- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2023

IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel has denied to Congress that he retaliated against a whistleblower who accused federal prosecutors of protecting Hunter Biden in a tax evasion investigation.

Mr. Werfel defended himself ahead of the whistleblower IRS agent’s closed-door testimony to Congress about irregularities in a Justice Department probe of the president’s son.

Mr. Werfel told lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee in a letter on May 17 that he had no role in changing the work assignment of the IRS whistleblower who voiced concerns about the probe into Mr. Biden’s business dealings. He noted that the whistleblower is asserting that the reassignment came at the direction of the Justice Department.  

“I want to state unequivocally that I have not intervened — and will not intervene — in any way that would impact the status of any whistleblower,” Mr. Werfel said.

“As a general matter and not in reference to any specific case, I believe it is important to emphasize that in any matter involving federal judicial proceedings, the IRS follows the direction of the Justice Department.”

Fox News first reported on the letter.

The IRS supervisory agent will be interviewed Friday behind closed doors by members of the Ways and Means Committee. Republicans said the developments are signs of an attempt to shield the president’s son from possible criminal prosecution.

IRS removed an entire team investigating Hunter,” tweeted Rep. Lance Gooden, Texas Republican. “Democrats seek to thwart whistleblowers. 51 ‘intelligence officials’ lied about Hunter‘s laptop. What are they trying to hide?”

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment for this report.

Last week, lawyers for the IRS supervisory special agent told Congress that the Justice Department had retaliated against him by removing the supervisory agent and his entire team from the investigation. The agent says federal prosecutors were motivated by politics and were protecting Mr. Biden by preventing charges from being filed.

“He was informed the change was at the request of the Department of Justice,” the whistleblower’s attorneys, Mark Lytle and Tristan Leavitt, wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.

The years-long investigation into Mr. Biden is focused on his taxes and whether he made a false statement about a gun purchase in 2018. He has denied any wrongdoing.

In a separate letter to the Office of Special Counsel, Mr. Leavitt also disclosed the IRS supervisory agent told federal prosecutors in a highly charged meeting in October about investigators’ “longstanding concerns” of what they considered irregularities in the handling of the Justice Department’s criminal probe of Mr. Biden. The letter doesn’t disclose the IRS supervisor’s specific concerns, but it said he began making “protected disclosures” about the probe in the summer of 2020.

After the IRS supervisory agent raised the concerns again in a phone call with prosecutors in October, he and his investigative team were “no longer invited to any further prosecutorial team calls and meetings on the case, effectively excluding them from the case,” Mr. Leavitt wrote.

The IRS team was able to get updates on the investigation only when another agent sought out the U.S. attorney overseeing the probe, according to Mr. Leavitt. U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware, a Trump appointee, has been handling the Hunter Biden probe.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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