A letter from the FBI general counsel Jason Jones has revealed that the agency told a senior agent who worked on the Hunter Biden investigation to avoid answering questions from a House committee about the “ongoing” case.
The New York Post obtained the letter on Sunday afternoon, just hours before the agent was scheduled to testify.
A source said that the FBI was aware of the Monday deposition for several days.
The letter from Jones reads, “[T]he Department expects that you will decline to respond to questions seeking non-public information likely covered by one or more components of executive privilege or other significant confidentiality interests, in particular information about deliberations or ongoing investigative activity in law enforcement matters.”
The letter also instructed the agent to refer such questions to the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs, saying that this would allow the Department to “consider particular questions and possible accommodations that may fulfill the Committee’s legitimate need for information while protecting Executive Branch confidentiality interests.”
The agent confirmed some key details of the probe that were also shared by two IRS agents, such as the fact that Hunter’s lawyers were informed about a planned interview with him in December 2020 regarding his unpaid taxes on foreign income, which ruined the chance.
The letter referred to the Hunter Biden case as “ongoing”, echoing the words of Delaware US Attorney David Weiss.
Republicans in Congress suspect that this is a way to block their requests for documents and testimony.
US first son’s lawyers claim that their client is no longer in legal trouble after he agreed to a plea deal last month on two minor tax fraud charges and a gun possession felony that will be erased after probation.According to information provided to you by the Committee, the Committee is seeking information about an individual ongoing criminal investigation and prosecution. Specifically, the Committee has stated an interest in what the Committee has described to you as certain events that took place in December 2020 as part of this investigation. As the Department recently emphasized when affirming that U.S. Attorney David Weiss will appear before the House Committee on the Judiciary ‘at an appropriate time, consistent with the law and Department policy,’ the Department’s longstanding policy is to seek ‘wherever possible to provide information about closed, rather than open, matters,’” the FBI lawyer wrote.
Department officials, including those who have left the Department, are obligated to protect non-public information they learned in the course of their work. Such information could be subject to various privileges, including law enforcement, deliberative process, attorney work product, and attorney-client privileges, and privacy interests. Current and former Department officials also must protect classified information, sources and methods, and grand jury information protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e),” he went on.
An FBI spokesperson said that the letter was “standard practice” and nothing unusual.
“These are called authorization letters and are standard practice.”
However, another source said that the letter was “more uncommon” and noted the late timing and broad wording used.
The name of the FBI agent was hidden in a copy of the letter that was given to The Post and the Oversight Committee did not reveal it in their public statements about his testimony.
Weiss has made written statements that seem to reject the IRS agents’ testimony, but there are subtle differences in the words he used that leave the question unresolved.
The tax agents, who both have more than 10 years of experience at the IRS, are expected to testify publicly on Wednesday afternoon before the Oversight Committee.
They said in previous private testimony that Hunter was allowed to avoid more serious tax charges and that various steps in the investigation were delayed or blocked.
Gary Shapley, a senior IRS agent who supervised the case for more than three years, said a federal prosecutor tried to discourage investigators from looking at President Biden’s possible involvement in his son’s foreign consulting work, even though there were messages that suggested he was involved.
An IRS case agent, who has not been named publicly yet, is expected to reveal himself on Wednesday and confirm Shapley’s account at the congressional hearing.
He had worked on the Hunter Biden case since it started in 2018.
The president’s son dodged both potential money laundering charges and counts for allegedly breaking the Foreign Agents Registration Act in his plea deal. This is despite another US citizen, Gal Luft, being charged this month for violating FARA while working for the same Chinese energy company as Hunter. It’s not clear what, if anything, Weiss is still looking into, but the term “ongoing” has been used to describe an FBI informant’s tip that a Ukrainian businessman claimed he paid $10 million in bribes to Joe and Hunter Biden during the Obama administration.
Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)..This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.