Gary Shapley Didn’t Tell Congress about Election Meddling Concerns

I’m reading my way through the documents from Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler that the House Ways and Means Committee released the other day.

While I have yet to read the tax-related documents closely, the others don’t help the evidence-free impeachment much, undoubtedly complicate David Weiss’ hopes of charging Hunter Biden on tax crimes, and probably give Abbe Lowell a stash of documents he would otherwise not have gotten, some of which show investigative sloppiness and potential evidentiary problems for any case Weiss does charge (again, some of which Lowell would otherwise never have gotten).

Plus, some of the documents undermine the Agents’ claims to be whistleblowers. The documents show they had advance notice of both Delaware’s decision to decline prosecution of the 2104 and 2015 tax years and of the timing of any prosecution. They show Shapley walked into a key October 7, 2022 meeting with a chip on his shoulder and an agenda entirely at odds with his knowledge of declination and timing. From that point forward, phantoms of Shapley’s paranoia, not facts, appear to have driven his actions.

For now, though, I want to point to two details that utterly destroy Shapley’s complaints about delays in 2020. It has always been the case that most of Shapley’s complaints about politicization (besides his own) pertained to events that happened under the Trump Administration. Indeed, that’s something that Jason Smith struggled to address at his own presser the other day: how events from 2020 could support the impeachment of Joe Biden.

But details in two documents Shapley sent in late 2020 reveal that during his entire media tour, Shapley has been withholding a key detail that make these complaints all the more ridiculous.

The first is what must be a draft (since it is not dated and includes editorial questions) one page summary of the investigation written for the IRS Deputy Commissioner around November 9, 2020. It explained (as other documents the IRS agents did too) that after the IRS got a Suspicious Activity Report regarding a UK porn site that wasn’t reporting income to US-based contractors, one of whom Hunter Biden had also paid as an escort, the IRS used that to start pulling Hunter’s tax returns, an initial predication that is going to be comedy gold in any opening arguments Abbe Lowell ever gives at a Hunter Biden trial. It also revealed (again, this gets mentioned in other documents) that there was a FARA investigation out of New York regarding Hunter’s ties to CEFC. Finally, the document attributed any pre-election guidance not just to David Weiss’ office, but also to DOJ Tax and the Deputy Attorney General’s office.

To date no proactive interviews have occurred as a result of guidance provided to the investigative team by the USAO in Delaware, DOJ Tax PDAG and the Deputy Attorney General’s office.

We’ve known of the Deputy Attorney General’s involvement since Shapley’s transcript was first released, which described that the guidance involved Richard Donoghue. Shapley has nevertheless blamed Weiss’ office for these delays ordered by Bill Barr’s top deputies, and Smith even blamed Lesley Wolf personally.

But the centrality of the DAG’s office in such delays is important background to a report filed on December 10, 2020 — which shows that its author (it’s not entirely clear who wrote this, but Shapley provided it) was upset that investigators weren’t improperly sharing information with Congress even then — attributes any delays in the investigation to concerns about election interference.

This investigation has been hampered and artificially slowed by various claims of potential election meddling. Even after the election, our day of action to go overt was delayed more than two weeks.

The memo clearly dismisses those claims, which suggests whoever wrote it thinks they know better than FBI counterintelligence investigators. But it also ignores someone else who knows better about known efforts by Russia to use Hunter Biden as a campaign prop: Donoghue. In February 2020, when he was US Attorney for EDNY, Bill Barr ordered him to serve as a gatekeeper for any investigation implicating Ukraine. This was a specific effort to prevent the SDNY investigation into Rudy Giuliani to pursue Rudy’s efforts to fetch dirt, including a laptop!!, from Andrii Derkach in December 2019.

But starting in July, Donoghue swapped places with Seth DuCharme, becoming the Principal Assistant Deputy Attorney General, where he proceeded to issue guidance to delay any overt investigative steps in the Hunter Biden investigation. In other words, the orders to delay overt steps until after the election would have involved someone who knew as well as anyone in government that the effort to exploit Hunter Biden’s relationship with Burisma involved a plot coordinated with known Russian agents.

But over the course of a four month media blitz, Gary Shapley — represented by people close to Chuck Grassley, who of late has been pushing this Russian information operation himself — suppressed the fact that DOJ had concerns, concerns that manifested in multiple Treasury sanctions afterwards, that the effort to focus attention on Burisma was orchestrated by Russia, Ukranian agents of Russia, and Donald Trump’s own efforts to solicit dirt whereever he could.

Twice yesterday, Republicans refused to vote on Democratic requests that James Comer subpoena Rudy (the first request included a request to subpoena Lev Parnas as well). Yet this detail from Shapley — and his suppression of it for four months — makes a Rudy subpoena all the more important.

41 replies
  1. Mike Stone says:

    Great write up and thanks. My question is why hasn’t Rudy been interviewed by the FBI? This guy seems to be neck deep in every part of the Russian disinformation campaigns.

