Gary Shapley’s Notes Recorded Something He Claimed Not to Know before House Ways and Means

In his House Ways and Means Committee testimony, when Gary Shapley was first asked about the discussion of leaks in the October 7, 2022 meeting at which — he claims he understood (though his notes make it quite clear he didn’t understand what he was hearing) — David Weiss said he was not the final decision-maker for charging Hunter Biden, Shapley professed not to know what outlet published the leaked information.

Q In No. 1 on this email you prepared, says: “Discussion about the agent leak — requested the sphere stay as small as possible…DOJ IG will be notified. FBI — HQ is notified.”

What was the specific leak?

A So there was a leak, I’m not sure what outlet, on October 6th of 2022 — it appeared to come from the agent’s level, who was critical of the prosecutors for not charging the case.

Q Okay. Talking about the Hunter Biden case?

A Yes, not charging the Hunter Biden case.

So, obviously that was part of the discussion at the beginning. And there have been multiple leaks in this case going back, and this one was handled a lot differently because I guess it was purportedly from the agent’s level.

So this drastic — you know, they used that as an excuse to kind of — to do what they were doing. [my emphasis]

It was an interesting claim — not to know what outlet published the leaked information — then.

It’s a more interesting claim now that his attorneys have released hand-written notes that are, in key respects, inconsistent with the notes he emailed to his colleague later that day (which I’ll lay out in more depth shortly). Those notes make it quite clear the leak was to the WaPo.

He didn’t include that detail — that the WaPo had identified the source as Agents — in his email to his supervisor later that day.

His handwritten notes don’t describe that there will be a criminal referral of the leak, either.

It’s unclear what the last line of his notes on the leak said (“WBers,” suggesting whistleblowers?).

But the important discrepancy is that Shapley told House Ways and Means he didn’t know something he clearly had recorded in hand-written notes he chose not to share with the Committee.

And that’s not the only oddity about Shapley’s testimony about the leak.

I have already noted that while the email he wrote suggests Darrell Waldon would make a referral to TIGTA, in his Oversight testimony, Shapley claimed he had done so. That’s weird, but it’s certainly possible both referred the leak or that Shapley rushed to do it before Waldon did.

And — also at that Oversight hearing — Shapley spun wildly about whether the leak was from Agents or not, with his attorneys saying something to him both times it came up.

Goldman: So it’s pretty clear, you would agree, that this was a leak to the Washington Post by law enforcement agents since it describes what Federal agents believe, right?

Shapley: So it wasn’t actually clear to me that it was because usually they’ll say that it’s a law enforcement source that provided it, and if you see at the bottom it says they corroborated independently and they did not mention law enforcement. [Shapley’s attorney leans over to whisper to him]

Goldman: You don’t think it’s a Federal agent, agents, who leaked this when the headline says, Federal agents see chargeable tax gun purchase case against Hunter Biden? [my emphasis]

Shapley remained squirrely about whether this was a leak from an agent or not later in the same hearing.

Goldman: Gentlemen, I want to return to the Washington Post October 6 article and I’d ask unanimous consent to enter it into the record. In your testimony, Mr. Shapley, before the Ways and Means Committee, you stated, quote, there was a leak, it appeared to come from the agents level, who was critical of the prosecutors for not charging the case. What you testified earlier was a little different. Which one do you stand by today?


Shapley: I’m sorry, could you repeat that?

Goldman, quoting: “There was a leak, it appeared to come from the agents level, who was critical of the prosecutors for not charging the case.”

Shapley: Yeah, I said it appeared, because I said it came from the agents’ level, but the source was a source familiar with the topic and it didn’t say it was a law enforcement source.

Goldman: Okay, that seems to be a distinction without a difference. And then, you understand that, obviously leaks of grand jury information is a felony, right?

Shapley: Leaking investigative information including 6103 would be a felony, yes.

Goldman: Well that’s true as well. So would you agree that there would be some skepticism from prosecutors about which of the agents may be the source of a leak?

Comer: Gentleman’s time is expired but feel free to answer the question.

Shapley: Since there have been multiple leaks in this investigation, and the one on December 8 or December 9, 2020, it appears to come from someone, as Lesley Wolf stated —

Goldman: I was just asking about October 6, 2022.

Shapley: So I

Goldman: It would cause anyone suspicion, right?

Shapley: If it says it comes from an agent level. [His attorney leans over, whispers something.]

Goldman: That’s what you said.

