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Republicans furious after IRS removes Biden whistleblower from case

By Sarah May on
 May 17, 2023

An IRS whistleblower who has come forward to claim that political motives have clouded the ongoing probe of Hunter Biden's tax affairs has been removed from the first son's case – along with the rest of his investigatory team – leaving Republican lawmakers outraged, as the Daily Mail reports.

The news of the whistleblower's ouster came in a letter sent to Congress by two attorneys representing the longtime supervisory special agent, and the IRS is now facing allegations of engaging in improper retaliation as well as claims that it is “complicit” in a cover-up of crimes committed by the president's son.

Whistleblower, Team Removed

According to a report in the New York Post, the whistleblower's attorney contends that the “entire investigative team” in the IRS probe of Hunter Biden was removed on the orders of the Justice Department.

“Today the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Supervisory Special Agent we represent was informed that he and his entire investigative team are being removed from the ongoing and sensitive investigation of the high-profile, controversial subject about which our client sought to make whistleblower disclosures to Congress,” the letter stated.

“He was informed the change was at the request of the Department of Justice,” added lawyers Mark Lytle and Tristan Leavitt.

The lawyers noted that IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel recently testified to the House Ways and Means Committee that no retaliation would take place against anyone making whistleblower claims, but said, “However, this move is clearly retaliatory and may also constitute obstruction of a congressional inquiry.”

Explosive Claims

It was earlier this month that Lytle wrote to a group of congressional committee chairs with tax-writing authority and outlined the gist of what his client was prepared to disclose, provided he received the whistleblower protections only they could grant.

Revealing only that his client “has been overseeing the ongoing and sensitive investigation of a high-profile controversial subject since early 2020,” Lytle did not mention Hunter Biden by name, but he was ultimately confirmed to Just the News as the person referenced in the letter.

According to Lytle, his client's proposed disclosures “(1) contradict sworn testimony to Congress by a senior political appointee, (2) involve failure to mitigate clear conflicts of interest in the ultimate disposition of the case, and (3) detail 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 “senior political appointee” referenced in the letter was subsequently confirmed to be Attorney General Merrick Garland, according to Just the News, underscoring the potentially explosive implications of what he might bring to the table.

Republicans Fume

As the Mail notes, the removal of the unnamed whistleblower and his entire team from the Hunter Biden tax probe has drawn the ire of a number of congressional Republicans, who argue that the IRS is taking an active role in the concealment of crimes.

GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (NY-21) said on Tuesday, “The IRS is complicit in the cover-up of Hunter Biden's tax fraud. There must be accountability.”

Republican Rep. James Comer (KY-01), who chairs the House Oversight Committee also blasted the conduct alleged in the lawyers' letter, suggesting that the federal government is “once again” using its power improperly by engaging in retaliation over disclosures it does not like, and he pledged to “thoroughly investigate” any officials accused of “covering up” criminal activity on the part of the first son in a quest for full accountability.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) raised the situation during a Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday, during which a former IRS official testified that in his three-decade career in the agency, “he never saw an entire investigatory team pulled off a case. But that's what happened to Hunter's investigators.” The lawmaker also lamented, “Unequal application of law and weaponizing agencies against citizens is becoming routine in Democrat administrations.”

High Hurdle for IRS

Though the agency's stated rationale for removing the whistleblower from the Hunter Biden matter remains to be seen, Tom Devine, a lawyer who specializes in the representation of such individuals, told CBS News that if the man's potential disclosures were the reason for his ouster from the probe, a Whistleblower Protection Act violation may well have occurred.

Explaining that such a move by the IRS would be “considered a significant change in duties and working conditions...and if it's because of your whistleblowing, that would make it a violation of the law.”

Devine noted that there is something of a “reverse burden of proof” triggered by cases such as this, and the agency would be compelled to demonstrate that the whistleblower was not, in fact, the target of retaliation.

“It's a tough test,” said Devine. “They have to show by clear and convincing evidence that they would have taken the same action for legitimate independent reasons, even if you never opened your mouth,” and given the timing of the putative whistleblower's reassignment, that may be a high bar for the IRS to clear. Republicans, for their part, appear to have serious doubts about the agency's ability to do just that, and they seem more than willing to force its leadership to try.