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7 Things The House Oversight Committee Should Ask IRS Whistleblowers

one of the IRS whistleblowers, Gary Shapley
Image CreditCBS News/YouTube

Oversight Committee Chair James Comer should corral Republicans before Wednesday to coordinate the questioning of the whistleblowers so the country learns the depth of the scandal.

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The IRS whistleblowers who exposed the Department of Justice and FBI’s interference in the investigation into Biden family corruption will publicly testify on Wednesday before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.

The duo, Gary Shapley and a man known now only as Whistleblower X, had previously sat for transcribed interviews with the House Ways and Means Committee. And while some details from that closed-door testimony should be reiterated during the on-camera congressional hearing, Oversight Committee Chair James Comer should corral Republicans before Wednesday to coordinate the questioning of the whistleblowers so the country learns the depth of the scandal.

Here’s what they should ask Shapley and the soon-to-be-named second whistleblower and how they should do it.

1. Let the Whistleblowers Do the Talking

    Because the legacy press will be poised to present Wednesday’s hearing as a Republican witch hunt and their supposed continued hounding of Hunter Biden, the representatives on the right side of the aisle should save the grandstanding for another time and let the agents speak for themselves.

    As experienced agents, both Shapley and Whistleblower X know how to testify in a clear and understandable way. They also know how to respond to a hostile cross-examination, which unfortunately will be what they face from Democrats. Republicans should ask the agents open-ended questions that call for narrative responses and allow the whistleblowers’ words to convey to America the protect-Biden scandal they witnessed.

    2. Start with Preliminaries, Not the Most Salacious Details

      While it is understandable that the House Oversight Committee will want to strike hard and fast with the most devastating testimony, Republicans must remember the media blackout over this scandal means most Americans remain ignorant of many of the basics of the Hunter Biden investigation and how it connects to now-President Biden. Many Americans likely also know little about the two witnesses and may even believe the Democrats’ defamatory branding of the whistleblowers as “bought and paid for” by extreme MAGA Republicans.

      For these reasons, before delving into the details, Republicans should ensure the country learns of the whistleblowers’ extensive and impressive professional background. Comer should also ensure the whistleblowers come clean about any political leanings they have, which appears to be none or, if any, leaning more to the left than the right. The whistleblowers’ opening statements will likely cover these preliminaries to some extent, but providing another minute for each witness to briefly remind Americans of your experience with the criminal investigation division of the IRS and explain to the country where you stand politically would be wise.

      3. Begin Big-Picture Before Hitting the Details

        The committee should then move to the origins of the investigation and the big picture of the scandal. More detailed questions will follow, but could you first broadly explain why and when the investigation began? Can you summarize the staffing of the investigative team and how the FBI field offices, FBI headquarters, the IRS criminal division, and the U.S. attorneys’ offices interacted at the beginning of the investigation, and then later throughout the investigation? 

        Again, let the whistleblowers tell their story, using follow-up questions to draw out more details, if necessary, but from a big-picture perspective. And once the whistleblowers explain how the investigation proceeded, broadly speaking, ask: Was that staffing and interaction, especially with the DOJ and FBI, the norm?

        4. Evidence and Interference

          With the above backdrop established, the committee should focus next on two main lines of questioning: the evidence uncovered of potential criminal conduct and the interference the agents faced when investigating the case. 

          The most effective and efficient way to present this testimony will be by requesting the whistleblowers walk the committee through the chronology of the investigation, identifying at each stage what evidence was uncovered and how, and whether there was any interference in the investigation. 

          Follow-up questions for each leg in the investigative journey should inquire of any witnesses or evidence they know of to corroborate their testimony and what steps they normally would have taken absent the interference. 

          Because the committee has the transcript of the whistleblowers’ previous closed-door testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, the staffers should be able to easily sequence the questioning to ensure it is accessible to ordinary Americans.

          5. Weiss’s Weasel Words and Garland’s False Ones

            While the whistleblowers’ prior testimony revealed scores of ways in which the DOJ and FBI interfered in the investigation, equally concerning is U.S. Attorney David Weiss and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s attempts to cover up that interference. 

            For instance, Shapley testified about the D.C. and California U.S. attorneys’ refusal to file charges against Hunter Biden, and Weiss’s inability to indict the president’s son in those venues without permission from the Department of Justice — permission Weiss allegedly claims had been denied him. According to Shapley, Weiss made that statement during an Oct. 7, 2022, meeting and said he was “not the deciding person on whether charges are filed.”

            Neither Weiss nor Garland has expressly denied Shapley’s claims, but both made statements that cannot be reconciled with Shapley’s testimony. Garland, for his part, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Weiss “has full authority” to bring cases in another jurisdiction if he deemed it necessary. Weiss similarly claimed in a letter to Congress that “he had been granted the ultimate authority” over the Biden investigation, but the Delaware U.S. attorney quickly clarified in a second letter that he didn’t have that authority yet but had been assured he would be granted it if necessary. 

            On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee should ask Shapley to retell the events of the Oct. 7 meeting because the IRS agents’ testimony implicates Weiss and Garland in a cover-up. Republicans should also ask Shapley whether it is possible Weiss said during that meeting that he had been denied a request to be appointed a special attorney as opposed to a special counsel, as some Democrats are suggesting Shapley misunderstood Weiss. A quick follow-up here, however, will also make clear that no matter which “special” appointment Weiss said he was denied, the U.S. attorney clearly said he wasn’t the decisionmaker.

            6. Evidence Seen or Not Seen

              The DOJ and FBI also interfered in the investigation by withholding evidence from Shapley and his investigative team. For instance, both Shapley and Whistleblower X stated they were not aware of the FD-1023 form that summarized a confidential human source’s claims that Joe and Hunter Biden each received $5 million in bribes from Burisma. Shapley also testified that he was prevented from seeing all the evidence on the Hunter Biden laptop, even after the FBI had removed documents potentially protected by attorney-client privilege. The committee should elicit testimony from Shapley and Whistleblower X concerning this withheld evidence.

              Republicans should then attempt to learn what other evidence may have been secreted from the investigative team. The committee should read off a litany of the evidence it has and ask the whistleblowers if they were familiar with that evidence. Similarly, the committee should provide a list of witnesses with likely knowledge of the pay-to-play scandal and ask whether the whistleblowers knew of those individuals’ potential involvement and whether they were questioned. 

              This line of questioning may reveal new areas of inquiry — something the whistleblowers may not have known of previously. But in that case, the whistleblowers may not be able to respond to the questions because only the House Ways and Means Committee has the authority to receive protected tax information. The right questions, though, will give the whistleblowers the opportunity to convey that they have not seen the particular evidence referenced and therefore cannot respond to the query in this setting, but would be happy to provide the Ways and Means Committee a supplemental affidavit. 

              7. Anything More That Could Be Done

                The whistleblowers have already made clear the statute of limitations ran out on potential felony tax charges against Hunter Biden because the Delaware U.S. attorney lacked the authority to indict the president’s son in another state. But what about the allegations contained in the FD-1023 or the other banking records recovered by the various House committees? Does that evidence indicate additional crimes have been committed for which the statute of limitations has not yet expired? 

                The whistleblowers should be asked: What potential crimes? What investigative techniques would you recommend? Given the international scope of these potential crimes, does the Baltimore FBI field office have the expertise to investigate adequately? Do you and your team have the ability to investigate this evidence and determine if there is a there, there?

                Ending the hearing thusly will send a message that Weiss may have called off the investigation, but that doesn’t mean the case of corruption against the Biden family is dead.


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