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Hunter Biden Claims All Zhaos Look the Same to Joseph Ziegler

From the time Gary Shapley provided Congress obviously flawed summaries of WhatsApp texts, stripped of their identifiers, from an iCloud backup of Hunter Biden’s, I’ve argued their treatment reflects badly on the IRS agents involved.

When Abbe Lowell claimed, before Hunter was charged, that the IRS agents had gotten the identify of Hunter’s interlocutor wrong, I noted that the summaries, lacking identifiers, prevented what should be easy adjudication of this dispute.

The summary matters, a lot. That’s because Lowell claims that Shapley — or whoever did these summaries — misidentified the Hunter Biden interlocutor whose last name begins with Z.

In one excerpt that has now gotten a great deal of media attention, Mr. Biden is alleged to have been sitting next to his father on July 30, 2017, when he allegedly sent a WhatsApp message, urging the completion of some business transaction. See Shapley Tr. at 14. The inference is that the referenced message was being sent to an official of CEFC (China Energy) to forward a false narrative about the Bidens’ involvement in that company. The facts, which some media has now reported, are that President Biden and our client were not together that day, the company being referenced was not CEFC but Harvest Financial Group (with a person who also had the initial “Z”), and that no transaction actually occurred. More important, your own actions call into question the authenticity of that communication and your subsequent use of it. In short, the images you circulated online are complete fakes. Many media articles confirm that data purported to have come from Mr. Biden’s devices has been altered or manipulated. You, or someone else, did that again. All of the misstatements about this communication and your use of a false text are good examples of how providing one-sided, untested, and slanted information leads to improper conclusions. [my emphasis]

This is a remarkable claim, because — if true — it suggests the IRS was investigating Hunter Biden based on wildly incorrect assumptions about the identity of his interlocutors.

Abbe Lowell claims that the IRS agents who investigated his client for five years — the son of the President!!! — didn’t know to whom he was talking! I’ve heard a lot of outlandish claims from defense attorneys (though Lowell is far more credible than the grifters who defend a lot of January 6 defendants), But this is an utterly inflammatory claim.

Had Shapley used responsible summaries, rather than the unprofessional script he did use, it might be possible to figure out who is right, here, because then we could compare the actual number or email account used.

When Luke Broadwater tried to manufacture a partisan both-sides dispute out of this discrepancy, I noted the real conflict came between Republicans, some of whom said the Zhao in question was Henry, others who said it was Raymond.

The summary and the fabrications of the text and Smith’s use of the initials “HZ” matter because there’s a dispute between Republicans and their IRS source about the identity of the person involved.

Shapley said the texts involved Henry Zhao, consistent with Smith’s fabrication.

But in a later release, James Comer described the interlocutor as Raymond Zhao — which is consistent with the interjection in the summary (and other communications regarding this business deal).

On July 30, 2017, Hunter Biden sent a WhatsApp message to Raymond Zhao—a CEFC associate—regarding the $10 million capital payment:

As we’ll see, Broadwater predictably “fact checks” this as a dispute between Democrats and Republicans. It’s not. Before you get there, you first have to adjudicate a conflict between the guy who led the IRS investigation for more than two years, Gary Shapley, and James Comer. It’s a conflict sustained by the shoddiness of the underlying IRS work.

This is a story showing not only that James Comer and Jason Smith don’t know what they’re talking about, but are willing to lie and fabricate nevertheless, but even the IRS agents may not know what they’re talking about, and if they don’t, it’s because the standard of diligence on the investigation of Joe Biden’s son was such that they didn’t even include the identifier of the person to whom Hunter was talking, which would make it easy or at least possible to adjudicate this dispute.

In Wednesday’s hearing, after such time as they had received discovery on this material, Hunter Biden and Abbe Lowell provided a new explanation for the discrepancy: That the first text (but only the first text) was accidentally sent to Henry Zhao, and the follow-up texts — which were therefore necessarily unrelated — came from Raymond Zhao.

Q This is a giant text pack prepared by the IRS investigators, summarizing, and in many cases, quoting WhatsApp message.

Mr. Lowell. Do you have the underlying message?

[Redacted] We have this document. This is what we have.

Mr. Lowell. I want to point out on the record that is all known to you that we have great reservations about the accuracy and completeness of what two IRS agents who have decided to go on television and try to promote what they believe should happen to Mr. Biden as having made a complete record.

And when there have been records, they have not been complete?

And when they make summaries, they are often quoting from texts or communications, which appear to have been altered by those other than themselves.

So with all that, you can certainly ask your questions. But I do not accept the premise that what you’re about to ask him is either an authentic or authenticated or a complete document.

[Redacted]: Okay.

Mr. Lowell. With that in mind, let’s go.

[Redacted] Okay.

BY [Redacted]:

Q Just to set expectations here, I’m going to refer to three. Okay? Then we’ll be done with this document for now.

A Page 3?

Q I’m going to refer to three sort of topics —

A Okay.

Q — within this giant document, not 148. We’re not going to go through every page. I’m sort of managing your expectations here.

A Thank you.

Q I’d like you to turn to page 4, and it’s a message dated July 30th, 2017. It’s about halfway down the page and it begins, “WA message with SM.” And that’s the — that stands for Sportsman, and that’s what they called you, and Zhao. Have you identified the one that I’m referring to?

Mr. Lowell. It’s down the page. It’s the only one for the 30th?

[Redacted]. Correct.

Mr. Lowell. Okay. Yes.

BY [Redacted]:

Q And so the text, according to the IRS, the Federal investigators, say, “Z, please have the director call me, moment James or Tony or Jim. Have him call me tonight. I’m sitting here with my father, and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled.

“I’m very concerned that the chairman has either changed his mind or broken our deal without telling me or that he’s unaware of the promises and assurances that have been made have not been kept.

“Tell the director I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand, and now means tonight. And, Z, if I get a call or text from anyone involved in this other than you, Zhang or the chairman, I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret  not following my direction.

All too often people make mistakes — sorry.

“All too often people mistake kindness for weakness, and all too often I’m standing over the top of them, saying, I warned you.

“From this moment until whenever he reaches me. It’s 9:45 a.m. here and I assume 9:45 p.m. there. So his night is running out.”

Zhao responds, “Copy. I will call you on WhatsApp.”

You respond, “Okay, my friend. I’m sitting here, waiting for the call, with my father. I sure hope whatever it is are you doing is very, very, very important.”

Then Zhao says, “Hi, Hunter. Is it a good time to call now? Hi, Hunter, Director did not answer my call, but he got the message you just mentioned.”

A Yeah.

Q Do you have any recollection of sending these?

A No, but I’ve seen this and —

Mr. Lowell. Is there a question?

[Redacted]. Yes. Does he have a recollection of sending the message?

The Witness. And I do not, but I do know this. I have now seen it, which it’s been presented. I would say two things about this message.

Mr. Nadler. Can you speak up?

The Witness. I would say two things about this message. The first thing is this.

Is that the Zhao that this is sent to is not the Zhao that was connected to CEFC.

BY [Redacted]:

Q Okay.

A Which I think is the best indication of how out of my mind I was at this moment in time.

Again, I don’t — my addiction is not an excuse, but I can tell you this: I am more embarrassed of this text message, if it actually did come from me, than any text message I’ve ever sent.

The fact of the matter is, is that there’s no other text message that you have in which I say anything remotely to this. And I was out of my mind. I can also tell you this: My father was not sitting next to me. My father had no awareness. My father had no awareness of the business that I was doing. My father never benefited from any of the business that I was doing.

And so, I take full responsibility for being an absolute ass and idiot when I sent this message, if I did send this message.

Q Okay.

[Redacted]. When you say it wasn’t Zhao from CEFC, who —

Mr. Nadler. Would you speak up, please?

[Redacted]. Which Zhao are you referring to if it wasn’t from CEFC?

The Witness. The number that I believe it went to was to Henry Zhao. Zhao is a very common — it’s not a surname — surname in China. I mean, obviously, very common surname. And I, like an idiot, directed it towards Henry Zhao who had no involvement, who had no understanding or even remotely knew what the hell I was even Goddamn talking about. Excuse my language

BY [Redacted]:

Q And he seems to —

A No, no, no, no, no, the Zhao — it’s a different — you’re conflating now.

Q Okay.

A And this why this report from the IRS is absolutely wrong. They’re two different messages.

The Zhao that calls me is not related to the message that was sent. I speak to him the next day. They’re two completely different sets of messages. One goes a number because, I made the Goddamn — excuse my language again — because I made like an idiot, and I was drunk and probably high, sent a — this ridiculous message to a Zhao, to a Henry Zhao.

But then the next day, I speak to a Raymond Zhao, who has never received the message that Henry Zhao got. And so that’s why this report is very misleading in many ways.

Mr. Lowell. That’s exactly why I raised the point before you decided to ask questions. The IRS agents —

The Witness. I gave —

Mr. Lowell. — took two different times and two different messages and conflated them. That’s what he’s explaining.

The Witness. And I can — and we can show you that.

And I also could show you that on that message, there was never a Chinese flag and a picture of it, as I think was shown in the Oversight Committee before. [my emphasis]

If I understand it correct, Henry Zhao was involved in an earlier business deal, Raymond Zhao is the one with ties to CEFC.

Here’s how Shapley presented the text in his first deposition.

And here’s the exhibit on which House Republicans are likely relying.

There are still a number of inconsistencies with this story, but it really doesn’t make sense to address them without full context (which Hunter presumably has).