    • Peterr says:

      Two possibilities . . .

      1) Generally speaking, investigators work their way up to the bigger fish in large investigations, and don’t start with major figures. They could be building their case to know exactly what to ask him, in order to box him in and lock in his story, as well as to be able to push him to cooperate because they already know so much. Also, given how much the FBI was compromised under Trump and the current political climate, the FBI leadership would want to be very very sure they have all their ducks in a row before inviting Rudy to come have a chat with them.

      2) Alternatively, they could have interviewed him already, but (appropriately) have not made that fact public. Of course, Rudy could have left the interview and shouted it to the rooftops. OTOH, the FBI could also have indicated to him that (a) they’d prefer he not do that, and (b) if he does, he will be writing off any possibility of potential cooperation deals down the road, or any kind of “he assisted us in some ways” credit at any possible future sentencing he might face.

    • emptywheel says:

      Remember they seized his devices in April 2021. Many if not most proved to be corrupted. They closed that investigation, but there’s no reason to believe they formally declined prosecution. My guess is they also did a great deal of investigation into how those devices came to be corrupted, thereby thwarting the investigation into his Russian buddies.

      • anaphoristand says:

        I know the corruption of those devices was something Giuliani’s defense pitched in Ruby Freeman’s civil case as justification for his non-production of relevant comms, but I can’t recall if they produced explicit records from DOJ substantiating both that corruption and the irrecoverability of that data. Either way, I agree with you that DOJ would surely follow up on how those drives came to be irrecoverably corrupted, if that is indeed the case.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The evidentiary shoe is actually on the other foot. If prosecutors want to use this evidence in a criminal proceeding, they will have to establish its provenance, and how it was handled and by whom every step of the way from HB’s hands to trial. The record already shows more than a few gaps.

  2. Thomas_H says:

    Thank you for your careful reading of these documents.

    Minor typo: second paragraph “2104” should be 2014.

  3. Upisdown says:

    The FARA thing from SDNY probably ties to the arrest of Patrick Ho (at an apartment that CEFC leased from Donald Trump). They may have gotten wind that Hunter Biden was on a retainer for legal services and had been contacted after Ho’s arrest that mistakenly went to James Biden first. It’s a big stretch to include FARA on that.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Just so I’m clear. A UK national wasn’t [timely?] declaring US-source income to the US, but the IRS opened an investigation into one of it’s customers – instead – of the UK business, which is the party responsible for paying any tax due on that income? I love the smell of ripe fish in the morning. Bracing.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      How’s the judge going to feel about this?

      If I hire a prostitute and another business entirely doesn’t properly report the income they paid the prostitute, does the investigation into that business mean they can investigate me? I’m not part of that business in any way and am not part of their conspiracy to not-pay taxes. Or did some judge give a search warrant for a ham sandwich? Any comments from our legal eagles?

    • Narpington says:

      “a UK porn site that wasn’t reporting income to US-based contractors”

      It reads to me like foreign employers of US citizens have an obligation to tell the IRS about payments, here presumably sex workers hired by Hunter Biden or his company. How the customers paying get caught up in the investigation is another matter.

  5. Fancy Chicken says:

    Wow! I’m totally impressed that you have figured out how Donoghue potentially played a part in the investigation. It seems to me that he might have pleaded guilty last week in order to not be examined publicly on his relationships with the Russians we know he was involved with and others that aren’t public knowledge- which would have also been embarrassing for the FBI and potentially made his connection to the Hunter Biden investigation much more easily grasped by national security beat journalists.

    I seriously doubt that I’m going to read about that connection and Barr and Juliani’s roles anyway in the news unless someone decided to do a deep dive on those players and their related actions.

    Kudos again to your incredible ability to pull disparate threads together.

    • Just Some Guy says:

      I think you might be confusing Richard Donoghue with Charles McGonigal, unless there’s some indictment of the former that I completely missed somehow.

      • Fancy Chicken says:

        Oh damn, I was so excited.
        Please excuse my confusion to being at the tail end of a nasty Covid bout. My head still is isn’t working right. I think I got confused because of the call being made out of SDNY.
        Thanks for the correction. I feel a little embarrassed.

        • Just Some Guy says:

          No need for apology nor embarrassment. I only pointed it out because I was pretty sure Donoghue was unlikely to have any legal exposure (at least, that I’m aware of) during his time in the Trump DoJ, and I wanted to confirm that. Thanks for your comment and clarification regardless! Sorry about the COVID.

  6. jdmckay8 says:

    I watched the whole thing yesterday. Very little new. A few amusing anecdotes here and there, but largely the same political grandstanding/fabrications and dysfunction most readers here a familiar with.

    The panel added very little value AFAIC. Eileen O’Connor several times stated confidently as fact what we know is fiction. A nutcase IMO.

