Watch CBS News

Two IRS whistleblowers alleged sweeping misconduct in the Hunter Biden tax investigation, new transcripts show

Two IRS whistleblowers allege sweeping misconduct, including interference in the Hunter Biden tax investigation, according to the GOP House Ways and Means Committee chairman and newly released transcripts of congressional interviews with the whistleblowers.

Earlier this week, Biden agreed to enter guilty pleas for two misdemeanor tax charges that related to his failure to pay tax on more than $3 million in income. As part of the deal with Delaware U.S Attorney David Weiss — who was appointed by then-President Donald Trump and was kept in the position by the current administration to continue the probe — Biden will avoid full prosecution on a separate gun possession charge. A Delaware judge must approve the agreement at a hearing currently set for July 26.

IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley, who recently spoke exclusively with CBS News' Jim Axelrod, told congressional investigators the IRS findings supported more severe penalties.

"This recommended felony tax evasion charges, that's 7201, is tax evasion, and 7206(1) is a false tax return, also a felony, for the tax years 2014, 2018, and 2019. And for Title 26 7203, which is a failure to file or pay, that is a misdemeanor charge for '15, '16, '17, '18, and '19," Shapley said.

"The testimony we have just released details a lack of U.S. attorney independence, recurring unjustified delays, unusual actions outside the normal course of any investigation," Chairman Jason Smith told reporters.

"Testimony shows that U.S. Attorney of Delaware David Weiss tried to bring charges in the District of Columbia around March of 2022 and was denied," Smith asserted. "Weiss sought special counsel status from the [Justice Department] in the spring of 2022 and was once again denied. Weiss sought to bring charges in the Central District of California in the fall of 2022 and had that request denied in January of 2023."

A spokesperson for Weiss declined to comment, but earlier this month, in a letter to Rep. Jim Jordan, the GOP chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Weiss wrote, "I have been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges."

"Throughout my tenure as U.S. Attorney my decisions have been made — and with respect to the matter must be made — without reference to political considerations," Weiss said. 

In a statement issued Thursday, the Justice Department said, "As both the Attorney General and U.S. Attorney David Weiss have said, U.S. Attorney Weiss has full authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges as he deems appropriate. He needs no further approval to do so."  

"Two interviews do not make an investigation when more than 50 employees were named, especially when you consider that one recanted key elements of his testimony earlier this week," House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Democrat Richard Neal wrote after the release of the interview transcripts, "It's all premature, and the rush shows how pretextual this is in this stunning abuse of power."

This week, after Biden's plea deal was announced, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Justice Department leadership had no role in the charging decision. "As I said from the moment of my appointment as attorney general, I would leave this matter in the hands of the United States attorney who was appointed by the previous president," referring to Weiss.

Since gaining the majority in the House, Republican members of Congress have focused their investigatory powers on Hunter Biden's business deals, in some cases as far back as when his father was vice president. 

During the presidential campaign, Joe Biden consistently maintained that he was not involved in any of his son's business dealings and the White House has continued to deny any connection exists.

Congressional Republicans have alleged that Hunter Biden and the president's brother James Biden were involved in a deal with Chinese conglomerate CEFC China Energy in August 2017. And in particular, GOP lawmakers are interested in an email that became public in 2020, when Republicans obtained information from a laptop alleged to have belonged to Hunter Biden.

The message, which bore the subject line "Expectations," outlines a "provisional agreement" for "equity" in a deal with a Chinese energy company. 

Two of Hunter Biden's former business partners who received the message, including Tony Bobulinski, told CBS News that a line in the email, "10 held by H for the big guy?" is shorthand for 10% held by Hunter Biden for his father.

According to the now-public transcripts of the interview with the committee, Shapley told congressional investigators that interest in references to "dad" and "the big guy" was blocked by a senior prosecutor working for Weiss. 

When the email became public in 2020, the author, James Gilliar, told the Wall Street Journal that Joe Biden was not involved. Gilliar did not respond to CBS News' questions. 

Hunter Biden's team did not respond to a request for comment from CBS News. One of his lawyers, Christopher Clark, has in the past denied that Biden ever gave his consent "to access his computer data or share it with others," alleging "there have been multiple attempts to hack, infect, distort, and peddle misinformation regarding Mr. Biden's devices and data." 

In his congressional interview, Shapley also alleged that there was a recovered WhatsAPP message from Hunter Biden dated July 30, 2017, that was addressed to a Chinese businessman with whom he was involved at the time about an outstanding payment. 

"I am sitting here with my father..we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled," Hunter Biden allegedly wrote, according to the transcript. He added, "I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand" and "now means tonight."

In a statement, Shapley said of the now public transcript, "I believe Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate should come together to examine these facts by interviewing other witnesses and reviewing documents to fully understand what happened during this five-year long investigation. I fulfilled my oath of office by participating in this process, following the rules, and telling the truth to the best of my ability — despite the risks."

The White House referred CBS News to an earlier statement to reiterate only that the president has not been involved in the investigation into his son. "President Biden has made clear that this matter would be handled independently by the Justice Department, under the leadership of a U.S. Attorney appointed by former President Trump, free from any political interference by the White House," the statement said. "He has upheld that commitment."

CBS News asked Hunter Biden's legal team for comment and there was no immediate response.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.