In any case, the text string is still somewhat damning to Hunter; his conversations with CEFC continued the same thread, cutting Tony Bobulinski and the others out of the deal.

But I will say this: I already have questions about where WhatsApp texts got saved, not least because at the time, having access to one WhatsApp instance would give you access to the rest of it.

All the more so given that, if we can trust the warrant and Joseph Ziegler’s description of the source of these texts (Apple Backup 3, which the warrant describes as an Apple 6S backup), the timing is curious. Hunter used an iPhone 6S much earlier than 2017, and he initiated a new one on February 9, 2019, just as his devices were packed up for delivery to John Paul Mac Isaac.

Whatever the explanation, it seems that rather than work through a discrepancy, or just leaving out texts that couldn’t be explained, the IRS just blew through inconsistencies.

Lesley Wolf Vindicated by Alexander Smirnov Indictment

In the wake of the Alexander Smirnov indictment, the 51 former spooks who wrote a letter stating their opinion that the release of Hunter Biden emails to the NY Post is consistent with a Russian information operation have claimed vindication. That has led to this problematic Ken Dilanian report parroting David Weiss filings that deliberately obscured the evidence in the Hunter Biden case. And that, in turn, has led to a flood of people expressing opinions about the laptop turned over by John Paul Mac Isaac (Olivia Nuzzi, Reese Gorman) that exhibit no clue about how precarious that evidence is now.

In other words, that has renewed a debate consisting of misrepresenting the 51-spook letter, then misstating what the public evidence about the laptop shows.

I’ll return to the details about the laptop that these people are missing; hopefully until I get there, they’ll consider whether David Weiss’ claim that a Keith Ablow picture of a picture of a table saw with sawdust was instead Hunter Biden’s cocaine really validates the laptop, as they seem to believe it does.

But there is one person who has been vindicated: Lesley Wolf, the AUSA who aggressively pursued real charges against Hunter Biden, even while attempting to prevent repeated onslaughts of political garbage from tainting the case.

Among the many complaints the two disgruntled IRS agents aired, largely targeting her, one was that, “This investigation has been hampered and artificially slowed by various claims of potential election meddling.” That appeared in a memo submitted within the IRS in December 2020, probably written by Gary Shapley. The IRS agents believed they knew better than Lesley Wolf about efforts to interfere in the election.

The IRS agents and their allies in Congress bitched over and over that Wolf and others had not ingested politicized dirt into the investigation readily enough.

For example, Joseph Ziegler described that investigators asked to reinterview Tony Bobulinski after his October 23, 2020 meeting with the FBI, but were not permitted to do so because he “was not viewed as a credible witness” — and that was before Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, now backed by video, about the sketchy meeting Bobulinski had with Mark Meadows.

I can recall that agents on the investigative team brought up on multiple occasions to the assigned prosecutors that they wanted to do an interview of Bobulinski with the assigned case agents. I can recall being told that they would think about it and then ultimately being told there was no need for the team to interview Bobulinski and that Bobulinski was not viewed as a credible witness.

In his House testimony, Bobulinski backed off all the most inflammatory claims — such as that he attended a key meeting in Miami and witnessed Hunter receive a large diamond as a gift –made to the FBI.

Republicans in Congress have repeatedly complained that Tim Thibault shut down Peter Schweizer as a confidential human source in September 2020. Thibault explained to Congress that the Supervisory Special Agent called him and asked him to stop sending Schweizer’s reporting, because doing so would give Hunter’s attorneys ammunition if the case ever went to trial.

A I understand you don’t need the reporting anymore. I understand that if this goes to trial, Hunter Biden’s attorney —

Q Uh-huh?

A — could have some ammunition.

And Shapley specifically complained that Lesley Wolf withheld a particular email about some anomalies in the the hard drive image obtained from John Paul Mac Isaac.

Prosecutors deliberately withheld that email from agents who might have to testify to avoid making it Jencks production that would have to be shared with Hunter’s lawyers. Thanks to Shapley, it will presumably play a role in any suppression and Brady complaints tied to the laptop.

None of this is particularly noble on Wolf’s part. It’s typical, among prosecutors, in that they watch out for any evidence that would harm a case at trial, and avoid ingesting it in ways that would give defendants access to it. Lesley Wolf was not withholding details about problems with the hard drive JPMI provided the FBI to protect Hunter Biden. She was doing it to protect her case. In fact, her treatment of the laptop may be the one thing that helps bollox the case, if Leo Wise ends up needing any assistance on that front.

But it seems quite clear that efforts Wolf made to preserve a case for trial were instead spun by the disgruntled IRS agents as attempts to thwart the investigation. Their efforts to sell that spin have not only endangered the case, but also resulted in death threats targeting Wolf and her family.

Particularly given the timing of Congress’ focus on the FD-1023, including Bill Barr’s public commentary, Alexander Smirnov’s attempt to frame Biden is an important example of an effort Wolf made to protect a viable case against Hunter.

Gary Shapley released a memo that will be central to Hunter Biden’s bid to obtain discovery on the treatment of the Smirnov tip and the Scott Brady back channel, generally. It shows that the FD-1023, “was ordered to be received by this prosecution team by [Richard Donoghue]. It is happening on 10/23/2020 at 3pm in the Delaware FBI office.” It is proof that days after Trump yelled at Barr about the Hunter Biden investigation, DOJ ordered Wolf to accept this briefing.

Yet in his testimony, Shapley said that “We never discussed the form,” seemingly a reference to the Smirnov allegation.

After Barr ran his mouth to Margot Cleveland, both Ziegler and Shapley submitted supplements complaining that they hadn’t gotten briefed on the allegation. Shapley’s testimony, that neither the IRS agents nor the FBI agents, had checked out the allegation seems inconsistent with his claim never to have spoken about it.

Neither I nor the line IRS-CI agents acting under my supervision, nor the FBI agents working with IRS-CI, were ever provided the CHS information that Attorney General Barr recently referenced was sent to Delaware to have it “checked out.” Prosecutors never provided such information to IRS-CI. As such, neither IRS-CI nor the FBI agents working with him were provided the opportunity to conduct proper investigation into the allegations presented by this CHS. I, long with other IRS-Cl investigators, requested 10 be apart of briefings that the Delaware USAO and DOJ were having with the Pittsburgh USAO during the investigation, but our requests were denied.

Both further elaborated their complaints about not getting access to the FD-1023 in their public July testimony.

Then, even more forthcoming testimony Shapley gave to House Ways and Means served as a cue during Scott Brady’s House Judiciary Committee testimony, in which Brady described Lesley Wolf’s skepticism about the material being funneled from Brady’s office.

Q And were you ever told that the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office did not want a briefing from your office?

A I believe I was. I don’t remember. But I know that we had trouble scheduling it.

Q Okay. And then, further down, it states AUSA Wolf’s comments made clear she did not want to cooperate with the Pittsburgh USAO, and that she had already concluded no information from that office could be credible stating her belief that it all came from Rudy Giuliani.

Were you ever made aware of Ms. Wolf’s processing and decisions regarding this briefing, and why she didn’t want the briefing?

A I was not. We did, however, make it clear that some of the information including this 1023 did not come from Mr. Giuliani.

Q And did your team ever tell you that they were receiving comments from Ms. Wolf that she didn’t find the information your office was receiving credible?

A I don’t remember that, no.

Q If those conversations took place, would those have been between a AUSA at your office and Ms. Wolf?

A If they would have shared that with us at all, yes, likely, and had I been made aware, I would have called Mr. Weiss directly.

Q When you would have called Mr. Weiss directly, would you have told him the information the 1023 wasn’t coming from Mr. Giuliani, is that accurate?

A Yes, I would have, and that was already communicated to their office, that the 1023 was from a credible CHS that had a history with the FBI, and that it was not derived from any of the information from Mr. Giuliani.

Side note: The publicly released HJC transcript redacts several references to David Weiss, perhaps in an effort to hide the degree to which he is a witness to and therefore hopelessly conflicted on the Smirnov prosecution.

I’m guessing that neither Smirnov nor Hunter’s attorneys are so stupid that they can’t figure out who is named behind that redaction! But if they have any questions: Yes, Jim Jordan’s people really did redact references that make it clear what David Weiss personally witnessed in this transcript!

Unsurprisingly, in her testimony, Lesley Wolf did a far, far better job than Shapley and Brady adhering to her ethical duty to avoid speaking of an ongoing investigation. She also suggestsed that a lot of the decisions that Shapley and Ziegler complained about were made for ethical reasons, even an unwillingness on her part to risk her law license to take more aggressive steps. “Hey, I like my law license, and I know this person has a lawyer, so we’re going to have to work through counsel to get that interview you want,” she characterized such discussions with the investigators.

As a result of her strict adherence to prohibitions on her speaking about the investigation, her explanation for her reluctance to accept information from Brady’s side channel was very general. In her general explanation for why she might want to keep the existing Hunter Biden investigation separate from whatever Brady was doing, though, she provided the same reason Thibault got explaining why Delaware didn’t want to receive tips involving Peter Schweizer.

Q And during the course of your career, have you ever had a situation where you were reluctant to cooperate with a different U.S. Attorney’s Office? And by cooperate, I mean have meetings, take telephone calls.

[Wolf attorney Jenny] Kramer. I know this is almost too formal for this process, but I’m going to object to form. What does that mean, unwilling to cooperate? I’m just not clear on what exactly you’re trying to ask.

Mr. Castor. Unwilling to take meetings?

Ms. Kramer. Generally?

Mr. Castor. With a different U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Ms. Wolf. I can answer those questions, generally.