    What a few Republicans pushed as the Romanian and Chinese payments through HB’s shell companies seemed worth looking into. So I will. But a lot of the fatigue from this shit, at least for me, is the time I (and what Marcy does seemingly full time) wasted doing this as I don’t recall a single time doing this this wrt HB that didn’t turn out to be fabrication. Kind’a a grain of truth amongst a silo of completely controverting evidence.

    Seems almost everything Trump touched turned out this way. What a waste.

    Anyway, thx for getting us started on this latest document dump.

  7. Rugger_9 says:

    That it was executed as a complete GOP whitewash yesterday is unsurprising. While several Ds pointed out that fact witnesses Giuliani and Parnas weren’t invited, I don’t recall how much FBI agent Buma was involved, and his point was that Rudy was a potential Russian asset. That nugget not only blows up the Hunter Biden story but also will wing Defendant-1 as a liar about the ‘Russia Russia Russia hoax’ since Rudy was his personal attorney at the time in the White House. It’s not going to play well with a lot of voters.

    Mother Jones has it:

  8. I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

    Off topic but interesting: Charles Edward Littlejohn has been charged criminally with illegal disclosure of the tax return information of a number of individuals that seemingly ended up being published by ProPublica. Details can easily be found on the net.

  9. Fly by Night says:

    Since this particular post seems to be littered with off topic comments Scott Hall, the Georgia bail bondsman, just agreed to a plea deal and to testify in the Georgia election fraud case. The first domino has fallen.

    • Upisdown says:

      Scott Hall is the brother-in-law of David Bossie, the guy behind Citizen’s United. It has been reported that Bossie contacted Hall to find Georgia election fraud at the request of Donald Trump. I would not be surprised if some of the claims Trump made on the call to Raffensperger originated from Hall.

      • bmaz says:

        Lol, you have any more convoluted conjecture? Any facts to back it up? I would not be surprised, in the least, if no, you do not.

      • Rayne says:

        Bring links to back up claims. If you write X has a relationship to Y, bring supporting documentation in the form of a link. If you write, “It has been reported,” then bring a damned link to a report.

        This is not Xitter where you can just dump anything you want without repercussions; we expect better from our commenters here.

          • Upisdown says:


            From your link…

            “According to an email written by then-state GOP
            Chairman David Shafer, Hall was acting at the request of David Bossie, the Republican operative, onetime deputy Trump campaign manager, chairman of the conservative activist group Citizens United — and a relative of Hall’s. Bossie did not respond to requests for comment.”

            Here is another link that includes some of the content of the email…


            “Scott Hall has been looking into the election on behalf of the President at the request of David Bossie. I know him,” David Shafer, the Georgia Republican Party chairman wrote on November 20, 2020, to Robert Sinners, the head of Trump’s Georgia election day operations.

            There seems to be a clearly established link between Hall, Bossie, and Trump.

            • bmaz says:

              They are all within six degrees of Kevin Bacon. Should Kevin Bacon also be charged in this Rube Goldberg Fulton County prosecution?

          • Rayne says:

            While it’s nice to have such helpful community members like you, this was on Upisdown to resolve as they have a nasty habit of swagging claims without supporting material.

            ADDER: I want to point out for community members that Molly Pitcher’s reply demonstrates just how easy it is to find and share a link. All that was needed in Upisdown’s original content was a link — no excerpt necessary, just a link so that other community members could read at will.

            For Upisdown: this was NOT about helping the emptywheel contributors/moderators but about helping the rest of the community members reading comments here. Not every community member can be here every hour or day reading every post, following the minutiae of every Trump case. Throwing relatively arcane details into comments here without supporting material like links only encourages overlong exchanges by community members asking for sourcing. After something north of 107 comments and a bunch of different identities, you should have figured out how this place works. Get with it or find the exit.

  10. e.a. foster says:

    Can’t the republicans do something more useful than trying to impeach Biden? They’ve managed to take the country to the brink again with their refusal to settle the budget. What is with these people. If there is no money it will impact law enforcement yet they want to impeach the President with not much evidence. Its such a waste of time. The Republicans really need to grow up and start doing their jobs instead of acting like a bunch of ………..
    Perhaps its just Jim Jordon and some of the wanna bees getting their 15 seconds of “fame”. They ought to accept they are never going to look good to anyone who they aren’t paying.

    • Shadowalker says:

      They don’t have any other options at this point. To reverse course now would be political suicide with their base. Their only hope is general voters have short memories and forget all this by the time the general comes around, which may have been true in the past, but may not be true now. Besides, by impeaching Biden they may end up boosting his reelection chances.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        I don’t think they’re going to increase Biden’s reelection chances by impeaching him.

        The are going to increase Biden’s reelection chances by impeaching him AND allowing the government to be shut down. Or maybe I should say ‘…while allowing the government to be shut down.’

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