Judge Weighs Forcing Testimony From DOJ Lawyers Accused of ‘Slow-Walking’ Hunter Biden Tax Evasion Investigation

Judge Ana Reyes excoriated justice department lawyers for refusing to let their colleagues testify about Hunter Biden’s alleged tax crimes before House impeachment investigators.

Kent Nishimura/Getty Images
Hunter Biden and his lawyer, Abbe Lowell, right, depart a House Oversight Committee meeting on January 10, 2024, at Washington. Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

House impeachment investigators will place a new focus on Hunter Biden’s ongoing criminal tax evasion case as they search for evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden in his family’s overseas business dealings. As Special Counsel David Weiss pushes to put the younger Mr. Biden behind bars, House Republicans want to hear from justice department tax prosecutors who initially pumped the brakes on the criminal investigation of the first son. 

Mr. Biden fils is now facing multiple counts of felony tax evasion and is expected to go on trial in June. The first son was initially offered a generous plea deal under which he would have avoided a felony conviction and prison time for the tax evasion and unrelated gun offenses. The plea deal ultimately collapsed under scrutiny from a Delaware judge, and Mr. Biden was then charged by Mr. Weiss on both coasts.

A federal jurist at the District of Columbia, Ana Reyes, is weighing whether to force two Department of Justice employees to testify before the impeachment inquiry. Mark Daly and Jack Morgan work in the tax division at the department and oversaw part of the years-long criminal investigation into the younger Mr. Biden. 

A whistleblower from the Internal Revenue Service, Gary Shapley, says Messrs. Daly and Morgan helped “slow-walk” the investigation into the first son for political purposes. When the House Judiciary Committee demanded the two prosecutors sit for depositions before the impeachment inquiry, the justice department blocked the move. 

The Judiciary Committee is now suing to have the two men appear, saying that they have “firsthand knowledge of the irregularities in DOJ’s investigation that appear to have benefited Hunter Biden.”

At a hearing on Friday, Judge Reyes — a district court jurist and Biden appointee — said it was hypocritical for justice department lawyers to refuse to allow their colleagues to testify just weeks after putting a former advisor to President Trump, Peter Navarro, in prison for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena.

“There’s a person in jail right now because you all brought a criminal lawsuit against him because he did not appear for a House subpoena,” she said of Mr. Navarro. “And now you guys are flouting those subpoenas. … And you don’t have to show up?”

“I think it’s quite rich you guys pursue criminal investigations and put people in jail for not showing up,” Judge Reyes continued. “You all are making a bunch of arguments that you would never accept from any other litigant.”

Judge Reyes was skeptical of the Judiciary Committee’s case, though. According to Courthouse News, the judge said this “grudge match” between the executive and legislative branches would not likely be resolved until 2025 at the earliest, and forcing career prosecutors to appear for depositions could set a dangerous precedent for executive privilege going forward. 

Federal courts in the past have asserted that executive branch officials like Messrs. Daley and Morgan cannot be compelled to testify before Congress. During their 2019 impeachment investigation into Mr. Trump, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee sued to have a former White House counsel, Don McGhan, appear for a deposition. 

After a monthslong legal battle that stretched into late 2020, a federal appellate court ruled that Congress could not exert oversight powers when executive officials assert privilege, as Mr. McGhan did. 

Mr. Shapley and his colleague Joseph Ziegler both worked for the IRS on the probe into Mr. Biden, which Mr. Weiss began in 2018. It wasn’t until 2023 when the first son was finally hit with nine charges of failure to file and failure to pay his taxes. If convicted, Mr. Biden faces up to 17 years in federal prison. 

Messrs. Shapley and Ziegler — described as “whistleblowers” by House Republicans — first made allegations that the investigation into Mr. Biden was tampered with back in 2022. At a public hearing before the Oversight Committee in July, Mr. Ziegler said he and his colleague made “multiple attempts” to complain about the alleged interference but were rebuffed at every turn. 

“We have to make sure as a special agent for IRS Criminal Investigation that we treat every single person exactly the same,” Mr. Shapley told CBS News in June. “And that just simply didn’t happen here.” 

The New York Sun

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