BY MR. CASTOR:

Q Sure, sure.

A I think as a general matter, the idea would be that you are coming from a place of cooperation and the common mission of the Department of Justice and what it is you’re trying to accomplish. But there may well be very, very valid means, reasons for a desire and an interest to keep investigations separate and apart. And in those circumstances, you would — and it wouldn’t be unusual to say, you know what, we’re not going to need to share information, we’re not going to do this. And it would just depend, again, on the particulars of an investigation and what the needs and what the various interests were at play.

Q Okay. Are you familiar with Supervisory Special Agent Gary Shapley’s testimony where he indicated you were unwilling to interact with Scott Brady?

A I’m generally familiar with Special Agent Shapley’s testimony, yes.

Q Okay. Are you familiar with that particular aspect of it?

A I mean, I’ve read his testimony.

Chairman Jordan. Would there be a reason not to interact and meet with Mr. Brady and his team?

Ms. Wolf. As that relates to a particular investigation, I’m not authorized to speak to that.

Chairman Jordan. You said there were some situations that — the general way of doing things is to, you know, “cooperate,” I think, is the word you used. And you said there are times that we’re not going to do that. Why would there be a reason not to do it in this situation?

Ms. Kramer. Chairman, respectfully, I think you had left the room when I had asked Mr. Castor earlier, please allow Ms. Wolf to finish her answers to the questions before —

Chairman Jordan. Okay, sure. I apologize.

Ms. Kramer. — and me as well, number one. And number two, I believe you mischaracterized her very recent answer. I don’t believe you said that there were times that you would refuse to cooperate, unless I misheard. So let’s break that down. I think your first question, Chairman Jordan, is what again, if you don’t mind repeating it?

Chairman Jordan. Would there be a reason not to cooperate with Mr. Brady’s office?

Ms. Wolf. As to this particular case, I’m not authorized to speak to that.

As a general matter, and I think to potentially recast and just reframe, the infusion on the point, there are valid investigative reasons in any given case that would need to be evaluated before joining, overlapping, even taking in information, and that would all be factored in, in any case, to deciding how to move forward in a matter, all in the spirit of advancing and the best interest of the investigation.

[snip]

You know, to the extent that it then subsequently touches on an investigation or a matter in your district, I would expect that would be something that you would be aware of and usually the kind of thing that would probably take place above the line level. And that’s part of, you know, a sort of lack of clarity or understanding on how this sort of what is and isn’t typical. I hesitate to answer. And, quite frankly, I think in answering whether this was typical or atypical, it runs afoul of what I am authorized to discuss, because it essentially acknowledges or will be interpreted as acknowledging or denying or endorsing what may or may not have happened.

Wolf is being coy here.

But she’s also making it clear that she decided sharing information with Brady’s project would harm the investigation.

This is why I posted Leo Wise’s repeated, defensive rebuttals to David Chesnoff’s claim that the Smirnov indictment was “makeweight.”

It seems clear that Lesley Wolf left the Smirnov allegation well enough alone, knowing that the project generally was producing garbage that could only endanger the case.

Leo Wise seemingly used the Smirnov allegation as an excuse to reopen the case against the President’s son, only to discover it opened a nasty can of worms.  It gave Abbe Lowell the evidence to prove that the prosecution of Hunter Biden was infected by an effort by the Attorney General to accommodate the dirt that Trump’s lawyers picked up from Russian spies. And it gave Wise a real headache of a prosecution to deal with.

Lesley Wolf probably didn’t decline all the garbage from Scott Brady for noble reasons. She was just protecting her case. But having made the opposite decision, Wise may end up blowing that case.

You know who is vindicated by the Alexander Smirnov indictment? Lesley Wolf.

Joseph Ziegler[‘s Filter Documents] Say Derek Hines Is Lying

For years, there have been questions about whether, and if so how, Hunter Biden could ever be prosecuted using evidence from the laptop. As I noted here, David Weiss and Derek Hines revealed how they intend to do that yesterday. The answer is, by engaging in unbelievably dickish sandbagging of the President’s son.

The ploy involved two steps. First, prosecutors provided Hunter digital evidence in October, with warrants only for tax crimes. At that point, there was no reason to assess those warrants for suppression, because they did not permit searches for gun crimes.

Then, exactly seven days before the motions deadline in the case, they provided a new warrant, for the first time presenting a warrant covering gun crimes. They now claim that because Abbe Lowell did not move to suppress the laptop by that motions deadline seven days later, he has waived his opportunity.

I’m not saying that this kind of ethically problematic gimmick won’t work, nor am I saying it only happens to privileged white men like Hunter. But it is shocking that that is how they plan to bury legal and forensic problems with evidence from the laptop.

I think it likely Lowell may respond by saying there are a whole bunch of things — such as evidence the FBI conducted analysis long before they obtained the laptop and determined John Paul Mac Isaac had unlawfully accessed it and known forensic reports describing problems with the data — that he should have been provided. I expect Lowell will point to this gimmick and describe that it is proof these men are no longer entitled to the presumption of regularity, and therefore the gun charges should be reviewed for vindictive prosecution.

Lowell may also point out that evidence Joseph Ziegler made public shows that a key premise behind this gimmick is false.

Part of Hines’ gimmick is a claim that investigators could, and — the response suggests — did, find evidence pertaining to gun crimes while seeking evidence of Hunter’s state of mind pertaining to the tax crimes.

The warrant authorized investigators to search for the same violations referenced in the previous paragraph, that is, violations of 26 U.S.C. § 7201, Tax Evasion, 26 U.S.C. § 7203, Willful Failure to File Tax Returns or Pay Taxes, and 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1), False Tax Returns. Relevant to this case, this warrant also authorized investigators to seize “evidence indicating the state of mind of the owner and user of the TARGET MACBOOK PRO and TARGET EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE as it relates to the crimes under investigation.” Again, evidence that showed the defendant’s addiction to controlled substances indicates “the state of mind of the owner and user of the TARGET MACBOOK PRO and TARGET EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE as it relates” to the to the tax crimes enumerated in the warrant.

Except Joseph Ziegler helpfully told us what he looked for with that very same warrant when he provided the filter term document to Congress. While he included “halliebiden” (meaning a few of these texts might come in), porn, and girl, he did not include drugs, cocaine, crack, or any other drug-related term.

Cathay

Cathay Bank

CEFC

Cooper

debit

deduction

Dennis Louis

Devon

Dhabi

Dodge

draw

That is investigators wouldn’t find most of these communications as part of the tax investigation.

In fact, Garrett Ziegler has identified several that involve Hunter’s then still licensed psychiatrist, Keith Ablow, which would have been filtered, and aren’t drugs at all.

Again, to be clear, Hines intends to bypass all scrutiny of the laptop with his unethical sandbagging, and he might get away with it.

But in the process, he’s making claims refuted by public evidence.

The Hunter Biden Laptop: Two CARTs before the Horse

According to the property receipt that has been posted publicly (but not, as far as I know, been made available as separate PDF), FBI Special Agent Josh Wilson signed the receipt for a hard drive and laptop obtained from John Paul Mac Isaac. The date is obscure, but consistent with receipt on December 9, 2019.

The admittedly inconsistently dark case file on that form, as right wing frothers never tire of pointing out, is a money laundering case file, 272D-BA-3065729.

According to the warrant return I liberated this week, on December 13, 2019, Josh Wilson received the hard drive and laptop again. He received the laptop not from an evidence locker, where it might normally go while an agent gets Office of Enforcement Operations approval and then gets a warrant from a magistrate judge, but from a Computer Analysis Response Team (CART) Computer Analyst named Mike Waski.

The warrant I liberated is not for money laundering. The only crimes listed on Attachment B are tax crimes: 26 USC 7201, 26 USC 7203, and 26 USC 7206(1).

According to the notes Gary Shapley took after it became clear that, after sharing the laptop with the FBI, John Paul Mac Isaac shared a copy with Rudy Giuliani, after Josh Wilson took possession of the hard drive and laptop (a second time), the hard drive, at least, went back to CART — this time, a CART Agent named Eric Overly.

In spite of the fact that Shapley made these notes in order to explain precisely what happened with the laptop, Shapley doesn’t mention where the laptop was between December 9, 2019, when Josh Wilson took possession from JPMI and December 13, 2019, when Josh Wilson took possession again.

Joseph Ziegler returned the warrant on January 30, 2020. But it wasn’t until March before the FBI got an image of the laptop (though this may have been after a filter team review). Josh Wilson got that personally, too.

Putting two carts before the horse is not normal, here. When the FBI accepts a laptop, even if it is being used in multiple investigations, they image it once and then — as ultimately happened here, probably multiple times — they obtain new warrants for the same device, first for the tax investigation, then for a FARA investigation, and finally, 81 days after indicting the President’s son for gun crimes, for a gun investigation.

But this laptop, Hunter Biden’s laptop, went from the blind computer repairman to Josh Wilson to CART to Josh Wilson and then back to CART.

I currently have theories why that happened. But no answers.

I’ve asked David Weiss’ spox for clarification about zscoreUSA’s observation: why the caption for the warrant obtained last month lists a different device serial number for the laptop:

Then the laptop for the actual laptop obtained from JPMI, which is what appears in the Attachments that were only released pursuant to Judge Maryellen Noreika’s orders after I made some follow-up calls.

