A former FBI agent corroborated claims from two IRS whistleblowers about the advance notice Hunter Biden’s legal team was given of an upcoming attempt to get an interview with him in California.
That former agent said Joe Biden’s transition team was notified by someone at the Justice Department about plans to surprise witnesses across the country with simultaneous interviews on Dec. 8, 2020, just days after Hunter Biden received Secret Service protection as a result of his father winning the election.
High-level FBI officials also thwarted a plan to notify the local Los Angeles branch of the Secret Service at 8 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 8th that an IRS investigator and FBI agent would be coming by Hunter Biden’s home to speak with him later that morning. Instead, the former agent confirmed, Secret Service headquarters – not the local office – received advanced warning the evening of Dec. 7th.
The IRS whistleblowers told Congress previously that the warning given to Secret Service headquarters and the transition team flew in the face of what investigators had agreed to do after extensive planning, and as a result, the FBI managed to get just one of their 12 planned interviews on the Dec. 8, 2020 “day of action.”
House Oversight Committee Republicans published a transcript on Monday of an interview with the former FBI agent, who worked on the Hunter Biden investigation at the time of the incident.
The Justice Department weighed in on which questions the former FBI agent could answer, the agent’s attorney said, and pushed for the interview to remain narrowly focused on the events surrounding the botched attempt to interview Hunter Biden.
The former agent’s attorney noted that the FBI’s general counsel sent a letter the day before the House Oversight Committee interview, warning about the privileges the Biden administration wanted to exercise over much of the information the agent could have provided.
Still, the former FBI agent confirmed that investigators had developed a plan to conduct a surprise interview with Hunter Biden in late 2020 and that a decision had been made during the planning stages of the probe to contact the local office of Hunter Biden’s Secret Service detail the morning of the interview to avoid problems.
But someone at the Justice Department appeared to have notified Secret Service headquarters in advance, preventing the FBI from conducting the interview. Someone at the Justice Department also tipped off the Biden presidential transition team, the former agent said, confirming the testimony of IRS Agent Gary Shapley.
“I know I was upset when I learned about it,” the former agent told the House Oversight Committee during the July 17th interview.
The then-supervisory agent criticized the heads-up given to the transition team, saying he “felt it was people that did not need to know about our intent.”
“I believe that the Secret Service had to be notified for our safety, for lack of confusion, for deconfliction, which we would do in so many other cases, but I didn’t understand why the initial notification [was made],” he said.
When targets of an investigation get advance notice that the FBI intends to conduct a round of interviews, the former agent explained, they can take steps to thwart investigators.
“Well, whether it’s a target or a witness, you know, we would like to have the opportunity to talk to a witness and not have the target know we’re talking to witnesses, so the target and the witness don’t talk to each other, have an opportunity to change, amend, create stories that are ‐‐ you know, may affect the investigation,” the former agent said.
The former agent said he was never provided an explanation as to why the carefully-laid plans were scuttled the night before the operation.
He said his supervisor informed him that “we would not even be allowed to approach the house” where Hunter Biden was staying, and “that the plan, as told to us, was that my information would be given to the Secret Service, to whom I don’t know exactly, and, you know, my name, my contact, you know, my cell phone, for example, with the notification that we would like to talk to Hunter Biden; and that I was not to go near the house and to stand by.”
It was an attorney for Hunter Biden, and not the Secret Service, who ultimately called the then-FBI agent. Hunter Biden declined the interview.
The new testimony is significant because it lends credence to claims from the two IRS whistleblowers who have accused the Justice Department of protecting the Biden family from deeper scrutiny.
The release of the transcript also comes just days after Attorney General Merrick Garland designated the U.S. attorney long in charge of the probe, David Weiss, as a special counsel.
Republicans have objected to the selection of Weiss as the special counsel given the accusations of misconduct in his office, including the steps that led to Hunter Biden and his associates getting tipped off that the FBI was coming. The former FBI agent told Congress that, in his experience, Weiss’s office was not particularly aggressive in prosecuting public corruption cases.
The House Judiciary Committee has said it still expects to interview Weiss and other Justice Department officials involved in the investigation this fall, despite the start of the special counsel probe.
Attorneys for Hunter Biden and Weiss’s team are presently battling in court over a now-discarded plea deal that would have provided Hunter Biden with sweeping immunity for the foreign business he conducted while his father was vice president.