How One New Hampshire Voter and One Politico Journalist Refused to Hold “a Pig … a Womanizer … [an] Arrogant Asshole” Accountable

Politico has an interesting profile of a two-time Obama voter, who will today become a three-time Trump voter, New Hampshire voter Ted Johnson.

It demonstrates that Johnson is driven by the very same false beliefs that Scott Perry is, which I laid out here.

Johnson admits that Trump is a pig. He even admits some concern about Trump’s stolen documents — before he parrots the false claims he learned on Fox News about that investigation.

And the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case in Florida? It’s the one that gives Johnson a modicum of pause. “You don’t f— around with classified material. Whoever advised him he could have that — he should have gave that s— up,” he said. “But he was being the stubborn, arrogant person that he is.” And he added, “I didn’t like the way the FBI did it. The raid was ridiculous. And that just emboldened me.”

But nevertheless Johnson will vote for the pig … womanizer … arrogant asshole today because he believes that Trump will bring accountability.

“And trust me, the guy’s a pig, he’s a womanizer — arrogant a—–e,” Johnson said of Trump. “But I need somebody that’s going to go in and lead, and I need somebody that’s going to take care of the average guy.”

“But is taking care of the average guy and breaking the system the same thing?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “Because they’re all in it for themselves.”

“And if you break the system, what does that look like?”

“Accountability,” he said.

Go read it. It’s precisely the dynamic that I’m preparing to write about: how Trump trained people like Scott Perry and Ted Johnson to hate rule of law while calling that disdain for rule of law “accountability.”

But while you’re reading it, watch journalist Michael Kruse’s own blindspot. For much of the article, Kruse lets Johnson babble on, voicing his false beliefs about Trump’s legal woes.

Kruse largely lets Johnson spout those false beliefs unchallenged. But he pushes back when Johnson raises Hunter Biden.

Sort of.

Johnson started talking about “Russia-gate” and “Biden’s scandals” and Hunter Biden. What, I wondered, did Hunter Biden have to do with Nikki Haley? “She’s not going to hold anybody accountable for what they’ve done,” Johnson told me. “People need to be held accountable. That’s why you’ve got to break the system to fix the system,” he said. “Because it’s a zero-sum game right now. And to be honest with you, the Democrats are genius. They did anything they could do to win and gain power, even if they lie, cheat, steal. … What they’re doing is they’re destroying the country. Who could bring it back?” He answered his own question: “Trump’s the only one.” [my emphasis]

Rather than contest Johnson’s premise that Joe Biden has scandals, Kruse instead challenges Johnson as to what Hunter has to do with Nikki Haley.

Then later in the story, Kruse himself raises Hunter Biden as the counterpart of accountability to Trump.

“Accountability is accountability. But they’re throwing so much stuff at this guy, and it’s almost like I’m rooting for him,” he told me. “This is a whole system of government going after one man who, probably, I bet, right now, 85 million people want to be president.”

“But accountability is accountability,” I said.

“Accountability is accountability,” he said.

“Whether it’s Hunter Biden or Donald Trump,” I said.

“But do I trust the system?” he said. “I don’t.”

Kruse himself, who has actually been pretty sympathetic to Joe Biden in the past, likens the President’s son’s alleged crimes to Trump’s coup attempt.

Now, perhaps Kruse allowed Johnson to make all these false claims uncontested simply to let him talk. It’s a useful interview. I shouldn’t gripe.

But adopting Hunter Biden as the counterpart of accountability for Trump is itself a false claim. It’s why I spend so much time calling out shoddy dick pic sniffing stenography.

The record shows that even if everything Republicans allege about Hunter Biden were true (and at this point, DOJ has let statutes of limitation on FARA crimes expire without charges, so it seems that in going-on-six-years of looking, DOJ never substantiated FARA crimes), his actions still wouldn’t come close to those of Paul Manafort, whom Trump pardoned with nary a whisper.

Perhaps a better response to Johnson’s complaints about Hunter Biden would be a question about Trump’s decision to pardon Manafort for doing far worse? How is that accountability? Manafort is the quintessential sleazy insider and he gets a pass.

Plus, the record shows that Trump’s crimes are not a mirror of Hunter’s; rather, Trump’s crimes cannot be dissociated from the charges against Hunter.

The record shows that Trump started pushing Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas to gin up an investigation into Hunter Biden no later than December 2018, at such time as Joseph Ziegler was struggling to come up with some excuse to turn non-payment of taxes into a criminal case.

The record according to Johnathan Buma shows that before DOJ opened a grand jury investigation into Hunter Biden, FBI agents on the investigation enthusiastically accepted dirt on Hunter Biden from two Ukrainians that Buma would acknowledge were part of an influence operation.

The record shows that four days after Joe Biden announced he was running for President, DOJ decided the grand jury investigation into Hunter Biden would be in Delaware, where Joe might one day become a target, rather than Washington DC or Los Angeles, where any tax crimes would have happened. Ziegler first claimed, then backed off a claim, that Bill Barr made this decision personally.

The record shows that the first IRS supervisor on this case documented what he viewed to be problems with the predication of it and ongoing political influence into it.

The record shows that Donald Trump extorted Volodymyr Zelenskyy in an attempt to get an investigation into Hunter  Biden and his father. In that same conversation, he asked Zelenskyy to work with both his personal attorney and with Bill Barr to gin up such an investigation.

The record according to Chuck Grassley shows that even while Trump was claiming to care about Burisma corruption, his DOJ shut down an investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky, one that had been opened while Joe Biden was Vice President and Hunter was on the board of Burisma. Grassley says DOJ shut that investigation down in December 2019.

The record shows that the day after DOJ obtained a warrant to access a laptop obtained from John Paul Mac Isaac, Barr’s chief of staff texted him to say, “laptop on way to you.”

The record shows that days later, Bill Barr set up a dedicated channel by which Rudy Giuliani could share dirt he had obtained, including from a known Russian spy and almost certainly from Burisma, such that it could be laundered into the investigation into Hunter Biden.

The record shows that that process resulted in DOJ obtaining an informant report describing a conversation with Zlochevsky. Remarkably, the FBI neglected to write down what date that conversation happened even though that’s how they validated that it did occur, but it almost certainly dates to the period when DOJ was shutting down an investigation into Zlochevsky. The informant report recorded a claim of bribery of Joe Biden that conflicted with claims Zlochevsky had made just months earlier, when DOJ was (per Chuck Grassley) still investigating him.

The record shows that FBI made Steve Bannon associate Peter Schweizer an informant so he could pitch Hunter Biden dirt leading up to the 2020 election.

The record shows that Trump bitched Bill Barr out about the Hunter Biden investigation shortly after the October 14, 2020 NYPost story on the hard drive from Hunter Biden. Days later, Richard Donoghue ordered the Hunter Biden investigators to accept a briefing about that bribery allegation.

The record shows that, shortly before David Weiss used the FD-1023 obtained during the course of Scott Brady’s effort to launder dirt into the Hunter Biden investigation to justify reneging on the plea deal he had agreed to, Bill Barr described being personally involved in the handling of it.

The record shows that, the day after Trump hosted Tony Bobulinski at a Presidential debate, Bobulinski told the FBI things that conflict with his own communications.

The record according to Cassidy Hutchinson shows that shortly after that Bobulinski interview with the FBI, he had a secret meeting with Mark Meadows at which Trump’s Chief of Staff handed Bobulinski something that might be an envelope.

The record shows that, in the same call where Trump threatened to replace Jeffrey Rosen if he didn’t start endorsing Trump’s claims of voter fraud, he also criticized the handling of the Hunter Biden case.

The record shows that Trump repeatedly, publicly, demanded criminal charges against Hunter Biden, including in the January 6 speech that set off an insurrection.

The record shows that when Trump first learned he’d be indicted, he raised pressure on the Hunter Biden investigation.

The record shows that on the day Hunter’s plea deal was released, Trump complained three times, twice suggesting Joe Biden was implicated in this plea deal.

“Wow! The corrupt Biden DOJ just cleared up hundreds of years of criminal liability by giving Hunter Biden a mere ‘traffic ticket.’ Our system is BROKEN!



The record shows that, among the other complaints and false claims Trump made about Hunter’s prosecution, one targeted David Weiss and demanded a death sentence.

Weiss is a COWARD, a smaller version of Bill Barr, who never had the courage to do what everyone knows should have been done. He gave out a traffic ticket instead of a death sentence. . . .

The record shows that when Trump attacks people on social media, they get threats, often so bad as to uproot their entire lives.

The record also shows that former President Trump’s words have real-world consequences. Many of those on the receiving end of his attacks pertaining to the 2020 election have been subjected to a torrent of threats and intimidation from his supporters. A day after Mr. Trump’s “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” post, someone called the district court and said: “Hey you stupid slave n[****]r[.] * * * If Trump doesn’t get elected in 2024, we are coming to kill you, so tread lightly b[***]h. * * * You will be targeted personally, publicly, your family, all of it.” Special Counsel Br. 5; see United States v. Shry, No. 4:23-cr-413, ECF 1 at 3 (Criminal Complaint) (S.D. Tex. Aug. 11, 2023). The Special Counsel also has advised that he has received threats, and that a prosecutor in the Special Counsel’s office whom Mr. Trump has singled out for criticism has been “subject to intimidating communications.” Special Counsel Mot. 12.

The record shows that investigators in the Hunter Biden case were, just like prosecutors on Trump’s own cases, threatened in response to manufactured political outrage. That includes David Weiss himself. Here’s how former AUSA Lesley Wolf described those threats.

My desire to serve my community and my country, such a great source of pride, has recently come at significant cost. As a private person, the once routine and mundane details of my life have become the subject of public interest in an invasive and disturbing manner. Far worse, I’ve been threatened and harassed, causing me to fear for my own and my family’s safety.

I mentioned earlier that I recently left the U.S. Attorney’s Office. My decision to do so long predated and was unconnected to the baseless allegations made against me. In fact, I agreed to stay with the office months longer than planned because of my belief that my family and I were safer while I remained an AUSA.

I have no doubt that after today the threats of harassment and my own fear stemming from them will heighten. This not only scares me, but as someone who loves this country, it also breaks my heart.

We are living in a day and age where politics and winning seem to be paramount, and the truth has become collateral damage.

In short, the record shows that Trump was always a part of the Hunter Biden investigation.

I think the record is pretty clear that Hunter Biden owned a gun for 11 days during the worst days of his addiction. The record is pretty clear that as he tried to rebuild his life, it took several years to straighten out his taxes — but less time than it took Roger Stone to straighten out his taxes, even while the rat-fucker was using a shell company to shield his funds from the IRS.

But the story of Hunter Biden’s alleged crimes — the things that Michael Kruse seems to think mirror Trump’s 91 felony charges — is a story that cannot be told (or should not, were journalism engaged in a responsible pursuit), without also telling the story of Trump’s extortion, Rudy’s consorting with Russian spies, Bill Barr’s hijacking of DOJ for partisan purpose, Bobulinski’s seemingly inconsistent story and whatever role the secret meeting with Meadows had in that story, and Trump eliciting dangerous threats against every participant in the legal system who does not bow to his will, including on this case.

I get that journalists believe that the story of Hunter Biden is a story of DOJ holding Biden’s family member accountable for what they gleefully report are real crimes.

But it is, no less than that, a story of Trump crimes, including, possibly, under two statutes that prohibit this kind of pressure explicitly, 26 USC 7217 and 26 USC 7212. The story of Hunter Biden’s prosecution is the story of Trump’s successful going-on-six-year effort to hijack rule of law to target Joe Biden, an effort that builds on years of similar conduct targeting Hillary Clinton.

I’m grateful that Kruse has depicted Johnson’s nonsensical beliefs in all their absurdity. It’s an absolutely critical step in underestanding how Trump taught Republicans to hate rule of law.

But another step is in unpacking how journalists have come to reflexively equate Hunter Biden with Donald Trump, how journalists have come to simply ignore the five years of corruption that Trump and his lawyers engaged in to get us here, how journalists are not remotely curious about details in the public record about this case.

The reflexive equation of Hunter Biden with the President who targeted him for over five years is an equation every bit as manufactured by Donald Trump as Ted Johnson’s pathetic belief that Trump brings accountability rather than the opposite.

James Comer’s War on Christmas: The Burial Ground of a Dick Pic Impeachment

Republicans have rolled out a shiny timeline in support of their impeachment stunt.

It is riddled with unsubstantiated and at times, false claims. As one example, it states as fact that a $40,000 loan repayment James Biden made in 2017 — when Joe Biden was a private citizen — was money laundered from China.