The serial numbers are just off by two characters:

  • FVFVC2MMHV2G
  • FVFXC2MMHV29

David Weiss’ spox hasn’t acknowledged that inquiry. This could be a typo or, as was suggested, FBI Agent Boyd Pritchard may have used the serial number for a laptop into which (as Shapley described) FBI dropped the removable hard drive from the laptop obtained from JPMI. In that case, it would normally note that the laptop contained the hard drive liberated from a prior laptop.

Perhaps all this will get sorted if and when Abbe Lowell makes good on his promised suppression motion. But until then, I only have theories, not answers.

“What it gets at is just facts:” MAGAts Learn to Love Long-Delayed Interview Reports

I spent much of my day reading the transcript from Hunter Biden attorney Kevin Morris’ deposition by the House. (xitter thread here)

It was a predictable shit show.

And some details — such as Morris’ disclosure that the only reason he contributed $11,000 on Hunter’s behalf pertaining to a Porsche in 2020 was to pay it off to the point that he could sell it — confirm that David Weiss was spinning Hunter’s expenses on the tax indictment to put them in the worst possible light.

But there’s a particular meltdown that deserves further attention. One of the GOP staffers was grilling Morris about the references to him recorded in a Joseph Ziegler interview report from a September 29, 2022 interview of James Biden, which would have been the last substantive interview of the investigation before David Weiss reopened it last year.

These bullet points are Ziegler’s representation of what James Biden had to say about Morris; they were asking him about a March 2020 communication from a period when Morris was putting together a plan to get Hunter’s life back on track, including by filing his tax returns. If Ziegler’s representation is accurate, the President’s brother is not terrifically enamored of Hunter’s benefactor.

Text Dated March 2020:

a. Kevin Morris (“Morris”) was an attorney for SouthPark and the Book of Mormon. Morris is a very wealthy guy. Morris had befriended RHB. James B didn’t know why or when this occurred.

b. James B was asked by DOJ-Tax attorney Daly what “World Class of People” referred to? James B thought that this could be attorneys and could mean anything. Morris has a huge ego in being a successful entertainment attorney. RHB wasn’t interfacing with anyone during this time except for Morris and one other guy who flipped houses named George.

c. Morris was helping RHB a lot, but James B didn’t know why. James B thought that this might have been because of his ego. RHB asked James B to thank Morris because Morris requested a thank you. James B had no understanding of what the team of people means and has no knowledge of what Morris had done for RHB. James B was not sure if there was a loan between Morris and RHB. James B thought that the money was significant enough that RHB asked his uncle to say something to Morris and thank him. James B didn’t recall a specific discussion only to say thank you “on behalf of the family”.

d. James B recalled that when RHB was being vilified by the media, Morris had sent a film crew to Bulgaria. Morris was there with his film crew monitoring a documentary trying to defame RHB.

e. James B only met Morris 3-4 times. Morris wanted James B to come work for him and James B told Morris that he was not interested. James B met Morris at his home. Morris also came to RHB’s house for a picnic in which James B attended.

f. James B recalled Morris making a comment that if RHB’s attorneys weren’t going to listen to him, then he wanted nothing to do with them.

g. James B stated that Morris thought he was very knowledgeable “politically,” but James B thought otherwise.

h. James B was not aware if Morris asked RHB for anything else other than a thank you. RHB was very closed lip about Morris. [my emphasis]

So a Republican staffer takes this passage and then asks Morris what James Biden meant when he said that he, Morris, was not very knowledgable politically, an observation there’s no reason to believe Morris had heard directly.

Mr [redacted]. If you go to 51(g), just a little bit lower, it says, “James Biden recalled Morris making a comment” — or excuse me.

Mr. Sullivan. (f), you mean?

Mr. (g): “James B stated that Morris thought he was very knowledgeable ‘politically,’ but James B thought otherwise.” Do you know why James Biden would say that you thought you were politically savvy?

Morris balks. Hours into this deposition, he doesn’t simply point out he would have no way of knowing. Based on what he knows about James Biden, he doubts the representation is accurate. He, a Hollywood lawyer, cites Law and Order.

Mr. Morris. I don’t believe that he said it.

Look, counsel, this is not a transcript. These are the notes of a law enforcement official, you know, trying to, you know, trying to get a case going. All you have to do is watch one episode of “Law & Order” to know that that’s not often — it’s not always accurate.

GOP staffer then makes of Morris’ comment something it isn’t.

Mr. [redacted] So you’re saying you never had any political conversations with James Biden?

Mr. Morris. No, I don’t remember any political conversations with Jim.

A Dem staffer, perhaps seeing this about to go off the rails, notes that this is not a contemporary record of the interview.

Mr. [redacted, seemingly a Dem staffer] And can we just establish for the record that this is a memorandum of interview for an interview that took place September 29th, 2022. And as is noted on the last page, Agent Ziegler notes in it, “I prepared this memorandum on over the period October 10th through November 2nd, 2022, after refreshing my memory –“

Which leads things to go after the rails. For at least the second time in the deposition, a Republican staffer defends Joseph Ziegler’s honor, as if he hadn’t already been caught in misrepresentations of these events.

Mr. [redacted] Are you disputing the accuracy of the — of this memo?

Mr. [redacted] “– from notes made during and immediately after the interview with James Biden.”

The Reporter asks people to stop interrupting each other.

The Reporter. You have to repeat. I had two people talking at the same time.

Mr. [redacted] I’m just noting that at the end it says, “I prepared this memorandum on over the period October 10th through November 2nd, 2022, after refreshing my memory with notes made during and immediately after the interview with James Biden.”

I’m — this is just — I’m just reading from the —

[1:39 p.m.]

Mr. [redacted] It’s in the — we’ve entered it into the record. So the notes were made — if we’re going to — we’re going to pause if you want to maybe ask questions.

Ms. [redacted] We can pause.

A seeming Republican argues that since this is already in the record it must be taken as Gospel.

 Mr. [redacted] There were notes that were taken with this. So I don’t know what the point of that was since it’s already in the record.

Ms. [redacted] I think the point is that this is not a contemporaneous memorandum.

Another Democratic staffer notes this is not a contemporaneous record.

That this was actually written down several days, actually a couple weeks after the interview. And it says on the face of it that Mr. Ziegler had to refresh his memory from  notes. So I think, you know, it is — it’s as valuable as the paper it’s written on, but it says on its face that it’s not contemporaneous. I think that’s the point we’re making.

Mr. [redacted] And I’m just making that point in the interactions or comments that James Biden said X, and I just want to be clear that what this document says about what it is and what it is not.

A likely Republican says that because ten people attended the interview, all must have vouched for the accuracy of the memo.

Mr. [redacted] There’s also 10 people present here. And, presumably, Mr. Ziegler, when he prepared this, he circulated, at least to the internal folks, to make sure that he had it accurate, right?

Kevin Morris is not having it. He notes only one other person, Christine Puglisi, signed it.

Mr. Morris. No, we don’t know that. I’m not presuming what Mr. Ziegler said.

I mean, it is signed by Mr. Ziegler and by another special agent. And I am just reading the caveat that’s noted above his own signature. I’m not speculating —

Someone complains that they’ve gone off the rails.

Mr. [redacted] We’re getting a little bit —

The court reporter begs, again, for people to stop talking over each other.

The Reporter. Can we speak one at a time, please.

Morris’ attorney points out what Morris might have: The House shouldn’t be pushing on this in any case, because Morris has no personal knowledge of the interview.

Mr. Sullivan [Morris attorney]. Sorry. For me as the counsel for the witness, I am just saying, the questions are being asked about, based on this memo, that Mr. Morris has no personal knowledge of anything that was actually said. If this is true, we just don’t know. We don’t have any personal knowledge of whether this is.

Mr. [redacted] Fair enough.

Mr. Sullivan. That is my main concern — questions about that —

The Republicans will not be deterred.

Mr. [redacted] Jim Biden mentions —

The court reporter tries, again, to get people to stop talking over each other.

Mr. Reporter. One at a time, please.

The Republicans will not be deterred.

Mr. [redacted] Jim Biden mentions Mr. Morris. Here we’re simply asking questions to the extent you can answer it. Or if you disagree with it, you can tell us what you can tell us, and that’s where we’ll be.

Morris repeats that this transcript doesn’t sound like Jim Biden, but also notes that even if he did, it doesn’t get Republicans to where they want to get.

Mr. Morris. And counsel what I’m saying is, I do question the validity of this. I do question a lot of it. Some of it sounds lake stuff Jim would never say. But, in any event, I don’t believe — you know, were it all true, I don’t know where this gets you. Like if, you know — and I could be speculating about what Jimmy said in front of investigators, you know, written down by the memo and not on a transcript.

In response to which, a Republican asserts that this transcript, which Morris contests, relaying claims to which Morris has no personal knowledge, “gets at is just facts.”

Mr. [redacted] What it gets at is just facts. I mean, we’re just trying to ask you questions as fast as we can.

It’s nice to know these committees are just as much of a shit show behind closed doors as are the hearings hosted by James Comer.

But the dispute is worth closer look. The point the Democrats are making is that this interview of James Biden — the last interview of this investigation — was not written up for 34 days. The interview was held on September 29, 2022. Ziegler described that, starting 11 days after the interview, he wrote it up over a period of 23 days, from October 10 to November 2.

I prepared this memorandum on over the period October 10th through November 2nd, 2022, after refreshing my memory from notes made during and immediately after the interview with James Biden. [my emphasis]

Not only that, but Ziegler corrected himself: he didn’t write the memo on a particular day, he wrote it over a more than three week period just before the 2022 midterms.

