Shades of the Watergate Saturday Night Massacre?
A letter sent Monday to Republican and Democrat members of House and Senate committees by attorneys representing the IRS whistleblower in the Hunter Biden investigation states that the whistleblower and his team of investigators have been removed from the investigation at the request of the Justice Department.
The news broke the same day a free-as-a-bird Hunter Biden joined his father and family at a graduation ceremony for his daughter Maisy:
The letter was first reported by Steven Nelson with the New York Post:
Scoop: IRS whistleblower who alleged coverup in Hunter Biden tax investigation says his entire team was removed from case
His lawyers tell Congress that ‘this move is clearly retaliatory and may also constitute obstruction of a congressional inquiry’ https://t.co/bvAys2dUGS
— Steven Nelson (@stevennelson10) May 15, 2023
Dear Chairs and Ranking Members:
Today the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Supervisory Special Agent we represent was informed that he and his entire investigative team are being removed from the ongoing and sensitive investigation of the high-profile, controversial subject about which our client sought to make whistleblower disclosures to Congress. He was informed the change was at the request of the Department of Justice.
On April 27, 2023, IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel appeared before the House Committee on Ways and Means. He testified: “I can say without any hesitation there will be no retaliation for anyone making an allegation or a call to a whistleblower hotline.” However, this move is clearly retaliatory and may also constitute obstruction of a congressional inquiry.
Our client has a right to make disclosures to Congress pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 6103(f)(5) and 5U.S.C. § 7211. He is protected by 5 U.S.C. § 2302 from retaliatory personnel actions—including receiving a “significant change in duties, responsibilities, or working conditions”1 (which this clearly is) because of his disclosures to Congress.2 Any attempt by any government official to prevent a federal employee from furnishing information to Congress is also a direct violation of longstanding appropriations restriction.3 Furthermore, 18 U.S.C. § 1505 makes it a crime to obstruct an investigation of Congress.
We respectfully request that you give this matter your prompt attention. Removing the experienced investigators who have worked this case for years and are now the subject-matter experts is exactly the sort of issue our client intended to blow the whistle on to begin with.
Cordially, Tristan Leavitt
President Empower Oversight
Mark D. Lytle
Partner Nixon Peabody LLP
The letter was addressed to:
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) Chairman, Committee on Finance, Co-Chair, Whistleblower Protection Caucus
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) Ranking Member, Committee on Finance
Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) Chairman, Committee on Ways & Means
Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) Ranking Member, Committee on Ways & Means
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) Co-Chair, Whistleblower Protection Caucus
Member, Committee on Finance
CBS News reported last week the whistleblower’s attorney recently met with members of Congress (excerpt):
The attorney for the IRS whistleblower who has alleged that the Justice Department interfered in and mishandled the Hunter Biden criminal probe met with members of Congress last week on behalf of his client, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The Friday meeting was described to CBS News as a proffer session with the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees to lay the groundwork for what the whistleblower could tell investigators and how he could do so without running afoul of taxpayer privacy laws. CNN first reported the meeting.
In a letter to Congress last month, the attorney, Mark Lytle, said his client, an unnamed IRS criminal supervisory special agent, could shed light on how the years-long, high-profile investigation had been hindered by “preferential treatment and politics.” However, Lytle said his client could not share “certain information” because of the taxpayer privacy laws.
Rep. James Comer (R-KY) said on Sunday that he knows the names of people at the Biden White House who are intimidating whistlblowers.
Really chilling clip.
James Comer, Chair of House Oversight, says 9 of the 10 whistleblowers that they’ve identified are missing! They’re either currently in court, they’re currently already jail, or they’re missing. He also says he knows who is intimidating them. pic.twitter.com/Uow0XEnPaa
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) May 14, 2023
Earlier this month Joe Biden defended Hunter in an interview with MSNBC:
Joe Biden on the allegations of corruption against his deadbeat son, Hunter: “My son’s done nothing wrong. I trust him, I have faith in him, and it impacts my presidency by making me feel proud of him.” pic.twitter.com/zWh4kwY4K0
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 6, 2023
For those too young to remember:
One of the most controversial episodes of the Watergate scandal, the so-called “Saturday Night Massacre” came on October 20, 1973, when embattled President Richard Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and accepted the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus.
The “massacre” stemmed from an inquiry into the notorious June 1972 break-in at the Watergate complex, in which five Nixon operatives were caught trying to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Archibald Cox, a Harvard law professor and former U.S. solicitor general, was tapped to investigate the incident in May 1973. He soon clashed with the White House over Nixon’s refusal to release over 10 hours of secret Oval Office recordings, some of which implicated the president in the break-in.
On October 20, 1973, in an unprecedented show of executive power, Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox, but both men refused and resigned their posts in protest. The role of attorney general then fell to Solicitor General Robert Bork, who reluctantly complied with Nixon’s request and dismissed Cox. Less than a half hour later, the White House dispatched FBI agents to close off the offices of the Special Prosecutor, Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General.