It juxtaposes a misleading (but potentially caveated) answer at the October, 22 2020 debate from Biden with Tony Bobulinski’s interview with the FBI the next day, but doesn’t mention that Trump hosted Bobulinski at that debate and then, according to Cassidy Hutchinson’s book, Mark Meadows handed him something at a covert meeting weeks later.

It doesn’t, however, mention Tony Bobulinski in its report about a meeting between Hunter and CEFC Chairman Ye Jianming on February 16, 2017 (the date of the meeting may not even be correct).

In the testimony Bobulinski gave to the FBI between attending the debate with Trump and having a covert meeting with Mark Meadows, he claimed to have attended that February 2017 meeting and seen Hunter receive a diamond.

BOBULINSKI first met in person with members of the BIDEN family at a 2017 meeting in Miami, Florida. BOBULINSKI, GILLIAR, WALKER, HUNTER BIDEN, and YE all attended the meeting. Also in attendance was Director JIAN ZANG (“ZANG”), a CEFC Director involved in forming new businesses and capitalizing them at the request of CEFC. At the meeting, BOBULINSKI witnessed a large diamond gemstone given as a gift to HUNTER BIDEN by YE.

Perhaps the silence about Bobulinski arises from the fact that Hunter Biden has claimed Bobulinski not only wasn’t at the meeting, but didn’t yet know of James Gilliar’s business ties to him. Rob Walker, who was at the meeting testified, twice, that he didn’t see a diamond pass hands at the meeting.

Walker has read about RHB receiving a diamond from people with CEFC, but he never saw the diamond.

And James Biden testified that an associate of Ye gave Hunter a diamond at his office (not the meeting) — but it ended up being worthless.

James B did recall RHB receiving a diamond from the Chinese but that they found out it was not valuable. RHB said that he received the diamond from an associate of the Chairman at his office [redacted] James B stated that the Chinese always gave something as a welcome gift. RHB was originally told that the diamond was worth $10,000, but James B took it to a friend of his and found out that it was worthless. James B is only aware of one diamond and was not aware of a larger diamond.

All this changes Biden’s statement at the debate significantly; Trump was working off a Bobulinski claim that isn’t backed by the available records.

And then weeks later (again, according to Hutchinson’s book), Trump’s Chief of Staff handed Bobulinski something that might be an envelope.

Much of the timeline focuses on Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky’s years-long effort to kill legal investigations into his corruption.

Unsurprisingly, the Republican timeline makes no mention of the investigation that — per Chuck Grassley — DOJ opened into the owner of Burisma in January 2016.

Likewise, James Comer forgot to mention that — again, per Chuck Grassley — Donald Trump’s DOJ shut down that investigation into Zlochevksy in December 2019, even while justifying his Perfect Phone Call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy with a claim to be concerned about corruption at Burisma.

Comer’s timeline definitely doesn’t mention that (per Chuck GrassleyBill Barr’s DOJ shut down an investigation into Zlochevsky when it discusses that Zlochevsky was offering bribes to shut down investigations.

Maybe in addition to impeaching Trump for whatever he handed Bobulinski to make claims about big diamonds he couldn’t see, James Comer should open an impeachment investigation into why Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down that Zlochevsky investigation — and whether there’s a tie between the closure of the investigation and Zlochevksy’s new claims about Biden?

Wow. James Comer’s case for impeaching Donald Trump just keeps getting stronger and stronger!

Admittedly, Comer does take a break from substantiating an impeachment case against Trump by providing scandalous details about Biden … inviting his son to a party.

A party!! Joe Biden invited his son to a Christmas party!?!?!

This is truly scandalous stuff, particularly when contrasted to Bill Barr’s noble efforts to shut down an investigation into Zlochevsky at the same time that Trump was claiming publicly to support an investigation into Zlochevksy and Zlochevksy was, apparently, offering billions to those who shut down such investigations.

A Christmas party!

How dare a good Catholic like Joe Biden invite his own family member — his son!! — to a party at his residence? Surely the 18 Republicans from districts Biden won will be happy to explain their vote to impeach because they’ve decided to declare War on Christmas?

This impeachment gets better every day.

There’s one more utterly ridiculous detail I’m rather obsessed about. In addition to proposing to impeach Joe Biden because he invited his kid to a party, James Comer thinks it’s scandalous that Vadym Pozharskyi sent Hunter notice that his father was traveling to Ukraine.

Wow. Scandal. Pozharskyi knew and shared details about when Biden was traveling to Ukraine.

But I’m interested for a different reason. You see, this claim is almost certainly sourced to the copy of the “laptop” that House Republicans won’t explain — at least not on the record — how they obtained. In addition to the email from 2016 that was resent on September 1, 2020 when the hard drive was in Rudy Giuliani’s possession, this email is one with which I’m obsessed.

Here’s how it appears at BidenLaptopEmails dot com.

The President of the US-Ukraine Business Council got the alert from the White House, he sent it to Burisma, and Pozharskyi sent it — at least by all appearances — to just Devon Archer and Hunter.

As I circled, whoever’s email box this appeared in recognized Pozharskyi’s email not as “Burisma,” but instead as “Burials.” The email also had an identity for Hunter associated; most other emails that he received don’t identify himself.

There’s just one other email in the public set like this — an important one.

It was a thread sent over one week — from November 11 ET through 18, 2015. On it, Pozharskyi, Eric Schwerin, Archer, and Hunter discuss bringing in Blue Star Strategies — they’re the ones who tried to fix Zlochevsky’s legal troubles, with some initial but ultimately short-lived success.

This effort, outsourced as it was, was undoubtedly one of the sleaziest things Hunter was involved in. But the GOP didn’t include this email in their timeline (probably because it makes clear that Hunter did a pretty good job of firewalling off the legal influence peddling).

Anyway, from this email, it appears that it is Schwerin’s email account that, for a few days only, recognized Burisma as “Burials.” Only, he’s not listed as being on the other one.

I really have only suspicions about what explains this anomaly. I care about it, for two reasons. First, because the anomaly, especially on one of about ten or so that really get into Burisma’s efforts to suck Hunter and Archer into this corruption, does raise questions about the provenance of the set of emails loaded up on a laptop attributed to Hunter Biden.

Also because, according to a spreadsheet Joseph Ziegler was generous enough to share with the world, this is among the not quite 10% of emails that the IRS used in its own influence peddling investigation that they sourced to the laptop when it should have been included in returns from warrants obtained from Google on both Hunter and Schwerin’s Rosemont Seneca emails.

There’s a lot in Comer’s timeline that makes a great case for impeachment — of Donald Trump.

There’s a lot in his timeline that shows he continues to rely on fraudsters to make his case.

There’s a lot that tries to criminalize … Christmas!

And then there’s this, an email probably obtained from the famous “laptop,” one that raises some real questions about what got packaged up on a laptop attributed to Hunter Biden.

What Matt Viser Won’t Tell You about Hunter Biden, His Dad, and Burisma

Phil Rucker has wasted yet more journalistic space and time in his obsessive pursuit of Hunter Biden dick pics.

Today, it comes in a 4,800-word piece from Matt Viser rehashing what we already knew about Hunter Biden trading on his father’s name — a piece that couldn’t manage to find space to include specific emails where Hunter told potential business partners he would not lobby for them, as he told Vuk Jeremic in 2016 when they were discussing gas deals in Mexico: “[A]s I have also said many times I won’t  engage in I [advocating] on your behalf with my father or anyone else in the USG.”

Viser, who seems to think he is clever, ends his piece with an exchange between Hunter and his business partner, Devon Archer. Archer complains that Joe Biden didn’t step in and make Archer’s legal troubles go away.

“Why did your dad’s administration appointees arrest me and try to put me in jail? Just curious,” Archer asked in a text message, in an exchange found on a copy of Hunter’s hard drive and verified by a person familiar with it. “Why would they try and ruin my family and destroy my kids and no one from your family’s side step in and at least try to help me. I don’t get it.”

Archer declined to comment on the exchange.

“Buddy are you serious,” Hunter responded, going on to explain the role of an independent Justice Department and the need for checks and balances.

“It’s democracy. Three co equal branches of government,” he wrote. “You are always more vulnerable to the overreach of one of those Co equal branches when you are in power.”

Viser apparently didn’t find space — not in 4,800 words — to mention what Chuck Grassley and Scott Brady just revealed: According to Grassley, in 2016, while Biden was Vice President and his kid was on the board of Burisma, DOJ opened a corruption investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky.

[I]n December 2019, the FBI Washington Field Office closed a “205B” Kleptocracy case, 205B-[redacted] Serial 7, into Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of Burisma, which was opened in January 2016 by a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act FBI squad based out of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Again, according to Grassley, this investigation was opened when Biden was VP and Hunter was on the board of Burisma. It was closed (according to Grassley) in December 2019, even as Trump defended himself against impeachment by claiming that it was important to investigate claims of corruption related to Burisma.

Opened in January 2016. Closed in December 2019. Is that clear enough for you to understand, Matt?

And just weeks later, starting on January 3, 2020, Bill Barr set up a means to insert information Rudy Giuliani obtained — according to Lev Parnas, including from Zlochevsky — into the Hunter Biden investigation. The FD-1023 at the core of Republican efforts to gin up impeachment, one that records a claim Zlochevsky appears to have made in late 2019 that conflicts with what Zlochevsky said in spring 2019, has its roots in the corruption investigation into Zlochevsky opened during the Obama Administration and closed as Trump publicly staked his presidency on a claim to care about Burisma corruption.

The investigation into Zlochevsky got closed (again, per Grassley). And Zlochevsky made a claim that conflicted with his past claims about Hunter Biden. Both happened in roughly the same period.

I’m not sure how Viser didn’t consider that worthy of inclusion in his little story. Nothing demonstrates the irony he seemed to be chasing so much as that the investigation opened while Joe Biden was Vice President is now being weaponized by people like Viser while Biden is President.

Perhaps Viser and Rucker didn’t think that new news was worth sharing, because doing so would make it clear that the entire campaign against Hunter Biden — Viser’s little journalistic hobby that Rucker pays him for — has its roots in the fact that the Obama Administration didn’t protect even Joe Biden’s kid. Sharing that news would require thinking about how the WaPo’s Hunter Biden obsession routinely exhibits the kind of corruption they claim to be exposing.

And so you won’t find that in Viser’s 4,800-word story.

Update: Two more comments about what a corrupt person Viser is.

First, this story seems to be based on Devon Archer’s bid to provide testimony again, which his attorney offers to do in the story. It comes as DOJ just obtained an extension to brief his appeal before SCOTUS. As such, it could be read as an implicit threat from Archer that if President Biden doesn’t keep him out of jail, he will become a bigger political problem then he already is.

Second, as Viser has done in the past, he ignores statements from Abbe Lowell — such as that Tony Bobulinski lied to FBI — relevant to his recycling of certain of these emails (in this case, 10% for Big Guy).

Donald Trump’s DOJ Shut Down a Burisma Corruption Investigation Opened while Joe Biden Was VP

Right in the middle of an impeachment for extorting Volodymyr Zelenskyy to dig up dirt on the Bidens and Burisma, Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down a corruption investigation into Burisma’s Mykola Zlochevsky.

Then, days later, Barr set up a process that would insert an allegation that Zlochevsky bribed Joe Biden into the ongoing investigation of Hunter Biden.

That is — by far — the most scandalous allegation that has come out of the Jamie Comer and Jim Jordan-led effort to gin up an impeachment of Joe Biden. Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down an investigation into Zlochevsky’s corruption, and then mainlined an allegation of corruption involving Zlochevsky into the investigation of Joe Biden’s son.

To be fair, the claim that Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down a corruption investigation of Zlochevsky didn’t come from Comer or Jordan. It came from Chuck Grassley.

In a letter Grassley sent Merrick Garland on October 23, he described what he knew about the genesis of an FD-1023 he and Comer released during the summer. He described that the 2017 informant report that included a mention of Hunter Biden and led Scott Brady to reinterview that informant in June 2020 came from a Kleptocracy investigation — a bribery investigation — into Mykola Zlochevsky which “was opened in January 2016 by a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act FBI squad based out of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.”

While Joe Biden was Vice President and his son was on the board of Burisma, according to Chuck Grassley, DOJ opened a corruption investigation into Burisma’s owner.

That corruption investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky was shut down — again, per Chuck Grassley — around five months after Donald Trump tried to extort the President of Ukraine for dirt on the Bidens and Burisma and just two months after Rudy Giuliani planned to fly to Vienna to get dirt on Hunter Biden from Dmitry Firtash and a Burisma executive. Grassley described that it was shut down in the very same month, December 2019, the House voted to impeach Donald Trump for soliciting dirt on the Bidens and Burisma, the same month that IRS and FBI obtained a laptop purported to be owned by Hunter Biden — followed, a day later, by Barr’s aides telling him they were sending him a laptop.

