A top House Republican wants the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to clarify what is happening with the criminal investigation into Hunter Biden after lawyers for a whistleblower within the agency claimed his team got removed from the case.
Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) is requesting an “urgent briefing” from IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel’s office to address concerns about possible retaliation.
“These allegations are extremely serious. Such retaliation not only discourages whistleblowers from coming forward to Congress but can also constitute an illegal violation of statutory protections for whistleblowers,” Smith wrote in a letter to Werfel on Tuesday. The letter was published by Just the News.
Lawyers for an IRS criminal supervisory special agent wrote to Congress on Monday to say their client had just been told that “he and his entire investigative team are being removed” from the Hunter Biden probe and was “informed the change was at the request of the Department of Justice.”
The “move is clearly retaliatory and may also constitute obstruction of a congressional inquiry,” lawyers Mark Lytle and Tristan Leavitt wrote.
The IRS agent, who has not been publicly identified, has sought to make protected whistleblower disclosures to Congress while raising concerns about lies and politics corrupting the criminal inquiry into Hunter Biden.
After Biden’s lawyers met with Department of Justice officials late last month, sources told The Washington Post that potential charges for tax- and gun-related crimes may soon follow from Delaware’s U.S. Attorney David Weiss. Hunter Biden has said he expects to be cleared of wrongdoing, and his father, President Joe Biden, told MSNBC this month that his son has “done nothing wrong.”
The IRS and Justice Department have so far refused to respond directly to the claim that the IRS supervisor and his entire team had been pulled from the case.
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“In general, the IRS is deeply committed to protecting the role of whistleblowers, and there are robust processes and procedures in place to protect whistleblowers,” said an IRS statement reported by CNN.
“As IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel has stated, we will not tolerate retaliation against any IRS employee making a whistleblower allegation,” the statement added. “When suggestions of wrongdoing are raised, we work with all appropriate parties, including the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, to ensure the integrity of the whistleblower process is safeguarded.”
The Justice Department has deferred to Weiss, whose office is so far not speaking out on the matter.
Smith requested a briefing from Werfel’s office by 5 p.m. on Thursday. “Failure to provide forthcoming and transparent information regarding the actions taken against this employee by your agency will necessitate additional Committee action,” he warned.