An IRS whistleblower who says he was sidelined from handling the Hunter Biden investigation has filed a formal complaint with the Office of Special Counsel accusing the agency of retaliating against him for making protected disclosures.
In one instance, the whistleblower – a Supervisory Special Agent (SSA), says he was passed over for a promotion despite being the “clearly most qualified” candidate, and that he was recently removed from the Hunter Biden case in an act of retaliation.
The whistleblower’s name remains undisclosed. He is represented by Mark Lytle, a former DOJ lawyer, and Tristan Leavitt, a former congressional investigator who serves as president of Empower Oversight.
The pair disclosed to Congress last week that their client and his entire team had been removed by the Department of Justice from the investigation in what they described as a retaliatory act. Just the News, in late April, reported that the whistleblower had alleged that federal prosecutors had engaged in “preferential treatment and politics” to prevent the younger Biden from facing tax charges. -Just the News
As Just the News reports, the allegations contradict sworn testimony from Attorney General Merrick Garland, who said that Delaware US Attorney David Weiss had full authority to pursue the Hunter Biden case without political interference.
On April 27, IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel told the House Committee on Ways and Means that the whistleblower would face no retaliation.
“I can say without any hesitation there will be no retaliation for anyone making an allegation or a call to a whistleblower hotline.”
Yet, according to the whistleblower’s attorneys, “This action was inconsistent with your testimony to the House Committee on Ways and Means that there would be “no retaliation” against whistleblowers at the IRS,” reads a letter to Werfel. “It was our understanding that although the IRS executed the reprisal, it did so on behalf of DOJ officials who had the motive to retaliate because it was the propriety of their own actions that had been called into question by the protected disclosures.”
They then, however, asserted that they had learned of an IRS decision to pursue exactly such a retaliation against the agents shortly after Werfel made such testimony, which they attributed to a protected disclosure made directly to Werfel.
The pair pointed to an email from one of the client’s subordinates, whom the agency removed from the case as well, in which the case agent informs the commissioner of his repeatedly attempts to make his superiors aware of problems affecting the investigation and contends that in removing him and the team, the agency had sided with the DOJ, whom they had alleged was behaving improperly. -Just the News
More from the letter (which can be read in its entirety below), which notifies Werfel that as IRS commissioner, he has a responsibility to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
In response to making his good faith expression of reasonable concerns—concerns shared by our client—the case agent had a right to expect that his email would be taken seriously, considered, and addressed professionally without retribution, as the law requires.
Instead, the IRS responded with accusations of criminal conduct and warnings to other agents in an apparent attempt to intimidate into silence anyone who might raise similar concerns. Specifically, the Assistant Special Agent in Charge emailed the case agent suggesting, without any basis, that he might have illegally disclosed 6(e) grand jury material in his email to you. While such a claim is utterly baseless and without support in the law or facts of this matter, the language of the response suggests the case agent may have been referred for investigation, an even more intimidating form of reprisal likely to chill anyone from expressing dissent. Furthermore, the Acting Special Agent in Charge issued a contemporaneous email to supervisors—including our client—admonishing employees to obey “the chain of command,” writing: “There should be no instances where case related activity discussions leave this field office without seeking approval from your direct report.”
The attorneys also wrote to key congressional leaders to inform them of the OSC complaint.
According to The Federalist, in response to the whistleblower’s email to IRS leadership, he received a terse reply from an Assistant Special Agent in the IRS Criminal Investigation division stating “You have been told several times that you need to follow your chain of command” and that “your email yesterday may have included potential grand jury (aka 6e material) in the subject line and the contents of the email.”