Remember: It is an article of faith that there must have been political interference because it took 22 days to write up an interview report of Mike Flynn’s January 24, 2017 interview, which was finalized on February 15, 2017. This conspiracy theory frothed Republicans up but good for — I kid you not — 675 days until, after a series of backflips to invent some reason to throw out the Flynn prosecution, Bill Barr’s DOJ admitted the conspiracy theory was based on fluff. There was no original 302, they admitted after Sidney Powell spent years leading MAGAts to believe there was.

The delay in finalizing Flynn’s 302, which is actually far too routine, was a core piece of “proof” in the conspiracy theories that Flynn was wrongfully prosecuted.

And here, an interview report of the President’s brother took 12 days longer to complete than Flynn’s (which is still not that long compared to far too many interview reports). Worse still, during that entire period, Ziegler’s boss and close ally on this case, Gary Shapley, was busy inventing a reason to blow up the case. Ziegler didn’t even begin to write up this interview until after the October 6 leak and the October 7 meeting that has since roiled the case.

Honestly, Morris should have started where he ultimately ended up: noting that even if the interview report recorded James Biden accurately, it didn’t help Republicans’ conspiracy theories.

But by raising questions about whether Ziegler, at a time when he and Shapley were inventing conspiracy theories about this case, accurately recorded the President’s brother, he invited Republicans to demonstrate just how little they really care about delayed interview reports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Accountability,” he said.

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

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

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

Sort of.

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

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

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

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

“But accountability is accountability,” I said.

“Accountability is accountability,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A ‘SWEETHEART’ DEAL FOR HUNTER (AND JOE), AS THEY CONTINUE THEIR QUEST TO ‘GET’ TRUMP, JOE’S POLITICAL OPPONENT. WE ARE NOW A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY!”

“The Hunter/Joe Biden settlement is a massive COVERUP & FULL SCALE ELECTION INTERFERENCE ‘SCAM’ THE LIKES OF WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN IN OUR COUNTRY BEFORE. A ‘TRAFFIC TICKET,’ & JOE IS ALL CLEANED UP & READY TO GO INTO THE 2024 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. . . .”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Joseph Ziegler Didn’t Find When He Looked for Hunter Biden’s Sex Workers

Joseph Ziegler, the disgruntled IRS agent who built a tax case on the digital payments Hunter Biden made during the depth of his addiction, is quite proud that he found one of the sex workers who slept with Joe Biden’s son. He brought it up twice in his testimony.

First, he boasted that he sought out women he called prostitutes and impressed the prosecutors.

Yeah. So standard practice is — for any transaction, you want to go out — and a lot of our job is hitting the pavement, going out and talking to people. There was a lot of different investigative steps that we took, that even going and talking to the prostitutes, we found multiple people that he called his employees that were also prostitutes, and that he would have them clean his hotel room or — there were a lot of these interviews that we ended up going and doing and talking to people that were so worth it, even though someone might — we were always being told by the prosecutors, you guys are wasting your time going and doing that. It’s not worth it. And literally, I would surprise them every time and find everyone.

Though maybe Ziegler was speaking loosely when he called these women prostitutes. Later in his testimony, he admitted that he had been calling Lunden Roberts, a former stripper and the mother of Hunter’s fourth child, a prostitute.

Then, he complained that prosecutors had withheld the sex videos involving a “potential prostitute” they had interviewed — effectively confessing that he had looked online for things that would have tainted his testimony.

But there was other things — we went out and talked to one of the potential prostitutes. And there were videos that I’ve seen out there on Twitter, on the internet, and information related to that person that I had never seen before.

He — or rather, Homeland Security Investigations — did find at least one sex worker, though.

In the documents Ziegler released last September, he included two interview excerpts, one with Hunter’s accountant, Jeffrey Gelfound, and another with a sex worker whom he calls “Gulnora.” Ziegler explained the two show that Hunter wrote off a payment to Gulnora, who admitted she met with Hunter as an escort.

EXHIBIT 1F & 1G: This was a memorandum of interview of Jeffrey Gelfound, Edward White & Company tax accountant who assisted with the preparation of RHB’s delinquent tax returns, to include the RHB’s personal and corporate tax returns for 2017 and 2018. When discussing deductions on RHB’s tax returns, Gelfound was asked about whole dollar transfers to Gulnora. Gelfound was asked if RHB verified this as a business expense in which Gelfound stated “Yes, we put it on the returns so …”. EXHIBIT 1G was an interview report turned over to the investigative team as a part of the RHB investigation. I have included a redacted excerpt of that interview of an escort by the name of Gulnora that was conducted on or about April of 2021 in which she admits to meeting RHB relating to escort work.

Note the interview with Gelfound, not the one with “Gulnora,” appears to have been in April 2021; the “Gulnora” one appears to have taken place in June 2021. Close enough for IRS-CI work, I guess.

In the Gelfound interview, DOJ Tax Prosecutor Mark Daly actually asks the accountant about two Venmo payments, one for $1,500 and another for $2,700.

DOJ-Tax Daly: [redacted] there is a series of large whole dollar transfers to something called Gulnora?

Jeffrey Gelfound: OK.

DOJ-Tax Daly: Do you know what that is?

Jeffrey Gelfound: I-I don’t.

DOJ-Tax Daly: OK – But Hunter verified to you that that was a business expense?

Jeffrey Gelfound: Yes, we put it on the returns so …

DOJ-Tax Daly: OK, um, there’s a series of Venmo transfers, large dollar ones, for example, [redacted]

Jeffrey Gelfound: OK.

DOJ-Tax Daly: On August 14th there’s a $1500 expense and on September 4th there’s a $2700 expense.

The $1,500 expense appears to be the one mentioned in the tax indictment, which I wrote about here. That payment was the first obvious charge on Hunter’s Venmo account after two new devices were added to Hunter’s Venmo account in two different cities. It appears to have happened a day earlier than described in the indictment (and than described in this interview, which will be admissible for impeachment at trial). To prove that Hunter intentionally wrote this off improperly, prosecutors will need to prove not just that Hunter — as opposed to the people who accessed his Venmo account days before this — made the payment, that Hunter, rather than the dancer, listed the payment as Art, and that he remembered all that in 2020.

And while the $2,700 payment doesn’t obviously appear in the indictment, it’s yet more proof of how problematic relying on payments Hunter made to sex workers will be for prosecutors (there are plenty of other payments they would have an easier time proving were improper write-offs, though).

The Venmo described as a September 4 payment appears to have been made on August 30, 2018. If that’s correct, then it was paid to a woman who was paid at least three times in two days, probably four. In addition to the $2,700 Venmo payment (shown in pink in the timeline below), she was paid a total of $1,800, via two payments, on Zelle. Then she was entered as a wire transfer recipient in Hunter’s Wells Fargo account, immediately after which someone was transferred $4,000. Those payments are shown in red on the timeline.

The three different methods of payment (from at least two bank accounts and a Visa debit card) are suspect enough.

They happened in a period when Hunter’s life was in remarkable turmoil, even by his standards. On Sunday, August 26, he left his bank card in an ATM machine. The next day, Monday, he either lost his phone or someone used the Lost Phone function to track Hunter as he moved across Venice, CA and ultimately to the AirBNB in the Hollywood Hills where he was staying for two nights. The next day, Tuesday, after he left the AirBNB, he discovered he had left a bag there. Ultimately the owner gave the bag to an Uber driver (but there’s no obvious Uber payment showing that Hunter got the bag back). The next day, Wednesday, Hunter either spent two hours trying to get onto Venmo; or someone spent hours trying to break into his account. Also that day, Hunter’s contact information for Wells Fargo was changed; it looks like Wells Fargo had two separate numbers ending in 9396 for him. That night appears to be when he first interacted with the sex worker the IRS calls Gulnora, because he paid her at close to 4AM. Consistent with what she told HSI 34 months later, they met again the next night, Thursday. He paid her via Zelle at 9:50PM, via Venmo at 11:04PM, and then probably via wire transfer at 6:41AM. Later that day, just after 7PM on August 31, Hunter would buy a new MacBook Pro using two credit cards; this is believed to be the laptop that would eventually end up in Fox News pundit Keith Ablow’s possession. Two and a half hours later, Hunter made an Account Recovery request to Apple (using a different phone number than the one(s) recently added to his Wells Fargo account), and the next day, Saturday, September 1, he started accessing his accounts from the new device. This was one of only two Apple Account Recovery attempts recorded in the publicly available emails, and unless he lost a laptop at the AirBNB, it’s not clear what device had been compromised (though he had lost an iPad earlier in August).

But that’s not all. The $4,000 wire transfer made in the same minute the sex worker was made a wire transfer recipient occurred immediately after something that also frequently occurred on Hunter’s Wells Fargo account: a reset of access after a suspected compromise.

On at least 36 occasions in 2017 and 2018 — and three times (marked in blue in the timeline) in the period in which this payment was made to a woman the IRS is calling Gulnora — Wells Fargo suspended his access because it suspected someone else was trying to access his account, which required him to change his password before he could access it. Most often, the password got changed and Face ID, allowing anyone with access to Hunter’s face or perhaps his fingerprint, would be turned back on. Probably, many if not most of those were not someone else trying to access the account; they were probably just Hunter trying to access the account, in ways that looked suspect. But the result is that he almost certainly repeatedly accessed his bank account while in the presence of a dealer or a sex worker awaiting payment, watching that he reset his password and then turned on Face ID. This would alert them that they could access Hunter’s account by using his face (or fingerprint), either of which would be accessible to them when he was wasted. As a result, like that Venmo payment made earlier in August, law enforcement wanting to prove that Hunter made a particular payment would need a whole lot of evidence about the circumstances of payment, to rule out someone else paying him or herself.

