A key House committee released a 65-page transcript Monday of testimony by a former FBI supervisory special agent who said he encountered obstacles in leading an investigation of Hunter Biden.
Restifying to committee investigators behind closed doors July 17, the former FBI agent provided details about December 2020, a month after the last presidential election, when agents from both the FBI and the IRS planned to question President-elect Joe Biden’s son in Los Angeles.
Backing up what IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley previously had told Congress, the unnamed former FBI agent, who retired in June 2022, said FBI headquarters’ tipoff to both Joe Biden’s presidential transition team and the Secret Service about a pending interview cost investigators the chance to question the younger Biden.
Here are four takeaways from the transcript released by the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.
1. Comparing Testimony of IRS, FBI Agents
Shapley, the IRS supervisory special agent who became a whistleblower on the five-year Hunter Biden probe, testified about the tipoff May 26 to another House committee.
“Hunter Biden was assigned Secret Service protection on or around our Dec. 3 meeting,” Shapley testified to the House Ways and Means Committee. “So we developed a plan for the FBI Los Angeles special agent in charge to reach out at 8 a.m. on Dec. 8 to the Secret Service Los Angeles special agent in charge and tell them that we would be coming to the residence to seek an interview with Hunter Biden and it was part of an official investigation.”
The IRS whistleblower, however, explained that it didn’t work out that way.
“However, the night before, Dec. 7 of 2020, I was informed that FBI headquarters had notified Secret Service headquarters and the [Biden presidential] transition team about the planned actions the following day,” Shapley said. “This essentially tipped off a group of people very close to President Biden and Hunter Biden and gave this group an opportunity to obstruct the approach of the witness.”
The majority counsel asked the FBI supervisory special agent: “Can you describe to the committee what the initial plan was when the FBI was going to go interview Hunter Biden?”
The former FBI official answered: “So, the initial plan was to make approaches of multiple witnesses, to include subject Hunter Biden, on Dec. 8.”
Noting that the investigative team learned Dec. 3 that the younger Biden “had armed Secret Service protection,” he said:
We knew that we could not just, you know, go to the door, or I certainly believed that we just could not go to the door, so that there would be—have to be—some notification to [the] Secret Service so they would be aware that we were coming. The initial plan was to have the local field office of the Secret Service be notified the morning of [Dec. 8, 2020] to diminish opportunities for anybody else to be notified. I was working with my management on that, as well as … our FBI headquarters.
The former FBI official also detailed some procedural aspects.
“The belief—or the intent—was we were hoping that there would be notification to the local Secret Service field office or the Los Angeles field office of the Secret Service on the morning of … the interview.”
He later added that the plan didn’t succeed.
“But suffice it to say, I was informed that FBI headquarters had contacted Secret Service headquarters and had made a notification at that time, or somewhere around that time, on the evening of the 7th,” he said.
The majority counsel asked: “And when you say ‘made a notification,’ can you expand on that, [on] what you mean?”
The FBI veteran explained: “Of our intent, that we sought to interview Hunter Biden.”
2. No Interview of Hunter Biden
After the tipoff to the presidential transition team and Secret Service headquarters, federal agents didn’t get a chance to interview Hunter Biden, or even to visit his home.
Investigators were assured they would obtain a telephone interview of the younger Biden, which ultimately never happened.
According to the released transcript, the former FBI official explained:
I was partnered with supervisor number two of the IRS. And as we got together, or while we got together on that morning, I was notified by my assistant special agent in charge that we would not even be allowed to approach the house. That the plan, as told to us, was that my information would be given to the Secret Service, to whom I don’t know exactly, and, you know, my name, my contact, you know, my cell phone, for example, with the notification that we would like to talk to Hunter Biden. And that I was not to go near the [Biden] house, and to stand by.
The majority counsel asked: “In your [FBI] career of 20 years, have you ever been told that you could—that you had to wait outside of a target’s home until they contacted you?”
The FBI official replied: “Not that I recall. I mean, there have been times where we waited for maybe something else operationally to happen. But, no, not from the point of view of the target, the subject of the investigation.”
The majority counsel asked, “And did Hunter Biden come out and talk to you?”
The investigative team waited “a block or two away,” the former FBI official replied:
We waited a period of time. You know, I will add, it was frustrating, and I know supervisor number two was very frustrated, and I understood that frustration. But I also—we had other—another interview to conduct. So after a certain period of time, and I don’t exactly recall how long, we transitioned to make an attempt to interview another—or a witness as part of the investigation.
The majority counsel asked: “And were you able to interview Hunter Biden?”
The former FBI agent replied, “I was not.”
3. ‘Team of Advisers or Appointees’
The former FBI agent also testified to House investigators that others were looped in on the Biden probe that he didn’t think should have been.
“I felt it was people that did not need to know about our intent. I believe that the Secret Service had to be notified for our safety, for lack of confusion, for deconfliction, which we would do in so many other cases. But I didn’t understand why the initial notification,” he said.
During the interview, the committee’s Democratic counsel asked the former FBI agent: “And when you say ‘the transition team,’ what do you mean?”
“Well, just by working in D.C. previously, I know that when one party or, you know, president?elect … is in that president?elect phase, their team of advisers or appointees or whomever are considered the transition team,” he said. “How big and robust that is, I don’t—you know, I don’t have any individual name or roles.”
4. House Republicans Skeptical of Weiss
The contents of the transcript released Monday by the House Oversight and Accountability Committee compounds questionable investigative conduct in a probe that has been run for five years by the office of U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss.
On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland named Weiss as special counsel in the case, officially giving Weiss more authority and powers to investigate the case in any jurisdiction.
Previously, Weiss was confined to initiating legal action in Delaware, which Biden represented in the Senate for 36 years before becoming vice president in 2009.
The testimony of the former FBI supervisory special agent raises further questions about how Weiss can be an effective special counsel.
“IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley’s testimony that Secret Service headquarters and the Biden transition team were tipped off is confirmed by a former FBI agent,” committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., said Monday in a written statement.
“Shapley and the FBI agent planned to interview Hunter Biden in December 2020, but learned the night before that the Biden transition team was tipped off,” Comer said. “They were told to not approach Hunter Biden and wait for his call. “
“That never happened, and they never got to interview Hunter Biden,” Comer said. “Tipping off the transition team and not being able to interview Hunter Biden as planned are just a couple of examples that reveal the Justice Department’s misconduct in the Biden criminal investigation that occurred under U.S. Attorney Weiss’ watch.”
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., criticized the Weiss investigation of the president’s son.
“Weiss slow-walked the most serious charges against Hunter and offered him a sweetheart plea deal,” Biggs wrote in a tweet Monday. “This is an attempt to stonewall further investigation into the Biden Family.”
During an interview Monday on “Fox & Friends,” Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., said the new special counsel could be a tool for obstructing the ongoing congressional probe of the younger Biden based on evidence of influence peddling in overseas business deals, including in China and Ukraine.
“The American people don’t trust Congress, so we need to present irrefutable evidence of Biden family corruption and take our case directly to them,” Mace tweeted.
Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., said Weiss’ appointment as special counsel was part of the coverup.
“David Weiss as special counsel is nothing more than an attempted DOJ cover-up,” McClain tweeted. “@GOPoversight will not stop investigating the Biden crime family no matter what the DOJ throws at us.”
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