A previously unidentified IRS whistleblower publicly told Congress on Wednesday that federal prosecutors investigating presidential son Hunter Biden were “hamstrung” by political pressure and called for appointment of a special counsel in the case.
Former IRS special agent Joseph Ziegler—a Democrat who identifies himself as a gay married man—previously gave anonymous testimony to the House Ways and Mean Committee.
In new testimony Wednesday, Ziegler made his identity known to the House Oversight and Accountability Committee during a hearing on why a five-year investigation recently produced a lenient Justice Department plea agreement with Hunter Biden, despite evidence that the president’s son made millions in overseas business deals in China, Ukraine, and other places by using his father’s name.
“People are saying that I must be more credible because I’m a Democrat who happens to be married to a man. I’m no more credible than this man sitting next to me, due to my sexual orientation or my political beliefs,” Ziegler told the committee in opening remarks, referring to IRS colleague and supervisor Gary Shapley, the panel’s other witness.
“The truth is, my credibility comes today from my job experience with the IRS and my intimate knowledge of the agency’s standard and procedures,” he said.
Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss reached a plea deal with Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, to charge him on two misdemeanor tax charges and a suspended sentence for lying on a gun purchase form. No prison time likely would result.
This development came after IRS investigators and federal prosecutors had previously determined that the younger Biden should face felony charges, Ziegler said.
“As I read the public documents of the Department of Justice action against Hunter Biden, there is nothing [saying] that Hunter Biden will be required to amend his false tax return for 2018—a false tax return that includes improper deductions for prostitutes, sex clubs, and his adult children’s tuition,” Ziegler said.
The two IRS whistleblowers said in previous testimony that Weiss—appointed by then-President Donald Trump and kept on board by the Biden administration for this probe—sought special counsel status.
This development came after federal prosecutors appointed by Biden in Washington, D.C., and California refused requests from Weiss to bring charges against Hunter Biden in those jurisdictions. Although Weiss said in a letter to House members that he had independence in the probe, he said in a follow-up letter that he didn’t have prosecutorial power outside his jurisdiction.
“While the impression has been conveyed by the U.S. attorney in Delaware that he has similar powers to that of a special counsel on this case, free rein to do as needed, that was not the case,” Ziegler told lawmakers. “It appeared to me, based on what I experienced, that the U.S. attorney in Delaware in our investigation was constantly hamstrung, limited, and marginalized by DOJ officials, as well as other U.S. attorneys. I still think that a special counsel is necessary for this investigation.”
Ziegler also talked about his personal experience.
“I was raised, and have always strived, to do what is right. Although I do have my supporters, others have said that I am a traitor to the Democratic Party and that I am causing more division in our society,” he told the committee. “I implore you to consider that if you were in my position with the facts as I have stated them, ask yourself if you would be doing the exact same thing. I hope that I am an example to other LGBTQ people out there who are questioning doing the right thing at the potential cost to themselves and others.”
Ziegler added that he is “risking my career, my reputation, and my casework outside the investigation we are here to discuss.”
“I ultimately made the decision to come forward after what I believe were multiple attempts at blowing the whistle at the Internal Revenue Service,” he said. “No one should be above the law, regardless of your political affiliation.”
Shapley, Ziegler’s colleague, already had spoken in public interviews with media and in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee. Shapley said he had to come forward after he saw the Justice Department cross a “red line,” explaining:
The Justice Department allowed the president’s political appointees to weigh in on whether to charge the president’s son. After the United States attorney for D.C., Matthew Graves, appointed by President Biden, refused to bring charges in March 2022, I watched United States Attorney Weiss tell a room full of senior FBI and IRS senior leaders on Oct. 7, 2022, that he was not the deciding person on whether charges were filed. That was my red line.
Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.
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