“[I]n December 2019, the FBI Washington Field Office closed a “205B” Kleptocracy case, 205B[redacted] Serial 7, into Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of Burisma,” Chuck Grassley revealed.

Weeks or days after that investigation was (again, per Grassley) shut down, on January 3, 2020, Bill Barr set up a process by which dirt on Hunter Biden — in part, dirt that Rudy Giuliani obtained from a known Russian agent, Andrii Derkach, and possibly even dirt that Rudy obtained directly from Burisma, dirt that was once pitched to include a laptop from Hunter Biden — could be shared with the ongoing investigation of Hunter  Biden.

On January 3, 2020, Seth DuCharme “discreetly” tasked the US Attorney for Pittsburgh, Scott Brady, to accept the information from Rudy. But Brady did more than that. He did a search on Hunter Biden and Burisma — or maybe it was Zlochevsky and Burisma, he claimed not to remember in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee — which led his team to discover the 2017 informant report. That’s the process that led to the re-interview of an informant used in 2017 in that Zlochevsky investigation, which led to the report that in 2019 that Zlochevsky claimed to have made payments to Joe Biden that were so well hidden it would take ten years to find. Unbelievably, FBI failed to write down the date when Zlochevsky made that claim, even though Scott Brady testified his team learned the precise details surrounding the informant’s travel to London where he had the conversation; it had to have happened relatively late in 2019, probably during the impeachment investigation.

As Lev Parnas and anyone else who knows these details remotely well will tell you, that claim from Zlochevsky was a new claim. When Rudy sent questions to Zlochevsky during the spring of that year, Zlochevsky said that Hunter Biden had never lobbied for Burisma.

At a meeting of the BLT Team, Giuliani and Solomon came up with a series of 12-14 questions about the Bidens that we would propose to Zlochevsky. Eventually, we managed to get Zlochevsky’s answers back. But his answers gave us nothing – because there was nothing. On reading Zlochevsky’s reply, Giuliani turned red and yelled, “What is this shit? This is bullshit. Make sure nobody sees this. Bury this.”

I will remind you that Zlochevsky’s answers are in the report that the House Oversight Committee published. In this document, he stated that Hunter Biden was never asked or assigned to speak with anybody in the U.S. on behalf of Burisma, that there were no political or lobbying efforts on behalf of Burisma, that nobody from the company had ever spoken to Joe Biden, and that Hunter Biden was essentially innocent of what people had been implying. His letter debunked all the conspiracy theories.

The truth is Burisma tried to compromise Joe Biden, with Vadym Pozharskyi making much, for example, of a 2015 World Food Program dinner to which Biden dropped in to meet someone else. And a lobbying campaign by Blue Star Strategies set up through Devon Archer and run by Eric Schwerin did push Ukraine to halt its investigation into Zlochevsky. It did set up two meetings for Zlochevsky’s attorney in the United States. Here’s how BSS described that effort in a filing submitted retroactively in 2022.

Registrant was asked in 2016 to help schedule meetings with U.S. Government officials so counsel for Mr. Zlochevsky could present an explanation of certain adverse proceedings in the U.K. and Ukraine involving Mr. Zlochevsky. Registrant scheduled 2 meetings, and a representative of registrant accompanied counsel for Mr. Zlochevsky to the meetings. Registrant did not have a written agreement or letter creating any engagement on behalf of Mr. Zlochevsky, and no compensation for Blue Star Strategies’ assistance was provided by Mr. Zlochevsky.

In an October 2016 email not involving Hunter Biden (who had a role in setting up the relationship with BSS, but not once they were brought in), BSS noted — and took credit for — Ukraine halting the investigation into Zlochevsky.

According to Chuck Grassley, by that point, DOJ under Obama had opened its own investigation into Zlochevsky.

In spring 2019, Zlochevsky said he had no dirt on Joe Biden but — again according to Lev Parnas — he said he could get dirt, possibly in the form of a laptop, if Rudy could do something to “curry favor” at DOJ. And then, in the same month that DOJ obtained a Hunter Biden laptop, DOJ shut down the investigation into Zlochevsky. And around the same time, Zlochevsky randomly offered up to an FBI informant, for the first time, that he had bribed Joe Biden.

Here’s the thing that Chuck Grassley doesn’t understand. It makes no sense to shut down a corruption investigation into the head of Burisma, then interview an informant about what he knows of corruption allegations involving the head of Burisma. (Remember, at the time, the US Attorney for EDNY served as a gatekeeper for any investigations pertaining to Ukrainian corruption, so to reopen that investigation, DC would have had to get EDNY’s approval.) If you care about corruption allegations, you pursue both sides of that, the guy alleged to be making the bribe along with the guy whose bank accounts and public actions show no sign of accepting one.

Unless the guy alleged to be making the bribe only made the allegation after being bribed to do so.

This claim is not coming from Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell. It’s not Jamie Raskin claiming that Barr shut down a bribery investigation into Burisma. It’s Chuck Grassley making the claim.

Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down a bribery investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky in December 2019. And then days later, on January 3, 2020, he set up a way to get a claim that Mykola Zlochevsky had bribed Joe Biden injected into the investigation of Hunter Biden.

Chuck Grassley and James Comer Brag that 40 Informants Couldn’t Substantiate a Crime against Biden

Philip Bump notes that James Comer is now fundraising not just off his own conspiracy theories, but also Chuck Grassley’s.

Comer presents himself as a warrior for the truth, standing up to the media and the left-wing hordes, etc. Then the money ask appears.

Now, I track Comer and the Oversight Committee’s work more closely than most, so what struck me wasn’t that the chairman was trying to fundraise off what he was doing (he’s done that more than once in the past) but that he was trying to fundraise off this. After all, the allegation about the informants wasn’t something that came from his and his party’s efforts. The pitch couches that a bit, asserting in boldface text that “[i]t has come to light” that these informants purportedly existed. But there’s no news release about it from the normally news-release-enthusiastic House majority and no mention of it on Comer’s X/Twitter feed. The account for the Oversight Committee did mention it once, pointing back to the source of the claim: Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).


That Comer is raising money off Grassley’s claim — raising money by exaggerating the claim to assert that there were 40 informants for 50 years — is the point. This wasn’t his work; it was simply an allegation that those who would respond to an “I’m fighting Biden for you” appeal would find compelling. I once referred to Comer’s efforts as a fishing expedition, but he’s not simply throwing out bait to see what he gets, he’s throwing out as much bait as he can to vacuum up as many fish as there are in the sea.

Actually, Comer is fundraising off Fox’s breathless regurgitation of Chuck Grassley’s conspiracy theories, which appeared in a letter to Chris Wray and Merrick Garland.

I find Bump’s observation notable for several additional reasons, beyond what Bump lays out.

First, it comes as Jamie Raskin’s whack-a-mole efforts to track Comer’s lies have gotten punchy. Monday, Raskin released a new 9-page letter listing the top lies Comer told after sniffing too many dick pics, to which the Maryland Congressperson appended the previous 12 letters Raskin sent debunking Comer’s bullshit.

  • Falsely claimed that witness interviews actually conducted by Committee staff never happened;27
  • Referred to a fugitive from justice charged with multiple felonies as a “very credible witness;”28
  • Suggested you were present at a transcribed interview that you did not attend;29
  • Repeatedly mischaracterized the statements of witnesses in interviews while refusing to publicly release interview transcripts; 30
  • Claimed that the National Archives and Records Administration failed to turn over records to the Committee when they were actively cooperating;31
  • Wrongly claimed that a transcribed interview suggested the President was involved in his family’s business dealings; 32
  • Incorrectly asserted that suspicious activity reports, which you routinely mischaracterize as “bank violations,” implicate President Biden in wrongdoing; 33
  • Dishonestly suggested that the President had the prosecutor of Ukraine fired as part of a bribery scheme;34
  • Falsely accused the Biden-Harris Administration of obstructing the Committee’s investigation and interfering in U.S. Attorney Weiss’s investigation;35 and
  • Falsely denied the existence of bank records in the Committee’s possession.36

See below for Raskin’s footnotes to just these 10 bullet points.

One reason the far right might stoke the conspiracy fires via Chuck Grassley rather than Comer is because Comer’s claims never last more than 20 minutes before Raskin or Dan Goldman expose them as nonsense. Grassley can make wildly unsubstantiated and often recycled and debunked claims and no one in the Senate will mock him for it.

But his claims are, if possible, even more ridiculous than Comer’s.

Take the headline claim — the one Comer is fund-raising off of: Chuck Grassley claims that the FBI sicced forty informants on Joe Biden, his brother, and his son.

As just one initial example, I’ve been made aware that at one point in time the FBI maintained over 40 Confidential Human Sources that provided criminal information relating to Joe Biden, James Biden, and Hunter Biden. An essential question that must be answered is this: did the FBI investigate the information or shut it down? Indeed, if those sources were improperly shut down, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for the FBI, as this letter will address.

Four-zero. Forty.

When just three informants interacted with Trump’s Coffee Boy as part of the Russian investigation, Republicans squealed about it for years. They claimed it was a gross weaponization of the FBI, not against Trump’s Coffee Boy (who told one of the informants, “I have to be an idiot not to monetize” access to Trump and “if [Trump] loses probably could be better for my personal business”), but Trump himself. But Chuck Grassley rolls out the claim that the FBI used forty informants against Biden and his immediate family, some known examples of which would have come during the period when Biden was the expected or declared candidate against Trump, and somehow he doesn’t see flashing sirens of abuse at the FBI?


Nope. Instead, he’s sure that the FBI must have ignored those forty informants because they haven’t yet substantiated any crime against Biden and his family.

Grassley makes a similar move when he raises the FD-1023 he recklessly released this summer, which showed that Mykola Zlochevsky said something different in late 2019, probably during impeachment, than he had said earlier in the year. Grassley points to what he claims as confirmation from Bill Barr, Chris Wray, and Paul Abbate that there’s an ongoing investigation into the allegation as proof that it must have validity (in reality, Wray and Abbate appear to have been trying to protect the viability of this and all other informants, which Grassley instead decided he should burn to the ground).

The report, including information on the Biden family 1023, was ultimately transmitted to U.S. Attorney Weiss who, according to Attorney General Garland, had every investigative tool at his disposal even before being designated as a special counsel. 14

Since making the Biden family 1023 public on July 25, 2023, it’s been made clear by former Attorney General Barr, Director Wray, and Deputy Director Abbate that the 1023 is part of an ongoing investigative matter, indicating its investigative credibility and authenticity. 15 As such, it’s essential that we examine the alleged attempts by FBI personnel to sweep it under the rug, as well as what steps U.S. Attorney Weiss has taken to use the document for his ongoing investigation.

The one person who said there was an ongoing investigation pertaining to the FD-1023 was David Weiss, in a letter to Lindsey Graham. The fact that the guy in charge of the Hunter Biden investigation said this is a pretty good indication it hasn’t been swept under the rug.

As to the rest of Chuck Grassley’s claims, they have been almost entirely debunked by the House investigation.

For example, Grassley cites to his own letter about Joseph Ziegler and Gary Shapley’s testimony to support a claim that Lesley Wolf “prevented investigators from seeking information” about Biden’s involvement in what he claims were Hunter Biden’s “criminal arrangements.”

Also on October 23, 2020, Justice Department and FBI Special Agents from the Pittsburgh Field Office briefed Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf, one of U.S. Attorney Weiss’s top prosecutors, and FBI Special Agents from the Baltimore Field Office with respect to the contents of the Biden family 1023. However, the meeting did not include any IRS agents, and AUSA Wolf prevented investigators from seeking information about Joe Biden ‘s involvement in Hunter Biden’s criminal arrangements. 18

What the evidence actually shows, however, is that agents blew off Wolf’s restrictions on references to the then-President-elect, and asked those questions anyway. In response, Hunter’s former partner, Rob Walker, told investigative agents that Joe was never involved in Hunter’s business. “I certainly never was thinking at any time the VP was a part of anything we were doing.”

But even that was a cherry-pick. After Shapley revealed that claim, Ziegler released the full Walker transcript (compare the excerpt from Shapley’s deposition with the full transcript released in September). The excerpt Shapley released at first left out critical details, details that impact Grassley’s complaints that Tony Bobulinski hasn’t been treated as a star witness.

The full Rob Walker interview makes it clear there was a whole lot of bad blood between Hunter Biden and Bobulinski that should raise questions about Bobulinski’s biases. At least per Walker — at the time (in 2017), Hunter believed that Bobulinski was too close to some Russians, which Walker explained that he treated as credible because the first time Walker met Bobulinski, Bobulinski was with someone claimed to be Viktor Vekselberg’s son.