And unless someone interviewed the woman they call Gulnora (who was paid under a Russian last name) a second time, they didn’t get that evidence from her.

As it was, just two pages of nine in the interview pertained to Hunter Biden. The interview appears to have focused on how she became involved in an escort network run on Telegram. She claimed she only took two jobs with the madam who arranged the meeting with Joe Biden’s son — the two dates with Hunter, and one more, with a guy she called “John.” Though later in the interview she described interacting with the madam face to face once and with people she worked with on multiple “occasions,” which sounds like more than two clients (especially since, by description, Hunter called her directly to arrange the second date).  The woman wasn’t sure what website he would have used to contact the madam. She was not asked the dates of the trysts.

What she did describe is that she had some uncertainty about the ID Hunter used to verify his identity, because it was not a California Driver’s License. That’s what led Hunter to explain who his father was, after which the woman the IRS calls Gulnora “became afraid.” But then, when she returned to her apartment, a friend provided her more information.

After [Gulnora] left the location, she arrived back at her apartment and told her friend who she was just with. [Gulnora] stated that her friend told her “you have no idea who you’re dealing with.” [Gulnora] stated that she deleted [redacted] number.

So by the time she went back that second day — to be paid $1,200 via Zelle at 9:50 and then $2,700 at 11:04 in the first Venmo payment after whatever had happened with Hunter’s Venmo account days earlier, probably followed by $4,000 the next morning — she did know who she was dealing with.

One more thing about the payments to this woman. Someone attempted to wire her $100 from Hunter’s account on February 27, 2019, in between the time when Hunter’s digital identity was packed up on a laptop and the day when that laptop would walk into a computer repair shop in Wilmington. That payment failed.

I don’t doubt that the sex worker did meet Joe Biden’s son. But there are no less than six possible identity compromises in the days leading up to their meetings. The very same day she was probably paid a fourth time in two days, Hunter Biden attempted to reclaim his digital identity.

It’s not just that prosecutors would have a difficult time proving that Hunter made these payments. It’s that they decided that turning them into a tax felony was the appropriate response to six possible identity compromises of the former Vice President’s son in one week.

Timeline

August 26 at 12:16PM: DroidHunter added to Apple account.

August 26 at 4:16PM: Hunter reserves AirBNB.

August 26 at 4:34PM: Hunter withdrew $800 from an ATM but left the card.

August 26 at 7:24PM: Hunter arrives AirBNB.

August 27 at 1:40AM: Hunter added a new Zelle recipient and then, a minute later, sent him $750. Two hours later, at 3:40 AM Hunter sent another $750.

August 27 at 4:13AM: Wells Fargo suspended his online access. Eight minutes later, Hunter’s password was reset, Face ID was turned back on, a new recipient was added, and $2,000 was transferred to that new recipient.

August 27 at 11:15PM: A sound was played on iPhone.

August 27 at 11:18PM: Hunter’s phone put into Lost Mode.

August 27 at 11:18PM: Apple Pay was suspended on his phone.

August 27 at 11:18PM: iPhone found in Venice, CA.

August 28 at 1:41AM: Wells Fargo suspended his online access. Seven minutes later, Hunter’s password was set, Face ID was turned back on.

August 28 at 9:25AM: iPhone found 11 minute walk away in Venice.

August 28 at 9:30AM: iPhone found 20 minute walk away in Venice.

August 28 at 10:42AM: iPhone found 9 minute walk away in Venice.

August 28 at 11:17AM: iPhone found 26 minute walk away in Venice.

August 28 at 11:35AM: iPhone found 13 minute drive away in LA.

August 28 at 11:53AM: iPhone found 11 minute drive away in LA.

August 28 at 12:11PM: iPhone found 4 minute drive away at AirBNB where Hunter was staying.

August 28 at 5:04PM: Apple Pay was reactivated to a device called “ChatMa.”

August 28 at 5:04PM: A sound was played on iPhone.

August 28 at 10:08PM: Hunter informs AirBNB owner he left a bag there.

August 28 at 11:54PM: AirBNB owner arranges to drop bag off with Uber driver.

August 29 at 2:00AM: Face ID turned on for Wells Fargo (possibly a different account?).

August 29 at 2:13AM: $2,000 requested on Venmo (probably associated with attempt to rent a place).

August 29 at 2:14AM: Please verify your email address on Venmo.

August 29 at 2:15AM: Please verify your email address on Venmo.

August 29 at 2:18AM: Please verify your email address on Venmo.

August 29 at 4:27AM: Please verify your email address on Venmo.

August 29 at 9:23AM: A new recipient, OA, added to Zelle.

August 29 at 9:36AM: A device is registered with Wells Fargo.

August 29 at 9:37AM: $600 sent to OA.

August 29 at 9:43AM: Updated contact info for Wells Fargo (seemingly two numbers ending in 9396); Hunter had at least one other number at the time.

August 30 at 3:57AM: EK added to Zelle.

August 30 at 3:58AM: $600 sent via Zelle to EK from 4605.

August 30 at 4;45PM: $750 sent to Naomi Biden from 5858.

August 30 at 4:46PM: $750 sent to Roberta Biden from 5142.

August 30 at 4:46PM: $1000 sent to IS from 5858.

August 30 at 9:50PM: $1,200 sent via Zelle to EK from 5858.

August 30 at 11:04PM: $2,700 sent via Venmo to EK.

August 30 at 11:33PM: Wells Fargo suspends access.

August 31 at 6:03AM: Hunter’s password was reset. 

August 31 at 6:34AM: Face ID turned on for Wells Fargo.

August 31 at 6:41AM: EK added as wire transfer recipient.

August 31 at 6:41AM: $4,000 transferred from 5858.

August 31 at 7:04PM: Ablow laptop purchased, using two credit cards, at Best Buy.

August 31 at 9:36PM: Apple account recovery request.

September 1 at 10:29AM: Password change.

September 1 at 10:34AM: Sign into MacBook Pro.

September 1 at 10:42AM: Sign into iCloud from browser.

September 1 at 4:24PM: Sign into DroidHunter.

September 1 at 4:27PM: KD added as wire transfer recipient.

September 1 at 4:28PM: $10,000 to be transferred on September 4 from 5142.

September 1 at 9:36PM: Call or text from Apple alerting him his Account Recovery was available due.

September 2 at 5:00AM: Hide2Vault downloaded to new Mac.

September 2 at 6:15AM: Sign into Rosemont Seneca.

February 27, 2019: Attempted $100 Zelle payment to EK.

Garanimals in a SCIF: David Weiss’ Attempt to Sheep Dip Bill Barr’s Hunter Biden Prosecution

On July 11, 2023, David Weiss’ First AUSA Shannon Hanson responded to an inquiry from Judge Maryanne Noreika’s courtroom deputy, Mark Buckson. He wanted to know when “the final versions of the documents” pertaining to the Hunter Biden plea deal would be completed. Hanson responded within five minutes. Before she explained that she didn’t know when they’d have the final documents, but hoped to have them to Judge Noreika by Thursday (so July 13), she described that, “I will be speaking with the team later today (I understand they are in a secure location and cannot readily be contacted at the moment.”

Hanson was describing “the team” — she had cc’ed Delaware AUSA Benjamin Wallace and Baltimore AUSAs Leo Wise and Derek Hines — as something of which she was not a part. And she was describing that team as being in a SCIF.

Hunter Biden’s attorneys included the email with their motion to dismiss based on an argument that the diversion agreement Hunter signed prohibits the indictment charging him with three gun charges. The email shows that the final documents filed with the court on July 20, by Wallace, had just one change from the version submitted on June 8, by Hanson. Wallace explained:

The parties and Probation have agreed to revisions to the diversion agreement to more closely match the conditions of pretrial release that Probation recommended in the pretrial services report issued yesterday.

Hunter’s team submitted it to show that, following the Probation Office’s recommendation of Hunter for diversion on July 19, the parties submitted it as a finished agreement.

This motion makes a strong argument that the government entered into an agreement with Hunter for which he sacrificed his rights — including by allocuting to the facts regarding the gun purchase — and therefore must honor the contractual protections it offered to get Hunter to sacrifice those rights.

Indeed, in a footnote it goes further than that: it argues that because the immunity agreement language was in the gun diversion, all the charges tied to the informations that were before Noreika are barred, including the tax charges filed in California.

7 Although the only charges now before the Court are the gun charges in the prosecution’s lone Indictment of Mr. Biden in this District, Mr. Biden notes that the sweeping immunity of the Diversion Agreement would seem to bar any plausible charge that could be brought against him (including the recently filed tax charges in California). The only charges that are not be barred by the immunity provision are those filed in the pre-existing Informations filed against him in this District. The Diversion Agreement called for the eventual dismissal of the gun charge Information upon the conclusion of the diversion period, but the prosecution already has dismissed it. Although the Plea Agreement was not accepted on the misdemeanor tax charge Information, the prosecution has dismissed that Information as well. Consequently, the Diversion Agreement’s immunity for gun and tax-related charges would bar any similar charge from now being filed. This sweeping immunity may make it difficult for the prosecutors to appease Mr. Trump and the Republican congressmen who have criticized them, but this is the deal that the prosecutors made and it reflects their choice to place the immunity provision in the Diversion Agreement.

I’m less certain that’ll fly, but it’s a hint of where things are headed in California.

That’s what the documents show with regards to the motion to dismiss, which I’ve always said is probably Hunter’s best argument to have the indictment dismissed.

