OAN’s Brooke Mallory
11:44 AM – Monday, September 18, 2023
On Monday, Hunter Biden and his counsel filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Washington, D.C., against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over alleged “unlawful disclosures” made by two whistleblowers who allegedly accused government prosecutors of improperly handling their probe into the president’s son.
Attorneys for 53-year-old Hunter Biden charged Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, both seasoned IRS agents, with engaging in an effort to “embarrass and inflict harm on Mr. Biden” by inappropriately “disclosing his private taxpayer information” in media appearances.
“During these interviews, Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler provide unsubstantiated and selectively chosen allegations of nefarious and potentially criminal behavior,” said Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell.
Lowell claims that the IRS “failed to take reasonable steps to prevent its personnel from unlawfully disclosing” Hunter Biden’s taxpayer information in violation of the Privacy Act.
Hunter was indicted last week on felony gun charges following a nearly five-year investigation. This was two months after a plea agreement he had arranged with prosecutors collapsed under a federal judge’s questioning.
These developments followed serious allegations made by Shapley and Ziegler, who approached Congress in April with claims that top Department of Justice (DOJ) officials hindered efforts to bring more charges against Hunter Biden, constrained the scope of their investigation, and refused to grant special counsel status to the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in charge of the case.
The allegations have been refuted by the Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has defended U.S. Attorney David Weiss’ impartiality in the case. To make it clear that he had “full authority” to file charges whenever and wherever he pleased, Weiss himself wrote to legislators in June.
These denials, however, have not done much to allay fears that as House Republicans have asserted, the Justice Department gave Hunter a “sweetheart deal” from prosecutors.
Earlier this month, an ABC News/Ipsos survey also showed that almost half of Americans lacked confidence in the Justice Department’s impartial and fair handling of its investigation of Hunter Biden.
Shapley’s counsel made a statement in response to the case, saying: “Neither IRS SSA Gary Shapley nor his attorneys have ever released any confidential taxpayer information except through whistleblower disclosures authorized by statute. Once Congress released that testimony, like every American citizen, he has a right to discuss that public information.”
Republicans in Congress decided in June to make the transcripts of the two whistleblowers’ interviews public.
However, despite the committee’s directive not to disclose what was said in the interview “to individuals not designated to receive such information,” Lowell wrote that the whistleblowers made assertions in later television and podcast interviews that were not included in their testimony.
The IRS allegedly abdicated its duty to prevent the release of Hunter Biden’s tax information as a consequence, according to the lawsuit.
“The IRS has never instructed Mr. Shapley, Mr. Ziegler, or their representatives to refrain from publicly and unlawfully disclosing Mr. Biden’s confidential tax return information, much less taken reasonable steps to prevent its personnel from unlawfully accessing and disclosing Mr. Biden’s tax return information,” Lowell wrote.
Hunter Biden’s lawyers are asking for $1,000 for each case of “unauthorized disclosure” of his tax information, an allegation that claims that the IRS “willfully, knowingly, and/or by gross negligence, unlawfully disclosed Mr. Biden’s confidential tax return information.”
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