Walker: …but ah.., um.., I.., I think that he was “blown off” because um.., ah.., Tony’s a.., an asshole…,

Wilson: (Laughs).

Walker: …um, but um.., you know, I think Hunter ah.., at one point, was ah.., um.., a little “bent out of shape” with Tony and ah..,

Wilson: Hmph hmph.

Walker: …granted he wasn’t in his.., his right mind but ah.., he thought that ah…, um.., Tony had some weird ah.., business background stuff…

Wilson: Okay.

Walker: …and Hunter did tell me that he had Tony, ah, checked out at one time…,


Walker: …and he ah.., he thought that ah.., Tony was ah.., close or too close to ah.., ah.., some Russians.


Walker: The first time, which it didn’t seem so unbelievable to me because the.., the.., the first time that I met Tony, um, I was in ah.., Las Vegas.  Ah, James came over, um, and ah.., I had a friend from here come up with me and ah.., some people from Los Angeles came over that were friends of James.  One was Tony and Tony was with ah, a kid named Alex and ah.., Tony didn’t tell me this but Alex was Russian and they thought it was ah.., or I was told it was ah.., Viktor…

Soline: Hmph hmph.

Walker: …Vexelberg’s (phonetic) son who was ah.., who Viktor is.., at the time he wasn’t on the sanctions list I’m sure.., but I think he’s been sanctioned now…


Walker: …Tony’s background was that he.., ah.., you know.., had been pushing deals in the past in New York.., in and around New York.., and um.., ah.., with ah.., ah.., Russians and ah.., Russian money.

At the time Walker shared these details in December 2020, he was absolutely livid about Bobulinski’s public claims after the release of the “laptop,” so Walker’s comments shouldn’t be credited all that heavily either. But Walker temporally placed both Hunter’s suspicions about Bobulinski and the even earlier incident in Vegas years before Bobulinski’s Fox News media tour. Walker wasn’t insinuating that Bobulinski had ties to Russia because he was involved with the laptop caper; he was describing what he and Hunter believed three years before the laptop caper.

That’s important background to Grassley’s similarly unsubstantiated claim that Bobulinski’s testimony — at which he was represented by White House Counsel Stefan Passantino — matched something in Gary Shapley’s testimony.

On October 23, 2020, Tony Bobulinski met with and was interviewed by James Dawson, a Washington Field Office Special Agent in Charge, Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge Giulio Arseni, Special Agent William Novak, and Special Agent Garrett Churchill. 16 Bobulinski provided first-hand knowledge as an eye and ear witness to Joe Biden’s involvement in potentially criminal schemes with Hunter Biden. Notably, on October 13, 2022, I wrote a letter to the both of you and U.S. Attorney Weiss with respect to a summary of Bobulinski’s FBI interview that my staff reviewed which included, in part, reference to the Biden’s receiving an unsecured $5 million loan, intended to be forgivable, from CEFC in 2017 that would serve as payment for actions Joe Biden took during his vice presidency. This financial strategy to illegally treat income as a loan is consistent with IRS whistleblower testimony that indicated Hunter Biden attempted the same with respect to other income, including payments received from Burisma. 17

It’s true that Shapley made this allegation over and over (it’s also true that Hunter did rely on loans as he grew more and more broke overcome by his addiction). But Ziegler’s testimony and David Weiss’ own explanation for not charging the earlier Burisma years revealed that the circumstances of the Burisma payments were not as clearcut as Shapley claimed.

[N]ow that the U.S. Attorney looked at the case, they don’t want to move forward with it.

And essentially what he told me is that not only are they not going to join the case and give us assistance — so give us another AUSA, give us someone to help there — they also told our prosecutors that they don’t think we have — that we can — or they don’t think that we have the charges — or not the ability, but the evidence for the charges to charge in D.C.

Then there are the other Grassley complaints that had already been debunked by Tim Thibault’s and other House witnesses’ testimony.

Grassley complains that “an avenue of derogatory Hunter Biden reporting” was ordered closed by Tim Thibault.

In that same letter, I noted that in October 2020, an avenue of derogatory Hunter Biden reporting was ordered closed at the direction of Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tim Thibault. My office has been made aware that FBI agents responsible for the information that was shut down were interviewed by the FBI HQ team in furtherance of Auten’s assessment.

Grassley doesn’t admit what Peter Schweizer has admitted: that he was the “avenue of derogatory … reporting” in question: Steve Bannon’s sidekick and propagandist (and so two degrees from two influence operations the FBI investigated, that of Andrii Derkach and that suspected of Guo Wengwui).

Schweizer is one of the 40 informants Grassley boasted about and the reason why he claims that the other 39 informants may have been shut down too.

Grassley seems to have botched the details about his handlers being interviewed by the Foreign Influence Task Force: Thibault tried to get them into the briefing, but FBI refused — in part because the daughter of one was posting related content on Daily Caller).

As Thibault testified, there were two reasons why he shut down Schweizer (based on whose book, Clinton Cash, Thibault had opened an investigation into Hillary in 2016). The first was that the Baltimore FBI team didn’t want Schweizer’s reporting, some of which was sourced to the laptop, because they already had the laptop and follow-on warrants and Schweizer’s involvement would only provide something Hunter’s attorneys might one day use to undermine the credibility of the inevstigation.

Here’s how Grassley twists what must be that discussion.

On October 5, 2020, Supervisory Special Agent Eric Miller and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Thibault participated in a call with the Washington Field Office; Baltimore Field Office; Wilmington, Delaware FBI agents; and FBI management personnel. That call allegedly included Assistant Special Agent in Charge Alfred Watson, Supervisory Special Agent Joe Gordon, Special Agent Susan Roepcke and Special Agent Joshua Wilson. Notably, FBI agents from the Baltimore Field Office were attached to U.S. Attorney Weiss’s investigation. My office has been informed that on that call it was confirmed the Delaware case currently run by U.S. Attorney Weiss was opened as a money laundering and Foreign Agents Registration Act case, not a bribery case as the Biden family 1023 would appear to require, and that it was jointly worked with the IRS. On that call, it was made clear that Delaware FBI agents were in possession of email evidence that contradicted denials made by Joe Biden that he was never aware of or involved in Hunter Biden’s business arrangements.

When Grassley said that the Delaware team was in possession of email evidence that, “contradicted Biden’s denials,” he meant they had the laptop and probably the iCloud warrant returns. There, too, he appears to be parroting Shapley’s claims about the laptop, which spun Hunter claiming to involve his father in business calls as proof that Joe was involved.

The other reason Thibault shut down Schweizer is because of what he learned in a Foreign Intelligence Task Force briefing that provided more context about things. Grassley claims that what persuaded Thibault was a Brian Auten assessment about disinformation that “improperly” discredited claims about Hunter Biden as disinformation.

On July 25, 2022, I wrote to the both of you.5 In that letter, I described whistleblower allegations that the FBI developed information in 2020 about Hunter Biden ‘s criminal financial and related activity but ultimately shut it down based on false assertions that it was subject to foreign disinformation. It’s been alleged that the basis for shutting the investigative activity down was an August 2020 assessment created by FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten. That assessment was used by an FBI HQ team to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation and caused investigative activity to cease.

Yet Laura Dehmlow testified to the House that the claim that, “there was an assessment on Hunter Biden disinformation,” was inaccurate and agreed that, “the allegations … with respect to Mr. Auten are just wrong.”

Grassley ends with a claim that his story is based on “multiple credible whistleblowers” and a wail about political infection.

Based on the information provided to my office over a period of years by multiple credible whistleblowers, there appears to be an effort within the Justice Department and FBI to shut down investigative activity relating to the Biden family. Such decisions point to significant political bias infecting the decision-making of not only the Attorney General and FBI Director, but also line agents and prosecutors. Our Republic cannot survive such a political infection and you have an obligation to this country to clear the air.

But we know these whistleblowers aren’t credible. Several of them are undoubtedly agents disgruntled because Thibault shut down a propagandist as a source. One likely disgruntled agent — the aforementioned father whose daughter was reporting related content on Daily Caller — went to work for Heritage Foundation after he quit the FBI rather than be reassigned from a position where he could politicize public corruption investigations. Another chased the ItalyGate conspiracy theory long after Richard Donaghue debunked it. Ziegler and Shapley’s claims have been debunked by every witness who testified and a great many of the documents they themselves shared.

And that’s just the whistleblowers. Consider what we know about those forty informants. They definitely or may include (as Raskin partly addressed):

  • Gal Luft, whose March 2020 claims came amid interviews where he also allegedly lied to the FBI
  • The aforementioned June 2020 FD-1023 reporting a late 2019 statement from Zlochevsky that conflicted with things Zlochevsky had said earlier in 2019
  • Steve Bannon flunky Peter Schweizer’s election 2020 season pitches
  • Probably at least three Ukrainian sources that were part of Rudy’s campaign efforts
  • People tied to Dmitry Firtash and Andrii Derkach

There may be localized people with their own political gripes, too; for example, in addition to metadata that could have been manufactured by anyone in possession of a “Hunter Biden” “laptop,” one reason the FBI treated John Paul Mac Isaac’s claims seriously was “intelligence” that said Hunter was in Delaware at the time.

The point being, even if the notion that the FBI used forty — 40!!!! — informants to investigate Donald Trump’s rival doesn’t set off alarm bells, the quality and the biases of the known informants should.

The House investigation has made it clear that Grassley’s credible whistleblowers aren’t credible whistleblowers. As DC US Attorney Matthew Graves charitably described it, Grassley’s sources delivered, “the garble that can happen when you layer hearsay on top of hearsay on top of hearsay. And when you look at a lot of this, it’s someone said that someone said that someone said.” The House investigation also made clear that at least some of Grassley’s forty informants aren’t credible sources, either.

And that may be why Republicans are recycling these debunked claims over in the Senate, where they’ll continue to churn up Fox viewers, but where they’ll avoid the scrutiny that has already debunked the claims in the House.

27 Letter from Ranking Member Jamie Raskin, Committee on Oversight and Accountability, to Chairman James Comer, Committee on Oversight and Accountability (Sept. 19, 2023) (online at 19.JBR%20to%20Comer%20re%20Schwerin%20Interview.pdf); see also House Republicans Downplay Meeting with Key Biden Aide, HuffPost (Sept. 19, 2023) (online at www

28 Letter from Ranking Member Jamie Raskin and Rep. Dan Goldman, Committee on Oversight and Accountability, to Chairman James Comer, Committee on Oversight and Accountability (July 11, 2023) (online at 11.JBR%20Goldman%20to%20Comer%20re%20Luft.pdf); Rep. James Comer (@RepJamesComer), X (July 7, 2023) (online at

29 Rep. Dan Goldman (@RepDanGoldman), X (Aug. 7, 2023) (online at

30 Memorandum from Democratic Staff to Democratic Members, Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Transcribed Interview of Former FBI Supervisory Special Agent (Aug. 16, 2023) (online at 16.Democratic%20Member%20Memorandum%20re%20FBI%20SSA%20Transcript.pdf); Transcript of Devon Archer Testimony Doesn’t Back Key Claims About Joe and Hunter Biden, PolitiFact (Aug. 4, 2023) (online at; Devon Archer Said the Opposite of What Republicans Claimed, Washington Post (Aug. 3, 2023) (online at; Memorandum from Democratic Staff to Democratic Members, Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Oversight Committee Investigation into Presidential and Classified Records and Transcribed Interview of Former Executive Assistant to then-Vice President Biden (May 3, 2023) (online at %20FINAL.pdf).

31 Rep. Comer to Newsmax: Impeachment Inquiry Vote Possible Mid-Sept., NewsMax (Sept. 7, 2023) (online at www; Committee on Oversight and Accountability Democrats (@OversightDems ), X (Sept. 8, 2023) (online at

32 Transcript of Devon Archer Testimony Doesn’t Back Key Claims About Joe and Hunter Biden, PolitiFact (Aug. 4, 2023) (online at; Devon Archer Said the Opposite of What Republicans Claimed, Washington Post (Aug. 3, 2023) (online at; Memorandum from Democratic Staff to Democratic Members, Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Transcribed Interview of Devon Archer (Aug. 3, 2023) (online at 03.Democratic%20Member%20Memorandum%20re%20Archer%20Transcribed%20Interview%20Final.pdf).

