The Timeline of the Hunter Biden Investigation Doesn’t Support Attacks on Lesley Wolf

Self-imagined IRS whistleblowers, Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, continue to engage in an information campaign that not only hasn’t provided real evidence for impeachment, but also must be creating real difficulties for David Weiss as he attempts to charge the tax case against Hunter Biden.

The House Ways and Means Committee released a slew of documents provided by the IRS Agents the other day in advance of Thursday’s Impeachment Clown Show. Below, I’ve laid out just the documents pertaining to the investigation (that is, the purported topic of their whistleblower complaint), along with explanations of what the documents show. There are a bunch of other investigative documents (Shapley appears to have let Ziegler assume most of the legal risk of releasing the bulk of the new IRS and grand jury documents), some of which reflect a real sloppiness about parts of the investigation, which would pose still more problems charging this case.

I also plan to write a follow-up post laying out Gary Shapley’s actions in advance of the October 7, 2022 meeting. They show that the items he claimed presented a new “red line” for him in that meeting had instead been raised with him months earlier. He came into the meeting with an agenda — notably, that David Weiss should ask to be appointed Special Counsel (as opposed to Special Attorney) — and raised non-sequiturs given the posture of the case at the time.

As to some other key claims the IRS Agents have made, especially against Lesley Wolf, the record provides countervailing evidence on those too.

As noted, for example, the decision not to take overt steps in 2020 came directly from Donald Trump’s Deputy Attorney General’s office, from someone — Richard Donoghue — who knew first-hand about Russian efforts to tamper in the election by focusing on Hunter Biden. The IRS Agents and Republican Members of Congress have blamed Wolf for that.

One key complaint is that Gary Shapley wasn’t permitted to surprise Hunter Biden during the day of action on December 8, 2020. But as Wolf represented it in a call Ziegler memorialized on December 11, the norm would have been to work through Hunter’s lawyers for an interview. Her support of going with only a heads up to the Secret Service was a deviation from that norm, she claimed. There’s no support in these documents for Shapley’s claim (and Ziegler’s hearsay claim) that the Transition Team got a heads up from DOJ, so if Shapley had a credible source for it, it wasn’t documented notice.

Another complaint — one Republicans in Congress can’t let go — was that Wolf used a subpoena to get the contents of a storage facility Hunter had rather than a search warrant. But a month earlier than that, the plan wasn’t to get a warrant, it was to do a consent search. When Ziegler pitched her on a search warrant after the Rob Walker interview, he wanted to do the search immediately, within a week, in spite of what she represented would be the onerous approval process to get a warrant. According to what Ziegler records Wolf saying, all the lawyers involved in this decision agreed with her (not surprisingly, given that a taint review after going overt would involve the same level of defense attorney involvement as a subpoena would). When the IRS escalated this issue on December 14, they still didn’t know how a taint review would work in the Fourth Circuit, meaning they had not yet tested Wolf’s claims.

Importantly, the reason Ziegler thought it so important to do a search of the storage facility rather than serve a subpoena is that he wanted to find proof of foreign bank accounts, something for which Wolf claims there was no evidence.

Ziegler brought up the potential for foreign accounts and the records that he had seen thus far that indicate there are foreign accounts involved in this case. Wolf said that there is no indication what‐so‐ever that the Subject has foreign accounts and that any records related to that would be turned over [pursuant to subpoena].

Even in the most recent Republican documents, reflecting what Ziegler and Shapley turned over, I’m aware of no such evidence. The foreign payments Republicans claim are so suspect went right through corporations established in Delaware. Many of the payments appear to have gone through the same Wells Fargo accounts on which Ziegler predicated this investigation five years ago. And the IRS appears to have checked with the most likely havens — Cyprus and the Cayman Islands — about whether there were foreign accounts. I haven’t read all the investigative documents or the tax returns and investigators may find something else, but if this is correct, then it’s one hell of a money laundering claim these guys are chasing, consisting of payments through corporations headquartered right in Delaware and payments through Hunter’s main bank account.

It was already clear from Ziegler’s testimony that his complaints about delays in interviews in 2021 didn’t account for Wolf’s efforts to prioritize more important investigative steps, such as getting approval for a subpoena for Hunter’s attorney, George Mesires, rather than focusing on interviews with sex workers. The interview with Mesires took another year to schedule. But one set of emails from the time show it was Ziegler’s IRS supervisor, and not Lesley Wolf, that pushed back on his plans for interviews; the supervisor suggested he bring in “collaterals” to do some of the investigative work rather than do it all himself.

The IRS Agents and Republican Members of Congress similarly keep complaining that David Weiss let the statute of limitations expire on the 2014 and 2015 charges most closely focused on Burisma. There was already evidence (most especially in the hand-written notes that Shapley only belatedly shared) that it wasn’t so much that Weiss “let” SOLs expire, but that he made a prosecutorial decision — one Shapley refused to abide by — not to charge those years. Lesley Wolf first started raising questions about the sufficiency of the evidence in May 2021. This new trove of documents show that Shapley had been informed that DE USAO was disinclined to charge those years more than two months before October 2022, and again in August 2022. There is a good deal of evidence that Shapley’s manufactured panic about “letting” SOLs expire instead is an expression of disagreement with a prosecutorial decision.

Perhaps worst of all, the depiction the IRS Agents have made of Lesley Wolf does not reflect what appears in these documents, which show her to be more supportive of them than they claimed. On September 21, 2020, Wolf followed up immediately when the FBI showed reluctance to pursue parts of the investigation. In October 2020, she was supportive of the IRS’ wishes to do the Day of Action interviews sooner rather than later. In December 2021, she made a point of commending all the work Ziegler had done on the case. In June 2022, David Weiss recognized Ziegler’s work. In August 2022, Wolf noted that Ziegler was  busy dealing with a family issue and empathized, “know I am thinking of you and sending good thoughts.”

The one thing Wolf absolutely did push back on was the IRS Agents’ efforts to conduct a campaign finance investigation of the funds Kevin Morris provided to Hunter to pay off his taxes. At one point, her request that they prioritize the 2014 tax case first (which she said hadn’t been proven yet) was depicted as obstruction. At another — in Shapley notes that again appear to conflict with what he was writing in the official record — she provided several good legal reasons not to pursue the case, including that any “donation” from Morris to Joe Biden via Hunter was even more attenuated than the John Edwards case that failed. By recording and publicly releasing Wolf noting that the law was not clear on this issue, Shapley will make it almost impossible to charge, because anyone charged would simply point out that even DOJ agreed it wasn’t a clear campaign finance donation. And what the IRS Agents otherwise portray as Wolf’s disinterest in involving Public Integrity (PIN) because they would take authority away from her was (here and elsewhere) instead described as PIN requiring another layer of approvals, precisely the thing that IRS Agents were complaining about elsewhere.

The IRS Agents’ recriminations of Lesley Wolf have gotten her targeted with serious threats. And yet, their own record doesn’t substantiate the claims they have made against her.


September 21, 2018: Suspicious Activity Report from Wells Fargo.

October 31, 2018: Primary investigation initiated into other entity.

November 1-2, 2018: Request of support for SAR, only other agency investigating was DA office.

December 10, 2018: Primary investigation initiated into Hunter Biden.

January 18, 2019: Update from Wells Fargo on SAR.

Around February 2019: SSA informs Ziegler that DE USAO looking into SAR.

March 28-29, 2019 Exhibit 400: April 26, 2019, FBI FD 302, re: March 28, 2019, Interview with Gal Luft. It appears likely there were two 302s of these interviews (possibly three) because Luft’s alleged lies don’t appear in unredacted form in this one.

April 12, 2019: Package submitted to DOJ-Tax

April 15, 2019 Exhibit 206: April 15, 2019, Email from Joseph Ziegler to Jessica Moran, Subject: Approx. Timeline. This shows the above timeline, about which Ziegler was not clear in his testimony.

April 29, 2019 Exhibit 207: April 29, 2019, Email from Matthew Kutz to Kelly Jackson, cc’ing Joseph Ziegler and Christopher Wajda, Subject: Robert Doe – FYI Venue issue. Kutz is the person to whom Ziegler attributed his understanding that Barr had assigned this to DE USAO himself, before backing off that claim. Kutz is also the person who was documenting 6A and inappropriate influence on the investigation. Ziegler provides none of that.

August 5-7, 2020 Exhibit 202: August 5-7, 2020, Emails Between Joshua Wilson, Lesley Wolf, Carly Hudson, cc’ing Susan Roepcke, Michelle Hoffman, Joseph Ziegler, and Joseph Gordon, Subject: BS SW Draft. This was a warrant for BlueStar emails. AUSA Wolf objected not just to the mention of Joe Biden in the warrant (which is the only thing Ziegler leaves unredacted), but also to a great deal of stuff that was outside scope of the warrant. The SDNY FARA investigation was active in this period, which may be why other stuff was included, but in short order, even the IRS seemed to concede the SDNY FARA investigation into CEFC (the one that would rely on Gal Luft’s interview) was not viable.

Exhibit 203: Draft of B[lue]S[star email] Warrant.

September 3-4, 2020 Attachment 2: September 3-4, 2023, Emails Between Joseph Ziegler, Lesley Wolf, cc’ing Carly Hudson, Jack Morgan, Mark Daly, Joshua Wilson, Susan Roepcke, Alyssa Ruisard, Antonino Lo Piccolo, Christine Puglisi, Stefania Roca, Michael Dzielak, Gary Shapley, and Joseph Gordon, Subject: Today’s Agenda. This is an incredibly helpful list of where key legal process stood:

  • 4 iCloud backups (Ziegler asked whether location data was necessary, which he and Shapley suggested was mandatory before)
  • Relevancy review of iPhone Backup (which tells you they were still scoping the phone when they got the iCloud warrants)
  • Search warrant for BlueStar (about which investigators disagreed in August)
  • Supplemental email search warrant (unclear on which account)
  • DropBox search warrant (which wouldn’t be served for some time, but which seems to have been an attempt to get emails they knew of but didn’t have)
  • Discussion of 2703-D orders (metadata) for two accounts belonging to Vadym Pozharskyi and one to Devon Archer; elsewhere Ziegler relies on the “laptop” for emails involving the two

The agenda also notes investigative developments involving SDNY (the FARA investigation), Pittsburgh (the FD-1023), and Comerica.

September 3-4, 2020: Memo of Meeting. At this meeting, there was a discussion of keeping Hunter Biden’s name off overt requests, to which Ziegler objected (as if he wanted it to be discovered). There’s a discussion of whether the investigation would continue or not after the election, which Wolf said it would. Wolf attributed sensitivities to Richard Donoghue. Note: Shapley doesn’t say who was involved in the follow-up call on September 4.

