WASHINGTON– A top Senate Republican with a long history of advocating whistleblowers is being shut out from the Hunter Biden IRS whistleblower investigation by a Democratic Senate chairman despite the whistleblower wanting the GOP senator on the case.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee and a co-chairman of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus,is being denied access to the investigation by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the Washington Examiner has learned.
Lawyers for the IRS whistleblower sent letters to Congress on April 19 and May 15 providing details about their client’s protected disclosures alleging wrongdoing related to the federal investigation into President Joe Biden’s son. The attorneys have gone out of their way in both letters to include Grassley despite the Iowa Republican not being a current chairman or ranking member for a committee with specific jurisdiction regarding the tax code, but he is a leader of a Senate caucus dedicated to protecting whistleblowers.
The IRS whistleblower’s legal team told the Washington Examiner on Monday, “Naturally, we addressed letters to Sen. Grassley because he is co-chair with Sen. Wyden of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus as well as a senior member and past chair of both the Finance and Judiciary committees. Also important, though, is that he is more trusted than any other public official by whistleblowers to give them air cover regardless of the political implications and keep fighting to protect them when others cut and run. What whistleblower wouldn’t want Chuck Grassley in on their case?”
Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code requires the chairman of congressional tax committees to grant access to sensitive tax return information, and Wyden has refused to provide that access to Grassley or his team.
Grassley spokesman Taylor Foy told the Washington Examiner the IRS whistleblower’s lawyers had “specifically included” Grassley “in their communications with Congress, so there’s no legitimate reason to exclude Grassley’s staff from participating in this investigation.”
The Grassley spokesman said that “Grassley and his investigations unit are subject matter experts on both whistleblower protections and the Biden family business controversies” and that “they also happen to be very familiar with the specific statutes protecting sensitive tax information.”
Grassley and Wyden are co-founders of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus, and the whistleblower’s attorneys are warning about “clearly retaliatory” action against their client.
The whistleblower’s attorneys said Wyden and Grassley have historically had a good relationship and should be able to cooperate — “unless partisanship is getting in the way.”
“Although our client is an IRS supervisor, his protected disclosures implicate the Justice Department, so the Judiciary Committees and others in Congress will need to have access to some version of the disclosures in order to give the Justice Department’s conduct in this case the public scrutiny that it deserves,” the legal team said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “Our client’s interests and the country’s interests would be best served if Congress would resist the urge to be distracted by jurisdictional turf wars or playing partisan defense and offense.”
Grassley, a senior member and former chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, designated six Wyden staffers as agents under Section 6103 in 2019 related to a whistleblower complaint his office had received that year.
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), the ranking member on the Finance Committee, also received the IRS whistleblower letters, and the Washington Examiner learned that ranking member Crapo’s staff is not objecting to Grassley’s staff participating in the IRS whistleblower investigation, but Wyden is refusing to provide access to any Grassley staffers.
Wyden’s chief communications adviser, Ryan Carey, told the Washington Examiner that “the committee is handling this matter on a bipartisan basis according to its standard procedures governing legally protected taxpayer data” and insisted that “those procedures are designed both to protect taxpayer confidentiality and the integrity of any ongoing investigations.”
The IRS whistleblower’s legal team said last week that the IRS had removed the entire investigative team in the Hunter Biden tax evasion investigation at the request of the Justice Department, according to a letter attorneys Tristan Leavitt and Mark Lytle of Empower Oversight and Nixon Peabody, respectively, wrote to Grassley and multiple heads of the House and Senate last week.
Republicans have demanded an “urgent briefing and explanation” from IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel about the whistleblower’s claims.
Lytle also sent a letter to Grassley and the heads of multiple congressional committees in April, alleging politics and preferential treatment had been “infecting” decisions in the investigation. While the letters consistently do not name Hunter Biden, rather a “politically connected” subject, congressional sources have revealed the allegations involve the president’s son.
The IRS agent’s allegations also “involve failure to mitigate clear conflicts of interest in the ultimate disposition of the case” against Hunter Biden and “contradict sworn testimony to Congress by a senior political appointee.”
A source familiar with the whistleblower letter confirmed to the Washington Examiner that Attorney General Merrick Garland is the unnamed senior Biden official whose testimony before Congress is being challenged.
The IRS whistleblower attorneys also sent their letters to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the committee’s ranking member; to Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), the committee’s ranking member; and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), its ranking member.
Grassley and Wyden have clashed over investigations in the past, including when Wyden sought to undermine Grassley’s investigation into the shady foreign business dealings by Hunter Biden and Joe Biden’s family, including in Ukraine and with Chinese intelligence-linked businessmen. Wyden claimed in 2020 that the Grassley evidence was a product of Russian disinformation, while Grassley argued his evidence was based on U.S. government records and interviews with Obama administration officials. Grassley said his investigation has since been corroborated by bank records.
Grassley said on the Senate floor in the summer of 2020 that “the hard truth is that it’s the Democrats who are engaged in a disinformation campaign, all because the facts don’t fit their political narrative” and that “their silence regarding the Steele dossier and fake Russia investigation yet public complaints about my legitimate oversight investigations is proof of that.”
Wyden claimed on Twitter in September 2020 that Grassley’s investigation with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) in Biden family finances was “laundering Russian propaganda” and that Russian “disinformation” was “the basis” of the GOP investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden. Wyden further claimed on the Senate floor that the GOP report on Hunter Biden was part of “the spread of the spread of Russian propaganda.” Wyden also co-authored a lengthy September 2020 rebuttal claiming the Grassley-Johnson report “amplifies discredited allegations that are part of a known Russian campaign to interfere in the 2020 election.”
Grassley and Johnson denied all of this, and further evidence to buttress their 2020 report has emerged since then.
Grassley has also been deeply involved in whistleblower investigations related to Joe Biden’s son.
Whistleblowers told Grassley last summer that Timothy Thibault, the former FBI assistant special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office, “ordered closed” an “avenue of additional derogatory Hunter Biden reporting” in October 2020, even though “all of the reporting was either verified or verifiable via criminal search warrants.”
The whistleblower disclosures made public by Grassley also alleged that FBI supervisory analyst Brian Auten “opened an assessment, which was used by an FBI headquarters team to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation and caused investigative activity to cease” in 2020.
Grassley also sent an October letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and others that said the FBI is in possession of “significant, impactful, and voluminous evidence” of “potential criminal conduct” by Hunter Biden related to his overseas business dealings with China and Ukraine.