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FACT SHEET: House Republicans Recycle IRS Whistleblowers & Their Debunked Claims

Dec 5, 2023

Today, the MAGA House Ways & Means Committee will host yet another closed-door hearing featuring the exact same witnesses. After months of pushing the same debunked allegations made by two IRS whistleblowers, House Republicans are ready to do it all again. The House GOP has spent months hyping up these two men, who claim to have damning evidence about interference in Hunter Biden investigations. Their latest report repeats the same allegations they’ve been pushing all along, attacking the Department of Justice, FBI, IRS, and even a Trump-appointed special counsel for supposedly being weaponized. 

Despite their lofty claims, however, these two IRS whistleblowers – Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler – have been mischaracterized by House Republicans from the start and personally testified that neither President Biden nor his Attorney General interfered in the investigation. Worse still, their key allegations have been debunked by at least six other witnesses brought in for questioning by House Republicans. These whistleblower claims are just another desperate ploy to distract the public’s attention from the House GOP’s complete and total inability to govern and further MAGA Mike Johnson’s baseless impeachment inquiry into President Biden instead of actually focusing on the real issues keeping working families up at night.

James Comer Misrepresented The IRS Whistleblowers From the Start. “House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) has teased to television audiences over the past month that four different people have appeared before committee investigators to provide information regarding his inquiry into whether President Biden and members of his family were involved in an influence-peddling scheme. On Fox News in March, Comer said he had even met with some of the ‘four individuals’ personally, and in an interview with Breitbart News this week, he characterized the four individuals as ‘whistleblowers.’ But Comer’s media tour has confounded his Democratic counterparts on the committee. After inquiring with Comer’s staff about the reported new witnesses, they were assured that Comer’s statements ‘in fact referred only to two individuals’ and ‘no new witness information … had actually been provided,’ according to a letter sent by the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (Md.), to Comer on Thursday and obtained by The Washington Post.” [The Washington Post, 4/6/23]

House Republicans’ Own Witness Testified That Neither President Biden Nor His Attorney General Interfered In The Investigation. In July, House Republicans held a hearing during which their own witnesses testified, under oath, that neither President Biden nor Attorney General Garland interfered in the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Justice’s investigation into Hunter Biden. 

The House GOP’s Top Witness Is A Republican-Aligned Former IRS Agent Whose Claims Have Been Rejected and Contradicted By Testimony From At Least Six Other Agents, Supervisors, and Investigators. Comer’s top whistleblower, Gary Shapley, a former IRS supervisory special agent backed by a Republican-aligned group, wrongly suggested his so-called effective exclusion from the investigation into Hunter Biden was a form of retaliation – even though the IRS itself had very limited involvement and the DOJ investigation was being handled by the Trump-appointed David Weiss. Shapley also refused to say if he informed prosecutors of his concerns about being excluded and refused to identify an alleged contradiction in sworn testimony by a supposed senior political appointee. In September, Shapley produced a handwritten note claiming that Weiss said he was not the “deciding person” in the investigation during an October 2022 meeting. Others present at the meeting have contradicted this claim, and did not remember Weiss saying his authority was constrained during that meeting:

  • Former FBI Official Timothy R. Thibault: Shapley’s Allegations Are “False and Misleading.” “Another former F.B.I. official, whom Republicans have accused of political bias in the Hunter Biden case, Timothy R. Thibault, condemned the allegations against him as ‘false and misleading.’ […] On Tuesday, Mr. Thibault, the former F.B.I. agent, sat for a closed-door interview in which he presented a blistering opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee. According to the statement, Mr. Thibault said he had been subject to ‘baseless allegations’ of political interference in the tax case. Mr. Thibault said he actually had little involvement in the younger Mr. Biden’s case, other than to shut down the use of a confidential source who he discovered was actually a right-wing author whose information he feared would taint the legitimacy of the investigation.” [The New York Times, 9/15/23]
  • Thomas Sobocinski, FBI Special Agent In Charge: “If He Would Have Said That, I Would Have Remembered It.”‘If he would have said that, I would have remembered it,’ Thomas Sobocinski, the special agent in charge of the Baltimore field office of the F.B.I., told lawmakers of Mr. Weiss’s comment, adding: ‘I went into that meeting believing he had the authority, and I have left that meeting believing he had the authority to bring charges.’” [The New York Times, 9/15/23]
  • Ryeshia Holley, Assistant FBI Special Agent In Charge: “I Don’t Remember Him Saying That.” “Investigators also asked Ryeshia Holley, assistant special agent in charge with the F.B.I., whether Mr. Weiss had stated that he was not the person who would decide whether charges were filed in the Hunter Biden case. ‘I don’t remember him saying that,’ she testified. The witnesses also testified that while they agreed with Mr. Shapley’s concerns that the investigation into Hunter Biden moved too slowly, they did not believe it was because of political interference. ‘I did not think anyone involved in the ongoing matter was politicizing it,’ Ms. Holley said.” [The New York Times, 9/15/23]
  • Shapley’s Supervisor Darrell Waldon, IRS Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent In Charge Recommended Shapley’s Removal From The Case Due To His “Unsubstantiated Allegations About Motive, Intent, Bias.” “Mr. Shapley’s former boss, Darrell Waldon, the special agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation division, also told lawmakers on the Ways and Means Committee that he did not witness any political interference. Asked if the case had been politicized, Mr. Waldon said flatly: ‘No.’ […] ‘I understood that there were processes that he had to follow in order to bring the investigation. And if one process didn’t work, I believe there were other processes that he would have to follow,’ Mr. Waldon told the committee, adding: ‘The case was still able to move forward.’ Mr. Waldon did describe a falling-out between Mr. Weiss and Mr. Shapley after the Oct. 7, 2022, meeting in which Mr. Shapley aired his concerns about the handling of the case. After that, the prosecutor refused to speak to the agent, Mr. Waldon said. ‘My understanding is that the U.S. attorney stated that he would not be talking with Mr. Shapley henceforth, as they were going through their deliberative process,’ Mr. Waldon said, adding: ‘I recall more vividly him stating he was not going to be responding to Mr. Shapley’s emails anymore, and at some point, he said he would be talking to me.’ With Mr. Weiss refusing to work with Mr. Shapley, Mr. Waldon ultimately recommended Mr. Shapley be removed from the case, ‘primarily due to what I perceived to be unsubstantiated allegations about motive, intent, bias.’ […] Mr. Waldon said his recommendation was made ‘to protect the integrity of the investigation and figure out a way forward.’” [The New York Times, 9/15/23]
  • Eric Schwerin, Biden Family Bookkeeper: Not Aware Of ANy Financial Wrongdoing By The President. “And a bookkeeper for the Biden family told investigators in an informal interview that he was not aware of any financial wrongdoing by the president, according to notes taken by Democratic congressional aides and summarized in a report they released this week. […]  A day earlier, House Democrats released a 14-page memo that noted that Republicans had failed to show that any of Hunter Biden’s international business deals enriched the president. It emphasized that Eric Schwerin, who performed bookkeeping and other administrative tasks for Mr. Biden when he was vice president and therefore had access to his bank records, told the committee that ‘he was not aware of any involvement by President Biden in the financial conduct of his relatives’ businesses, much less any transactions into or out of the then-vice president’s bank account related to business conducted by any Biden family member.’” [The New York Times, 9/15/23]

Michael Batdorf, Director Of Field Operations, IRS Criminal Investigations: Concerns About Shapley’s Investigative Approach Was Known For Being Aggressive: “If You Don’t Agree With Him, I Mean, You’re Just Incompetent.” “Michael Batdorf, the director of field operations for I.R.S. criminal investigations who was one of Mr. Shapley’s bosses, told the committee that Mr. Shapely was known internally for being aggressive. ‘Gary has a tendency to go to level, like, Grade 7 five-alarm fire on everything,’ Mr. Batdorf said, adding: ‘Gary is a fantastic agent. He’s a bulldog. He will get to the bottom of it.’But he said that attitude could rub others the wrong way if they disagreed with his approach. ‘He has a mind-set that if you don’t agree with him, I mean, you’re just incompetent,’ Mr. Batdorf said.” [The New York Times, 9/15/23]