September 21, 2020 Attachment 3: September 21, 2020, IRS CI Memorandum of Conversation Between Gary Shapley and Mark Daly, Authored by Gary Shapley. This memorializes a meeting earlier that day in which Joe Gordon expressed uncertainty among FBI management about how many interviews they would participate in after the election. Lesley Wolf pushed back hard on this. This memo reflects double hearsay (Wolf to Mark Daly to Shapley) blaming Special Agent Josh Wilson for the reluctance on investigating Hunter, because he had just moved back to Wilmington with his family. Shapley also memorializes a call to his ASAC about the details. This is another instance where Wolf was pushing the investigation hard.

October 19, 2020 Attachment 5: October 19, 2020, Email from Gary Shapley to Lesley Wolf, Subject: Computer. This is an email Shapley read, in part, in his testimony, regarding IRS’ need to know what was going on with the laptop. Ironically, he notes that there may be specific disclosure limitations tied to the IRS warrant, a concern with which he has since dispensed.

October 21, 2020 Attachment 4: October 2, 2020, Emails Between Lesley Wolf, Joseph Ziegler, Gary Shapley, and George Murphy, Subject: Dates. This reflects ongoing discussion about when to do the day of action, in an attempt to avoid interviewing Hunter in Delaware, as opposed to LA. Lesley Wolf was again supportive of Shapley’s goals to do the interviews sooner rather than later.

October 21, 2020 Exhibit 210: October 21, 2020, Emails Between Jack Morgan, Lesley Wolf, cc’ing Mark Daly and Carly Hudson, Subject: Mann Act. Jack Morgan emails Lesley Wolf regarding nine communications, two with traffickers, that he says may support Mann Act exposure. In only two cases was the travel confirmed. There are no dates in this list. Three instances include travel to Massachusetts (and so might coincide with the apparent hijacking of Hunter’s digital identity while he was in Ketamine treatment).

October 22, 2020: Notes on laptop. As noted, Shapley wildly misrepresented what the notes on the laptop actually say. They show that 10 months after accessing the laptop, the FBI still hadn’t done basic things to validate the content on the laptop had not been tampered.

October 22, 2020 Attachment 6: October 22, 2020, IRS CI Memorandum of Conversation between Prosecution Team, Authored by Gary Shapley. Shapley records Wolf as saying that there would not be a warrant on the DE residence. He does not record why. He also records the briefing on the Pittsburgh lead, ordered up by PDAG (Donoghue). This meeting happened an hour after the laptop meeting, but Shapley treats it as a separate meeting (and doesn’t say who attended).

October 23, 2020 Exhibit 400A: Tony Bobulinksi FBI FD-302 Interview Memorandum. This interview happened on October 23, 2020; Bobulinski went straight from the White House to self-report at the FBI. He repeatedly refused to let the FBI image his phones. It certainly doesn’t help Bobulinski’s credibility as a witness.

October 23, 2020 Exhibit 400B: Attachment Tony Bobulinksi FBI FD-302 Interview Memorandum.

November 2-9, 2020 Attachment 7: November 8-9, 2020, Emails Between James Robnett and Kelly Jackson, cc’ing Michael DePalma, George Murphy, and Gary Shapley, Subject: 1 page brief needed. The day after networks called the election for Joe Biden, the Deputy Chief of IRS-CI ordered the team to put together a one-page summary of the Hunter Biden investigation, to be delivered to him by Tuesday, November 10.

November 9, 2020 Attachment 8: November 9, 2020, Email from Kelly Jackson to Gary Shapley, cc’ing George Murphy, Subject: Recipient of the 1 pager. Effectively, the IRS team checked how far this would circulate before drafting.

~November 9, 2020 Attachment 9: Sportsman Investigation, IRS CI One-Pager. This appears to be a draft, not the final, as there are inline questions and answers. This provides a good summary of where the investigation was, notes that the FARA investigation pertained to CEFC (and that investigators planned no overt steps). It also says that the plan was to do a consent search of the storage facility (and a residence, though it’s not clear which one), which puts the later dispute in context.

December 8, 2020 Exhibit 401: December 8, 2020, Transcribed Interview of John Robinson Walker.

December 8-9, 2020 Exhibit 204: December 8-9, 2020, Emails Between Joseph Ziegler, Lesley Wolf, Mark Daly, Carly Hudson, Jack Morgan, cc’ing Christine Puglisi and Gary Shapley, Subject: Storage Location Warrant. The discussion returns to a warrant for the storage facility outside of DC (in VA). Ziegler says he wants to execute it the following week. Wolf tries to explain that there will be too many approvals required and heavy filter requirements because the facility is in the Fourth Circuit.

December 10, 2020 Attachment 10: IRS CI Monthly Significant Case Report, Subject Name: Robert Hunter Biden, December 2020. This periodic report (Shapley only provided two, raising questions about whether there were others) includes the most substantive description of how the investigation was predicated off sex workers. Shapley bitches about Wolf forgoing the approvals and instead applying the subpoena to the storage facility (without noting that the initial plan was to do a consent search). He says that the only viable charges at that point were tax charges (meaning the SDNY FARA charges didn’t flesh out). This report also notes the election meddling allegations. Shapley also bitches that prosecutors aren’t responding to Congressional inquiries, a totally inappropriate stance, one he would repeat in a later report. He blames the December 2020 leak on DOJ, with no explanation. Unclear whether this really is dated December 10, before the December 11 call with Wolf.

December 11, 2020 Exhibit 205: Joseph Ziegler’s Notes re: Phone Call with Lesley Wolf About the Storage Unit Warrant. The notes of this call actually debunks several things Ziegler has claimed. Wolf notes that the normal way to interview Hunter would be to call his lawyers, but she worked hard to go through just Secret Service. She also notes that all lawyers involved agreed subpoenaing for the documents was the appropriate thing to do.

December 14, 2020 Attachment 11: December 14, 2020, Emails Between Kelly Jackson, George Murphy, and Gary Shapley, Subject: SM – call with DFO today. This escalated matters on the facility to Deputy Commissioner. At that point, one of the IRS people didn’t even knew how a taint would work after a search.

December 15, 2020 Attachment 12: December 15, 2020, FBI Electronic Communication, Title: Attempted Interview: Hunter Biden 12/08/2020. The 302 reflecting the non-interview of Hunter. Slightly over two hours later, Hunter’s lawyers contacted the FBI.

January 26, 2021 Exhibit 315A: January 26, 2021, Emails Between Joseph Ziegler, Stefania [redacted], and Carly Hudson, Subject: Can you send me the filter terms that have been used for Relativity? For some reason, Ziegler included these filter terms, which will be very helpful to Hunter’s lawyers. Notably, there were two sets of filters: tax and FARA, which may explain the source of Ziegler’s frustration that they didn’t get all results. At that point FARA was exclusively focused on Ukraine.

Exhibit 315B: Appendix A, Filter Keywords for Google Email.

Exhibit 315C: Appendix A – Laptop, Filter Keywords for Laptop Filter.

Exhibit 315D: Appendix A, Filter Keywords for Laptop FARA Filter.

February 5, 2021 Attachment 13: February 5, 2021, Emails Between Joseph Ziegler, Lesley Wolf, Carly Hudson, Joshua Wilson, Susan Roepcke, Michelle Hoffman, Antonino Lo Piccolo, Christine Puglisi, Stefania Roca, Michael Dzielak, Matthew McKenzie, cc’ing Joseph Gordon and Gary Shapley, Subject: Agenda 2/5 Meeting @ 12:30PM. This reflects Wolf and other lawyers briefing seemingly more than one AAG (unclear whether this is Acting, or Assistant, since no one was confirmed yet). Shapley was put out that NSD asked to be briefed on the tax side of the case.

April 27, 2021 Exhibit 1E: Transcript of Recorded IRS CI Interview with Jeffrey Gelfound, re: Hunter Biden Representation Letter and Discussion of Hunter Biden 2014 Tax Return. A fragment of an interview with Hunter’s accountant regarding a representation letter signed 3 months after the initial representation. Gelfound really didn’t seem as worked up about it as the IRS.

April 27, 2021 Exhibit 1F: Transcript of Recorded IRS CI Interview with Jeffrey Gelfound, re: Alleged Gulnora Deduction. The part of the Gelfound interview regarding how the sex worker came to be deducted.

April 27, 2021 Exhibit 1J: Transcript of Recorded IRS CI Interview with Jeffrey Gelfound, re: Hunter Biden’s Tax Payments. Gelfound suggested that the payments with a lien would be paid by Kevin Morris first, possibly because of publicity.

May 2021 Attachment 14: IRS CI Monthly Significant Case Report, Subject Name: Robert Hunter Biden, Month/Year of Report: May 2021. This notes the 2021 expiration of the 2014 tax year. It states that FBI is not sold on charging decision. It says FBI is actively involving FARA. And it claims there are campaign finance violations (pertaining to Kevin Morris paying off Hunter’s taxes), which Wolf wanted nothing to dø with, in part to avoid PIN involvement. She stated that 2014 could not yet be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, which is what she wanted them to focus on.

June 14, 2021 Exhibit 1G: Interview excerpt of Gulnora. This is the interview with the sex worker payments to whom Hunter deducted. She appears to have ties to the overseas escort service, so these payments could be the ones that triggered the entire investigation. Marjorie Taylor Greene misrepresented this interview in her campaign to turn Hunter into a sex trafficker.

September 9, 2021 Exhibit 208: September 9, 2021, Email Between Joseph Ziegler, Lesley Wolf, Stefania Roca, cc’ing Carly Hudson, Jack Morgan, Mark Daly, Christine Puglisi, Michelle Ann Hoffman, Susan Roepcke, and Joshua J. Wilson, re: Frustrations with Interview Delays. Ziegler complains that some interviews with sex workers have to be put off because DOJ Tax is still approving, among other things, a subpoena for Hunter’s lawyer George Mesires.

September 10-24, 2021 Attachment 15: September 10-24, 2021, Emails Between Gary Shapley and Jason Poole, Subject: Quick Call. Shapley’s own supervisor was blowing him off too, but he did follow-up twice to complain about approvals.

September 20, 2021 Exhibit 209: September 20, 2021, Emails Between Mark Daly and Joseph Ziegler, Subject: Re: email sent to mgmt with list of 10 [redacted]. Mark Daly gets involved and seems to move these forward.

