On Wednesday, an Internal Revenue Service worker who was recently booted from a department investigation let it be known that he is the whistleblower who has featured heavily in missives from Rep. James Comer. In a conversation with CBS News, Gary Shapley, a 14-year employee of the IRS, says he made complaints after aspects of the investigation into Hunter Biden, which he was heading at the time, were “slow-walked” at the direction of the Department of Justice.
The most notable aspect of Shapley’s complaints is that every bit of it is procedural. He complains that he saw “deviations from the normal process” of the investigation, and a series of “irregularities.” In particular, Shapley complained that following a meeting last October in which he argued with attorneys from the Justice Department’s tax division, he was left out of some follow-up meetings. Not a single detail, statistic, or example was provided to support the idea that there was actually anything wrong with Hunter Biden’s taxes. Everything under discussion appears to be one member of the IRS who didn’t like how other people in the FBI—his own agency—and the Department of Justice were doing their jobs.
But in all of this, the one thing that both Republicans in the House and media outlets seem to be overlooking is timing. Shapley filed his complaint in the summer of 2020. It’s the Trump Justice Department, the Trump FBI, and the Trump IRS he’s complaining about.
At this point, investigations into Hunter Biden have proceeded under three attorneys general, two commissioners of the IRS, and one FBI director. When Shapley filed his complaint in 2020, every one of those offices was filled with someone appointed by Donald Trump, as were almost all of the deputies and other high-ranking officials.
To believe that all of those people were deliberately protecting Hunter Biden in the summer of 2020 means believing that dozens of Trump appointees were secretly in the tank for Biden.
This was a time when Rudy Giuliani was still busy popping back and forth from Ukraine, weaving stories about Hunter Biden that he could feed to The New York Times. It was just a few months past the point where Trump had been impeached for his attempts to blackmail Ukraine into supporting his claims against then-candidate Joe Biden. It was a time when Trump was looking for anything he could leverage against Biden.
It’s obvious that Attorney General William Barr, acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig did not all conspire to defeat Trump by protecting Biden’s son from indictment. William Barr was traveling all over the world with John Durham in tow in an effort to find any support for claims that Trump was making. The FBI repeatedly followed up on conspiracy theories sent their way by the Trump White House. Rosen was picked to replace Barr specifically because Trump saw him as more loyal. Not one of these people was about to ignore a juicy opportunity dropped in their own backyard.
The more likely explanation seems to be that Shapley, agents at the FBI, and agents at the Department of Justice got caught up in arguments over who was in charge of various aspects of the investigation, with Shapley marching off to tell the inspector general that those guys from down the street just weren’t doing it correctly. That’s a move that was absolutely within his rights. He might even be correct.
Blowing the whistle when you don’t think others are following the rules is a good thing. Like other whistleblowers, Shapley’s concerns should be heard and weighed. However, it’s not clear that those concerns have anything to do with the possibility of a crime by Hunter Biden.
Federal prosecutors have spent years trying to determine if Hunter Biden did anything wrong. So far they have not lodged a single charge. Republicans have provided them with everything from former Russian stooges ready to testify to a laptop stolen from a repair shop. Still no charges. Hunter Biden has denied any wrongdoing. That’s the beginning and the end of that story.
In short, this whistleblower claim appears to be nothing but an interoffice squabble seized on by Comer as a means of pretending he has evidence that doesn’t exist. Shapley doesn’t seem to have anything to say other than he doesn’t like the way people in other departments do their job.
As NBC News reports, Comer hasn’t shied away from openly admitting this isn’t about finding the truth: It’s about trying to bring down President Joe Biden. Comer has been bragging about the way the investigation is “moving the needle,” claiming that it has dropped Biden’s poll numbers. There’s nothing in Comer’s statements about uncovering facts or proving that anyone did something wrong because that’s not his concern. The only thing that matters is that his investigations have, in one cherry-picked poll, damaged Biden’s chances in 2024.
Shapley’s attorneys claimed they had hoped their client could sit down before a joint House and Senate committee to tell them what he knows, but it “didn’t pan out.” A Senate staffer has a simple explanation for this: Shapley refused to appear. Whether that’s because he didn’t like the idea of being questioned by Democrats or because he has nothing substantive to say is open to interpretation.
But it’s not as if the lack of evidence will stop Comer from accusing Hunter Biden of every crime imaginable. Then he can go back on Fox News and brag about the damage he’s doing.
We speak with Anderson Clayton, the 25-year-old chair of North Carolina’s Democratic Party. Clayton has a big-picture plan for 2024, and explains the granular changes needed to get out the vote on college campuses and in the rural communities of the Tar Heel State.