Comer: Gentleman’s time has expired. [my emphasis]

Shapley is really really determined to prove that his impression — that David Weiss said he didn’t have final charging authority — was accurate, but read in conjunction it’s actually clear he simply didn’t know what the fuck he was hearing and made up the most damning explanation.

But along the way, his testimony about the leak itself has acquired more and more inconsistencies.

Most importantly, before House Ways and Means he played dumb about something that he recorded in his own notes: the outlet for the leak.

37 replies
  1. jdmckay8 says:

    One of few good things to come out of all this (at least for me): a few Democrats I knew little about, have really stepped up, done their homework, and acquitted themselves admirably. Goldman is one of those, repeatedly demonstrating command of some important things.

    • bgThenNow says:

      Well, let’s give credit to staff who do the work on these things, most likely. Some of the staff are fairly incredible at this sort of research, and perhaps some of it is shared with other appropriate staff.

      • BobBobCon says:

        I’m all for giving staff their credit, but to be clear a first term rep like Goldman in the minority party has an incredibly paltry staff.

        Whatever help he has on staff is almost certainly one person spread out to cover 20 different issues.

        • FL Resister says:

          Daniel Goldman was on point when he was lead counsel for both Trump impeachments.

          As NY Representative, Goldman’s questioning of witnesses is always chock full of illustrative points.

          His intellect and skill are light years ahead of Comer, Jordan, Gaetz and Greene.

        • Tracy Lynn says:

          “…His intellect and skill are light years ahead of Comer, Jordan, Gaetz and Greene…”

          Actually, light years ahead of most of the politicians in that rhelm.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Goldman rocks. Even when Shapley eats up his time by perhaps unnecessarily asking him to repeat a clearly asked question.

    • Discontinued Barbie says:

      That is what I was thinking too. He is standing there with crumbs in the corners of his mouth, stating he doesn’t know who ate the cookies.

      But why would he risk his career?

      Or was this to be a career maker?

      • vigetnovus says:

        Or more likely, IMHO, Ziegler did it, and Shapely was trying to cover it up?

        He could have been a “corroborating source”.

      • Fraud Guy says:

        There is a very well established wingnut welfare apparatus that seems to be able to create endless 6-figure salaried jobs for little to no output, if you help the team.

      • emptywheel says:

        I’m still agnostic about whether Shapley IS the leaker. But if he is, he used a cut-out. So he was honest when he said he didn’t speak to the press. I don’t rule out him speaking to someone else who spoke to the press.

        • Fraud Guy says:

          His are the kind of answers that, when I was doing internal investigations, would have me pulling out my backhoe to start digging deeper. Although sometimes it was more delicate questions, like the tiny brushes and teeth cleaning equipment archaeologists use, as appropriate.

  2. Mike Stone says:

    Shapley and Ziegler reminded me of cops that have it in their minds that someone is guilty before they have any evidence and then start to talk among themselves endlessly about things that might or might not be true until they convince themselves they must be true again without evidence.

        • Peterr says:

          Given that everywhere else, he seems to reference various DOJ offices by their acronyms, if he was referring to Barr he might well have written AG. Also, this was someone who had trouble reaching past his own bosses to folks further up the hierarchy so he could pursue his own investigation makes it highly unlikely that he was on Barr’s radar in any way.

          I think Marcy’s read of this as “WBers” meaning possibly “whistleblowers” is much more likely.

        • says:

          Yeah, this caught my eye too.

          With Barr out of office 22 months earlier, could his name being mentioned in Shapley’s notes here mean something like ? ? ?
          a) “Contact W Barr to see who he thinks we should report this too.”
          b) “Someone’s gotta alert Barr about this, as he was pleased we got thru Nov 2020 election without an ‘October surprise’ leak, but failed at this task before the 2022 midterms.”
          c) “I bet Bill Barr knows who the leaker is, as he knew all the members on that team.”

          or even?

          d) “There’s a pretty small group of folks who meet the description as the source in the news article, and W Barr is one of them.”

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          He obviously hadn’t been in any bureaucracy for very long, and seems unlikely to survive in one.

          Repeatedly reaching upward outside the chain of command to pursue a personal agenda is a unwelcome trait, let alone in a junior investigator. That it calls his judgment into question would be only one of many concerns it would raise about him.

