Top Republican lawmakers requested the Justice Department’s (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG) disclose details about its investigation into alleged retaliation against IRS whistleblowers in the Hunter Biden case.
House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY), Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-MO) demanded Inspector General Michael Horowitz provide specific details about the scope of his investigation into alleged IRS whistleblower retaliation in light of the DOJ’s alleged political interference into the Hunter Biden case.
“Based on your statements and the DOJ’s pattern of politically motivated actions, we are concerned that the DOJ is limiting your office from fully investigating the disclosures provided to your office,” the lawmakers wrote:
To help the Committees understand the scope of your investigation, please provide documents and/or information sufficient to explain whether your office is (1) limited in any way from fully investigating the whistleblowers disclosures based on 5 U.S.C. § 413(b)(3) or any other law or regulation, and (2) if you are limited, how and why your office is limited.
Horowitz previously responded to the lawmakers by confirming he received whistleblower disclosures. But he refused to provide any information about his investigation, citing an ongoing criminal case.
“[C]onsistent with the OIG’s usual practice, because our assessment is ongoing, and because the allegations relate to an ongoing criminal case, I am unable to provide additional information to your Committees at this time,” he said.
The stonewalling comes before the New York Times reported on Saturday that Hunter Biden’s attorneys pushed the DOJ to prosecute IRS whistleblowers for making disclosures to Congress.
“These brave whistleblowers testified under oath and deserve protection. This witness intimidation is unacceptable,” Comer said Sunday.
Among the allegations, the whistleblowers claim:
- Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf refused to allow investigators to ask about President Joe Biden being “the big guy”
- Wolf cautioned the investigation team from searching Joe Biden’s guest house in Delaware for evidence against Hunter Biden because of “optics”
- The DOJ forewarned Hunter Biden of any future searches for materials that could be used as evidence
- The DOJ twice prevented United States Attorney David Weiss from bringing stronger charges against Hunter Biden
- Attorney General Merrick Garland refused to name a special counsel in the tax investigation
- The IRS recommended charges against Hunter Biden that were not approved by Garland
In June, the Ways and Means Committee voted to make public multiple instances of alleged political interference in which the DOJ “thwarted, hampered or interfered” with the IRS tax investigation into Hunter Biden.
“Ways and Means Committee members have received multiple whistleblower reports of misconduct at the IRS and other agencies regarding interference and government abuse in the handling of a matter involving a high-profile individual,” Smith said in a statement. “If the federal government is not treating all taxpayers equally, Congress has a duty to hold agencies accountable by providing transparency and bringing new facts to light.”
IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel confirmed the rights of agency whistleblowers to make protected disclosures to Congress.
“As employees, you are the first line of defense to call out issues that raise concerns, and I want it to be clear that we will always encourage a ‘see something, say something’ philosophy,” he said.