September 20, 2021 Attachment 2: September 20, 2021, Emails Between Joseph Ziegler, David Denning, Christine Puglisi, Darrell Waldon, and Gary Shapley, Subject: Travel. Here Ziegler lashes out at his own supervisor, who suggests he send a “collateral” to do interviews in LA, rather than doing them himself. Contrary to wanting to go overt in the past, he claims he is trying to keep things quiet. Ziegler writes that this is “a case I’ve worked with very little problems and only support from my management, you’re making it hard for me to do my job” (though he may have only been referencing the IRS side).

September 20, 2021 Attachment 3: September 20, 2021, Emails Between Joseph Ziegler, David Denning, Christine Puglisi, Michael Batdorf, and Gary Shapley, Subject: Travel. Ziegler escalates to Mike Batdorf. He notes, “I don’t want to put some details in this email” and also says he’s only cc’ing Shapley “because I’ve briefed him on what has happened and because he’s been my management since day 1,” which is of course false.

September 22, 2021 Exhibit 506: September 22, 2021, Emails Between Justin Cole, James Lee, James Robnett, Michael Batdorf, Darrell Waldon, and Joseph Ziegler, Subject: Sensitive Case Heads Up. CNN reached out to IRS and said they had a recent witness saying the case was almost wrapped up, claiming to having a Hunter email saying that all this would go away when his dad became President, claiming there was a plea deal. Batdorf gets the question, sends it to Ziegler, he asks if he can share with the lawyers. Batdorf asks not to share the CNN side, even though they regularly share media reports. Ziegler reports back that Wolf said no plea had been offered.

September 20-23, 2021 Exhibit 507: September 20-23, 2021, Emails Between Joseph Ziegler, David Denning, Christine Puglisi, Michael Batdorf, and Gary Shapley, Subject: Travel. Batdorf follows up again and Ziegler says “It seems to have been a miscommunication from my senior management. … I had a significant amount of trust in my prior management, and for some reason, that has gone away.”

November 16, 2021 Exhibit 1H: IRS CI Memorandum of Interview with Jeffrey Gelfound on November 16, 2021.J

November 23, 2021 Exhibit 402: John Robinson Walker FBI FD-302.

December 20, 2021 Exhibit 200: December 20, 2021, Email from Lesley Wolf to Mark Daly, Jack Morgan, Carly Hudson, Matthew McKenzie, Joseph Ziegler, Christine Puglisi, Antonino Lo Piccolo, Susan Roepcke, Michelle Ann Hoffman, Michael Dzielak, Stefania Roca, Joseph Gordon, and Joshua Wilson, Subject: Thank you! Wolf gives extra credit to Ziegler for all his work.

January 12, 2022 Attachment 16: Notes from January 12, 2022, Sportsman Call. Wolf gives good legal reasons not to pursue the campaign finance investigation, notably that the law is uncertain and the facts are even more attenuated here than they were for John Edwards. She doesn’t want to involve PIN because it would add another level of approval.

Janaury 27, 2022: Prosecution Memo. As described in Shapley’s testimony, this document is what goes through a series of approval processes.

February 15, 2022 Attachment 17: February 15, 2022, Email from Gary Shapley to Darrell Waldon, cc’ing Lola Watson, Subject: For Review/Approval: Sensitive T26 Prosecution Recommendation – SPORTSMAN – SA Ziegler. This was Shapley’s rebuttal to CT’s non-concur on prosecution, based on Hunter’s addictions. Though Shapley (and especially Ziegler) has elsewhere stated clearly that Hunter was totally incapacitated in this period, Shapley now claims, “the universe of his conduct clearly indicated he was lucid during his periods of insobriety and therefore a blanket lack of willfulness defense to the pattern of conduct is not reasonable nor logical.”

May 13, 2022 Attachment 18: May 13, 2022, Email from Gary Shapley to Michael Batdorf and Darrell Waldon, which Gary Shapley Forwarded to Joseph Ziegler and Christine Puglisi, Subject: Sportsman – 3rd DOJ Tax – Taxpayer Conference Delayed. Because of a delay in the tax conference at which the prosecution recommendation would be presented, Shapely pitches briefing Jason Poole and David Weiss on it in advance.

June 14-15, 2022 Exhibit 314: IRS CI Presentation re: Sportsman Investigation “Robert Doe,” Tax Summit, June 14-15, 2022. This is the slide deck presenting the case. Most of it — three pages — describe spin-off investigations. It shows the main remaining steps were to establish venue somewhere besides Delaware and get discovery production; at this moment, Shapley was refusing to turn over discovery production to DOJ.

June 30, 2022 Exhibit 1K: June 30, 2022, Email from Matthew Salerno to Mark Daly, Lesley Wolf, Carly Hudson, Jack Morgan, cc’ing Chris Clark, Brian McManus, and Timothy McCarten, re: 2018 Tax Defenses Proffered, wh ich Mark Daly Forwarded to Joseph Ziegler, Michelle Ann Hoffman, Christine Puglisi, and Michael Dzielak. This is Mark Daly forwarding Hunter’s lawyers’ rebuttal on some of the 2018 deductions, explaining while none of Hunter’s efforts to develop businesses worked, he was attempting. Ziegler has claimed there’s contrary evidence (from James Biden) in the record, but none of that is definitive and James Biden testified his memory wasn’t great on the matter.

June 21-28, 2022 Exhibit 201: June 21-28, 2022, Emails Between David Weiss, Joseph Ziegler, and Gary Shapley, cc’ing Lesley Wolf, Carly Hudson, Jack Morgan, and Mark Daly, Subject: Sportsman Request. After thanking Ziegler for all his work, Weiss asks IRS to have a revenue agent rerun all the loss numbers for 2014 and 2015. He asks for that, first, because that’s what is normally done, and second, because, “at trial we are going to need a testifier on this issue and that testifier can’t be Joe.” While Ziegler ultimately complied with Weiss’ request, Ziegler first appears to have redone the analysis himself. This email will give Hunter’s attorney cause to question the revenue analyst about Ziegler’s role in these numbers, if this ever gets charged.

July 29, 2022 Attachment 19: Notes from July 29, 2022, Sportsman Call. This includes details of the state of the investigation, including mentions of approval for a new prong of FARA investigation, with references to SDNY (CEFC) and Romania. The outstanding witnesses include George Mesires and family members, including James Biden (and possibly Hallie Biden, though that’s redacted), though an August 18 email lists Mervyn Yan among those left to be interviewed. Wolf clearly tells the team that if they don’t indict by September, it’ll be after November. She clearly says that prosecution decision will be collaborative with DOJ Tax. She clearly says she’s not inclined to toll the 2014 and 2015 tax years ago. In short, she clearly communicates, in July, all the things that the IRS agents claim were surprises in October.

August 5-8, 2022 Exhibit 503: August 5-8, 2022, Emails Between Joseph Ziegler and Lesley Wolf, Subject: Meeting with David. Wolf sets up an August 16 meeting that it appears Ziegler requested, at which only Weiss will be present from DOJ. She requests he run numbers on an early undetermined issue. Ziegler says he’s working with revenue agent — the one Weiss asked to involve in June — on that. Wolf is again warm with Ziegler.

August 11, 2022 Exhibit 501: August 11, 2022, Emails Between Mark Daly, Joseph Ziegler, Christine Puglisi, Michael Dzielak, Michelle Ann Hoffman, Susan Roepcke, cc’ing Jack Morgan, Carly Hudson, and Lesley Wolf, Subject: Meeting. An internal IRS meeting about charging decisions that would precede the meeting with Weiss.

August 12, 2022 Exhibit 502: Calendar Invitation, Subject: Sportsman – Call re Charging, Organized by Mark Daly, Required Attendees: Michael Dzielak, Michelle Ann Hoffman, Susan Roepcke, Jack Morgan, Carly Hudson, Joseph Ziegler, and Christine Puglisi, Scheduled for August 12, 2022. The tax meeting on charging decisions.

August 15-18, 2022 Attachment 4: August 15-18, 2022, Email Between Gary Shapley, Michael Batdorf, and Darrell Waldon, Subject: Sportsman Update. Shapley telling his supervisors that Weiss was still not inclined to charge 2014 and 2015. One of his complaints is that if 2104 and 2015 weren’t charged, it would take the Burisma stuff off the table, which doesn’t sound like a tax decision. He’s still worried about not collecting that revenue, though the revenue is not that much (even if you believe him about what was owed). He claimed that Weiss mocked CT’s non-concurrence, but DOJ Tax does seem to side with not charging some of this. Shapley also claimed that the reason he was only learning venue on CA was through lack of transparency, except that’s totally consistent with what Wolf had said earlier: You decide charges first, then venue.

August 15-18, 2022 Attachment 20: August 15-18, 2022, Emails Between Gary Shapley, Michael Batdorf, and Darrell Waldon, Subject: Sportsman Update. This appears to be a dupe.

August 18, 2022 Exhibit 211: August 18, 2022, Email from Mark Daly to Joseph Ziegler, Michael Dzielak, Michelle Ann Hoffman, Christine Puglisi, Lesley Wolf, and Carly Hudson, cc’ing: Jack Morgan, Jason Poole, and John Kane, Subject: Going forward. At this point, the three remaining interviews were Mesires, Merv[y]n Yan, and James Biden.

August 25, 2022 Attachment 21: August 25, 2022, Emails Between Garret Kerley and Lesley Wolf, cc’ing Joseph Ziegler and Mark Daly, Subject: Case Coordination. The FBI SSA (who may have replaced Joe Gordon) complains they’re not communicating enough between meetings and asks to start an email chain. Wolf asks him to stand down until they can meet — clearly an effort to avoid creating discoverable information. Shapley turns it into a Memo for his files.

September 20 – November 8, 2022 Attachment 29: September 20, 2022, Emails Between Gary Shapley, David Weiss, and Darrell Waldon, Subject: SM Meeting – Management. On September 20, Shapley asks for a quick call. Weiss responds that he would set up a meeting/call for updates in near term (what would end up being the October 7 meeting). Then on November 8, after the prosecution meeting is canceled, Shapley attempts to set up a meeting in December. Shapley then writes back on November 8 saying the FBI can’t make it on December 2, so asks Weiss to confirm that December 5 would work.

September 22, 2022 Attachment 22: Notes from September 22, 2022, 2:30PM, Conversation, at which Lesley Wolf and Mark Daly are Present. Shapley notes that Wolf and Daly both joined late but doesn’t say how late. He describes that the US Attorney (whom he refers to as “her” but has to be a reference to Martin Estrada, who was just confirmed on September 19) has only been sworn in and will need time to get up to speed. DOJ Tax also wanted to defer the charges until after the election. And DE’s finance guy had a number of remaining questions.

September 22, 2022 Attachment 23: September 22, 2022; 3:33PM ff, Email from Gary Shapley to Michael Batdorf, Subject: Conversation with Batdorf Michael T. Shapley texts Batdorf, then emails the texts, complaining about the decision to wait until after the election.

