Hunter Biden launched legal action against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Monday, claiming the IRS illegally released his tax information and failed to adequately safeguard his private records.
President Joe Biden’s son claims the IRS improperly disclosed details of his tax return and neglected to put in place measures to ensure the confidentiality of his records. He is seeking several remedies, including the release of all documents related to the disclosure of tax information, compensation of $1,000 for each unauthorized disclosure and coverage of his attorney’s fees.
The suit, filed in federal court in Washington, DC, does not identify the two whistleblower-turned-IRS agents as defendants. However, the lawsuit revolves around the disclosures made by these agents, namely Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, along with their legal representatives, in public statements, congressional testimony and interviews.
This legal action comes amid a web of other legal challenges facing Hunter Biden. He was recently indicted by special counsel David Weiss on three gun counts and could face additional tax-related charges from the same prosecutor.
“Despite clear warnings from Congress that they were prohibited from revealing the content of their testimony to the public in another forum, the testimony of Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler only fueled their media campaign against Mr. Biden,” claims the lawsuit. “And finally, since their public testimony before the House of Representatives on July 19, 2023, the agents have become regular guests in the national media and have made new allegations and public statements about the confidential information of Mr. Biden’s tax return that was not previously included in his transcripts before the Ways and Means Committee.”
“The lawsuit concerns the decision of IRS employees, their agents and others to disregard their obligations and to publicly and repeatedly and intentionally disclose and disseminate protected tax return information. Mr. Biden’s taxes outside the disclosure exceptions to the law,” the suit alleges.
The lawsuit adds: “These agents’ putative ‘whistleblower’ status does not and does not protect them from their unlawful conduct in making unauthorized public disclosures that are not permitted by the whistleblowing process. Indeed, presupposes that a “whistleblower” must uncover government misconduct, not the details of that employee’s view of a private individual’s alleged wrongdoing.”
The lawsuit alleges that Shapley and Ziegler went beyond confirming the investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes and provided specific allegations, the amount of deductions taken and obligations owed for tax years. Tensions have been rising in the investigation.
Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, sent a letter to congressional Republicans accusing them of “interference” in a criminal investigation after the president’s son was indicted Thursday.
“For months now, one or more of you, or others acting at your behest, have done everything in your power to interfere with ‘impartial justice’ and the proper functioning 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 admitted that your real purpose had nothing to do with proper oversight and that the purpose of your committee was “absolutely” move the needle on political support for the 2024. election,” Lowell wrote in the letter, which was addressed to House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-KY) as well as Judiciary Chairman , Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO).
“Your egregious efforts achieved your goal as the United States Attorney in Delaware today filed weapons charges against our client, charges that are unprecedented when not part of some other criminal conduct and that have been ruled unconstitutional by a federal appeals court, which reversed its earlier ruling that those charges were unwarranted,” Lowell added. “Your improper interference now involving a federal prosecutor is a far greater threat to society than the 11 days Mr. Biden had an unloaded gun.”
Lowell also criticized congressional Republicans for alleging Hunter Biden was getting a “sweetheart” plea deal before that deal fell apart in court.
“All your efforts thus far, as you have admitted, have been to convey the convenient but totally dishonest political purpose of asserting that Mr. Biden was treated more favorably than others in similar circumstances and that he was receiving a ‘love deal’ ” he continued. “Your most recent letter repeated this false statement in your ‘serious concerns’ by 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, which 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 complainant’s materials and rejected the defense attorney’s baseless allegations, including his claims of grand jury secrecy violations . Taxpayer privacy laws are written by Congress, and authority was given in those laws to hear disclosures about taxpayer information. It is up to them whether Congress chooses to make that information public in accordance with its statutory process.”
According to Politico, “Lowell also said the actions of the two IRS agents pressured the Justice Department to change its position on settlement negotiations. Before one of the whistleblowers discussed the case in a national television interview , the Justice Department was weighing “a consensual resolution of non-prosecution in all investigated conduct, where the resolution proposed by both parties did not include a plea of guilty,” Lowell wrote. But a day after the issuance of the interview, he added, prosecutors said they would require Biden to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges.
On Friday, Shapley’s lawyers issued a statement saying Hunter Biden’s lawyers have sought to have the Justice Department retaliate against their clients for making disclosures protected by whistleblower rules.
“The taxpayer privacy laws are written by Congress, and authority was given in those laws to hear disclosures about taxpayer information,” Shapley’s attorney said in a statement Friday.
IRS agents publicly aired their allegations about the Justice Department’s handling of the Hunter Biden investigation earlier this year.
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