  3. says: for vocab below

    Help me out here, not the best resolution on my screen. . .
    The parts of Shapley’s notes that are visible to me (there’s a nonvisible section obscured by black opaque bar in bottom right — a ‘redaction’ by my screen? or perhaps a redaction on original?) appear to say, with tab-width indents I’ll signify by [ ] and punctuation marks as I see them (as close as my keyboard allows):*

    + Pat says IRS/FBI agents
    [ ] + refer to DOJ OIG & TIGTA
    [ ] + W Bar r

    * Limited by my keyboard, I use the music-staff ampersand in line 2, while Shapley clearly uses the lowercase-plus-sign-with-southwest-loop ampersand not available on my keyboard.
    * The plus sign I use here as bullet stand-in for all 3 lines, is more likely an asterisk * in Shapley’s notes, because it appears to more closely resemble his ampersand than resemble a pure two-perpendicular-line-intersecting plus sign. But because an asterisk would display in superscript, I felt the plus sign was more depictive.
    * Or, Shapley could have instead used the regular bullet-impersonating punctuation that my Navy Vet aeronautical father did — the 5 pointed star (essentially a capital A with a meanline crossbar that exceeds the width of its stems). Or its upside down counterpart (capital V with longer meanline crossbar).

    And yes, I’m basically revealing here that I grew up in an era before we actually had true meanline-centered bullets to introduce each item in our “meeting takehomes” list — not available on typewriters! We only had the N dash or the superscript asterisk. My dad was such a strict military man that when he’d checked our handwriting homework, he’d make us re-write the entire assignment if our asterisks centered on the meanline (like a bullet) instead of centering on the capline, where a typewriter, and our computer keyboards, prescribe.

    And after he died, when i was a teen, I centered my “bullet” asterisks on the meanline, where I damn-well wanted to!

    * on line 3, it looks to me like there is no “l” and no attempt to do an upward stroke toward capline after the “B”, so I think W Barr is the better guess. Yes, the open ligature that conjoins the rs is excessively dark and long (I simply depict this as a spacer above, but that’s a common mistake when a writer toggles between print and cursive with no consistent commitments, does not have the proper number of downward stokes or his down strokes don’t fully reach baseline, or when he glances up, eyes off page briefly, while writing.

    But, interestingly, a mistake of this magnitude was not so severe that it required an entirely new draft of penmanship homework!

    See contrast between line 1 “behind” (h – i – n), and in wiki link, line 5 “Brightly” (r – i) to see this contrast:

    • EuroTark says:

      If you right-click the image and select “Open in new tab” (or similar) you get a slightly better scaled version.

      I agree with you transcription except for one point; “Pat” is probably “Post” with the o and s wedged close together, as you’re likely to do when writing a word that’s been written too many times before.

      As for the last line, I agree it looks very much like “W Barr” but could also be “W Bers”, followed by a dash and what is likely the redacted instruction or comment for that entity.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        This comment is very helpful. I can see now that the word is ‘Post’ and not ‘Pat’. It also adheres to the logic of what actually happened.

        I would suggest a visual comparison to come to a conclusion about the WB word. If you look closely at the way Shapley wrote the ‘s’ at the end of the word ‘agents’ you will see that it is the same as the letter at the end of the WB word. So, it’s W B..s. Logic tells us that the GOP is selling these guys as whistleblowers. And the letters between the ‘B’ and ‘s’ could easily be ‘er’.

        So, I agree with Marcy that it says, ‘WBers’ which logically refers to whistleblowers.

        • emptywheel says:

          I’m agnostic about what it says. But it does not match anything in his email, best as I can tell.

          It is clear, however, that he recorded it as a Post leak, and then claimed not to know that.

        • says:

          It’s hard for me to be agnostic here, simply because my small mind is unable to think of a positive, public-service-minded reason for a discussion at this meeting about a leak to the WaPo of confidential government information (existence of criminal investigation), to be followed so close in time with a discussion about whistleblowers, if this is what line 3 says.

          Even more troubling to me is that the ‘WBers’ phrase, if that’s what it says, is INDENTED below the topline WaPo-leak header. Did the article refer to reporter’s sources as whistleblowers? If not, why were WBers being discussed in this meeting under the agenda item referring to law enforcement leakers?

          Is it naive of me to think that good investigators do everything they can to not risk an investigation by spilling about it? (Which, I acknowledge, is what Marcy is arguing has indeed actually happened here.) But on Oct. 7, 2022, to view this breech as an act of whistleblowing (the only inference I can think up right now), by fellow law enforcement investigator(s) is troubling.

