to get location data to determine if Joe Biden was in the room, as his son boasted in a 2017 WhatsApp message when he appeared to pressure a Chinese businessman into paying an outstanding payment by mentioning his father.

“I’m sitting here with my father … we want to understand why the promise that was made has not been fulfilled,” Hunter Biden allegedly texted the businessman, according to the transcript. He said, “I want to settle this now before it gets out of hand” and “now means tonight.”

Ziegler said the WhatsApp message was found on Hunter Biden’s iCloud account obtained through a search warrant. He says he could not determine if Hunter Biden and his father were together when the WhatsApp message was sent. President Biden has said that he was never present when such a message was sent and denied any knowledge of this message.

“Any time we might want to go down the road to ask questions about the president, it was going to take far too much approval. We can’t ask for those questions.”

Zeigler said he expected additional approvals when he was investigating a president’s son, but said the requests were not met.

There would be a point to where it would be like, ‘Well, let’s think about it. Let’s put that on the back burner.’ And it would now move down to item 50,” Ziegler said.

President Biden has denied any involvement in his son’s business affairs.

“I have never taken a penny from any foreign source, ever, in my life,” Mr. Biden said in October 2020 at a presidential debate.

Ziegler says he only came forward publicly at the request of Congress, adding, “I do this with a heavy heart. This is horrible. It’s not a fun experience to go through. I don’t wish this on anyone.”

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