IRS Supervisory Special Agent Gary Shapley will appear before the House Ways and Means Committee later Friday morning to submit to questioning from both Democrats and Republicans.
Missing, however, will be any members of the Senate Finance Committee, which refused to conduct a joint interview with the House oversight committee. While Republican Rep. Jason Smith, chair of the Ways and Means Committee, held the power to authorize Senate representatives to attend the transcribed interview of the whistleblower, Smith inexplicably ignored Shapley’s statement that he “would welcome” the participation of designated Senate staffers in the House hearing. Thus the House hearing will proceed, but not on a bicameral basis.
According to a person familiar with the proceedings, the House Ways and Means Committee will convene at 9:30 a.m., with Shapley appearing for questioning with his two lawyers, Mark Lytle from Nixon Peabody and Tristan Leavitt of Empower Oversight. The closed-door questioning is expected to last all day.
While the Ways and Means Committee will question Shapley in a closed session, the public can guess the content of much of his testimony given the high-profile nature of the case against Hunter Biden. In fact, neither Shapley nor his attorneys have ever publicly confirmed that Hunter Biden is the target of the Internal Revenue Service investigation, yet it is uniformly agreed that the whistleblower’s testimony concerns the handling of the tax probe into the president’s son.
Shapley, a 14-year veteran at the IRS, provided some insight into his likely testimony when he sat for an exclusive interview with CBS News on Wednesday. During that interview, Shapley explained that he was first assigned to the investigation in January 2020. “When I took control of this particular investigation, I immediately saw deviations from the normal process,” Shapley told CBS News. “It was way outside the norm of what I’ve experienced in the past,” the whistleblower stressed.
Shapley further claimed during the interview that “there were multiple steps that were slow-walked — were just completely not done — at the direction of the Department of Justice.” That statement coincides with the information contained in an earlier letter sent by the whistleblower’s lawyers to the oversight committees. That letter maintained that the whistleblower has detailed “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.”
“People directly familiar with the case” provided more particulars to Shapley’s claims, asserting that “specific DOJ employees placed strictures on questions, witnesses and tactics investigators may be allowed to pursue that could impact President Biden.” The unnamed sources also stressed that the improper politicization of the case came from the Justice Department and FBI headquarters.
When read together, these details raise a huge red flag because they mean the interference from the DOJ and FBI headquarters began under the Trump administration. So who in the Trump administration was responsible for slow-walking the Hunter Biden investigation? What investigative steps were not taken?
In a letter from Shapley’s legal team to the congressional oversight committees, he spoke of irregularities beginning in the summer of 2020 in both the DOJ Tax Division and an unnamed U.S. attorney’s office, which CNN would later report is the office of Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss. Weiss has been investigating Hunter Biden since 2018.
Another detail from Shapley’s CBS News interview that foreshadows the content of his Friday testimony concerns his explanation of the “red-line” meeting that convinced the IRS supervisory special agent his oath of office required him to come forward. According to Shapley, while he had been noticing deviations in the investigative process for a couple of years, he just couldn’t “fathom that DOJ might be acting unethically.” Then came an October 2022 meeting he had with federal prosecutors, after which Shapley told CBS News, “It just got to that point where that switch was turned on, and I just couldn’t silence my conscience anymore.”
While the CBS News interview did not air further details about the meeting, a letter from Shapley’s legal team described a “charged meetings on October 7, 2022,” during which the U.S. attorney — reportedly Weiss — “became aware that both the IRS and the FBI had longstanding concerns about the handling of the case” and that those concerns had been communicated up the chain of command. Then, after an Oct. 17, 2022, meeting at which Shapley continued to raise concerns, he and his investigative team were excluded from future meetings on the case.
Shapley seems poised to name names on Friday, and his attorney has told Just the News that “he’ll be able to talk about these meetings that he attended, that were with both agents and prosecutors.” Shapley summarized those meetings and distributed his notes to the IRS and other agents, his lawyer explained, and along with his emails, these documents will corroborate his story.
The whistleblower can also identify other IRS agents who participated in the meetings and can confirm his testimony. The DOJ’s decision earlier this month to remove Shapley’s entire investigative team from the Hunter Biden investigation may backfire, serving as a catalyst to loosen the other agents’ lips.
But in the meantime, it will be Shapley doing the talking. And while Americans won’t know at once what the IRS supervisory special agent has to say, the House Ways and Means Committee has the authority to submit the information obtained from Sharpley to both the Senate and the House of Representatives, thereby making the testimony public.
Democrats used that statutory carveout to release Trump’s tax information publicly, and Republicans should follow their lead — and soon.
Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.
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