September 22, 2022 Attachment 5: September 22, 2022, 5:28 PM Email from Gary Shapley to Darrell Waldon, Lola Watson, and Michael Batdorf, Subject: SM Update. Shapley tells his supervisors that Wolf said they wouldn’t charge until after the election. Shapley complains that, “the statement is inappropriate let alone the actual action of delaying as a result of the election.” He claims ther are other items (which he doesn’t lay out) “that are equally inappropriate,” probably that they weren’t going to charge the gun charge in October. Shapley was told months ago about this, but is wailing now.

September 22, 2022 Attachment 24: September 22, 2022, Email from Gary Shapley to Michael Batdorf, Darrell Waldon, and Lola Watson, Subject: SM Update. This appears to be a dupe, with the news he had a doctor’s appointment redacted.

September 21-October 6, 2022 Attachment 25: September 21-October 6, 2022, Emails Between Shawn Weede, Ryeshia Holley, and Gary Shapley, cc’ing Garret Kerley and Lesley Wolf, Subject: Call on Charging Timeline. This is a thread between Shawn Weede, Ryeshia Holley (whose name the FBI tried hard to keep obscure), Gary Shapley, about setting up the meeting he wanted. Because he was in the Netherlands the last week of September they instead waited until he returned. Shapley sent out his list of agenda items, showing clearly that he came into the October 7 meeting with an agenda — listing “1. Special counsel 2. election deferral comment – continued delays 3. venue issue”. — and a wildly mistaken understanding of how Special Attorney status works. At 4:34PM, two hours after the WaPo story posted, she says the meeting will include, “Anything further that develops by tomorrow.”

September 21 – October 6, 2022 Attachment 1: September 21-October 6, 2021, Emails Between Shawn Weede, Ryeshia Holley, Gary Shapley, cc’ing Garret Kerley and Lesley Wolf, Subject: Call on 2 Timeline. This shows the last two emails to the earlier thread.

September 28-29, 2022 Exhibit 504: September 29, 2022, Emails Between Joseph Ziegler, Darrell Waldon, and Gary Shapley, cc’ing Lola Watson and Michael Batdorf, Subject: Sportsman. Darrel Waldon writes to note he requested a meeting with the US Attorney’s office. Ziegler notes he’s awaiting information about CDCA’s decision on charging 2017-2019. Hours later, Waldon asks him to call his cell. Seemingly after that call, Ziegler responds that, “we also need to request the presentation of 2014 and 2015 to the criminal chief / US attorney in DC.” This seems to be inconsistent with past claims about when and how closely DC USAO reviewed this case.

September 29, 2022 Exhibit 401: IRS CI Memorandum of Interview with James Biden on September 29, 2022. Ziegler has pointed to this interview — “James B was not sending RHB any deals while he was out in California.  … conversations were about getting RHB well at this point and not about business” — as proof that Hunter’s lawyers were lying about his attempts to do business in 2018; yet Hunter’s uncle made clear that he kept trying to engage him and also noted that his memory was not all that clear. The interview also raises questions about Tony Bobulinski’s motives and credibility (as Rob Walker already had). The interview timing is as important as anything else — Shapley went on a tear about the timing of charging before this key interview was even done.

October 6, 2022 Attachment 26: October 6, 2022, Emails Between Gary Shapley, Michael Batdorf, and Darrell Waldon, Subject: Sportsman. After responding to Holley, Shapley alerts his supervisors of the Devlin Barrett story that he would later claim he didn’t know where it was published, noting that it is likely to come up at the meeting the next day. He identifies that the leak was “purportedly from the ‘agent’ level, reveals he spoke with the IRS press person about it, and stated, “I have no additional insight that is anything but a rumor.” This marks the third or fourth inconsistent representation of Shapley’s knowledge of the leak.

October 6, 2022 Exhibit 505: October 6, 2022, Emails Between Joseph Ziegler and Carly Hudson, Subject: Sportsman Uncle question. One of the AUSAs tells Ziegler that Weiss asked about something Ziegler raised, and he states that DOJ-Tax didn’t expect the case to be indicted until 2023, as they were still working on approvals. Hudson sends the email at 10:07AM; Ziegler responds at 6:51PM. I find it exceedingly unlikely Shapley did not also know that the case would not be indicted until 2023.

October 7, 2022: Handwritten notes. As noted these notes show that Shapley misrepresented what David Weiss said and introduced the DC USAO review that would be mooted by the decision not to charge 2014 and 2015, something Shapley had been alerted to months earlier.

October 7-11, 2022: Shapley to Darrell Waldon. The original email Shapley shared, which makes it clear the meeting was dominated by the leak.

October 7-11, 2022 Attachment 6: October 7-11, 2022, Email Between Gary Shapley, Michael Batdorf, and Darrell Waldon, Subject: Sportsman Meeting Update. This adds Mike Batdorf’s response to both Shapley and Waldon, 3 hours after Waldon said he’d handle the referral to TIGTA.

November 7, 2022 Attachment 27: November 7, 2022, Notes, Subject: Telephone Call from FBI Special Agent Mike Dzielak and IRS-CI Case Agent Joe Ziegler. A 10-minute call in which an FBI Special Agent discusses with Shapley and Ziegler that DE USAO was asking for management level emails. Dzielak suggests that the FBI was balking, in the same way that Shapley still was. Shapley offered up that this was proof that DE USAO had no intention of charging, which is utterly debunked by the fact that they had made this request once before (he says in April-May here, but in his House Ways and Means testimony he said it was in March). There’s no mention of the leak.

November 8-10, 2022 Attachment 28: November 8-10, 2022, Emails Between Gary Shapley and Ryeshia Holley, Subject: Next Meeting in Delaware. This reflects Shapley’s immediate effort to schedule a December meeting after the November prosecution meeting was canceled. One reason he did so was because of the request for his own emails.

December 13, 2022: Shapley email to Michael Batdorf. This is the email where Shapley asked Batdorf to ask him if he had any questions about the emails that got turned over.

December 13-16, 2022 Attachment 30: December 13-16, 2022, Emails Between Gary Shapley, Michael Batdorf, and Darrell Waldon, Subject: Meeting at Del USAO Today. Shapley emails Batdorf and Waldon to tell them that prosecutors and the FBI had an all-day meeting in Wilmington. Waldon asks if anyone from Tax participated.

January 6, 2023 Attachment 7: January 6, 2023, Notes, re: Call between Gary Shapley and Michael Batdorf on Whistleblowing. Shapley memorializes an either 8- or 13-minute call with Mike Batdorf, alerting him that on January 4, he lawyered up with “whistleblower” counsel. He gave a weird pitch (including that he would criticize the IRS, but that the IRS could boast that it was an IRS agent who “came forward.” Shapley claimed he would attend to 6103 and 6e matters he has not — including getting approval before sharing. He specifically left out the Senate Finance Committee. And he admitted that he expected DOJ to make “nefarious” allegations against him but hoped the IRS would support him. Batdorf said he hadn’t heard of any allegations.

January 20, 2023 Attachment 8: January 20, 2023, Emails Between Gary Shapley, Michael Batdorf, Darrell Waldon, and Lola Watson, Subject: Discussion – Sportsman. In the guise of finding out what was expected of him, Shapley claimed that FBI investigators had been brought back on the Hunter Biden case (which he learned via Ziegler).  He also noted that a third FBI Agent on the team retired before mandatory retirement. Waldon corrects Shapley that the FBI agents met with DE USAO on other issues, but only inquired about Hunter Biden.

January 25-February 10, 2023 Attachment 9: January 25-February 10, 2023, Email Between Gary Shapley and Michael Batdorf, Subject: For Review/Approval: Administrative Leave Request for Protected Whistleblower Activities – Shapley. Shapley asks Batdorf for paid leave for meetings, including with Congress, months before any overt meetings with Congress happened (suggesting he may have met with Grassley). Batdorf not only gives him leave but offers to pick up his work to enable it. Shapley offers to document with whom he was meeting (which given that this request preceded most overt outreach by months, would have been really helpful), but Batdorf says that’s not necessary.

April 13, 2023 Exhibit 212: April 13, 2023, Email from Joseph Ziegler to Lola Watson, cc’ing Gary Shapley, Subject: Sportsman. Ziegler updates Lola Watson (but not Kareem Carter), about meetings Hunter’s lawyers are having, including with Brad Weinsheimer (which leaked). He claims, without evidence, that Weiss was responding to the Merrick Garland testimony. And he addresses two investigations (which involves someone whose taxes would have implications for Hunter Biden — possibly Kevin Morris, would be consistent with Ziegler’s testimony) from which his team has been excluded.

Attachment 31: May 15, 2023, Notes from Conference Call with Kareem Carter, Lola Watson, Gary Shapley, and Joe Ziegler, Re: Sportsman. Memorialization of 17-minute call on which Kareem Carter took the International Tax team off the Hunter Biden case. Some of Shapley’s claims (such as that he documented complaints going back ot June 2020) are not substantiated in the emails released. And he was downright insubordinate on the call. Importantly, his memorialization does not reveal that Ziegler was not invited on the call, and in fact falsely suggests that Ziegler received an invitation to the call.

May 18, 2023 Exhibit 213: May 18, 2023, Email from Joseph Ziegler to Douglas O’Donnell, Daniel Werfel, James Lee, Guy Ficco, Michael Batdorf, Kareem Carter, and Lola Watson, Subject: Sportsman Investigation-Removal of Case Agent. Joseph Ziegler’s email in which he acknowledges breaking chain of command to complain about his removal.

Gary Shapley Didn’t Tell Congress about Election Meddling Concerns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Republicans Plan to Declare Trump’s Entire Business Model a High Crime and Misdemeanor

The Republicans have decided that the perfect time to kick off an impeachment is just before their own incompetence leads to a government shutdown, which will lead to millions of government workers and service members either getting laid off, or working without pay, will strain food support for poor families and limit food inspections, and will result in holdups for people traveling by air.

The GOP really does plan to launch a no-evidence impeachment while Rome burns.

Yesterday, House Ways and Means released another document dump from purported whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler. I’m wading through those now, but even a cursory review shows that Shapley makes claims that go beyond what his colleagues backed, at times delving into bad faith.

In advance of a hearing featuring Fox News pundit Jonathan Turley, Republicans released their justification for an impeachment inquiry.

It is nothing short of batshit insane.

That’s true, first of all, because they plan to impeach Joe Biden for actions his son took while Joe wasn’t even in government. One of their latest new fetishes is that in 2019, Hunter Biden used his father’s address as a permanent address and got legal financial transfers at it.