33 The Faulkner Focus, Fox News (Apr. 21, 2023) (online at; Chairman James Comer (@RepJamesComer), X (Apr. 16, 2023) (online at; Memorandum from Democratic Staff to Democratic Members, Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Chairman Comer’s Misuse and Distortion of Confidential Bank Information (May 10, 2023) (online at mbers%20re%20Misuse%20and%20Distortion%20of%20Confidential%20Bank%20Information%20FINAL.pdf); Comer Releases Biden Family Probe Update Without Showing Link to President, Politico (May 10, 2023) (online at

34 Fox and Friends, Fox News (Mar. 31, 2023) (online at https://video.snapstream net/Play/8cJmJQ9KSgTuI2622JTEza?accessToken=cr1lk3ctb7qf0); Jesse Watters Primetime, Fox News (July 3, 2023) (online at www; My Fellow Republicans: One Disgraceful Impeachment Doesn’t Deserve Another, Washington Post (Sept. 15, 2023) (online at; Debunking 4 Viral Rumors About the Bidens and Ukraine, New York Times (Oct. 29, 2019) (online at; Memorandum from Democratic Staff to Democratic Members, Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Chairman Comer and Senator Grassley’s Decision to Publicly Release FBI Form FD-1023 (July 24, 2023) (online at 24.Dem%20Memo%20re%20Comer%20Grassley%20Letter%20FD-1023_.pdf).

35 Sunday Morning Futures, Fox News (Aug. 20, 2023) (online at; Kudlow, Fox Business (June 29, 2023) (online at; The Daily, New York Times (Sept. 15, 2023) (online at html?showTranscript=1); McCarthy Launches Biden Impeachment Inquiry—With Zero Evidence, New Republic (Sept. 12, 2023) (online at; Memorandum from Democratic Staff to Democratic Members, Committee on the Judiciary and Committee on Oversight and Accountability, IRS and FBI Witnesses Debunk Republicans’ False Claims About Political Interference in Special Counsel Weiss’s Investigation (Sept. 27, 2023) (online at 27%20Joint%20Democratic%20Memorandum%20re%20IRS%20and%20FBI%20Witnesses%20Debunk%20Politic al%20Interference%20Claims.pdf).

36 Mornings with Maria, Fox Business (Oct. 25, 2023) (online at; Letter from Ranking Member Jamie Raskin, Committee on Oversight and Accountability, to Chairman James Comer, Committee on Oversight and Accountability (Oct. 26, 2023) (online at er%20re.%20Subpoenas.pdf); GOP Touts Bombshell Biden Payments—But Records Suggest Otherwise, Messenger (Oct. 26, 2023) (online at; Another GOP “Bombshell” About Joe Biden Turns Out to Be a Dud, HuffPost (Oct. 23, 2023) (online at www

Gary Shapley’s Handlers Revisit Past Leak Investigations into Chuck Grassley’s Staff

According to a press release on the website for Empower Oversight–the group handling Gary Shapley’s now-debunked media tour–Empower’s founder, Jason Foster, was the subject of an FBI subpoena to Google in 2017.

Google first alerted Foster to the September 12, 2017 subpoena on October 19, 2023. That’s one of the reasons I find this FOIA so interesting. The notice came more than six years after the subpoena, suggesting FBI likely continued to investigate someone tied to the investigation for at least a year longer than statutes of limitation would normally extend.

Empower seems to suggest there’s a tie between the subpoena and one served on Google pertaining to Kash Patel’s personal email two months later, on November 20, 2017, as does Margot “Federalist Faceplant” Cleveland in this propaganda piece reporting on the subpoenas. While Empower says that this subpoena asked for information on other staffers, it only cites Kash to substantiate its claim that other staffers had also gotten notice of a past subpoena (Cleveland does report that a HPSCI staffer was also included).

Empower Oversight has information indicating that the other accounts listed in the subpoena belonged to other staffers, both Republicans and Democrats, for U.S. House and Senate committees also engaged in oversight investigations of the Justice Department at the time pursuant to their authorities under the U.S. Constitution.


Other former staffers have publicly referenced receiving similar notices, including former U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (“HPSCI”) staffer Kashyap Patel.

They’re from the same grand jury (16-3). But they not only have different file numbers, but the one on Kash’s subpoena — that is, the later subpoena, by two months — has a lower file number, 2017R01887, as compared to 2017R01896.

Kash is suing roughly the same people over his subpoena as Empower is FOIAing: Empower is asking about former DC US Attorney Jessie Liu, Rod Rosenstein, his one-time Principal Associate Robert Hur (currently the Special Counsel investigating Joe Biden’s classified documents), and Ed O’Callaghan, who replaced Hur, along with then DOJ Spox Sarah Isgur. Kash is suing Liu, Rosenstein, Hur, and O’Callahan, plus FBI Director Chris Wray and the two AUSAs behind the subpoena.

There are problems with both of their target sets. For example, Liu wasn’t even sworn in as US Attorney until September 25, 2017 — after the Foster subpoena (though before the Kash one). So Empower’s suggestion that Liu had some influence on the subpoena on him is nonsense. Rosenstein wasn’t sworn in until April 26, 2017, almost five months after the request for conversations with the press starts.

Similarly, Ed O’Callaghan, whom Kash describes as, “the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General for Mr. Rosenstein at the time in question,” didn’t move from the National Security Division to Rosenstein’s office until April 2018, after Hur was confirmed as US Attorney for Maryland and long after both the subpoena implicating Kash and his blow-up with Rosenstein. Though if these were really sensitive leak investigations, NSD may have had a role in them. (Empower includes NSD within its FOIA.)

Those details don’t seem to matter for their projects: both men appear to be using the subpoenas as an excuse to settle scores.

Kash, ever the conspiracy theorist, brought a Bivens claim insinuating that Rosenstein and others violated Kash’s Fourth Amendment rights because DOJ served a subpoena — something not requiring probable cause under the Fourth Amendment — to obtain the subscriber information for a list of around 14 identifiers, of which his personal email was just one. There’s nothing on the face of the subpoena to suggest that DOJ knew his email was tied to someone who was a Congressional staffer at the time of the subpoena (though again, Federalist Faceplant seems to know at least one other person listed was a staffer). In fact, the subpoena asked for contact information going back to April 2016, a year before Kash moved from DOJ to HPSCI, so it could have pertained to a leak internal to DOJ.

Nevertheless, Kash spins a tale where the November 2017 subpoena is in some way connected with what he claims is Rosenstein’s threat, over a month later, to subpoena HPSCI staffers.

5. The illegitimate grounds for the subpoena were made clear when, shortly after the FBI and DOJ previewed what would become the “Nunes Memo,” which outlined significant issues with FBI’s and the DOJ’s manner of opening and conducting the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (“DAG Rosenstein”) threatened to subpoena the records of the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee staff, including Mr. Patel, during a closed-door meeting about producing documents requested by the Committee for their investigation into DOJ’s and the FBI’s, its subagency, conduct in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

6. The Department of Justice attempted to defend against the allegation of this threat to Legislative Branch employees, but admitted, at a minimum, that DAG Rosenstein did threaten to subpoena records of Congressional staff in contempt proceedings over the DOJ’s noncompliance with multiple subpoenas. Regardless, this characterization was disputed by multiple Committee staffers, and the matter was referred to the House General Counsel and Speaker of the House as a threat to subpoena records of staffers to halt their investigation.

7. DAG Rosenstein made this threat in January of 2018, approximately one month after his Department of Justice had already subpoenaed Mr. Patel’s email records from Google. This confrontation establishes that DAG Rosenstein and other Defendants were searching for a reason to subpoena Mr. Patel’s official accounts as well as the personal ones that DOJ was already improperly pursuing.

Contrary to Kash’s claim, DOJ didn’t concede Rosenstein threatened to subpoena the HPSCI records. According to a Fox News article Kash himself cites in his suit, DOJ said that Rosenstein was advising staffers to retain their emails so he could use them to defend against any accusation of contempt. Though Rosenstein did threaten to ask the House General Counsel to investigate Kash and whoever else was involved.

A DOJ official told Fox News that Rosenstein “never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation.” The official said the department and bureau officials in the room “are all quite clear that the characterization of events laid out here is false,” adding that Rosenstein was responding to a threat of contempt.

“The Deputy Attorney General was making the point—after being threatened with contempt — that as an American citizen charged with the offense of contempt of Congress, he would have the right to defend himself, including requesting production of relevant emails and text messages and calling them as witnesses to demonstrate that their allegations are false,” the official said. “That is why he put them on notice to retain relevant emails and text messages, and he hopes they did so. (We have no process to obtain such records without congressional approval.)”

Further, the official said that when Rosenstein returns to the United States from a work trip, “he will request that the House General counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers’ conduct.”

This all seems like a retroactive attempt to politicize the investigation into some contact Kash had, potentially even before he joined HPSCI with a lawsuit claiming a violation of the Fourth Amendment under Bivens for a subpoena for toll records that a former DOJ prosecutor, especially, should know are not entitled to any expectation of privacy.

Foster’s claim, which is only a FOIA, not a lawsuit, is a bit less ridiculous (so long as you ignore his demand for communications involving Liu before she started as US Attorney and Rosenstein before he was DAG).

He seems certain that the subpoena for his phone (which he says was used by his spouse) pertained to a leak investigation. He’s filing it to find out if Rosenstein’s office ever got the same scrutiny in leak investigations that (he seems sure) some Congressional staffers got in 2017.

It begs the question of whether DOJ was equally zealous in seeking the communication records of its own employees with access to any leaked information.


(5) All communications exchanged between members of the press and DAG Rosenstein, Robert Hur, Edward O’Callaghan, Sarah Isgur, aka Sarah Isgur Flores, and/or Jessie Liu for the period from December 1, 2016 to September 26, 2017, regarding (a) communications between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, (b) Carter Page, (c) Joe Pientka, (d) Bill Priestap, (e) congressional oversight requests, (f) Senator Charles Grassley, (g) Jason Foster, and/or (h) the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

(6)All grand jury subpoenas issued for personal communications of DAG Rosenstein, Robert Hur, Edward O’Callaghan, and/or Jessie Liu between May 1, 2017 and May 1, 2018.

(7) All communications exchanged between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the National Security Division, the Deputy Attorney General’s Office and/or the FBI and Verizon between March 15, 2016, and the present regarding obtaining communications data associated with devices that Verizon serviced for U.S. House Representatives or U.S. Senate. [my emphasis]

The time range of the Foster subpoena, December 1, 2016 to May 1, 2017, covers the period of the known leaks about Mike Flynn and Carter Page — the former, especially, one of the leaks Republicans have never stopped bitching because it wasn’t charged. Yet here, a key Republican is complaining there was “no legitimate predicate” in investigating people who were briefed on information that subsequently got leaked.

There appears to have been an extensive and far-reaching effort to use grand jury subpoenas and perhaps other means to gather the personal communications records of innocent congressional staffers and their families with little or no legitimate predicate.

Empower’s mention of Carter Page also situates the subpoena temporally. The subpoena that included a number associated with Foster was served in precisely the same time period that — the Statement of the Offense and sentencing memo for James Wolfe case show — FBI was investigating the leak of the Carter Page FISA. DOJ opened that investigation in April 2017. They had shown enough probable cause against Wolfe to obtain a warrant to covertly image his cell phone by October 2017. No one complained that Wolfe was prosecuted for his presumed role in leaking some of these stories, and his prosecution alone shows that the subpoena had predicate.

Foster may have other specific stories in mind too: In addition to the leaked stories about Flynn undermining US foreign policy with the Russian Ambassador, the FOIA asks about other Russian investigation stories, including Joe Pientka, whose role in briefing Mike Flynn Grassley made into a personal crusade.

Curiously, the Steele dossier is not on here, even though that was another personal crusade of Chuck Grassley.

All that said, the timeline included in the FOIA is broader than that. Here’s how the various timelines overlap, or don’t:

  • Scope of Foster subpoena: December 1, 2016 through May 1, 2017
  • Rosenstein sworn in as DAG: April 26, 2017
  • Date of Foster subpoena: September 12, 2017
  • Jessie Liu sworn in as US Attorney: September 25, 2017
  • Scope of Foster’s FOIA for DAG communications with the press: December 1, 2016 through September 26, 2017
  • Date of Kash subpoena: November 20, 2017
  • Scope of Kash subpoena: May 1, 2016 through November 20, 2017
  • Scope of Foster’s FOIA for grand jury subpoenas targeting DAG: May 1, 2017 through May 1, 2018
  • Scope of Foster’s FOIA for Verizon records of Congressional staffers March 15, 2016 through October 24, 2023

Foster is FOIAing Rosenstein’s office, first, for conversations with the press — including about him — starting on December 1, 2016, before Trump was inaugurated and months before Rosenstein was sworn in on April 26, 2017. He is FOIAing conversations with the press that continue through the day after Liu was sworn in September 2017, still months before O’Callaghan was part of DAG.

