Hunter Biden initiated legal action against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Monday, asserting that the IRS unlawfully divulged his tax information and failed to adequately safeguard his private records.
The son of President Joe Biden contends that the IRS improperly disclosed his tax return details and neglected to establish measures ensuring the confidentiality of his records. He is requesting various remedies, including the release of all documents related to the tax information disclosure, compensation of $1,000 for each unauthorized disclosure, and coverage of his attorney’s fees.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Washington, DC, does not identify the two IRS agents turned whistleblowers as defendants. Nevertheless, the lawsuit revolves around disclosures made by these agents, namely Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, along with their legal representatives, in public statements, congressional testimonies, and interviews.
This legal action arises amidst a web of other legal challenges confronting Hunter Biden. Recently, he was indicted on three felony gun charges by special counsel David Weiss and may potentially face additional tax-related charges from the same prosecutor.
“Despite clear warnings from Congress that they were prohibited from disclosing the contents of their testimony to the public in another forum, Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler’s testimony only emboldened their media campaign against Mr. Biden,” the lawsuit states. “And finally, since their public testimony before the House of Representatives on July 19, 2023, the agents have become regular guests on national media outlets and have made new allegations and public statements regarding Mr. Biden’s confidential tax return information that were not previously included in their transcripts before the Committee on Ways and Means.”
“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,” the lawsuit alleges.
The suit adds: “These agents’ putative ‘whistleblower’ status cannot and does not shield them from their wrongful conduct in making unauthorized public disclosures that are not permitted by the whistleblower process. In fact, a ‘whistleblower’ is supposed to uncover government misconduct, not the details of that employee’s opinion about the alleged wrongdoing of a private person.”
The lawsuit alleges Shapley and Ziegler went beyond confirming the investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes and provided specific allegations, the amount of deductions taken and liabilities owed for tax years. Tensions have been rising in the investigation.
Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell fired off a letter to Congressional Republicans accusing them of “interference” in a criminal investigation after the president’s son was indicted on Thursday.
“For months now, one or more of you, or others acting at your behest, have done everything you can to interfere with ‘impartial justice” and the proper workings of a criminal investigation involving our client, Robert Hunter Biden. In fact, Chairman Comer, on May 22, 2023, during an interview on Fox News, you actually admitted your real purpose had nothing to do with proper oversight and your Committee’s goal was ‘absolutely’ to move the needle of political support for the 2024 election,” Lowell wrote in the letter, which was addressed to House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY), as well as Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith (R-MO).
“Your blatant efforts achieved your goal as the U.S. Attorney in Delaware today filed gun charges against our client — charges that are unprecedented when not part of some other criminal conduct and have been found unconstitutional by a federal court of appeals — and who reversed his earlier decision that such charges were not warranted,” Lowell added. “Your improper interference now affecting a federal prosecutor is a much greater threat to society than the 11 days that Mr. Biden possessed an unloaded gun.”
Lowell also lashed out at Congressional Republicans for alleging that Hunter Biden was getting a “sweetheart” plea deal before that agreement fell apart in court.
“All your efforts to date, as you admitted, were to forward the convenient-for-your political purpose, but totally dishonest, claim that Mr. Biden was treated more favorably than others would be in similar circumstances and that he was getting a ‘sweetheart’ deal,” he continued. “Your most recent letter repeated this false statement in your “serious concerns” questioning whether ‘the Department has handled a case involving President Biden’s son in an impartial manner that is consistent with other prosecutions’.”
Tristan Leavitt, an attorney with the nonprofit group Empower Oversight, who represents one of the IRS whistleblowers, defended his client in a statement to Politico.
“Here we go again,” he said in a statement. “Hunter Biden’s attorneys have already made this argument to Judge Maryellen Noreika, who reviewed the whistleblower materials and rejected defense counsel’s baseless allegations, including their claims about grand jury secrecy violations. Taxpayer privacy laws are written by Congress, and it gave itself authority in those laws to hear disclosures about taxpayer information. Whether Congress decides to make that information public pursuant to its statutory process is up to them.”
According to Politico, “Lowell also said that the actions of the two IRS agents pressured the Justice Department to change its position in plea deal negotiations. Before one of the whistleblowers discussed the case on a national TV interview, the Justice Department was weighing ‘a consensual non-prosecution resolution to all conduct under investigation, where the resolution proposed by both sides did not include any guilty plea,’ Lowell wrote. But one day after the interview aired, he added, prosecutors said they would require Biden to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges.
On Friday, Shapley’s lawyers issued a statement saying Hunter Biden’s attorneys have tried to get the Justice Department to retaliate against their clients for making disclosures protected under whistleblower rules.
“Taxpayer privacy laws are written by Congress, and it gave itself authority in those laws to hear disclosures about taxpayer information,” Shapley’s attorney said in a statement on Friday.
The IRS agents publicly aired their allegations regarding the Justice Department’s handling of the Hunter Biden investigation earlier this year.