A whistleblower inside the Internal Revenue Service has spoken publicly for the first time about a highly sensitive political investigation he oversaw, which CBS News has determined is an ongoing investigation into the finances of President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
He said he was so concerned about prosecutors’ handling of “a high-profile, controversial” investigation that he felt compelled to sound the alarm.
Gary Shapley, a 14-year veteran of the agency who spoke exclusively with CBS News chief investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod on Tuesday, said, “There were multiple steps that were slow-walked — just not completely done — at the direction of the Justice Department.” “When I took control of this particular investigation, I immediately saw a deviation from normal process. It was outside the norm of what I had experienced in the past.”
EXCLUSIVE: In his first interview, CBS News sat down with an IRS agent who is talking about preferential treatment during a federal investigation that CBS has learned is linked to the president’s son, Hunter Biden, for possible tax crimes. pic.twitter.com/CUVjVVNsh2
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) May 24, 2023
Complaints have been coming for more than three years Investigating Hunter Biden That was conducted by a U.S. attorney appointed by then-President Trump in Delaware and accepted by President Biden to avoid any appearance of political bias. The investigation focuses on possible crimes related to outstanding tax debts linked to income earned from a controversial stint as a board member of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma while his father was vice president, and a possible false statement related to the purchase of a gun. last year CBS News reported That past due tax was paid with a loan from high-powered Hollywood attorney Kevin Morris, who provided financial support to Hunter Biden.
Six months ago, a leak from the FBI revealed that agents there believed they had provided prosecutors with enough evidence to support criminal tax charges. No such charges have been brought as of this publication.
Shapley told CBS News that he became increasingly concerned about taking steps that he said appeared to protect the target of the investigation — which CBS News independently confirmed to Hunter Biden.
“Each and every time, it always seemed to benefit the subject,” Shapley said. “It just got to the point where that switch was turned on. And I couldn’t silence my conscience anymore.”
Shapley is a supervising special agent in the IRS’s Division of Criminal Investigation, currently overseeing a team of 12 agents specializing in international tax and financial crimes. Prior to that, he was an official in the Office of the Inspector General of the National Security Agency. He was tasked with a “sensitive” investigation in January 2020, and within months, he said he became concerned about how the Justice Department was handling the investigation. CBS News has learned that it was the Hunter Biden investigation. Shapley said he began documenting his concerns around June 2020.
“For several years, we were noticing these deviations in the investigative process. And I just didn’t understand, you know, that the DOJ could be acting unethically on this,” he said.
The alarm is sounding
The existence of a whistleblower inside the Hunter Biden investigation became known last month when one of Shapley’s attorneys, Mark Little, wrote to Congress seeking legal protection for his client, who was not named at the time. Without those protections, Shapley said he couldn’t share anything about the taxpayer’s investigation — including the subject’s identity — without breaking tax confidentiality laws.
Shapley is scheduled to appear before members of the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday, but his testimony will not be open to the public.
CBS News obtained a letter Shapley’s attorneys sent last week to the Office of Special Counsel, a federal agency dedicated to assisting government whistleblowers. The letter alleged “irregularities” in the Justice Department’s handling of the case and cited an “alleged meeting” Shapley’s team had with Justice Department prosecutors last October. Shapley’s team was effectively excluded from the investigation after that meeting, the letter said. Shapley would not say whether he made prosecutors aware of his concerns but acknowledged the incident prompted him to blow the whistle.
“That was my red line meeting,” Shapley said. “It just got to the point where that switch was turned on, and I couldn’t silence my conscience anymore.”
In his April letter to Congress, Little said Shapley had previously disclosed whistleblowers to the IRS, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the Justice Department’s inspector general. He also wrote that his client would object to sworn testimony “by a senior political appointee.” In his interview with CBS News, Shapley declined to identify the sworn testimony or name the political appointee.
Whistleblowers in Washington
In recent months, House Republicans have brought forward federal officials who they say have blown the whistle on perceived political interference from within the Judiciary on other issues. Efforts to address these concerns are the result of a recently created subcommittee on the “weaponization” of government by the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats have questioned the legitimacy of the claims, and Ranking Member Stacey Plaskett, the Democrat representing the US Virgin Islands, called the subcommittee “a political stunt.”
Shapley told CBS News that he didn’t take any money from anyone to make the decision to move forward. His legal efforts are being helped by a nonprofit whistleblower advocacy group with staff who have previously worked with Republicans in Congress, and he is a registered Republican. However, he said, he has never been politically active. He says he has not made any political donations or been involved in political campaigns.
“I’m not involved in these things,” he said. “That’s not what I want to do. I’m not just a political person. It’s a job, and the oath of my office is to treat everyone we investigate fairly.”
Shapley may already be paying the price for his decision to speak out. Last week, his attorneys told Congress that he and his staff had been removed from the investigation “at the request of the Department of Justice.” He claims he faced retaliation from IRS leadership. Also, Hunter Biden’s legal team has already accused him of breaking the law.
The White House declined to comment on the matter, but shared a statement it previously revealed that President Biden “has made clear that the Department of Justice, led by a US Attorney appointed by former President Trump, will conduct this matter independently, free from any political interference from the White House.” . He kept that promise.”
At a Senate hearing in March, Attorney General Merrick pledged not to interfere in Garland’s work. David Weiss, U.S. Attorney for Delaware Hunter Biden is leading the investigation.
“I promise to make sure that he is able to conduct his investigation and he will be able to conduct it,” Garland said on March 1.
Shapley did not say whether the actions he took are being investigated by the Justice Department.
“If I am investigated, it will be in retaliation for making a whistleblower complaint,” he said.
Spokesmen for both the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware declined to comment.
The IRS also declined to comment, saying, “Under federal law, the IRS cannot comment on specific taxpayers.” The agency’s statement added that it is “deeply committed to protecting the role of whistleblowers, and has robust processes and procedures to protect them.”
Shapley said she found this new role – as a whistleblower – to be out of her comfort zone and not something she wanted to do. But he said he felt compelled to come forward and report what he saw as a violation of his oath of office.
“When I saw the severity of some of these things, it didn’t become a choice for me anymore,” he said. “It’s not something I want to do. It’s something I feel I have to do.”
He said his ultimate motivation was what led him to pursue a career in criminal tax investigation in the first place.
“When taxpayers are treated differently — and the subjects of the investigation are treated differently,” he said, “I don’t see how that doesn’t affect the fairness of the system.”