Then he’s asking for any grand jury subpoenas (which he knows would be protected under grand jury secrecy rules and so won’t get) from the end date of the subpoena targeting him, after which point both the Flynn and Page investigations were underway, until May 1, 2018 — still four months before Legistorm shows Foster leaving his SJC job on September 4, 2018, but perhaps not coincidentally ending before the time when the Mueller investigation started to more closely probe fellow SJC staffer Barbara Ledeen’s role in Mike Flynn’s 2016 rat-fucking and two weeks shy of an interview when Mueller asked Flynn about Ledeen’s investigation of the investigation. A September 17, 2018 interview asked very specific questions about people leaking claimed details of the investigation to Flynn, as well as Flynn’s contacts with unidentified Congressional staffers.

Again, this request is a test about whether Rosenstein’s office was targeted for leaks, but the leaks that Foster suggest this subpoena pertains to — Mike Flynn’s contacts with Sergey Kislyak and Carter Page’s FISA — happened before any of these people were in DAG. Foster seems interested in leaks about leak investigations, not the leaks themselves.

It’s the final bullet I find the most interesting though. None of the subpoenas he raises in his FOIA — not the subpoena of Kash’s personal email, not the subpoena of his own Google voice phone, and not the subpoena to Apple targeting HPSCI members — target official phone records. But Foster FOIAs for official records as well: All communications between DC USAO, NSD, DAG, and FBI with Verizon — communications that might be something other than a grand jury subpoena — about obtaining phone records for the Congressional devices serviced by Verizon. He’s asking for a much broader period of time, too: March 15, 2016 — early enough to include the start date of Kash’s subpoena, but also to include some of Barbara Ledeen’s rat-fucking with Mike Flynn — through the present, late enough to include any contacts in which Chuck Grassley staffers used their official devices to share information about the Hunter Biden investigation with the press.

This last request is not about Rosenstein; Rosenstein was only DAG for two of the seven and a half years covered by this part of the FOIA.

This FOIA is, on its face, totally uncontroversial (though it attempts to do with a FOIA what DOJ IG is already doing, which it notes). It purports to test whether Rod Rosenstein exempted his own top deputies from the kind of investigative scrutiny to which Rosenstein — always a leak hawk — subjected Congressional staffers. Hell, I’m fairly certain Rosenstein and his top deputies were key undisclosed sources for a bunch of bullshit comments (though most of them were false, and therefore not criminal leaks). Some of those anonymous comments were to the same stable of journalists who also happen to serve as mouthpieces for Chuck Grassley propaganda (and as such, Foster may have specific reason to believe that Rosenstein teed up journalists’ questions to or about him).

And the FOIA for contacts with Verizon gets at important separation of powers issues: under what terms the Executive Branch can investigate the official business of the Legislative Branch, including times when the Legislative Branch is screaming for investigations into leaks that probably (and provably, in the case of Carter Page) include Legislative Branch staffers.

But it also serves as a fishing expedition, by the entity that championed the now debunked claims of Gary Shapley, into potential investigations into transparent ongoing efforts by Chuck Grassley to release details of criminal investigations in the guise of oversight.

In a meeting agenda sent September 3, 2020, Joseph Ziegler included the Senate investigation led by Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson among topics for discussion.

No later than December 2020, a document shared by Empower Oversight client Gary Shapley reveals, the IRS agents running this investigation cared more about catering to demands from Congress, including from Chuck Grassley, than preserving the investigation.

The USAO and FBI received congressional inquiries concerning this investigation and have repeatedly ignored their requests, openly mocking the members of congress who made the request.

Another document shared by Empower Oversight client Gary Shapley shows that, in May 2021, the IRS agents running the investigation continued to be aware of — and interested in catering to — requests from Congress.

The USAO and FBI received congressional inquiries concerning this investigation and it’s believed they have ignored their requests.

A document released by Empower Oversight client Gary Shapley reflecting a January 6, 2023 call with IRS’ Deputy Field Officer Michael Batdorf alerting him — among other things — that he expected the Delaware US Attorney to make “nefarious” allegations against him, also recorded that by the time, two days after he notified IRS and DOJ IG Inspectors General he was seeking formal whistleblower status which happens to have happened on the day the GOP took the House, his attorney had already, “participated in calls and/or meetings” with “the Congressional Judiciary committees.”

DFO asked about the process and Shapley responded that the Congressional Judiciary committees, OSC, IRS OGC and TIGTA have been notified and have participated in calls and/or meetings with my counsel.

Yet when one of Shapley’s attorneys, Mark Lytle, formally contacted the Chairs and Ranking Members of those same “Congressional Judiciary committees,” the Chairs and Ranking Members of the relevant finance committees, along with Chuck Grassley on April 19, 2023, he did not treat those contacts with the judiciary committees as protected disclosures. The letter mentions that Grassley is a member of the Finance Committee, but doesn’t mention that Grassley is a member and former Chair of the Judiciary Committee.

That was the first moment, publicly at least, that Empower Oversight client Gary Shapley sought protection to share IRS protected information with Congress. That is, even according to Lytle, if Shapley shared any IRS protected information — to say nothing of grand jury protected information — prior to that, by the plain terms of his letter it was not under a grant of protection.

A month after Gary Shapley’s claims — facilitated by Empower Oversight — were soundly debunked by his own documentation and his colleagues, Empower Oversight filed a FOIA that would, among other things, attempt to learn whether the FBI was conducting any investigation of leaks to the press from Chuck Grassley’s staffers, covering the period in 2016 when a Chuck Grassley staffer attempted to reach out to hostile intelligence services to find dirt on Hillary Clinton, the period when a Grassley staffer was seeding press stories — some that were fabrications — about the Russian investigation, and the period of time when those investigating Hunter Biden were more solicitous of requests from members of Congress like Chuck Grassley than they were in protecting the ongoing investigation.

The Utility of the Tim Thibault Smear for Insurrectionists

Back on September 12, when Matt Gaetz’ plan to depose Kevin McCarthy was a seeming fantasy, he appeared on CNN to complain that McCarthy’s concession to open an impeachment inquiry wasn’t enough.

Even as Abby Phillip repeatedly (and laudably) noted that there was no evidence to support an impeachment, Gaetz claimed he had been “deposing” retired FBI Agent Timothy Thibault that day and further claimed that, as part of a cover-up, the Foreign Influence Task Force had “designate[d] any derogatory information about the Bidens as foreign disinformation.”

GAETZ: I mean, come on, he was — wait, hold on. Can you just acknowledge it calls into the business deals, he’s involved? When he calls dinners, you don’t think that’s involvement?

PHILLIP: First of all, this is not about innuendo. It’s not about what I believe. It’s a question, do you have evidence? If you had evidence that Joe Biden was linked to Hunter Biden’s business deals in a way that is illegal, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. You would probably have the votes for an impeachment inquiry, but you don’t, because of people like [K]en [B]uck, and people like Don Bacon, and many others in your conference.

GAETZ: Yes. But on the substance, look, you want to talk about how long we’ve had the evidence, the FBI had Hunter Biden’s laptops in 2019. So, this inquiry isn’t just going to be into the Bidens and the bad things they’ve done, it’s also going to be into the cover-up, and we do have that evidence.

I was deposing Tim Thibault today. Today, I was asking questions about the roles of foreign interference task force to go and designate any derogatory information about the Bidens as foreign disinformation when that was part of a cover up.

PHILLIP: Congressman, let me just move on here because I’m going to reiterate to the audience, because we need to be clear, there is not evidence linking President Biden to anything illegal having to do with Hunter Biden.

It’s true that Gaetz was in the deposition of Thibault that day. But unlike Jim Jordan, who was the only other member of Congress recorded as having attended the deposition, Gaetz doesn’t appear to have asked a single question.

Jordan asked over 70 questions. The aspiring Speaker asked about:

  • Thibault’s efforts to predicate an investigation against the Clinton Foundation based on Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash in 2016
  • Two separate warnings the Washington Field Office got against using Schweizer — and the copy of “the laptop” he offered them — as a source in the Hunter Biden investigation in 2020
  • Thibault’s role, also in 2020, in fielding an effort by Tony Bobulinski to share his phones but not any personal content from his phones
  • Questions from Baltimore to DC about a new prong of the Hunter Biden investigation in 2022 (possibly a campaign finance investigation into Kevin Morris’ donations to Hunter Biden)

The deposition arose out of the same stream of right wing complaints to Chuck Grassley (one, two) that lie at the core of the Republican campaign against Hunter Biden. The only thing that rationalizes the campaign is that in 2020 Thibault liked a number of Randall Eliason columns critical of Bill Barr’s corruption and even criticized Dick Cheney:

Of course, Grassley’s known and likely sources say far more partisan things online all the time.

Nevertheless Chris Wray has, per his norm, let Thibault weather the attack campaign alone, treating him as the legitimate subject of scrutiny as they have Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and Brian Auten and Jim Baker — every FBI agent except those (like John Durham’s cherished Cyber agents) who help sustain conspiracy theories favored by Trump and his allies.

What I wanted was someone from the FBI — because they know the truth — was someone to defend me after 26 years. I understand they can’t defend every allegation that’s made, so — I wish they would have. Right? I didn’t have that. And so that’s how I felt was I just wanted a defense. And I’m not blaming the FBI, because if they would respond to accusations against FBI agents from the media, they would be doing that a lot. So I’m not special.

But, when those accusations were made against me in July, I was, like, outraged. Why — no FBI agent that I know would put their reputation and honor on the line just to square up. They wouldn’t do that.

From there, Grassley and Jim Jordan have built entire pyramids of conspiracy theories, claiming that the guy who opened the investigations against William Jefferson and Jesse Jackson Jr and who rushed to open an investigation based solely off Schweizer’s Clinton Cash in 2016 abusively intervened to shut down — all of it! — the Hunter Biden investigation in 2020. All because, after several warnings about Schweizer, Thibault didn’t ignore warnings that Steve Bannon’s close associate, Schweizer, could discredit the Hutner Biden investigation (at a time when Bannon himself was coordinating with Guo Wengui).

Over the course of most of a day, Thibault addressed one after another of these conspiracy theories. One reason why Thibault ordered two agents to shut down an informant — Schweizer has since confirmed it was him — was because Schweizer was a less defensible source for allegations against Hunter Biden at trial than whatever means by which — including, undoubtedly, the laptop passed on by John Paul Mac Isaac — Delaware had already gotten materials on Hunter Biden. Using Schweizer rather than the sources Delaware already had, “could harm a case. It could cause problems when you get to prosecution,” Thibault explained that the Supervisory Special Agent, Joe Gordon had informed him in early October 2020, “and to open doors for defense attorneys.”

Within days of Gordon’s warning that Schweizer was an unwelcome source, the head of the Public Corruption Unit contacted Thibault to raise other concerns about Schweizer. In an October 21, 2020 classified briefing, members of the Foreign Intelligence Task Force provided more context, not just on Schweizer. The two warnings, together, led Thibault to instruct two agents to shut down Schweizer, someone less credible than Christopher Steele.

That’s probably what led to the complaints to Grassley.

One of the agents, Thomas Olohan, wrote a long memo claiming that Thibault was biased against Trump, before he left the FBI to join the Heritage Foundation. The other, whom Thibault had earlier mentored and considered a friend, would do more than that, as we’ll see.

It would have been three and four days after that when Thibault exchanged calls with Stefan Passantino regarding whether they could selectively image Tony Bobulinksi’s phones, which Jordan found suspect because, in an attempt to shield the investigation, the FBI had Bobulinski speak to the Washington Field Office rather than Baltimore. Jordan repeatedly invented conspiracy theories about of efforts to protect the investigation into Joe Biden’s son.

Jordan’s staffers also focused on Thibault’s role, like that of everyone else in the DC area, in investigating January 6. Except for his minor role in drafting the memo opening the investigation into the fake electors in 2022, Thibault’s role in investigating the attack on the Capitol was limited to freeing up his agents to help deal with the initial surge. Again, Jordan recycled Grassley’s conspiracy theories to treat any FBI agent who didn’t focus primarily on Trump’s enemies as suspect.

Tellingly, however, Jordan and his staffers asked no question about how the same agent who tried to open Schweizer as a source bypassed Thibault, who considered her a friend, to try to chase down the Italygate conspiracy theory months after Richard Donoghue’s judgement that it was “pure insanity” was published.

[I]t first came to my attention when I got a call from — a call from this supervisor, Special Agent from CR-15, and he said: Look, my agents are trying to do an interview of a subject with regard to election fraud, and the subject is in Italy. And he told me that they had tried to get the Legal Attache Office in Rome to do the interview and that they had declined.

Then they had tried to get funding through FBI Headquarters, Public Corruption Unit, to travel over to Italy to do the interview of this person, a potential witness who was in jail. And so I just got briefed on that.


So I got off the phone with them, and my next call was to the Public Corruption Unit chief at headquarters, and I said: Hey, what’s the problem with funding?