          Perhaps minds much bigger than mine can expand my thinking here? Why would whistleblowers be discussed in this meeting right after discussing “traitors” to the good investigators creed (to never act against the best interests of the investigation or inconsistent with a potential future ‘winning’ prosecution)?

        • Savage Librarian says:

          But that WaPo article also refers to another WaPo article from March 2022 which I believe is the one written by Craig Timberg, Matt Viser, and Tom Hamburger on March 30, 2022. And their article mentions Jack Maxey.

          Coincidentally, Maxey is the only other person that Abbe Lowell identifies in Hunter Biden’s lawsuit against Garrett Ziegler. Umm hmm.

          If you do a search for Jack Maxey, you’ll find that the MAGAs call him a whistleblower. Maxey wears it like a badge of pride. He also fled to Switzerland. Wasn’t there somebody that Comer’s gang said fled somewhere? Maybe Maxey?

          So, I think those Shapley notes actually do say, “Post” and “WBers” (meaning whistleblowers.) I also think Maxey may be one of the whistleblowers Shapley had in mind.

        • zscoreUSA says:

          Interesting observation about MAGA calling Maxey a whistleblower, but the only mention of “whistleblower” in that article is Mac Isaac referring to himself as such in an 8/26/20 email to Costello to notify him, allegedly for the first time, of the laptop. Maxey is referred to as a “Republican activist”.

          The 10/7/22 meeting was about leak of agent charging inclinations day prior, and notes above about IG, it seems a stretch to be referring to Maxey as a WBer for his action in June 2021 providing WaPo a copy of the hard drive. And the MAGA articles referring to Maxey as a whistleblower fleeing to Switzerland are from Spring 2022.

          3/30/22 WaPo link:

      • says:

        The “right-click, open in new tab” did the trick! Larger version had better resolution (at least on my screen) and i could actually see the white space off-setting what had previously looked to be a singular “a” as actually a conjoined-by-closed-ligature o – s!

        Now that I can actually *see*, I’m gonna dig into Savage Librarian’s letter “s” sluething tips, and give a long stare at line 3 again.

        Sorry to put you all through the travails of me learning penmanship 40 years ago, but this was very helpful. Much appreciated!

  4. SteveBev says:

    Parsing the fine detail to pick apart the self promotional bullshit that the “Get Hunter At Any Cost” wing of the MAGA world are trying to promote is necessary and appropriate, not least because the bullshit has real world consequences not just for Biden, but others who are smeared by it.

    “Federal prosecutor Lesley Wolf, who had been part of U.S. Attorney David Weiss’ team investigating Hunter Biden, got such a barrage of credible threats that she sought security help from the U.S. Marshals Service, according to previously unreleased testimony from an FBI official to the House Judiciary Committee last week. Two IRS agents on the case have accused Wolf of making decisions that appeared favorable to Biden. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.”

  5. says:

    From an incredibly touching piece about Sen. Mitt Romney in the Atlantic:

    . . . referring to his expectation he’d be booed after he decided to accept an invite to speak at the Spring 2021 Utah Republican Party convention which was shortly after he voted to convict Trump on 1 of 2 charges at his 1st impeachment trial — a move that Romney was certain would be somewhat unpopular with some of his constituents. . .

    “[W]hen Romney took the stage, he quickly realized that he’d underestimated the level of vitriol awaiting him. The heckling and booing were so loud and sustained that he could barely get a word out . . .


    [T]here was . . . something unsettling about the episode. As a former presidential candidate, he was well acquainted with heckling. Scruffy Occupy Wall Streeters had shouted down his stump speeches; gay-rights activists had “glitter bombed” him at rallies. But these were Utah Republicans—they were supposed to be his people. Model citizens, well-behaved Mormons, respectable patriots and pillars of the community, with kids and church callings and responsibilities at work. Many of them had probably been among his most enthusiastic supporters in 2012. Now they were acting like wild children. And if he was being honest with himself, there were moments up on that stage when he was afraid of them.

    “There are deranged people among us,” he told me. And in Utah, “people carry guns.”

    “It only takes one really disturbed person.”

    He let the words hang in the air for a moment, declining to answer the question his confession begged: How long can a democracy last when its elected leaders live in fear of physical violence from their constituents?

    • Just Some Guy says:

      Not gonna feel sorry for the guy who said that nearly half of the American electorate were “moochers.”

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