By: Kimberley A. Strassel – wsj.com – August 31, 2023
Don’t expect the “fact checkers” to tackle what is shaping up to be one of the biggest whoppers of 2022: Attorney General Merrick Garland’s sworn testimony that there would be no “interference of any political or improper kind” into Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss’s investigation of Hunter Biden. The evidence of improper interference is piling up by the week.
The details have come in dribs and drabs and include new revelations this week of shenanigans from Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer. But the timeline better exposes how what started as a bottom-up effort to charge Hunter with felony offenses was quickly hijacked by politicking from the top of the Justice Department.
By early 2022, the front-line investigators on the Weiss team had recommended felony tax charges against Hunter, but the Delaware prosecutor needed the cooperation of other U.S. attorneys to file those charges in the appropriate venues. A Justice Department tax team made its case to the District of Columbia office in March 2022, according to Internal Revenue Service whistleblower Gary Shapley. Mr. Shapley testified that he was initially told that the first assistant U.S. attorney in the district was “optimistic” and was assigning someone to “assist.” Yet Mr. Shapley was soon informed that the Biden-appointed U.S. attorney, Matthew Graves, had “personally reviewed the report and did not support it.”
Mr. Shapley says the team sat in “limbo” for the next six months rather than push in the other relevant district, California, which was in the hands of an acting U.S. attorney. Mr. Weiss’s prosecutors got around to presenting that only in mid-September 2022, the moment Mr. Biden’s nominee for the district, Martin Estrada, won Senate confirmation. As the reports, Mr. Estrada then blocked charges against Hunter there, too.
Mr. Shapley says Mr. Weiss related this mess to the team in early October, at which point Mr. Shapley expressed concerns about interference. This was the moment for Mr. Weiss to go public or resign. Instead, those who refused to go along with the politicization were isolated and monitored. The IRS investigators stopped getting invitations to meetings, and Mr. Shapley was given the “extraordinary” order to turn over all his case reports and emails to the Justice Department.
As the remaining Weiss team turned to a Delaware case which included a possible gun charge, Hunter lawyer Chris Clark decided to escalate politically. On Oct. 31, 2022, he sent Mr. Weiss a 32-page letter threatening to provoke a “constitutional crisis” by calling Joe Biden as a defense witness if the prosecutors charged his son. By February Mr. Clark was sending multiple emails demanding meetings with high-level Justice Department officials—looking for intervention on Hunter’s behalf.
On April 19, news broke that an unnamed IRS agent (Mr. Shapley) would blow the whistle on a sensitive investigation (Hunter Biden). Out of the blue Mr. Shapley’s team was contacted on April 24 by Mr. Weinsheimer, right-hand man to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. In an April 25 phone call with the Shapley team, Mr. Weinsheimer expressed his interest in understanding better the whistleblower’s claims, which by then were known to relate to Hunter’s case. He didn’t get much information, as he refused to provide written assurances that Mr. Shapley wouldn’t get in legal trouble for relaying sensitive information.
He also failed to tell the Shapley team this striking detail: Mr. Weinsheimer was due to sit down the next day (April 26) with Mr. Clark, acceding to the lawyer’s demand to talk to top brass. Put another way, a top Justice Department employee cold-called a whistleblower looking to elicit details of the allegations, hours before he was due to discuss the case with the subject of the whistleblower’s complaint. Nothing shady there, right?
We don’t know the exact content of that meeting, but on May 11, according to Politico, Mr. Weinsheimer thanked Mr. Clark for the chat and directed him to work with Mr. Weiss on “next steps.” The meeting clearly had yielded a plan. Four days later, according to the Times, top Weiss deputy Lesley Wolf called Mr. Clark to offer a deal in which Hunter would evade the gun charge, a deal that also led to immunity against future prosecution. That same day, May 15, the IRS officially removed Mr. Shapley’s entire investigative team from the Hunter probe—at the Justice Department’s request.
Mr. Garland has worked hard to present Mr. Weiss as operating independently. But the record is showing that nearly every piece of Justice—its political appointees, its tax division, senior officials, the Federal Bureau of Investigation—had fingers in the Weiss probe. Should anyone have any confidence that this will change now that Mr. Garland has bestowed on Mr. Weiss the honorific of “special counsel”? Absolutely not.
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