But the documents are as interesting for what they show of David Weiss’ attempt to sheep dip this prosecution — to give it a virgin birth under the direction of now-Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise or, as Joseph Ziegler’s attorney described it when he invited the disgruntled IRS agent to explain how irreplaceable he was, to replace one Garanimal with another.

Mr. Zerbe. I want to make sure — you made one point. I think you need to clarify it for him. He asked if the case is going forward. I think for everybody here, explain though that it’s not just kind of Garanimals where they can swap you in and out. Talk about, you not being on the case, you have to put somebody in new, but kind of how that impacts. I just want you to understand that.

Mr. [Ziegler]. So what’s frustrating — and I think it’s obvious is he removed two of the people who have been challenging and been kind of like this is the — we’re trying to do the right thing, we’re trying to do the right thing. And it was kind of like we got loud enough, and they found an avenue to remove us. I have been told by so many people on this case that we’re where we are today because of my work. It’s 5 years of an investigation. You can’t just pick up that and move it onto someone else. And if they removed all the prosecutors, DOJ Tax, and had a brand-new team, I would understand that completely if that’s the decision that they made. But they just removed us.

Ziegler made that comment on June 1. And he was right, at that point — as he sat in a room making claims about Lesley Wolf’s conduct that documents he himself released almost four months later would substantially debunk — that “they” had not yet “removed all the prosecutors.” But they would, within days.

As Chris Clark described in his declaration describing plea negotiations, that same day, June 1, Lesley Wolf invited Clark to come to the US Attorney’s Office the next day to work on the plea agreement, in part so they could share language with David Weiss in real time.

20. On June 1, 2023, AUSA Wolf sent me an email inviting me to meet at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wilmington on June 2 to work together on the agreements’ specific language and provisions. The idea was for the AUSAs and defense counsel to be in the same room with access to U.S. Attorney Weiss, so that the terms could be worked out. A true and correct copy of AUSA Wolf’s June 1, 2023, email to Chris Clark is attached hereto as Exhibit H.

21. On June 2, 2023, co-counsel Matthew Salerno and I went to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wilmington, where the USAO presented us with its draft of a new Diversion Agreement, along with a draft Plea Agreement. This was the first time that we had seen the USAO’s draft Agreements. Each draft Agreement was accompanied by a broad and lengthy Statement of Facts, each of which had been drafted solely by the USAO in advance of the June 2 meeting. At this meeting, AUSA Wolf expressed the view that it was in Mr. Biden’s interest to have broad Statements of Facts included because the scope of immunity (under Paragraph 15 of the Diversion Agreement) would be tied to the Statements of Facts. The Agreement included a more limited immunity provision than I had discussed with AUSA Wolf or that Mr. Biden would accept. Among the revisions, during or shortly after that June 2 meeting, references to tax liability for years 2016 and 2019 were specifically added to the Plea Agreement’s Statement of Facts.

22. The AUSAs and we took turns working on the specific language of each Agreement—with AUSA Wolf running the changes by Office leadership, including U.S. Attorney Weiss. No final agreement was reached that day, and the meeting concluded with the AUSAs agreeing that the USAO would work on composing acceptable language on an immunity provision.

23. That same evening (Friday June 2), at or around 9:43 PM EST, I emailed AUSA Wolf, copying my co-counsel, and proposed one revision to Paragraph 15 of the Diversion Agreement (the provision governing immunity): that Paragraph 15 provide that “The United States agrees not to criminally prosecute Biden, outside the terms of this Agreement, for any federal crimes arising from the conduct generally described in the attached Statement of Facts (attachment A) and the Statement of Facts attached as Exhibit 1 to the Memorandum of Plea Agreement filed this same day.” (Emphasis added.) In the email, I advised AUSA Wolf that it was “very critical for us” that the Diversion Agreement include “[t]his language or its functional equivalent.” A true and correct copy of Chris Clark’s June 2, 2023, email to AUSA Wolf, copying co-counsel, is attached hereto as Exhibit I. [emphasis original]

Wolf was still on the team when — after Clark spoke with Weiss directly on June 6 about the importance of protecting Hunter from any further legal exposure — she sent Clark new language seemingly addressing Clark’s concerns about the immunity language.

28. After extensive discussion with AUSA Wolf in which she repeatedly stated that U.S. Attorney Weiss was unwilling to revise the language of the Agreement’s immunity provision, I conveyed that if this language could not be revised, we would not have a deal and that it was the most important term in the Agreement that Mr. Biden get finality. Accordingly, I requested to speak directly with U.S. Attorney Weiss, whom I was told was the person deciding the issues of the Agreement. Later that afternoon, on June 6, 2023, I spoke directly with U.S. Attorney Weiss. During that call, I conveyed to U.S. Attorney Weiss that the Agreement’s immunity provision must ensure Mr. Biden that there would be finality and closure of this investigation, as I had conveyed repeatedly to AUSA Wolf during our negotiations. I further conveyed to U.S. Attorney Weiss that this provision was a deal-breaker. I noted that U.S. Attorney Weiss had changed the deal several times heretofore, and that I simply could not have this issue be yet another one which Mr. Biden had to compromise. The U.S. Attorney asked me what the problem was with the proposed language, and I explained that the immunity provision must protect Mr. Biden from any future prosecution by a new U.S. Attorney in a different administration. The U.S. Attorney considered the proposal and stated that he would get back to me promptly.

29. Later that same evening on June 6, 2023, at or around 5:47 PM EST, AUSA Wolf emailed me proposed language for the immunity provision that read: “How about this- The United States agrees not to criminally prosecute Biden, outside of the terms of this Agreement, for any federal crimes encompassed by the attached Statement of Facts (Attachment A) and the Statement of Facts attached as Exhibit 1 to the Memorandum of Plea Agreement filed this same day.” (Emphasis in original.) After speaking with Mr. Biden, I responded to AUSA Wolf that the language she sent me “works” and is suitable for Mr. Biden as well, at which point the Parties had a deal. A true and correct and correct copy of AUSA Wolf’s June 6, 2023, email to Chris Clark is attached hereto as Exhibit K. [all emphasis in Clark’s declaration]

And Wolf was still on the team on June 8, the day when the documents were first filed with the court.

That is, Wolf was still on the team when Jim Jordan and Bill Barr had already intervened in the case.

Wolf was still on the prosecutorial team — and negotiating a plea deal that would have ruled out FARA charges — on June 7.

That’s the same day Weiss sent the first response, to a May 25 letter Jim Jordan sent Merrick Garland about the IRS agents’ complaints of being removed from the investigation. In it, he cited Rod Rosenstein’s explanation to Chuck Grassley in 2018 how congressional interference might politicize an investigation (in that case, the Mueller investigation).

The information sought by the Committee concerns an open matter about which the Department is not at liberty to respond. As then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote in 2018 in response to a request for information from the Honorable Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary:

Congressional inquiries during the pendency of a matter pose an inherent threat to the integrity of the Department’s law enforcement and litigation functions. Such inquiries inescapably create the risk that the public and the courts will perceive undue political and Congressional influence over law enforcement and litigation decision.

[snip]

Weiss might claim that he replaced Wolf with Wise and in the process had Wise reassess the prior prosecutorial decisions. But, given the date of that letter, there was never a moment he had done so before the political pressure started. David Weiss cannot claim he did so before being pressured by Jim Jordan.

And Jordan’s letter wasn’t the only political pressure. On the same day that Weiss said he couldn’t share information — the likes of which Shapley had already started sharing — because it might politicize an ongoing investigation, Bill Barr (one of the people Lowell wants to subpoena) publicly intervened in the case, insisting the FD-1023 recording Mykola Zlochevsky making a new allegation of bribery had been a live investigative lead when it was shared with Weiss in October 2020, the FD-1023 Weiss specifically said he could not address because it was part of an ongoing investigation.

On a day when Lesley Wolf remained on the case, both Jordan and Barr had already intervened. And because there was never a time that Weiss had replaced Wolf with Wise before the political pressure started, there was little time he had done so before the physical threats followed the political pressure.

But June 8 — the day the plea deal first got shared with the court — was the last day that Lesley Wolf shows up in Clark’s timeline.

She wasn’t removed for misconduct. In his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, Weiss agreed that Wolf, “did her work on the Hunter Biden matter in a professional and unbiased manner without partisan or political considerations.” He said,

I believe she did. As I said, she served the Department for more than 16 years, and I believe her to be a prosecutor with integrity.

But per Michael Batdorf, she was, nevertheless, replaced.

On June 19, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise made his first appearance. Joseph Ziegler, a disgruntled IRS agent spreading false hearsay claims, succeeded in getting Wolf replaced.

That same day, June 19, Hanson requested that Clark modify the statement he was going to release. But, in a phone call, she told him that there was no pending investigation against Hunter Biden.

35. On June 19, 2023, at 2:53 PM EST, after I had a phone call with AUSA Hanson indicating I would do so, I emailed AUSA Hanson a proposed press statement to accompany the public release of both Informations that read, in part, “I can confirm that the five-year long, extensive federal investigation into my client, Hunter Biden, has been concluded through agreements with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware.” (Emphases added.) A true and correct copy of Chris Clark’s June 19, 2023, email to AUSA Hanson is attached hereto as Exhibit P.