And he goes: Are you kidding me, basically.

And I go: No.

And he goes: Do you know that this is to support an opening of a case that’s been sent to the Public Corruption Unit as a draft?

I said: I don’t know about that.


He’s assuming at the time that I would have seen this because … Because of the gravity of the allegation and what it meant, he couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been briefed on it. He actually thought, I think, that I was approving it —


So the head of the Public Corruption Unit tells me that he has received an email forwarded to him from Public Integrity, and it contains a draft opening language, and he was shocked that I didn’t know about this. Because of the type of case it was, you would expect that the ASAC would be in the loop.


[S]o I’m trying to do due diligence. And, look, this isn’t the ASAC’s job. But, at this point, I was sort of losing some confidence.


Because I wasn’t told about this, and even in my — I wasn’t told about it, number one. But, number two, when I was having conversations with people about this, no one told me — they didn’t raise Italygate. I wasn’t told about what — the allegation that this had previously been reviewed by, like, the Deputy Attorney General had made that comment. I wasn’t provided situational awareness. Right?


6 months later, people want to travel halfway around the world to talk to someone who’s in prison. Any FBI agents knows, number one, first of all, an argument can be raised — and it was raised by people when we were discussing this at the squad level: Well, Tim, we talk to people all the time that appear to have kind of whacky theories.

And I was, like: Yeah, we might. We might go down the road to Manassas and talk to someone about some whacky theory. On a low-level case, we do do that.

But I think, you know, the situational awareness that I was gaining as an ASAC and working consistently with headquarters and learning, that Public Corruption Unit chief was unbelievable in terms of his knowledge of foreign influence. I had the benefit of that information. The case agents here did not.


[T]here’s a term in the Bureau I learned a long time ago. You’re either working a source, or they’re working you. I was concerned that there wasn’t an element of 267 savviness here on the agent’s behalf, that maybe this source was working her. Q In what way? A It just seemed to me that, you know, you’re going and you’re trying to open a case, but you haven’t asked the very basic questions, like who — I couldn’t understand how they were trying to work a case without — we’ve got all the resources in the Federal Government to find out if a breach of information or a breach of data had occurred. We’ve got CISA. We’ve got the NSA.


I was concerned that there was a lack of investigative rigor and the judgment issue, yes, because I wasn’t allowed to intervene, you know, where an ASAC is there for to help guide. This isn’t how CR-15 works cases. I was on that squad. We’re the flagship public corruption squad in the country. This isn’t how it’s done.

Jordan and his staffers expressed no interest or concern that the Public Corruption team at FBI was chasing already discredited conspiracy theories halfway around the world.

In the aftermath of this incident, Thibault asked the supervisor of the squad what was going on. The response was that supervisors were raising concerns about uncharacteristic partisan discussions.

And he said that senior members of CR-15, he didn’t tell me who, but had raised concerns to him that there was uncharacteristically partisan discussions happening on the squad floor.

This is the DC public corruption group — as Thibault described it, “the flagship public corruption squad in the country.” And Thibault discovered the hard way that even agents he believed to be friends were going behind his back to chase the conspiracy theories Trump wanted to chase.

For Jordan, who could be second in line to the Presidency within days, this was all an exercise of finding something within attempts at revenge that would substantiate his belief that the guy who took down two Democratic members of Congress was biased against Republicans.

But for Gaetz — the guy whose coup creates the opportunity for Jordan to become Speaker — it was something else: an opportunity to sit silently so that he could spin a refusal to accept foreign dirt on Hunter Biden as cause to impeach his father.

With the exception of a detailed NYT report in May, the attack against Thibault has passed largely unnoticed in the mainstream press, even as frothy right wingers have continued to impugn yet another stuff lifetime Feeb as a partisan simply because he treated Trump just like he treated the Democratic members of Congress he pursued.

But this Grassley-to-Jordan conveyor belt of bullshit continues to churn away, turning disgruntled hacks with allegations but no evidence into the enforcement wing of their effort to weaponize government.

“Nefarious”: Chuck Grassley Panics at Possibility that Gary Shapley’s Allegations Might Be Scrutinized

Chuck Grassley continues,with the desperation and recklessness that may come from being the oldest member of Congress, to try to find something scandalous in the Hunter Biden investigation that won’t fizzle upon closer scrutiny.

I’m not sure precisely what the first complaint is about. Since Kenneth Polite resigned as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division in July, Nicole Argentieri has been Acting Assistant Attorney General at the Criminal Division. Before that she had been Polite’s Principal Deputy. Prior to returning to DOJ (she worked for a time as an AUSA in EDNY), she was a partner at O’Melveny & Myers in New York. I’m not sure if that’s what Grassley is complaining about. In any case, since David Weiss is Special Counsel, it wouldn’t matter, as AAG CRM would have little to no involvement.

Grassley’s other complaint is that Hampton Dellinger, current AAG for Legal Policy, just got nominated to be the other kind of Special Counsel, the guy in charge of Whistleblower Protection Act and Hatch Act violations. Almost a decade ago, both Dellinger and Hunter Biden had ties to Boies Schiller. Dellinger and Hunter attended the same dinner in March 2014.

The Office of Special Counsel would have even less role in overseeing Special Counsel David Weiss’ activities than Argentieri would. He would, however, have a role in deciding whether Gary Shapely was really a whistleblower or was, instead, a partisan leaker, leaking protected IRS and grand jury information. He would have a role in reviewing whatever it is that Shapley was hiding when he refused to turn over his emails in March 2022 and tried to hide in October 2022, as concerns about leaks accelerated. He would have a role in deciding whether those things undercut his claims, now, to be a whistleblower using the proper channels.

That is, Grassley isn’t worried about the prosecution of Hunter Biden with his latest complaint. He’s worried about any scrutiny of Gary Shapley (and Joseph Ziegler).

And that’s why I find the following details interesting.

In a September 3, 2020 email, Joseph Ziegler included the investigation into Hunter Biden — pursued by Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson — in his agenda for a meeting that day.

A memo that may have been written by Gary Shapley in December 2020 complains that investigators were not sharing details of the investigation with members of Congress.

The USAO and FBI received congressional inquiries concerning this investigation and have repeatedly ignored their requests, openly mocking the members of Congress who made the requests.

Chuck Grassley was one of those members of Congress. That December 2020 memo is also where the claim that a leak that month came from DOJ rather than investigators.

Another monthly memo Shapley submitted, this one from May 2021, again complained that investigators weren’t compromising the investigation so as to share details with members of Congress.

The USAO and FBI received congressional inquiries concerning this investigation and it’s believed they have ignored their requests.

Chuck Grassley was one of those members of Congress.

In April 2022, Bill Haggerty asked Merrick Garland about the Hunter Biden investigation, to which he responded that Weiss was supervising the investigation and “he is in charge of that investigation; there will not be interference of any political or improper kind.”

In September 2022, Chuck Grassley claimed to have whistleblower information that Tim Thibault shut down an investigative lead on the Hunter Biden investigation. Reports of Thibault’s own testimony, among other details, reveal that this pertained to using Peter Schweitzer as an FBI informant — a more problematic choice to be an FBI informant than using Christopher Steele (since Steele was not a known partisan propagandist), and therefore a wild backflip on Grassley’s earlier concerns about dodgy informants. And Thibault had actually approved keeping Schweitzer as a source, until an FBI agent closer to the case alerted him to problems with doing so. Thibault was retaliated against as a result, in significant part because of Grassley’s misrepresentation of what happened.

I’ll return to the way that Shapley ignored warnings going back months before October 2022 that David Weiss wouldn’t charge Hunter for 2014 and 2015. I’ll return to the way that Shapley ignored warnings that the case would not be charged until after November 2022, and possibly not even until 2023.

What we now know is that the key detail in his otherwise unreliable report from the October 7 meeting — that David Weiss said he “is not the deciding person” on whether to charge Hunter Biden — is not corroborated by any other witness who attended that meeting. Darren Waldon, his supervisor, described that what Weiss actually said pertained to a description of process, “the process in order to get the case indicted and subsequently prosecuted.”

Shapley made claims that were not backed even by his own handwritten notes.

And yet that is the core of his claim to be a whistleblower: That’s the basis of Gary Shapley’s first publicly claimed reason for coming to Congress — the October 7, 2022 meeting, which Shapley’s attorney Mark Lytle publicly released (in such a way that journalists all knew it pertained to Hunter Biden) in April: the claim that what David Weiss said on October 7 conflicted with what Merrick Garland had told Bill Haggerty in April 2022.

Shapley’s October 7 memorialization, which doesn’t match his own notes and hasn’t been corroborated by other witnesses, is the basis of Gary Shapley’s claim to be a whistleblower, a claim that might be reviewed by Office of Special Counsel.

We also know that Gary Shapley only claims — in a really weird memorialization, provided in lieu of original notes, that writes out “REDACTED” — to have formally become a whistleblower on January 4, 2023, the day Republicans took over the House.

In that memorialization, Shapley clearly states that his lawyer has already “participated in calls and/or meetings” with “the Congressional Judiciary committees.”

In the memorialization (again, provided in lieu of Shapley’s notes, which have shown discrepancies in the past), Shapley predicted that,

there may be allegations against him, that he believes will be nefarious, from DOJ/USAO and that he hoped the agency would support him during that. [Michael Batdorf] stated that he had not heard of an any allegations made against Shapley.

We also know that on January 25, Shapley asked to take leave so he could — among other things — meet with congressional committees and Inspectors General, a request Michael Batdorf said should not come out of his paid leave. By the time of Shapley’s first (known) testimony in May, he had not yet personally met with any Inspectors General investigators; rather, his attorneys had made disclosures to them. And, as noted, the first formal outreach to Congress was on April 19.

In that letter on April 19, Mark Lytle made absolutely not mention of earlier outreach to the Judiciary Committees.

Despite serious risks of retaliation, my client is offering to provide you with information necessary to exercise your constitutional oversight function and wishes to make the disclosures in a non-partisan manner to the leadership of the relevant committees on both sides of the political aisle.

My client has already made legally protected disclosures at the IRS, through counsel to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and to the Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General.

That is, the claims that Lytle made in that April 19 letter seem to conflict with what Shapely wrote on January 6.

In any case, what was Shapley doing in the two months he was taking leave when he was not yet known to have formally reached out to Congress?

In July, immediately after testimony from Ziegler — who was attending to Congress’ interest in this investigation in 2020 — and Shapley — who was furious that investigators weren’t compromising the investigation to meet the interests of Congress that same year, Chuck Grassley burned what Republicans all claim had been a credible FBI informant in order to feed the conspiracy theories.

Chuck Grassley is worried that a guy who had dinner with Hunter Biden nine years ago might become Special Counsel. He’s worried about that, but not that one of his former staffers went from OSC to the Merit System Protection Board to serving as Gary Shapley’s PR person months after (per Shapley’s own memorialization) he was already reachng out to Congress.

Leavitt began his investigative career working on the Senate Judiciary Committee staff of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), where he helped whistleblowers expose schemes like Operation Fast and Furious, the gunwalking scandal that armed the murderers of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. He also served as Senator Grassley’s chief whistleblower policy advisor, leading the introduction of the first Senate resolutions recognizing National Whistleblower Appreciation Day and the establishment of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus.

In 2015 Leavitt joined the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee staff of Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). There he worked with dozens of whistleblowers from the U.S. Secret Service to break news of high-profile misconduct and security breaches. He also investigated Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State, the FBI’s failure to hold her accountable, and politicization at the FBI. He negotiated the passage of the FBI Whistleblower Protection Act of 2016.

In 2017 Leavitt was appointed as Principal Deputy Special Counsel at the Office of Special Counsel, where he helped reform OSC’s whistleblower disclosure program and directed a reorganization of OSC’s intake and investigative process. He also served as Acting Special Counsel. In late 2018 Leavitt was appointed as the General Counsel of the Merit Systems Protection Board, and for three years served as the acting head of that agency. In 2022 the U.S. Senate confirmed him with bipartisan support as the Republican Member of the Board, a position he held for one year.

Chuck Grassley seems to be panicked that a very carefully orchestrated effort to retroactively pitch Shapley as a whistleblower using formal channels might face real scrutiny.

Given that both Zeigler and Shapley seemed to have more concern about Congress’ efforts than the formal investigation starting before Joe Biden became President, that’s not all that surprising.

Chuck Grassley Must Think the FD-1023 Informant Is Worth Killing Off

In their panic to do something to stave off the Hunter Biden guilty plea next week — and perhaps to bail Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler (who are represented by lawyers tied to Chuck Grassley) out of wild and in some cases inconsistent claims they made in their House Oversight debut — Grassley and James Comer have released the FD-1023 form on which they’ve hung their latest conspiracy theories about an attempt to bribe Joe Biden.

