Latest News 18-06-2024 03:01 16 Views

House GOP probes whether special counsel office helped retaliate against Hunter Biden whistleblowers

House Republicans are investigating whether the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) contributed to the alleged retaliation and 'smear campaign' against IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, who brought claims of political influence in the Hunter Biden investigation to Congress. 

Fox News Digital has exclusively obtained a letter penned by House Speaker Mike Johnson; House Majority Leader Steve Scalise; House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer; House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan; and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith to the OSC. 

The top Republican lawmakers are seeking a briefing to determine whether there has been improper influence surrounding the IRS whistleblowers’ claims pending before the OSC. 

'IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler have been wholly consistent in their testimony about misconduct and politicization in the Department of Justice’s criminal investigation of Hunter Biden,' the Republican leaders said in a joint-statement to Fox News Digital. 'They did exactly what an honorable government employee should do: when they witnessed wrongdoing, they reported it responsibly and made legally protected disclosures.' 

The lawmakers said that 'because of their bravery and integrity, we are finally beginning to see steps toward accountability.' 

'But this has not come without great cost to them,' they added. 'Mr. Shapley and Ziegler have faced retaliation for doing the right thing.' 

'The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which is tasked with protecting whistleblowers, must conduct an impartial investigation of the claims of Mr. Shapley and Ziegler without improper influence from those seeking to smear these courageous individuals.' 

Shapley, who led the IRS’ portion of the Biden probe, and Ziegler, a 13-year special agent within the IRS’ Criminal Investigation Division, have alleged political influence surrounding prosecutorial decisions throughout the Biden investigation, which began in 2018.

Shapley has said decisions 'at every stage' of the probe 'had the effect of benefiting the subject of the investigation.'

Additionally, Ziegler has said that Biden 'should have been charged with a tax felony, and not only the tax misdemeanor charge,' and that communications and text messages reviewed by investigators 'may be a contradiction to what President Biden was saying about not being involved in Hunter’s overseas business dealings.'

Ziegler also alleged that federal investigators 'did not follow the ordinary process, slow-walked the investigation, and put in place unnecessary approvals and roadblocks from effectively and efficiently investigating the case,' including prosecutors blocking certain questioning and interviewing of Biden’s adult children.

Fox News Digital exclusively obtained the letter they wrote to OSC Acting Principal Deputy Special Counsel Karen Gorman, which notified her that they are investigating whether the OSC 'has contributed by action and/or inaction to retaliation' against Shapley and Ziegler. 

The House Republican leadership and committee chairmen requested a briefing to 'better understand OSC’s conduct and to ensure that there has not been any improper influence on OSC’s investigation.' 

Shapley and Ziegler both have whistleblower retaliation claims pending before the OSC.

'In particular, SSA Shapley made protected disclosures about the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, alleging prosecutorial misconduct in the Hunter Biden investigation,' they wrote, adding that Shapley alleges that then-U.S. Attorney, now-special counsel David Weiss 'began retaliating against him in November 2022 upon learning of the disclosure of his Office’s wrongdoing.' 

The Republicans said that in March of this year, Weiss filed a redacted document related to the whistleblowers with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. 

They noted that 'the phrasing of and redactions to the filing have led to media speculation about whether the whistleblowers themselves are under investigation for wrongdoing,' but said they have received information to prove that Shapley and Ziegler 'are not under investigation.' 

Last month, Shapley and Ziegler said they would seek an inspector general investigation into Weiss, alleging he 'hid and twisted' information – prompting more angst on Capitol Hill amid inquiries into Biden family conduct and alleged politicization of the Justice Department.

Empower Oversight, the legal group representing Shapley and Ziegler, alleged that Weiss’ team – in a March 11 federal court filing – deliberately misled the public by suggesting an unnamed federal agency was investigating the two whistleblowers for misconduct. However, the vague reference to the 'potential investigation(s)' is a reference to a probe the whistleblowers sought, alleging the Justice Department and IRS were retaliating against them for their disclosures.

'David Weiss has been retaliating against Gary Shapley ever since Shapley objected a year and a half ago to letting the statute of limitations lapse on 2014 felony tax charges against Hunter Biden,' Tristan Leavitt, president of Empower Oversight, told Fox News Digital last month. 'Weiss then learned from internal IRS communications that Shapley had been telling his IRS chain of command about Weiss' office pulling punches in the Hunter Biden probe.'

Empower Oversight at the time also asked the OSC to clarify for the record that the two agents are not under investigation.

Meanwhile, the House GOP leaders noted that President Biden’s nomination of now-special counsel Hampton Dellinger caused senators to express 'deep concern' about his ability to 'fairly' investigate the whistleblowers’ claims given his past work. 

Dellinger worked at Boise Schiller law firm 'with Hunter Biden on various Burisma-related matters.' 

Dellinger recused himself from the OSC’s investigation related to whistleblowers’ claims. 

The OSC confirmed the receipt of the letter Monday but declined to comment when reached by Fox News Digital.

Weiss indicted Hunter Biden on federal gun charges in Delaware and was found guilty on all counts last week. Biden had pleaded not guilty. 

Weiss also charged the first son with federal tax crimes. That trial is set to begin on Sept. 5 with jury selection in California. Biden has pleaded not guilty. 

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