Again, much of this impeachment is about Joe Biden being a Dad.

Crazier still, the premise of this impeachment is that Hunter Biden traded on the family brand and he and his associates (including James Biden, but also a bunch of people who made far more money) made a paltry $24 million by doing so.

In other words, just days after a judge ruled that Trump and two of his sons had wildly inflated his own value — including by adding a brand premium to his properties!!! — continuing into the years he was President, Republicans want to impeach Joe Biden because business interests Joe Biden wasn’t part of tried to do that on a far, far smaller scale.

Republicans are impeaching Joe Biden because his son had business interests with a Chinese company, the most salacious interactions of which occurred the year after the Obama Administration, even though Trump’s own daughter benefited from her own family’s brand and her nepotistic job in the White House to obtain trademarks from the government of China during some of the same years.

The Chinese government granted 18 trademarks to companies linked to President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump over the last two months, Chinese public records show, raising concerns about conflicts of interest in the White House.

In October, China’s Trademark Office granted provisional approval for 16 trademarks to Ivanka Trump Marks LLC, bringing to 34 the total number of marks China has greenlighted this year, according to the office’s online database. The new approvals cover Ivanka-branded fashion gear including sunglasses, handbags, shoes and jewelry, as well as beauty services and voting machines.

The approvals came three months after Ivanka Trump announced she was dissolving her namesake brand to focus on government work.

China also granted provisional approval for two “Trump” trademarks to DTTM Operations LLC, headquartered at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York. They cover branded restaurant, bar and hotel services, as well as clothing and shoes.

And Trump’s own tax returns — released after a years-long fight — revealed that in the same year Republicans are obsessing about Hunter over, 2017, Trump’s company made $17.5 million in China, far more than Hunter made personally during this entire period.

Mr. Trump’s plans in China have been largely driven by a different company, Trump International Hotels Management — the one with a Chinese bank account.

The company has direct ownership of THC China Development, but is also involved in management of other Trump-branded properties around the world, and it is not possible to discern from its tax records how much of its financial activity is China-related. It normally reports a few million dollars in annual income and deductible expenses.

In 2017, the company reported an unusually large spike in revenue — some $17.5 million, more than the previous five years’ combined. It was accompanied by a $15.1 million withdrawal by Mr. Trump from the company’s capital account.

Republicans want to make the bread and butter of Trump’s corporate existence a High Crime and Misdemeanor.

Democrats should use this opportunity to show that Trump is the one who should have been under a five year tax investigation, Trump is the one who should be impeached for using his position in the White House to enrich himself, his daughter, and her spouse.

In an interview after yesterday’s House Ways and Means roll out, Richard Neal raised several problems with the impeachment inquiry. Notably, Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith — who was humiliated at his own press conference yesterday — has never made a 6103 request to the IRS to officially release these documents, as Neal himself did in the protracted effort to get Trump’s tax returns. It’s not clear any of this — especially Shapley and Ziegler going back to get files from IRS servers after they have been removed from the investigation — is legal.

As families face severe financial crisis because of Republican incompetence, Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, James Comer, and the recently-humiliated Jason Smith are going to pursue an impeachment premised on the notion that Trump’s entire business model is a High Crime and Misdemeanor.

“They Were Trying to Boot the Machine:” John Paul Mac Isaac Claims the FBI Really WERE That Incompetent

If you can believe John Paul Mac Isaac, the FBI did some incredibly bone-headed things after they obtained Hunter Biden’s laptop in December 2019. As he describes it in his book (which I read recently while stuck in a hospital awaiting foot surgery), on the very same day the FBI collected the laptop purported to belong to Hunter Biden, on December 9, 2019, someone named “Matt” told Mac Isaac they had tried to boot it up.

“Hi, my name is Matt,” said a voice I didn’t recognize. “I work with Agent DeMeo and Agent Wilson. Do you have a second? I have some questions about accessing the laptop.”

Confused, I responded, “Sure, what’s going on?”

“Did the laptop come with any cables or a charger? How can I connect the drive to a PC? When I plug it in, it wants to format the drive,” Matt said.

“PCs can’t natively read Mac-formatted disks. You will only be able to access the drive from another Mac.”

This is fairly common knowledge among most computer users, and I was surprised that any kind of tech person wouldn’t know it.

“Sadly, Hunter never left the charger or any other cables,” I went on. “I have a charger and everything you need back at the shop. You guys are welcome to it.”

I was feeling really uncomfortable. This Matt guy definitely didn’t seem to have the training or resources to be performing a forensic evaluation of the laptop. Hadn’t the whole reason for taking the laptop been to get it to a lab for proper evaluation and dissemination?

“Tell him we’re OK and we won’t need to go back to his shop,” Agent DeMeo said in the background. “We’ll call you back if we need to,” Matt said before hanging up.


“Hi, it’s Matt again. So, we have a power supply and a USB-C cable, but when we boot up, I can’t get the mouse or keyboard to work.”

I couldn’t believe it—they were trying to boot the machine!

“The keyboard and trackpad were disconnected due to liquid damage. If you have a USB-C–to–USB-A adaptor, you should be able to use any USB keyboard or mouse,” I said. He related this to Agent DeMeo and quickly hung up.

Matt called yet again about an hour later.

“So this thing won’t stay on when it’s unplugged. Does the battery work?”

I explained that he needed to plug in the laptop and that once it turned on, the battery would start charging. I could sense his stress and his embarrassment at having to call repeatedly for help. [my emphasis]

To be sure, you can’t believe Mac Isaac.

His own story is riddled with questionable details and important discrepancies.

The most important discrepancy is his description of the laptop he turned over to the FBI, which he describes as a 2016 Mac, not the 2018 Mac identified by serial number.

I moved on to the last Mac, a thirteen-inch 2016 MacBook Pro. The drive was soldered onto the logic board. This one powered on but then would shut down. I suspected that there was a short in the keyboard or trackpad, and if I took it apart, I could at least get it to boot and possibly recover the data.

As I understand it, Mac Isaac’s claims that the hard drive was soldered onto the logic board is also inconsistent with the known details of the laptop shared with the FBI.

But there are important other discrepancies between the story Mac Isaac tells and the one the government tells. In his timeline of his interactions with the FBI, Mac Isaac gets the date for the actual handoff, December 9, correct, but other dates he uses differ from those that show up in Gary Shapley’s timeline. For example:

  • Mac Isaac says that Agent Josh Wilson (who is mentioned in Shapley’s notes) reached out to his father on November 1; Shapley’s notes say that happened on November 3
  • Mac Isaac says that Wilson called him on November 4; Shapley’s notes say that happened on November 6
  • Mac Isaac says that Wilson came to his home on November 19; Shapley’s notes say that happened on November 7

These discrepancies aren’t all that important, legally. But Mac Isaac’s dates seem tailored to the impeachment proceedings going on in the same period, and so to laying a foundation for sharing the laptop with Rudy Giuliani.

A far more important set of discrepancies pertain to Mac Isaac’s description of what happened on December 9, 2019.

The blind computer repairman first describes that the second agent, Agent Mike DeMeo, called him to ask for the device identifiers that morning, before coming to the shop to pick up the device.

Agent DeMeo called around 9:30 a.m. It caught me a little off guard. The only other time we had communicated was shortly after our meeting almost three weeks earlier. He had asked me then to text him the timeline of my interaction with Hunter. I figured that he wanted something in writing showing the chain of custody—or it was an effort to trap me into writing something that could be twisted into a charge of lying to the FBI.

This time, he asked me to text him the model and serial number of the external drive and laptop. I explained that I hadn’t made it to the shop yet. “I need this information before we head over,” he insisted. “It’s important.”

“Give me thirty-five minutes,” I responded, then hung up. I finished getting ready and headed to the shop. After texting the numbers to Agent DeMeo, I waited in the shop with the blinds closed and the lights out, so as not to announce that the store was open. [my emphasis]

Shapley described that the FBI obtained and confirmed the device identifier before they ever met Mac Isaac, on November 6 (though perhaps Mac Isaac only referred to other identifiers needed for the subpoena).

Nevertheless, this discrepancy is important for a number of reasons, not least that if the FBI looked at all closely at the returns on a subscriber subpoena to Apple, it should have raised significant alarm that someone was trying to hack Hunter Biden. But if they didn’t obtain this information until the day they obtained the laptop, then they couldn’t have reviewed the subscriber data very closely in advance. That negligence might, in turn, amount to negligence in missing clear signs that the then former VP’s son was being hacked.

As Mac Isaac describes it, it was not until Agents arrived at his shop that they told him they were going to seize the laptop with a subpoena rather than imaging the laptop there at the shop.

Both agents arrived at my door about a half hour late. “Where’s the tech?” I asked, holding the door open.

“We have a change of plans,” Agent Wilson responded. “Can we go in the back?”

I led the agents to the back, and Agent Wilson placed his bag on the workbench. “

I have a subpoena here to collect the laptop, the drive, and all paperwork associated with the equipment,” he said, pulling out a collection of very formal and important-looking paperwork. “I’ll need you to sign it.”

When Mac Issac asked why they had changed their plan, he claims, lead Agent Josh Wilson deferred to Agent Mike DeMeo, who told him that they were taking the laptop back to a lab to image.

“You guys scared the shit out of me!” I exclaimed. “So why the change of plans? Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful that you’re taking this stuff out of my shop.”

Agent Wilson looked over at Agent DeMeo, who was buried in his clipboard. “Ah, Mike?” he said. Agent DeMeo paused his writing and said, “We have a lab that takes these things and is better equipped than our field tech.”

Mac Isaac also claims that at that same meeting, DeMeo told him only to contact him, not Wilson.

“Tell them you keep abandoned equipment offsite, like a warehouse location,” Agent DeMeo answered, taking over. “Tell them it will take a day for you to check and they should call back the next day. Then immediately text me at my cell number. From now on, only communicate through my cell number. Not Agent Wilson, just me. We need to avoid communicating through, ah, normal channels. I’m sure you can understand. Text me and we will get the equipment back to you and deal with the situation.”

This communication works the opposite of the way you’d expect. Often, second agents are asked to take the stand, so you’d want them to have a clean digital trail. Here, the lead agent, Agent Wilson, was protecting his communications, whereas the second agent was not.

And then, as Mac Isaac tells it, that very same day, someone else, “Matt,” called using DeMeo’s phone, asking really embarrassing questions about how to access the laptop.

The claim that someone at the FBI was trying to boot up the laptop is alarming enough — though as I noted in July, there is some corroboration for the claim in Gary Shapley’s notes.

FBI determined in order to do a full forensic review a replacement laptop had to be purchased so the hard drive could be installed, booted and imaged.