They’ve released it with almost no redactions, so it will be very easy for anyone who came in contact with the FBI informant whose interview it recorded — an international businessman — to reverse engineer who he is.

Virtually anyone bound by the principles of physics, by time and space, who has looked at the FD-1023 closely has recognized that the allegation in the report does not match known reality.

Lev Parnas swears it didn’t happen. In this Twitter thread, Thomas Fine calls the report, the Science Fiction Double Feature Bribery Scheme. ABC provided multiple ways the allegations conflict with reality and even notes that Chuck Grassley waged war on the exploitation of such unvetted intelligence with Christopher Steele. Phil Bump last month described how James Comer was spinning his wheels (and the press) but couldn’t find any substance to it; he even noted Ron Johnson’s admission that he couldn’t substantiate a key claim in it.

The most interesting thing, to me, is that FBI agents working with then-Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady, the partisan Republican whom Barr put in charge of ingesting Rudy’s Russian disinformation, didn’t ask, or record, on what date in 2019, a meeting in London addressing an entirely different topic took place at which Oleksandr Ostapenko placed a call to Mykola Zlochevsky so Zlochevsky could provide to the informant very specific numbers of recordings he had involving Hunter Biden and his father.

Brady’s team didn’t get (or record) this date even after a follow-up conversation three days after the original meeting with the informant, even though it would have been the freshest memory for the informant and fairly easy to pinpoint given travel records. They identified with some specificity at which coffee house the meeting with Ostapenko happened (possibly this place), but not the date.

That’s not how the FBI works.

But given the informant’s reference to “recent news reports about the investigations into the Bidens and Burisma,” it is likely the meeting happened during the impeachment investigation, possibly even after Rudy Giuliani met with soon-to-be-sanctioned Russian agent Andrii Derkach in December 2019.

If the meeting came after mid-February, “Hunter Biden’s” “laptop” was already being packaged up for a later political hit job. If the meeting came after October 9, 2019, which is when Parnas’ visibility onto these matters ended because he was arrested but Rudy was not, then it might reflect what happened to the plan to meet Burisma’s CFO and Dmitry Firtash in Vienna to obtain a copy of “Hunter Biden’s” “laptop” after his arrest. It could be possible, after all, that Zlochevsky had said one thing to Parnas earlier in 2019 and another thing after Victoria Toensing had met with Bill Barr.

There’s something else that debunks the story: that Chuck Grassley apparently cares so little about substantiating it he’s willing to risk the life of the informant.

Both ABC and this weaker CNN report describe that the FBI warned releasing this could get the informant killed. The Messenger provides more detail on the various warnings the FBI gave Congress about protecting this information (contrary to its claim, this is not an exclusive; WaPo’s Jacqueline Alemany and Politico’s Jordain Carney both posted one of these letters on Twitter, but don’t appear to have written it up).

FBI officials cautioned lawmakers on several occasions about the dangers that releasing the document could pose to confidential informants and others, according to materials obtained by The Messenger.

“We have repeatedly explained to you, in correspondence and in briefings, how critical it is to keep this information confidential,” the FBI said in a June 9 letter, obtained by The Messenger, to the Democratic ranking member and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., who has been scrutinizing the Biden family.

“We are concerned that Members disregarded the Committee’s agreement that information from the document should not be further disclosed,” the FBI said in the letter, which came one day after lawmakers on the Oversight Committee were permitted to view the document in a secured room.

Other documents obtained by The Messenger show that the FBI’s warnings not to release the confidential information extended back to May — before Comer and others were allowed to view the FBI form.

The FBI told lawmakers that protecting the secrecy of the FBI form is “critical” to the “physical safety” of the source and others, according to a May 30 letter sent to Comer.


Members of Congress were also provided with a warning that the information contained in the document “should be treated confidentially,” before they viewed the form on June 8, saying the agency “expressly does not consent” to the release of the material.

The FBI also raised concerns that lawmakers were taking notes in the meeting, which was prohibited, according to the letter.

Grassley and Comer released this FD-1023 — in almost unredacted form — after FBI warned, multiple times, of the danger of doing so.

This, to my mind, is the biggest tell of this stunt.

If you want to fuel a controversy, you release the FD-1023, even at the risk of getting the informant killed or, at the very least, burning his value as an informant permanently. If you want to pursue the allegation, you do everything you can to protect the FD-1023 and the informant.

Especially given David Weiss’ notice to Lindsey Graham that there is an ongoing investigation into matters pertaining to the FD-1023.

Your questions about allegations contained in an FBI FD-1023 Form relate to an ongoing investigation. As such, I cannot comment on them at this time.

Unless, of course, the GOP is so desperate to kill that investigation that they’d be willing to get the informant behind it killed as well.

Update: Federalist Faceplant Margot, who occasionally gets fed disinformation from Bill Barr, says a source has told her the FBI verified that the human source traveled where he had claimed he had traveled at the times he said he had.

Following the late June 2020 interview with the CHS, the Pittsburgh FBI office obtained travel records for the CHS, and those records confirmed the CHS had traveled to the locales detailed in the FD-1023 during the relevant time period. The trips included a late 2015 or early 2016 visit to Kiev, Ukraine; a trip a couple of months later to Vienna, Austria; and travel to London in 2019.

She’s really one of the few people stupid enough to report this as news. After all, the FBI corroborated that Igor Danchenko traveled to Moscow when he said he had, too. All that meant was that he was in Moscow being fed disinformation when he said he was.

The same is especially likely here because, if the FBI had actual dates for the 2019 trip to London — as Faceplant Margot says they did — then it raises still more questions why they didn’t include the date.

Unless the date would have given up the game by making it clear it happened after Rudy’s made further deals for disinformation.

The Blind Squirrel’s Nut: Chuck Grassley Unwittingly Debunks Bill Barr

Last month, Bill Barr got Federalist Faceplant Margot Cleveland to claim that Jamie Raskin was lying when he said that the lead from an informant claiming that Joe Biden had been bribed was assessed by Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady and then shut down.

It’s not true. It wasn’t closed down,” William Barr told The Federalist on Tuesday in response to Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin’s claim that the former attorney general and his “handpicked prosecutor” had ended an investigation into a confidential human source’s allegation that Joe Biden had agreed to a $5 million bribe. “On the contrary,” Barr stressed, “it was sent to Delaware for further investigation.”

Then James Comer relied on that to claim that Raskin was wrong when he said that it was shut down as an assessment.

Bill Barr to Margot Cleveland to James Comer: At each new level, this Matryoshka doll of disinformation gets less and less credible.

So incredible, in fact, that even Chuck Grassley debunked them.


Like the proverbial blind squirrel finding a nut.

You see, Chuck is outraged that the IRS agents conducting the investigation into Hunter Biden’s alleged tax crimes were not included in a meeting at which Pittsburgh FBI agents briefed the Delaware US Attorney’s office about the informant report. He has written Delaware US Attorney David Weiss a letter demanding an explanation of why.

The answer is clear from the timing of the briefing, which Senator Grassley reveals in his letter: October 23, 2020.

Based on information provided to my office from individuals aware of the meeting, on October 23, 2020, Justice Department and FBI Special Agents from the Pittsburgh Field Office briefed Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf, one of your top prosecutors, and FBI Special Agents from the Baltimore Field Office with respect to the contents of the FBI-generated FD1023 alleging a criminal bribery scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and Hunter Biden; however, the meeting did not include any IRS agents. In addition, based on information provided to my office, potentially hundreds of Justice Department and FBI officials have had access to the FD-1023 at issue, which begs the question that I’ve been asking since the start of my oversight in this matter: what steps have the Justice Department and FBI taken to investigate the allegations?

This briefing was nine days after a NYPost story would have made clear that Rudy Giuliani had ties to the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” that the IRS agents had been relying on for investigative materials for the better part of a year.

It was one day after an October 22, 2020 meeting that the IRS agents did attend. As Gary Shapley confessed to the House Ways and Means Committee, the meeting was largely an effort to make sure that the government had used proper legal process before acquiring two devices that — it had only recently became clear — had become and may always have been part of a political hit job.

A Yes. So there are a couple significant parts of this. One was that, at this time, the laptop was a very big story, so we were just making sure that everything was being handled appropriately.

So we wanted to go through the timeline of what happened with the laptop and devices. I thought one of the most important first parts was that on November 6 of 2019, the FBI case agent, Josh Wilson, called up the computer shop owner, John Paul, and basically got the device numbers from him.

If Shapley’s notes are at all reliable, prosecutors at the meeting instead discovered that the FBI broke the most basic rules of forensics when exploiting the laptop purportedly owned by the former Vice President’s dissolute son, and in the process may have destroyed evidence about who was really behind it. I’m still not convinced his notes are reliable, but if they are, then the meeting should have raised all sorts of alarms within DOJ.

As I laid out here, Shapley has instead pitched the meeting as one that served the primary purpose of giving Whistleblower X opportunity to complain that the US Attorney’s office had prevented the IRS agents from being tainted by dodgy materials on the laptop. Whistleblower X did complain, mind you, but those complaints mostly raise questions about the extent to which he had already been accessing materials from the laptop that Rudy Giuliani had been tampering with, thereby tainting the investigation.

Shapley’s propaganda has worked, because that’s what our blind squirrel from Iowa focuses his letter on.

But as Shapley described in his prepared statement, even before that meeting he had written to AUSA Lesley Wolf complaining about how the laptop was being referred to in the news.

On October 19th, 2020, I emailed Assistant United States Attorney Wolf: “We
need to talk about the computer. It appears the FBI is making certain representations
about the device, and the only reason we know what is on the device is because of the
IRS CI affiant search warrant that allowed access to the documents. If Durham also
executed a search warrant on a device, we need to know so that my leadership is
informed. My management has to be looped into whatever the FBI is doing with the
laptop. It is IRS CI’s responsibility to know what is happening. Let me know when I can
be briefed on this issue.”

Shapley appears to have been concerned, in the weeks before the Presidential election, that people believed the laptop was being investigated by the FBI as an information operation targeting Joe Biden, when in his view, it remained the cornerstone of his investigation into Hunter Biden.

But if DOJ was not already investigating both topics by October 23, 2020 — both Hunter Biden’s tax crimes and a potential information operation targeting Joe Biden — if it has not spent years doing so, then the FBI has become even more captured than I already suspected.

Indeed, if the FBI hasn’t already significantly substantiated that Hunter Biden was hacked in early 2019, then I may renounce my citizenship. I know FBI’s cyber agents can be incompetent, but they can’t be that incompetent, can they?

Can they?

Chuck Grassley may not realize it because he is very old and he is staffed by a bunch of partisan cranks. But he’s basically complaining that DOJ might have learned their lesson after the Steele dossier — the lesson that Chuck Grassley spent years demanding they learn! — and decided, upon the revelation that a key piece of evidence they had been relying on for months had ties to a political hit job, they should figure out precisely what tie that key piece of evidence had to the political hit job.

Chuck Grassley may also not realize that the political cranks who staff him got him to sign a letter effectively complaining that the FBI thought it worthwhile to figure out if the information operation Russian spies had been bragging about for over a year at that point had actually succeeded. Chuck is bitching that the FBI decided to protect a presidential candidate.

Chuck Grassley also likely doesn’t realize his staffers got him to sign a letter bitching that David Weiss attempted to maintain the integrity of the tax investigation even while DOJ assessed whether they had been caught in another information operation. That’s why you don’t include the IRS agents in a meeting where Pittsburgh FBI agents explain to Delaware lawyers how sketchy was the information Rudy Giuliani was collecting from known Russian agents in Ukraine. If you include them, you risk blowing the otherwise meritorious tax investigation.

And Chuck Grassley definitely doesn’t realize that he has debunked Bill Barr.

You see, Bill Barr, who is a very adept liar, was sort of telling the truth to Faceplant Margot that the FD-1023 was referred to DE USAO for further investigation. It surely was. But Pittsburgh FBI agents shared it on October 23, 2020, because the US Attorney’s office was frantically trying to figure out whether the entire tax investigation had been blown, or only parts of it. The US Attorney’s office was undoubtedly trying to understand what kind of other garbage Rudy had produced that got shared with the FBI, in addition to any role he had with the “laptop” that had been used in the tax investigation.

Even Gary Shapley admitted that in the wake of the NYPost story, the Delaware US Attorney’s office did some quick CYA to figure out whether they had been using a tainted information operation for the better part of a year (they had!). The October 23 briefing would have had substantially the same purpose as the October 22 one: to figure out how tainted the investigation was.

And Bill Barr instead got even stupider people to believe that that an attempt to triage the damage done by Rudy’s political hit job amounts to an investigation for bribery.