In Hunter Biden tax investigation, IRS agent requests whistleblower protections to talk about "political considerations"
The attorney for an unnamed IRS criminal supervisory special agent says his client has asked Congress for protections to speak out about allegations that a years-long, high-profile and politically sensitive investigation has been hindered by "preferential treatment and politics," according to a letter obtained by CBS News. That investigation is the one probing potential tax crimes by Hunter Biden, CBS News has learned.
"My client wants to come forward to Congress," said attorney Mark Lytle, who is representing the agent. He discussed his client's allegations with CBS News chief investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod in an exclusive interview that aired on Wednesday night's "CBS Evening News" and streamed across all CBS platforms. "He's ready to be questioned about what he knows and what he experienced under the proper legal protections."
That someone from inside the long-running federal investigation is coming forward to voice concerns about the way it's being conducted adds to the already strange journey of the matter related to the son of President Biden. Mr. Biden left David C. Weiss, the Trump-appointed Delaware U.S. attorney overseeing the probe, in his post to avoid any appearance of interference. And Justice Department officials have vowed publicly to protect the probe from political influence.
Weiss had been acting head of the Delaware office at the time and received the endorsements of the state's Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, both Democrats.
In February 2021, soon after Mr. Biden took office, dozens of U.S. attorneys appointed by Trump were asked to resign, but then-Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson asked Weiss to remain on the job, a Justice Department official told CBS News.
In the letter, Lytle claims his client's information would "contradict sworn testimony to Congress by a senior political appointee."
In a March Senate hearing, Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged that he would not interfere with Weiss, who is leading the investigation, "I promise to ensure that he's able to carry out his investigation and that he be able to run it."
The Justice Department and its office of the inspector general did not immediately respond to CBS News' request for comment. The U.S. attorney's office in Delaware declined to comment. And the White House referred a request for comment to the Justice Department or IRS. The IRS and Treasury inspector general for Tax Administration have also not responded to a request for comment.
Lytle told CBS News his client believes the probe has been handled differently from any other investigation in his lengthy career with the IRS.
"Political considerations were having an impact on the decision for agents to make investigative steps in the case. And those political considerations are not normally a part of a career investigator's toolkit," Lytle explained, but declined to share details of the investigation or identify its subject.
Chris Clark, an attorney for Hunter Biden, declined to comment. President Biden has previously said he was not involved in his son's business dealings, and there has been no evidence that has emerged to refute this.
Lytle sent the letter to seek legal protections that would allow his client to make further disclosures about what his lawyer said would indicate "that typical steps that a law enforcement investigator would take were compromised because of political considerations."
The letter says his client "has already made legally protected disclosures" to the IRS, the Treasury inspector general for Tax Administration, and the Justice Department's inspector general.
Lytle spent 25 years as a white collar prosecutor handling a range of cases, including on complex tax matters. While a career employee at the Justice department, he had been assigned to briefly work in the Trump White House, but indicated his limited role in the administration has no bearing in this matter, and neither he nor his client are motivated by politics. Lytle would not tell CBS who is paying the agent's legal bills saying, "I really don't wanna get into the specifics of his situation."
Lytle also recently represented Yoel Roth, the former head of Twitter's Trust and Safety unit, when he testified before the House Oversight Committee in February.
The agent, Lytle says, has worked for the IRS for more than a decade and has extensive documentation which he says backs up his claims.
"It really doesn't come down to his credibility, whether you believe him or not," Lytle said. "Because the things he's been through are very well documented in emails, and other communications with the Department of Justice."
The agent is limited from speaking publicly because of strict rules governing the discussion of any specific taxpayer. Lytle said he also is seeking protection against retaliation. "He wants to make sure that he does this right. And he's gonna need protections from Congress before he could speak out about this," Lytle said.
In October, a source familiar with the investigation told CBS News that the FBI had collected what it believed to be sufficient evidence to charge Hunter Biden with tax crimes, as part of an investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Delaware that dates back to at least 2019. The decision whether to bring charges based on that evidence rests with prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office.
In a 2021 interview with CBS News, Hunter Biden said of the investigation, "I know that we are cooperating 100%."
Last year, CBS News reported that he had obtained financial backing from a high-powered Hollywood attorney Kevin Morris, who sources said paid Hunter Biden's outstanding tax debts.
for more features.