The lead IRS agent investigating Hunter Biden’s alleged tax crimes has told Congress that he has found evidence that Mr. Biden called his father, who was out of office, to pressure his 2017 trade partner to proceed with a planned trade deal with China. , House Republicans said.
In testimony on Thursday, Gary Shapley, an IRS agent since 2009 who oversaw the tax agency’s investigation into Hunter Biden, said the team used a search warrant to obtain a July 30, 2017 WhatsApp message from Mr. Biden to Henry Zhao. A Chinese businessman.
At the conclusion of his message to the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Shapley said that Mr. Biden had sat down with his father and said: “We want to understand why the commitment was not made.” He said.
Mr. Biden wrote, referring to other participants in the proposed deal: “Tell the director that I want to resolve this now before it gets out of hand, and that means tonight.” “And, Z, if I get a phone call or text message from anyone involved in this matter other than you, Zhang, or the chairman, I’ll confirm my ability to hold it forever between the person sitting next to me and the person they know. It is a grudge that you will regret not following my instructions.
At face value, the message undermines President Biden’s long-standing claims that he has nothing to do with his son’s international trade deals.
Days after Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty to two felony counts of failing to file his taxes on time in 2017 and 2018, the release underscored House Republicans’ determination to continue trying to tie his father to his business dealings. They suggest that there was corruption.
But it was not immediately clear if Hunter Biden was with his father when he sent the message, or if his father — then a private citizen, who had just finished his term as vice president six months earlier — knew about his son’s negotiations with his Chinese allies. .
It’s also unclear whether Mr. Biden unknowingly used his father’s name to make money in business deals. Mr. Shapley told Congress that the investigation found some evidence that some of the claims of the elder Mr. Biden’s involvement were “wishful thinking.”
An interview with Biden’s business associate Rob Walker, who told investigators that the former vice president was a “project” in which Biden was involved in his business dealings.
“I really never thought at any point that VP was part of anything we were doing,” Mr. Shapley said.
At the time, Hunter Biden was addicted to crack cocaine, engaged in clandestine and suicidal behavior, and faced financial pressures. It raises ethical concerns about their relationship with his father’s work, especially since the elder Mr. Biden has spent his eight years as vice president juggling multiple jobs. And the death of his brother Beau in 2015 contributed to his downward spiral.
Mr. Shapley said investigators received the WhatsApp message in response to a search warrant. But a person familiar with the matter said the message was not among those Mr. Biden’s lawyers gave to federal prosecutors during a lengthy investigation by the Justice Department with help from the IRS. One message prosecutors pressed Mr. Biden’s lawyers to explain.
The messages from the laptop were not among the messages Mr. Biden left at a repair shop in Delaware and later made available to reporters.
The WhatsApp message is among the documents released by the Ways and Means Committee, along with transcripts of conversations between Mr. Shapley and a second IRS investigator whose name has been changed.
The two investigators, one of whom identified himself as a Democrat, told Congress of long-standing disagreements between them and others involved in the investigation. They said a special prosecutor at the Justice Department blocked some of their efforts and turned over a lot of information to Hunter Biden’s legal team.
Mr. Shapley suggested that IRS investigators believed there were grounds to charge Mr. Biden with more serious crimes than he agreed to plead guilty to in his deal with the Justice Department. Mr. Shapley told the committee that “the DOJ has given priority treatment, moved the investigation slowly, done nothing to avoid obvious conflicts of interest in this investigation, and they are alleging evidence.”
House Republicans tried to present the testimony as additional evidence that Hunter Biden had received a sweetheart deal from the Justice Department, even though his plea deal to two felony charges was seen as consistent with other first-time and violent felons who are typically treated. Mr. Biden paid his back taxes and penalties in 2021.
In a letter to Congress this month, U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss of Delaware, who has sued Hunter Biden over tax issues and separate gun purchases, said he has “final authority” on the matter. Mr. Weiss was appointed by President Donald J. Trump was appointed and President Biden completed the investigation.
A Justice Department spokeswoman reiterated on Thursday that Mr. Weiss is “responsible for deciding where, when and whether to file charges as he deems necessary” and that he does not need any further confirmation to do so. The White House said President Biden had no involvement in the investigation and was “free of any political interference.”
“Hunter Biden used his father’s name. He did not report millions of dollars in income from outside sources,” said Representative Jason Smith, Republican of Missouri and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “Any ordinary American caught doing this faces serious consequences. Hunter Biden did not. why not?”
Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, accused Republicans of rushing to conclusions without conducting a full investigation.