A second IRS whistleblower has alleged retaliation for raising concerns that Justice Department leadership was "acting inappropriately" on the investigation into Hunter Biden, theWashington Examinerhas learned.
The allegations from an IRS case agent come a month after an IRS supervisory special agent revealed to Congress politics had infected the case involving President Joe Biden's son.
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Both whistleblowers were removed from the federal investigation into possible Hunter Biden tax violations this month. Communications obtained by the first whistleblower's lawyers show that the second whistleblower was threatened with allegations of criminal conduct after raising concerns about the handling of Hunter Biden's case.
The lawyers for the initial IRS whistleblower, Tristan Leavitt and Mark Lytle, the president of Empower Oversight and a partner at Nixon Peabody LLP, respectively, fired off a new letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel on Saturday in which they outlined the alleged retaliation.
“Our client learned that one of the agents he supervises — the case agent on the case our client is blowing the whistle on — sent you an email” on Thursday in which the IRS case agent raised concerns about the Hunter Biden investigation, the lawyers wrote in a letter obtained by the Washington Examiner from congressional sources. But IRS leadership quickly responded “with accusations of criminal conduct and warnings to other agents in an apparent attempt to intimidate into silence anyone who might raise similar concerns.”
The IRS must desist from "intimidating," the lawyers wrote, "lest they chill the disclosures of other IRS whistleblowers who may wish to come forward.”
The revelations are the latest claims of wrongdoing into how the federal government is handling the allegations of possible tax fraud that Hunter Biden first revealed in 2020 immediately after his father won the White House. Joe Biden has routinely stood by his son and earlier this month claimed, "My son has done nothing wrong."
Lawyers for the initial IRS whistleblower sent letters to Congress in April and May providing details of alleged wrongdoing related to the federal investigation into President Joe Biden’s son. The whistleblower’s attorneys have claimed the agency engaged in "clearly retaliatory" action against their client.
Leavitt also sent a separate letter to the Office of Special Counsel on Wednesday, in which he said his client, a supervisory special agent with the IRS’s criminal investigation division, has allegedly been retaliated against numerous times for making “protected disclosures” in 2021, 2022, and 2023.
The letters to Werfel and the Office of Special Counsel were included in a letter to Congress on Monday evening, wherein the lawyers revealed their client is scheduled to speak with the GOP-led House Ways and Means Committee this Friday.
The whistleblower’s lawyers have consistently avoided confirming or denying that their client's allegations relate to Hunter Biden, but congressional sources have said the disclosures relate to the investigation into Joe Biden’s son.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware is handling the criminal investigation into Hunter Biden. It is reportedly up to U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a Trump-appointed holdover, to decide whether to indict the president’s son. In February 2021, Joe Biden asked all Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys appointed by Trump for their resignations, with Weiss a rare exception.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has repeatedly vowed to ensure that Weiss is insulated from any political interference.
The letter from Leavitt and Lytle to Werfel included an email sent by the IRS case agent to the IRS chief and other agency leaders last week as an attachment.
The case agent's Wednesday email said, “For the last couple years, my SSA and I have tried to gain the attention of our senior leadership about certain issues prevalent regarding the investigation” and said they were often “left out on an island."
“The ultimate decision to remove the investigatory team … without actually talking to that investigatory team, in my opinion was a decision made not to side with the investigators but to side with the USAO and Department of Justice who we have been saying for some time has been acting inappropriately,” the second whistleblower, the IRS case agent, added.
Lawyers for the initial IRS whistleblower argued that “in response to making his good faith expression of reasonable concerns — concerns shared by our client — the case agent had a right to expect that his email would be taken seriously, considered, and addressed professionally without retribution, as the law requires.” Instead, the attorneys said, the IRS responded by trying to intimidate agents into silence.
Lola Watson, the assistant special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office’s IRS Criminal Division, responded to the IRS case agent’s email on Thursday afternoon, telling him that “you have been told several times that you need to follow your chain of command” and that “your email yesterday may have included potential grand jury material” — which could be a crime.
“While such a claim is utterly baseless and without support in the law or facts of this matter, the language of the response suggests the case agent may have been referred for investigation, an even more intimidating form of reprisal likely to chill anyone from expressing dissent,” the initial IRS whistleblower’s lawyers told Werfel in their Saturday letter.
Just minutes after Watson’s email, another email was sent by Kareem Carter, the special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office for the IRS, in which he said, “There should be no instances where case related activity discussions leave this field office without seeking approval from your direct” supervisor, arguing that “following chain of command prevents confusion, conflict, and misunderstandings.”
The initial IRS whistleblower’s lawyers told the IRS commissioner that “you are responsible by statute for preventing prohibited personnel practices, such as whistleblower retaliation,” and reminded Werfel that it is “a crime to obstruct an investigation of Congress.”
The IRS whistleblower’s legal team had said last week that the IRS had removed the entire investigative team in the Hunter Biden tax evasion investigation at the request of the Justice Department. Congressional Republicans last week demanded an “urgent briefing and explanation” from Werfel about the whistleblower’s claims.
The initial whistleblower has scheduled private testimony on Friday before the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over the IRS, and has invited Senate Finance Committee staff also to attend.
Lytle told Congress in April that his client’s “protected disclosures” lay out “examples of preferential treatment and politics improperly infecting decisions and protocols that would normally be followed by career law enforcement professionals in similar circumstances if the subject were not politically connected.”
The IRS agent’s allegations also “involve failure to mitigate clear conflicts of interest in the ultimate disposition of the case” against Hunter Biden and “contradict sworn testimony to Congress by a senior political appointee.”
A source familiar with the whistleblower letter confirmed to the Washington Examiner that Garland is the unnamed senior Biden official whose testimony before Congress is being challenged.
The new Wednesday letter from one of the IRS whistleblower’s lawyers to the Office of Special Counsel also provided new details about the retaliation his client has allegedly faced repeatedly as he has blown the whistle internally at the agency and then later to the House and Senate as well as the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
After the whistleblower made a "host of protected disclosures to his chain of command between spring of 2021 and the end of 2022," he was excluded from prosecutorial discussions on the Hunter Biden case, Leavitt wrote. After he disclosed the concerns to Congress and TIGTA, the whistleblower was passed over for a promotion to "J5 Lead position" despite being the "best qualified," the lawyer wrote.
After further disclosures to Congress and the Department of Justice inspector general in 2023 became public, the whistleblower "has been further retaliated against by being formally removed from the case in question," Leavitt wrote.
The IRS whistleblower’s lawyer included several emails that his client had sent detailing what he saw as “unethical conduct” by the DOJ.
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“My choice was to turn a blind eye to their malfeasance, and not sleep, or to put myself in the crosshairs by doing the right thing,” the IRS whistleblower told his IRS superiors in one December 2022 email. “My conscience chose the latter. I hope IRS-CI applauds the incredibly difficult position I have been put into instead of entertaining the USAO’s attacks.”
The whistleblower’s legal team also told the Washington Examiner on Monday that they want Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) included in the congressional investigation into their client’s allegations, but Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is currently shutting Grassley out of it.