Josh Wilson stated that (while laughing) so whoever [people wanting to review the laptop] are they are going to have to buy a laptop to put the hard drive so they can read it.

Where Mac Isaac’s claims are totally inconsistent with the FBI claims, in a way that would cause grave legal problems for the FBI, is the date: Mac Isaac claims that the FBI was trying to boot up the laptop that same day, on December 9.

According to Gary Shapley’s notes, the FBI didn’t have approval to even get a warrant on December 9, much less have a signed warrant itself.

The FBI didn’t have a warrant to access the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” until December 13.

And yet, if you can believe Mac Isaac, the FBI was already trying to boot it up, perhaps irreparably altering its contents, three days before they got a warrant.

Featured image showing known dissemination of the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” by Thomas Fine.

What If Journalists Actually Read Gary Shapley Rather Than Parroting His Testimony?

There was a really depressing House Judiciary Committee Hearing with Merrick Garland yesterday. Here’s my live thread.

There was a reprieve several hours in when Ken Buck noted that Republicans were going to be dissatisfied no matter what Garland did with the Hunter Biden investigation.

Buck: Do you know what people would have said if you had asked for US Attorney Weiss’ resignation when you became Attorney General, I’m sorry, US Attorney, yes, US Attorney Weiss’ resignation? They would have said you were obstructing the Hunter Biden investigation. That you were firing a Republican appointee, so that you could appoint a Democrat to slow-walk this investigation, and lose the leadership of that investigation. If you had made the same decision a year later because you were frustrated that the prosecution wasn’t moving fast enough, they would have again said you were interfering with the prosecution. If you, when US Attorney Weiss asked to become Special Counsel, if you had made the decision then to appoint someone else as Special Counsel, people would have criticized you because you would have been taking someone out of the investigation that knew the facts, that could lead the investigation, and put someone in who would have had to come up to speed on the investigation and wouldn’t have allowed major decisions to be made until they came up to speed. So in three different opportunities where you could have acted, you would have been criticized either way, whether you had acted or did not act in that situation. Far from slow-walking, really once the Trump Administration decided that that was the person leading the investigation, your hands were tied. You didn’t have the opportunity to make a decision on the leadership of that investigation.

But before and after that, Republicans relentlessly claimed that Hunter Biden was getting special treatment because the US Attorney investigating him, who wanted more leverage to force a plea deal, had been granted Special Counsel status — which should prove, instead, that DOJ was deploying extraordinary prosecutorial resources against a private citizen. Republicans relentlessly complained that Garland hadn’t interfered in Weiss’ investigation — at all! — to make him charge Hunter Biden more quickly or more aggressively when the entire point was he had agreed in his confirmation hearing not to interfere.

Republicans also repeated, over and over, two claims that Gary Shapley — the so-called whistleblower all these Republicans claim to trust implicitly — had already addressed in his notes. Those two claims are that David Weiss “let” statutes of limitation on the two Burisma years Republicans believe include the most corruption expire, and that he couldn’t get authority to charge Hunter in the venue — Los Angeles — where more recent tax years had venue.

Gary Shapley’s materials had always debunked the first claim: that Weiss “let” statutes of limitation expire. The email he sent his supervisors on October 7, 2022 clearly describes having been told that Weiss had decided not to charge 2014 and 2015.

The hand-written notes Shapley belatedly released provide even more details on this decision. They also make it clear that this discussion was a more extensive part of the October 7 meeting than Shapley reflected in his email and it occurred before any discussion of venue in DC, which would largely be mooted by a prosecutorial decision on 2014 and 2015.

Sure, Shapley stonewalled the committee on these notes for months, but he has now provided Jim Jordan’s committee even more proof that, before David Weiss “let” the statutes of limitation expire on these years, he made at least a preliminary prosecutorial decision not to charge them.

While other witnesses suggest this discussion remained ongoing — it wasn’t final — Weiss had laid out reason by that meeting why he wouldn’t charge.

That decision may well have been influenced by what DC US Attorney Matthew Graves told David Weiss about why he wouldn’t partner on the charges. As Garland explained in the hearing, the reason DOJ requires this consultation before granting Special Attorney status is so prosecutors understand how charges would hold up under local precedent and in front of local judges.

But that clearly wasn’t Weiss’ only reason. For one year, Weiss credited Hunter’s neglect to the grief of his brother’s death. For the others, he found that Devon Archer’s actions mitigated the charges (after Archer testified to Congress, he suggested they had missed the bulk of the things he had been asked in the grand jury). Two reasons remain entirely redacted — from us, but not committee members.

Once you establish that Weiss had made at least a preliminary prosecutorial decision and conveyed it to Shapley, you’ve got a disagreement, not neglect. You’ve got the kind of disagreement investigators have with prosecutors all the time. But you have none of the things that Republicans spent hours yesterday wailing about. Rather, you have an experienced prosecutor’s decision about why such charges weren’t sustainable or merited, just like charges against Don Jr weren’t viable for accepting Russian campaign help, even though he had probably committed a crime, or that it didn’t make sense to charge Don Jr for the crime DOJ could prove, the misdemeanor hacking.

And in Shapley’s latest notes, members of Congress even have the kind of details that will presumably show up in Weiss’ eventual report, some explanation why he didn’t charge those years. There was a reason Weiss didn’t charge those two years, but rather than accepting that the charges weren’t as cut-and-dry as Fox News has led members of Congress to believe, they’ve instead simply pretended no decision was made.

Using Shapley’s notes to establish that Shapley simply misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented Weiss’ comments about his authority take more work: though thus far, every witness — Weiss himself, Merrick Garland, two FBI witnesses, and even Shapley’s supervisor — has refuted Shapley’s claims about what he understood from that meeting (if he wasn’t simply establishing a false paper trail for himself on account of the leak investigation).

Importantly, Shapley’s supervisor said he kept Shapley out of discussions for the deliberative period that followed.

Waldon told the panel that he recommended to Batdorf that Shapley be removed from the case. Waldon said that Weiss told him after the October 2022 meeting that he would “not be talking with Mr. Shapley henceforth, as they were going through their deliberative process.”

“Before I left the special agent in charge position, in February, I recommended to Mr. Batdorf that Gary Shapley be removed as the [supervisory special agent] from the Hunter Biden investigation, primarily due to what I perceived to be unsubstantiated allegations about motive, intent, bias” Waldon said.

So in the same way that Joseph Ziegler’s comments about the October 7 meeting at which he was not present are all hearsay, any other impressions Shapley would have about what followed would also be hearsay.

But the way in which Shapley rewrote what David Weiss said even on October 7 shows that he transformed Weiss’ statement about intent — he “will” charge in CA if the US Attorney there declined to partner on it — into he “would have to ask for permission” — shows that he misunderstood and misrepresented what Weiss said.

In that meeting, Weiss clearly indicated that if CA declined to partner, he still would charge. There’s no way he would say that unless he had the understanding that he would be able to. And Shapley simply rewrote that statement, reflecting confidence he would be able to do that, into one matching Shapley’s misunderstanding of how the Special Attorney process worked, into one where it might be in question. Therein lies evidence, at least, that Shapley misunderstood the Special Attorney process and out of that misunderstanding created the opposite: paranoid claims that Weiss would not be able to charge.

Both of these details suggest that the prosecutorial decision simply wasn’t as cut-and-dry as the two IRS agents have claimed. Both of these details should have — had Garland been free to comment, had Democrats chosen a different strategy (rather than pursuing their own oversight questions) to rebut these claims — simply debunked much of the Republican squalling itself.

But it shouldn’t fall just to Garland (who, reporters know, cannot respond) or to Democrats to debunk these claims. It is the job of journalists to call out Republicans for making claims that have been debunked, debunked by their own cherished witness. And while some outlets have acknowledged that, deep into stories, those journalists who’ve championed Gary Shapley — see this report on which Devlin Barrett has the top byline, for example — are simply silent about the way that Shapley’s own notes undermine these GOP complaints.

Garland did not answer many of the specific questions about the Biden case, including issues raised by two IRS agent whistleblowers who have claimed Justice Department officials stymied and dragged the investigation. Repeatedly, the attorney general said lawmakers would have to ask Weiss — while also suggesting those answers may have to wait until the investigation is complete and Weiss issues a final report on it.

You know who already answered the questions Shapley raised? Shapley’s own notes!! Garland shouldn’t need to explain why Weiss “let” statutes of limitation expire when Shapley’s own notes record him having come to at least a preliminary decision not to charge those years before the statutes lapsed. A competent journalist should be able to do that.

Of course, Devlin Barrett has already provided abundant proof that Devlin Barrett prefers to parrot what Shapley and his handers say than to read what his notes actually record and report on the many ways those notes (and his decision to withhold more accurate hand-written notes for months) discredit Shapley as a source.

If Gary Shapley’s transcriptionists had reported this story rather than simply writing down what Shapley said, it would be far harder for Republicans to stage the kind of cynical attack on democracy they did yesterday. Instead they choose to be complicit in an effort to make the extraordinary targeting of a private citizen into its opposite, a sweetheart deal.

Democracy dies in that kind of complicity.

“My life’s on the line here:” Gary Shapley’s Direct Supervisor Believed His Claims Were Unsubstantiated

Ever since I read the email Gary Shapley sent to his IRS supervisors, Darrell Waldon and Mike Batdorf, on October 7, 2022 purportedly documenting David Weiss saying he was not the deciding authority on charing Hunter Biden, I have wondered whether Waldon was largely brushing off Shapley’s claims about the meeting when he said, “you have covered it all.”

In any case, unlike Shapley, Waldon’s focus was on the leak, not what Weiss said. As I’ve noted, Waldon’s primary response was to tell Shapley that he would take care of the leak referral, but in congressional testimony Shapley claimed to have been the one who did.

And testimony Waldon gave to House Ways and Means Committee might be consistent with such a brush-off: Waldon described that around this time, he recommended Shapley be removed from the case, apparently because Waldon believed the claims of bias Shapley was making — in things like this email — were unsubstantiated.

Waldon told the panel that he recommended to Batdorf that Shapley be removed from the case. Waldon said that Weiss told him after the October 2022 meeting that he would “not be talking with Mr. Shapley henceforth, as they were going through their deliberative process.”

“Before I left the special agent in charge position, in February, I recommended to Mr. Batdorf that Gary Shapley be removed as the [supervisory special agent] from the Hunter Biden investigation, primarily due to what I perceived to be unsubstantiated allegations about motive, intent, bias” Waldon said.

