Washington — House Republicans summonedto testify publicly for the first time on Wednesday about their claims that the Justice Department limited a tax investigation into Hunter Biden, and their allegations that they were not free to pursue leads that may have implicated President Biden.
Hunter Biden is set to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges next week as part of a plea deal. But whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler have both claimed the federal tax investigation into President Biden's son supported more serious charges.
Who is "Whistleblower X," Joseph Ziegler?
Ziegler, who was known only as "Whistleblower X" before he testified to the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, is a 13-year veteran of the IRS. He was the tax agency's lead case agent in the federal investigation into Hunter Biden, which spanned both the Trump and Biden administrations.
"I'm a Democrat. In the last presidential election, I actually did not vote," Ziegler told CBS News in an interview. "I thought it would be irresponsible of me to do so because I didn't want to show bias one way or the other."
He said he recommended prosecutors charge Hunter Biden with multiple felonies and misdemeanors in 2021. Among the allegations is that Ziegler believed he had evidence that showed the president's son had improperly claimed business deductions for a number of personal expenses, including his children's college tuition, hotel bills and payments to escorts.
Hunter Biden's legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ziegler compared the weight of testifying to Congress about the investigation to his experience of coming out as gay, which he called "one of the hardest things I ever had to do."
"I hope that I am an example to other LGBTQ people out there, who are questioning doing the right thing at a potential cost to themselves and others," his opening statement said.
Prior to his employment at the IRS, Ziegler worked as an external auditor for Ernst and Young. He graduated from Ohio University with an accounting degree and then went on to earn a master's in business administration from John Carroll University.
He said he has worked on criminal tax and money laundering cases throughout his IRS career, including being the lead case agent on an investigation involving a major social media company and another involving a billionaire.
Who is Gary Shapley?
Ziegler's supervisor, Shapley, was the first to come forward with the allegations against the Justice Department.
"When I took control of this particular investigation, I immediately saw deviations from the normal process. It was way outside the norm of what I've experienced in the past," he. "It just got to that point where that switch was turned on. And I just couldn't silence my conscience anymore."
Shapley has worked at the IRS for 14 years. As a supervisory special agent, he leads a dozen agents who specialize in international tax and financial crimes. He was previously an officer with the National Security Agency's Office of the Inspector General.
He described himself as a small-town kid from Norwich, New York, who was the first person in his family to go to college.
Shapley previously told CBS News he is a registered Republican, but he has never made any political donations or been involved in political campaigns.
What did they say in their testimonies?
Before testifying to the House Oversight Committee, both men werebehind closed doors by the House Ways and Means Committee.
Ziegler said he was blocked from pursuing leads he thought might involve the current president during the five-year investigation.
He said Trump-appointed Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss told him he agreed with certain felony charges, but was facing resistance from other Justice Department officials who thought a jury may be sympathetic to Hunter Biden's drug addiction and the death of his brother, Beau Biden.
Shapley said Weiss had asked for special counsel status to bring charges in jurisdictions outside of Delaware, but told him that request was denied. Weissthat he requested special counsel status and in recent letters to Congress, Weiss stated that he had the ultimate authority on these matters. said he would have been allowed to bring charges in jurisdictions outside of Delaware.
The U.S. attorney's office for Delaware declined to comment.
Mr. Biden has denied any involvement in his son's business affairs.
— Catherine Herridge, Michael Kaplan and Clare Hymes contributed reporting.
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