IRS whistleblower who claims to have information about alleged mishandling of Hunter Biden investigation removed from probe
(CNN) An IRS whistleblower who says she has information about misconduct and political interference in the criminal investigation of Hunter Biden has been removed from the investigation into the president’s son, the whistleblower’s lawyers told key congressional lawmakers.
Advocates Whistleblower The House and Senate sent a letter to committee leaders on Monday informing them of the change, and said the whistleblower’s investigative team has also been removed from the case, according to a copy of the letter obtained by CNN.
The attorneys — Tristan Leavitt, head of Empower Oversight, and Mark Lytle — “made the change at the request of the Department of Justice,” the whistleblower was told.
The letter says it’s an investigation into a “high-profile, controversial matter,” which sources familiar with the matter previously confirmed to CNN is Hunter Biden.
Federal prosecutors have spent three years investigating Hunter Biden and bringing charges against him for tax crimes and false reporting, CNN previously reported. So far, no chargesheet has been filed. Hunter Biden has denied wrongdoing.
In a statement on Tuesday, the IRS declined to comment on the matter of specific taxpayers.
“In general, the IRS is deeply committed to protecting the role of whistleblowers and has robust processes and procedures in place to protect whistleblowers. As IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said, we will not tolerate an IRS employee retaliating against a whistleblower allegation. . . When suggestions of wrongdoing are raised, the integrity of the whistleblower process is protected.” “We are working with all appropriate parties, including the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, to ensure,” the IRS statement said.
“The department cannot comment on this matter,” a Justice Department spokeswoman said. “Any investigation of Hunter Biden, as the attorney general has said, is handled by U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who has full authority to make investigative decisions and bring charges in any jurisdiction he sees fit.”
The IRS whistleblower’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware, the office handling the Hunter Biden criminal investigation, declined to comment.
CNN has reached out to Hunter Biden’s legal team for comment.
White House spokesman Ian Sams said, “President Biden has made it clear that the Department of Justice will handle this matter independently, without any political interference from the White House, led by former President Trump’s appointed U.S. attorney. He has kept that promise.”
“Ways and Means Democrats take whistleblowers and their protection seriously,” said Representative Richard Neal, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, in a statement.
“More details are needed here, and we invite Commissioner Werfel to provide the necessary context before making a judgment,” the statement said.
In their letter, Leavitt and Lytle say the move is “clearly vindictive and may interfere with a congressional investigation.” That contradicts testimony given by IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel in April, when he told the House Ways and Means Committee, “I can say without any hesitation that no one will receive an allegation or a call to the whistleblower hotline.”
Lawyers argued that because the agent successfully sought whistleblower protection, he was protected from retaliatory personnel actions, and that “any government official’s attempt to prevent a federal employee from providing information to Congress is a direct violation of the long-standing appropriations restriction.” Obstructing a congressional investigation is a crime.
The move to sideline the whistleblower and his investigative team comes months after some agents said they were not included in some discussions about the case. The alleged leaks, people familiar with the matter told CNN.
CNN previously reported that the investigation into the case is largely over, and the indictment of Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who is overseeing the investigation, is pending.
The controversy is also not uncommon in fights between Congress and the executive branch over whistleblower complaints. There is no indication that the agent in question lost his job at the IRS.
The letter was also sent to the Democratic and Republican leaders and ranking members on the Senate Finance and Judiciary Committees and the House Ways and Means and Judiciary Committees. Leavitt and Lytle asked committee leaders to give the matter their “immediate attention.”
Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee confirmed receipt of the letter to CNN, and in a statement said, “Recent information regarding allegations of retaliation against a whistleblower appears to contradict Commissioner Werfel’s sworn testimony that he promised whistleblower protections would be upheld.”
“The duty of Congress to hold government agencies accountable depends on the existence and willingness of individuals to speak up about wrongdoing. Such retaliation not only discourages whistleblowers, but also amounts to an illegal violation of statutory protections for whistleblowers,” the report continued, adding that Republicans on the panel said “Commissioner Werfel must keep his promise, this “We must promptly provide information to Congress in response to the allegations, and ensure that no action is taken to discourage those who attempt to shine.” Government malpractices exposed.”
CNN previously reported that an IRS whistleblower alleges that Weiss’ ability to press charges in the case involving Hunter Biden is being overridden by political appointees. This contradicts the promises of Attorney General Merrick Garland In Congressional testimony Weiss, a Donald Trump appointee, has full authority to make the final decision on whether to prosecute the president’s son.
According to an earlier letter from his attorney, the IRS whistleblower said the information “contradicts a sworn statement to Congress by a senior political appointee.” That senior political appointee was Garland, people familiar with the matter previously told CNN.
IRS Whistleblower’s Advocates He met the Congress investigating officers Earlier this month, their client laid the groundwork for what they hope to share with Congress.
Preparations for that potential interview are underway, and the meeting is expected to take place soon, sources familiar with the discussion told CNN.
CNN’s Evan Perez contributed.