Waldon is also the person who, in December 2022, reviewed the emails that Shapley had turned over after eight months of stalling. Indeed, on December 13, 2022, as Waldon was reviewing the emails, Shapley emailed Waldon plaintitively asking for something he adamantly refused to give Hunter Biden: Advance notice of investigative concerns.

If you have questions about any emails I would ask you share it in advance so I can look at them and be prepared to put them into context. The USAO was so eager to got my emails (which they already had 95% of) … then surprise … they “might” have a problem with a few of them that memorialized their conduct. If the content of what I documented, in report or email is the cause of their consternation I would direct them to consider their actions instead of who documented them.

I have done nothing wrong. Instead of constant battles with the USAO/DOJ Tax, I chose to be politically savvy. I documented issues, that I would have normally addressed as they occurred, because of the USAO and DOJ Tax’s continued visceral reactions to any dissenting opinions or ideas. Every single day was a battle to do our job. I continually reported these issues up to IRS-CI leadership beginning in the summer of 2020. Now, because they realized I documented their conduct they separate me out, cease all communication and are not attempting to salvage their own conduct by attacking mind. This is an attempt by the USAO to tarnish my good standing and position within IRS-CI … and I expect IRS-CI leadership to understand that. As recent as the October 7 meeting, the Delaware USAO had nothing but good things to say about me/us. Then they finally read “discovery” items (provided 6 months previous — that are not discoverable) and they are beginning to defend their own unethical actions.

Consider the below:

  1. I am not a witness — therefor Jencks/impeachment is not an issue.
  2. I am not the receiver of original evidence nor engaged i any negative exculpatory language against the subject … My documentation only shows the USAO/DOJ Tax’s preferential treatment of this subject. [bold underline original, italics mine]

Waldon’s impression that Shapley was making unsubstantiated claims of bias, which Shapley presumably knew, makes these two documents even sketchier, because they were written at a time when his claims of bias were already suspect.

For example, in May, Shapley turned over his email making claims of bias, but not the presumably more accurate handwritten notes he wrote in the October 7 meeting itself. Those notes show that Shapley misrepresented what Weiss said about charging in CA; those notes that show Shapley recorded a detail — what outlet published the October 7 leak — about which he claimed to be ignorant in his Ways and Means deposition.

In other words, those notes show Shapely making unsupported claims of bias. And they show that when his own emails were reviewed, he panicked.

Thus far, the evidence support Waldon’s conclusion, not Shapley. Shapley was literally inventing conspiracy theories about the process required before David Weiss could seek Special Attorney status to charge in CA.

Which may explain why, in his original testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee, he dramatically claimed, “My life’s on the line here.”

Meanwhile, the documents and testimony elicited as a result of Shapley’s effort to ruin Hunter Biden’s life to save his own (job or reputation, I guess), only give Abbe Lowell more ammunition to show that his charges are selective prosecution pushed by someone identified as a problem a year ago.

Update: This post has been edited for clarity.

Hunter Biden Sues the IRS

I can’t help but wonder whether the lawsuits Abbe Lowell is filing on behalf of Hunter Biden are preparation for an assault on the criminal charges against the President’s son.

Last week, for example, Lowell alleged that Garrett Ziegler had criminally hacked an iPhone encrypted on “the laptop” and had altered information on it. Whatever else the lawsuit will do, it will establish that DOJ chose to charge a non-violent recovering addict for owning a gun for 11 days in 2018, but has yet to do anything about the people who’ve serially compromised the digital life of the President’s son.

Lowell already has a bunch of other information to substantiate a selective prosecution case. But if he can demonstrate that DOJ ignored more serious felonies while still pursuing Hunter, it would only add to the evidence.

Today, Lowell sued the IRS for the media tour that Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler have conducted since April, enumerated as follows (note, this only includes live appearances; Tristan Leavitt has made obviously problematic claims to print journalists as well):

Attorney A’s public statements in a letter to the Committee on Ways and Means on April 19, 2023.

Attorney A’s public statements to Mr. Solomon of John Solomon Reports on April 19, 2023.

Attorney A’s public statements to Mr. Axelrod of CBS News on April 19, 2023.

Attorney A’s public statements to Mr. Baier of Fox News on April 20, 2023.

Mr. Shapley’s public statements to Mr. Axelrod of CBS News on May 24, 2023.

Mr. Shapley’s public statements to Mr. Baier of Fox News on June 28, 2023.

Mr. Shapley’s public statements to Mr. Axelrod of CBS News on June 28, 2023.

Mr. Shapley’s public statements to Mr. Solomon of John Solomon Reports on June 29, 2023.

Mr. Ziegler’s public statements to Jake Tapper of CNN on July 20, 2023.

Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler’s public statements to Megyn Kelly of the Megyn Kelly Show on July 20, 2023.

Attorney B’s public statements to Mr. Solomon of John Solomon Reports on July 21, 2023.

Mr. Ziegler’s public statements to John Solomon of John Solomon Reports on July 24, 2023.

Attorney A’s public statements to Martha MacCallum of Fox News on July 26, 2023.

Attorney A’s public statements on Fox News on July 31, 2023.

Mr. Shapley’s public statements to Kaitlan Collins of CNN on August 11, 2023.

While statute permits and Hunter Biden did ask for punitive damages, ultimately he only asked for attorneys fees and $1,000 per disclosure — just $15,000 for this listed disclosures, as well as a program to ensure that IRS uphold the Privacy Act.

He’s not going to get rich with this lawsuit.

But Lowell also asked for all information in the IRS’ possession relating to these disclosures.

Ordering Defendant to produce to Mr. Biden all documents in its possession, custody, or control regarding the inspection, transmittal, and/or disclosure of Mr. Biden’s confidential tax return information;

If successful, this request would generate a good deal of information about the IRS tracking of these leaks (and any earlier ones). It might provide proof, in the form of metadata, showing when the IRS agents accessed this information and under what circumstances, including Ziegler’s overt promise to go back and find more data in response to demands from members of Congress. It might obtain information on the IRS’ own investigation of this leaking.

If DOJ is going to charge Hunter with tax charges, they’re going to need to present the investigation as conducted by Shapley and Ziegler — a point Abbe Lowell made in a letter to David Weiss last month.

Among other ways, these agents, sill employed by the Government, would likely be witnesses should any tax charge you file ever be tried. It is unprecedented for Government officials who are the investigators or prosecutors in the case and would be witnesses and rial counsel to conduct themselves in this manner which seks to try the issues in the court of public opinion rather than properly in a court of law. That conduct itself (in addition to the various other infirmities with the Government attempting to bring charges against Mr. Biden26) would support dismissal of any charges you have fled or would try to so file in the future.27

26 To be clear, we do not believe the Government could validly bring charges against our client concerning these issues given the express language of he agreed-upon Diversion Agreement.

27 Courts recognize that the crime of leaking or disclosing such information by Government agents sworn to uphold the law is often more egregious than the crimes those agents are charged with investigating. See, e.g., United States v. Walters, No. 17. 2373 (2d Cir. Dec. 4, 2018) Jacobs, J. concurring) ([Tlhe leak of grand jury tesimony in some respects more egregious than anything [Defendant] did (insider wading) — the FB supervisor took an oath to uphold the law and was acting in a supervisory capacity to discharge an important public function.” (emphasis ddd).

Again, on top of all the other things Lowell could point to to substantiate a claim that Hunter was being selectively prosecuted, Lowell might ask why Hunter is being prosecuted but not Shapley and Ziegler.

For five years, the government has (apparently) chosen to relentlessly pursue pickayune charges against Hunter Biden while ignoring the crimes committed to try to set up those charges.

And Abbe Lowell may be preparing to make that case in the case of any trial.

After Threats Elicited by Gary Shapley’s Misleading Testimony, Hunter Biden Prosecutors Reneged on the Plea Deal

In the wake of two news reports on the communications leading up to the aborted Hunter Biden plea, Jim Jordan et al demanded the documents shared with the Politico and NYT from Hunter’s lawyers. In response, Lowell sent the following documents, which Betsy Woodruff Swan published here:

While the letters include a familiar catalog of the Shapley and Ziegler media tour, there are a few details worth noting.

First, the August 14 letter goes to great lengths to distinguish the topic of Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler’s purported whistleblowing — prosecutorial misconduct — from the materials released, which focus on investigative material implicating Hunter Biden. That distinction ought be a way for DOJ to rein in the two purported whistleblowers, as Merrick Garland quickly did in the case of Michael Sherwin.

The letter claims, as Abbe Lowell has in the past, that some of the statements Shapley and Ziegler have made are false.

[T]he “facts” disclosed and conclusions reached are either false, legally incorrect, or were otherwise addressed during the various meetings between defense counsel and your Office.

If that’s true, Lowell should ask for a criminal investigation for their false statements before Congress.

It also reveals something that should be obvious but I hadn’t realized: The iCloud warrant which produced a bunch of WhatsApp texts, which Shapley discussed at length in his original testimony, has never been disclosed to Hunter himself, so must be sealed.

On several occasions during their testimony, Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler discussed a sealed search warrant, and showed and discussed with the Committee certain fruits of that sealed search warrant. Because we have never been notified of any such “electronic search warrant for iCloud backup”— nor of any other warrant to search for and seize any property of our client 13—we must presume that Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler were discussing, in violation of a sealing order, a search warrant that has been sealed. Nevertheless, Mr. Shapley purportedly produced WhatsApp messages that are the: fruit of these warrants, and they have now been published.” Moreover, Mr. Ziegler offered to produce to the House Oversight and Accountability Committee additional and more fulsome grand jury materials concerning these messages, with the intent of making such materials public.

So it’s not just that Shapley was violating grand jury secrecy (he was authorized by Ways and Means Chief Counsel to share tax information, but not grand jury information), he was also almost certainly violating a sealing order that remained in effect almost two months after Hunter Biden received a summons in conjunction with the tax charges (conveniently so for the purported whistleblowers, because the warrant affidavit may rely on poisoned fruit from their mistreatment of “the laptop”). Whatever judge authorized that warrant and gag — presumably DE’s Chief Judge, Colm Connolly — might be interested that investigative agents are just blowing off the gag they themselves presumably asked for.

The most alarming thing in the August 14 letter, though, is a claim that Leo Wise — who has taken the lead role in the prosecution — claimed in a July 31 call to be unaware of any grand jury leaks in the investigation, at all!

On a July 31, 2023, call, Assistant United States Attorney Wise stated he was “not aware” of any leak of grand jury information by the Government during the course of the Government’s investigation of our client. Such a statement was surprising given that Mr. Biden’s counsel have discussed such leaks with the Goverment on multiple occasions over the past two years and addressed these leaks in at least four prior letters and countless telephone calls with your Office.


Yet, given your Office’s inaction in the face of a torrent of illegal leaks about your investigation of Mr. Biden, and now your reinvented denial that leaks ever happened at all—your Offices assurances are being rendered false.

It’s as if the guy Weiss brought in to salvage the case believes he has to simply deny what everyone watching can plainly see, that Shapely and Ziegler have set off a torrent of prejudicial information that could make it impossible for Hunter to get a fair trial, much less be exonerated if not charged.

In both the August 14 letter and the one from yesterday, Lowell claims that the political pressure Jordan et al have put on Weiss led the newly minted Special Counsel to ratchet up his charges.

The change to a rare misdemeanor failure to file/pay and a felony diversion for possession of a firearm (and now the actual filing of those firearm charges) occurred only after a chain of events starting with the improper disclosures arranged by you and your Committees of the so-called “whistleblowers” claims of prosecutorial misconduct and your, and the right-wing media with whom you coordinate, taking up those claims.

But there’s something that Lowell didn’t mention.

It’s not just political pressure that this media blitz has created.

It’s credible threats of violence.

As Ken Dilanian first reported, after Shapley started representing Lesley Wolf’s adherence to DOJ and FBI guidelines as political interference, she was targeted with credible threats. Thomas Sobicinski told the House Judiciary Committee how Shapley’s testimony had led to the harassment of employees, employees whose parents got calls and children got followed. He specifically agreed that Wolf “has concerns for her own safety.”

It’s not just that Shapley’s testimony has led to political pressure. It has led directly to credible threats of violence against the prosecutor who crafted the original plea deal.

And in the wake of those credible threats of violence, David Weiss decided to ratchet up the charges against the President’s son.

The threats of violence may not have caused Weiss’ subsequent decision to renege on the plea deal (though that is one thing that is likely to be the topic of litigation going forward).  But the public record, at least, makes clear that those threats of violence correlate with a decision to seek more punitive treatment of the President’s son.

And that’s a very chilling prospect: that MAGA right wingers could bully prosecutors into taking punitive action against Hunter Biden.

Gary Shapley’s Notes Show That Gary Shapley Misrepresented David Weiss

When Gary Shapley wrote down what was said about charging Hunter Biden with tax crimes in California at a contested meeting on October 7, 2022, he quoted Weiss as saying that if the US Attorney declined to prosecute, Weiss, “will request approval to proceed in CA” [my emphasis].

When Shapley relayed what happened in the meeting to his boss around six hours later, he described that Weiss “would have to request permission,” [my emphasis] even while admitting he was “unclear” on what Weiss said about where he’d get that permission.

Shapley’s lawyers shared these handwritten notes, over three months into his media tour with the right wing congressional set, because they think the fact that Shapley wrote down his understanding that Weiss said, “he is not the deciding person” [the latter part of which is redacted in the hand-written notes], that they disprove the testimony of others at the meeting.

The Special Agent in Charge, Thomas Sobocinski, said that both before and after the meeting, he understood Weiss to be the final decision-maker.

But this discrepancy later in his notes — Shapley’s replacement of “will” with “would have to,” his replacement of “approval” with “permission” — instead reveals that Shapley misunderstood what was said in the meeting, and then misrepresented what happened both that same day, with his supervisor, and ever since, with dumb right wingers in Congress.

To be sure, both versions are consistent with what David Weiss and Merrick Garland have been saying all along — including to Jim Jordan in June and to Lindsey Graham in July: that if Weiss decided to bring charges outside Delaware and the local US Attorneys didn’t want to partner on the case, he could ask for Special Attorney authority under 28 USC 515 and Garland would grant it. Both versions are consistent with the process Weiss has laid out. You ask the local US Attorney, and if they say no, you get Special Attorney authority.

But in the notes Shapley took in the meeting, he recorded Weiss committing to taking the steps to charge the later tax years — the ones that had to be charged in Los Angeles, two of the three years that were part of the plea deal. In his email to his supervisor, Shapley transformed that into his panic that, “this case could end up without any charges,” [emphasis and panic Shapley’s], something that was sharply at odds with the commitment Shapley had recorded Weiss making in the meeting — will — to follow the process necessary to charge the case. Plus, Weiss’ description of seeking “approval” rather than “permission” substantially disproves Shapley’s claim that anything said at the meeting was “inconsistent with DOJ public position and Merrick Garland testimony.” Shapley had to reword what he originally recorded Weiss as saying to support that claim.

That he did so — that he rewrote his own notes to match his belief, and then shared the rewritten version rather than the original with Congress — damages his credibility rather than backing it.

To be sure, neither set of notes is reliable.

For example, there is at least one thing missing from Shapley’s hand-written notes that he records in the email to his boss: the substance of his objection to David Weiss’ decision not to charge the 2014 and 2015 tax years.

I stated for the record, that I did not concur with that decision and put on the record that IRS will have a lot of risk associated with this decision that there is still a large amount of unreported income in that year from Burisma that we have no mechanism to recover.

Shapley’s claim may not be (or may no longer be) true: at the plea hearing, AUSA Leo Wise stated that there was no restitution owed. But I have no doubt Shapley did make this objection. If he didn’t record making a statement he thought to be that important, then, what else did Shapley say that he didn’t write down?

More importantly, what did Shapley not say that he didn’t record?

There’s nothing unredacted in Shapley’s notes recording Sobocinski’s question — which Shapley included in his email to his boss — about whether there was any problem on the case with politicization.

FBI SAC asked the room if anyone thought the case had been politicized — we can discuss this [if] you prefer.

That’s important because, at least per Sobocinski’s interview with the Committee, no one raised concerns about politicization at the meeting. “I was asking in a room of leaders on this case to say, ‘Hey, we are working together. We’re moving this thing
forward. Do you think there’s any manipulation from the outside that’s stopping us from what we’re doing?'” Sobocinski told the House Judiciary Committee about the question. And, at least per Sobocinski’s representation, “nobody in that room raised their voice to say anything other.”

So unless the redacted lines at the end of Shapley’s notes record Shapley providing some kind of affirmative answer, then there’s no evidence he took the opportunity to express the wild claims of politicization he was making contemporaneously, but he also didn’t record himself passing up that opportunity. At least per Sobocinski’s memory, the SAC gave him an opportunity to air those concerns and he didn’t take it, an opportunity that might have elicited a very simple explanation about what Shapely was misunderstanding about how the Special Attorney process worked and might have saved us from all the theatricality that threatens all charges against Hunter Biden now.

Indeed, whether or not Shapley said anything in response to Sobocinski’s question, the most suspect part of his email to his boss was an offer to discuss politicization in person: “we can discuss this [if] you prefer.” Both these documents are designed to provide for accountability, but Shapley appears to have declined to write down anywhere what his claims about politicization were, which would have made him accountable to his claims just like he wants to hold Weiss accountable for what he understood him to say.

Shapley reorganized his notes between the hand-written ones and the email in a way that changes their meaning, too.

Per his contemporaneous notes, the first thing discussed after the discussion about the leak was Weiss’ rationale for not charging 2014 and 2015, the two more substantive years that would have to be charged in DC. Once you’ve explained that, then whether or not Weiss got Special Attorney status for DC is significantly moot (2016 was only ever treated as a misdemeanor).

In his email to his boss, though, Shapley moved that discussion to after his argument, covering the DC charges, the LA charges, and the involvement of DOJ Tax Attorney, that Weiss didn’t have authority to charge. If Weiss had already explained his prosecutorial decision about the most problematic Burisma years — something Shapley’s hand-written notes record him has having done — then none of the other complaints about these years (that Weiss or Lesley Wolf let the Statutes of Limitation expire, that Weiss didn’t get Special Attorney authority in DC) matter. Shapely reorders his notes to hide the fact that the DC decision didn’t matter.

The LA decision mattered — the one about which Shapley originally recorded Weiss saying he “will” pursue Special Attorney authority if need be. The DC decision did not.

Just as important a problem for Shapley’s credibility is that for more than three months, Shapley has been claiming the email was his best record of the meeting, without distinguishing what parts of the email were his editorial statements and what parts a record of the meeting. That parts of the email reflected him editorializing should have been clear to anyone smarter than Jim Jordan; Shapley’s use of “I believe” and “in my opinion” are a big tip-off.

But it’s clear that Republicans have nevertheless treated the email, and all its bullet points, as a record of the meeting. That’s most problematic with the way Shapley recorded his understanding that Weiss had asked for permission to file in DC, permission which hadn’t been granted.

Staffers in Congress have been quizzing meeting attendees about things Shapley included in his email, without making clear they were background and not contemporaneous notes. One example that relates to the way Shapley packaged up his notes, at several points Steve Castor quizzed Sobocinski about whether he, “remember[ed] anything in that meeting about the fact that D.C. had declined to bring a case?” Sobocinski didn’t remember that — but likely for good reason. Shapley doesn’t record it as having happened, at all, in this meeting (and Sobocinski did not entirely back Shapley’s claim that that is what did happen). All Shapley recorded in his hand-written notes is that when Weiss asked for Special Attorney status (which Shapley lists as Special Counsel), DOJ — not Matthew Graves — told him to follow the process, which requires first asking if the US Attorney wants to partner on the case.

Even in these hand-written notes, this comment may have been editorializing; after all, Shapley records it after Weiss had already delivered his decision not to charge 2014 and 2015. But his hand-written notes definitely don’t reflect anyone saying that Graves had refused to partner on the case at the meeting.

In Sobocinski’s interview, he talked about how Shapley’s little media tour has created more challenges to actually charge this case, including threats against team members, particularly Lesley Wolf. There is nothing that Shapley has released publicly that helps the case and a great deal that will give Abbe Lowell more ammunition to demonstrate that the people pushing for tax charges against his client were going nuts because they weren’t allowed to violate rules on Sensitive Investigative Matters and because they didn’t understand bureaucratic process.

This is yet another example: Gary Shapley provided his editorialized version of a meeting that, he claims, was his red line to Congress and only months later did he share the underlying notes. Not only do the notes show he misrepresented what Weiss said about Los Angeles, but they raise yet more questions about Shapley’s equivocations about a leak that happened to coincide with a red line that isn’t entirely backed by his own notes. The motivated inconsistencies in the notes are the kind of thing defense attorneys use to discredit entire investigative teams, and Shapley has simply offered it up.

At this rate, Shapley’s media tour will be singularly responsible for making it impossible for Weiss to do the one thing Shapley claimed had to happen: charges against Hunter Biden.

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

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

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

What was the specific leak?

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

Q Okay. Talking about the Hunter Biden case?

A Yes, not charging the Hunter Biden case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shapley: So I

Goldman: It would cause anyone suspicion, right?

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

Goldman: That’s what you said.

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

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

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

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