36. Shortly after that email, I had another phone call with AUSA Hanson, during which AUSA Hanson requested that the language of Mr. Biden’s press statement be slightly revised. She proposed saying that the investigation would be “resolved” rather than “concluded.” I then asked her directly whether there was any other open or pending investigation of Mr. Biden overseen by the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office, and she responded there was not another open or pending investigation. Thereafter, at 4:18 PM EST that day, I sent AUSA Hanson a revised statement that read: “With the announcement of two agreements between my client, Hunter Biden, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, it is my understanding that the five-year investigation into Hunter is resolved.” (Emphases added.) The new statement revised the language from “concluded” to “resolved,” a stylistic change that meant the same thing. A true and correct copy of Chris Clark’s June 19, 2023, email to AUSA Hanson is attached hereto as Exhibit Q [Clark’s italics, my bold]

I hope to hell Clark has notes of that conversation, because the assertion that there was no pending investigation of Hunter Biden on June 19 directly conflicts with a claim that David Weiss made to the House Judiciary Committee.

On November 7, David Weiss repeated a claim his office made when they first announced the deal: that it was ongoing. “I can say that at no time was it coming to a close,” Weiss told the House Judiciary Committee. “I think, as I stated in the one statement I made at the time … the investigation was continuing. So it wasn’t ending there in any event.”

That is, Weiss’ First AUSA, Shannon Hanson, allegedly told Clark something that directly conflicts with something Weiss said to Congress.

That may be why Abbe Lowell, while arguing that no hearing is necessary to dismiss the indictment based on the contract that existed between the government and Hunter Biden, said that if Judge Noreika thinks she does need a hearing, then to please have David Weiss prepared to testify as a witness.

If the Court believes that parol evidence should be considered, Mr. Biden requests an evidentiary hearing in which all participants in the negotiation of the Diversion Agreement, including Mr. Weiss and the responsible members of his prosecution team, can be called as witnesses to address the extensive recapitulation provided in Mr. Clark’s Declaration.

It’s going to be a lot harder for Weiss to claim that US Attorneys-turned-Special Counsels can’t testify when he was willing to testify to Congress.

This is undoubtedly why Lowell asked to be able to subpoena Bill Barr’s communications, through the present, about the Hunter Biden investigation — a version of which he made in formal discovery as well (Lowell also noted Barr’s recent comments on the investigation in the selective and vindictive prosecution MTD). Because Bill Barr intervened in this case before such time as Wolf was apparently removed and replaced by Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise. Barr intervened publicly, and given Wise’s concerns about DOJ materials in the possession of former DOJ employees in his response to that subpoena request, it seems acutely likely that Weiss recognizes that Barr intervened in a way that shared privileged information.

Likewise, specific regulations govern the disclosure of DOJ materials in the possession of former DOJ employees, and the government is unable to assess the applicability or propriety of disclosure without identification of the specific documents. See 28 C.F.R. § 16.26 (outlining considerations governing appropriateness of disclosure); see generally 28 C.F.R. pt. 16, subpt. B (proscribing Touhy regulations for disclosure of official materials, including those held by former DOJ employees); United States ex rel. Touhy v. Ragen, 340 U.S. 462 (1951). Only once those materials are specifically identified can the government assess the appropriateness of disclosure, including whether such materials are privileged

Worse still, per Weiss’ testimony in November, this effort to mine the investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky that Barr personally orchestrated remains ongoing — or remained ongoing until such time, CNN recently reported, as it closed the investigation into Zlochevsky’s changed statements about the Bidens around the same time DOJ’s criminal investigation into him was closed down by Bill Barr’s DOJ.

When Steve Castor asked about the FD-1023 that, per Chuck Grassley, was the result of Scott Brady’s effort to mine the recently closed Zlochevsky investigation, David Weiss responded that it was part of an ongoing investigation.

Q Are you familiar — let’s mark this as the next exhibit — with an FD-1023 dated June 30, 2020, summarizing a confidential human sources meeting with Burisma executives during which they discussed bribes allegedly paid to Joe Biden and Hunter Biden?

A I’m sorry. What was your question about this document?

Q Are you familiar with this?

A I’m not going to comment on that. I appreciate your question, but it concerns a matter that is subject to an outstanding investigation. It’s something that I absolutely cannot comment on either way. [my emphasis]

This is why I’m interested in Hanson’s description that “the team” was in the SCIF on July 11. Wise and Hynes are — or were, until getting their big promotion to Senior Assistant Special Counsels — Baltimore AUSAs. There’s no reason for them to be in SCIF together with Wallace except on the Hunter Biden case. There is no conceivable classified information in the two Hunter Biden indictments (one, two).

But on July 10 — the day before Hanson said “the team” was in a SCIF — Weiss told Lindsey Graham that the FD-1023 was part of an ongoing investigation. And on November 7, Weiss told Steve Castor that it was part of an ongoing investigation.

And the possibility of a FARA charge is what Leo Wise used on July 26 to blow up an investigation that — as of June 19 — was done.

There is a good deal of reason to believe that David Weiss used the effort Bill Barr set up four years ago to launder dirt from Russian spies into the Hunter Biden investigation as an excuse, after private citizen Barr had intervened in this investigation, to reopen the investigation after Republicans demanded it.


Documents

Motion to dismiss because the diversion agreement prohibits the gun charges

All Points Bulletin to David Weiss! Tony Bobulinski Is a Missing Person!!

Best as I can tell, Tony Bobulinski is not among the Hunter Biden business associates described in his tax indictment. Here’s the likely identity of those named:

  • Business Associate 1: Rob Walker
  • Business Associate 2: James Gilliar
  • Business Associate 3: James Biden
  • Business Associate 4: Eric Schwerin
  • Business Associate 5: Devon Archer

Bobulinski would naturally appear — arguably, should appear — in this narrative:

During the next two years the Defendant, Business Associate 1, and Business Associate 2 continued to meet with individuals associated with CEFC, including in February 2017, with CEFC’s then-Chairman (hereafter “the Chairman”).

10. On or about March 1, 2017, State Energy HK, a Hong Kong entity associated with CEFC, paid approximately $3 million to Business Associate 1’s entity for sourcing deals and for identifying other potential ventures. The Defendant had an oral agreement with Business Associate 1 to receive one-third of those funds, or a million dollars. The Defendant, in turn, directed a portion of those million dollars to Business Associate 3.

11. After the State Energy HK payment, the Defendant, Business Associate 1, and Business Associate 2 began negotiating a joint venture with individuals associated with CEFC, which they called SinoHawk.

12. Over the summer of 2017, the Defendant cut out his SinoHawk business partners and separately negotiated a venture with individuals associated with CEFC called Hudson West III (“HWIII”). [my emphasis]

The entire passage is written to avoid mentioning a number of details that remain hotly contested. For example, the indictment doesn’t mention on what date in February 2017 the meeting in Miami with Chairman Ye occurred, which would determine whether or not it was even possible for Tony Bobulinski to attend, as Bobulisnki — in between meetings with Trump and Trump’s Chief of Staff — told the FBI he had, but which Abbe Lowell claims he did not.

The passage neglects to mention that Bobulinski worked with Walker, Gilliar, and Hunter to set up SinoHawk. It definitely doesn’t mention that the driving reason why Hunter “cut out his SinoHawk business partners,” which definitely included Bobulinski but which as written does not, was because Hunter thought Bobulinski was an asshole, both Hunter and Walker had concerns about Bobulinski’s Russian business ties, James Biden had concerns about his ties to pornography, and Walker, James Biden, and Hunter all thought he was a terrible fit for the group.

That said, note that ¶10 is wholly inconsistent with the “10 held by H for the big guy” conspiracy theories that Bobulisnki pushed to Republicans for years.

I await bulk corrections from virtually every Murdoch property.

David Weiss has simply disappeared Tony Bobulinski’s role in any of this.

Poof!

Weiss similarly made no mention of a diamond — or potentially two — another claim pushed by Bobulinski that the frothy right — and Congress, to the extent they’re distinguishable from the frothy right — has been chasing.

Whether or not the diamond had value is central to the topic of this indictment: what Hunter Biden earned and whether he paid taxes on those earnings. James Biden told investigators that the diamond was worthless, which may explain why the indictment doesn’t mention it. But if CEFC was handing Hunter one or more fake diamonds, it changes the nature of what was going on.

Admittedly, it may be easier for Weiss to prosecute the tax case by simply disappearing Tony Bobulinski from his allegations. Perhaps he’s trying to limit the discovery he has to provide to Hunter Biden. Perhaps he’s trying to avoid having to turn over the interview report that Joseph Ziegler already made public. But even in this passage of the indictment, Weiss is misrepresenting what the public evidence supports.

Or perhaps David Weiss’ disappearance of Tony Bobulinski is more than that.

The public record raises real questions about whether the past treatment of Bobulinski’s claims has tainted this investigation, a tax investigation.

In an affidavit accompanying the Bobulinski interview report he released, Ziegler explained that he was providing it because he didn’t get a chance to interview Bobulinski, yet another complaint from him about prosecutors’ likely attempts to avoid tainting the investigation that he now spins as political bias.

In investigative team meetings that occurred after this, I can recall that agents on the investigative team brought up on multiple occasions to the assigned prosecutors that they wanted to do an interview of Bobulinski with the assigned case agents. I can recall being told that they would think about it and then ultimately being told there was no need for the team to interview Bobulinski and that Bobulinski was not viewed as a credible witness.

Ziegler admitted that he had been told that Bobulinski was not credible.

In his statement to the House Ways and Means committee last week (basically a mulligan — an opportunity for him and Gary Shapley to clean up their past hearsay claims that have been entirely debunked by first-hand witnesses to the issues, in which both proceeded to repeat those debunked hearsay claims), Ziegler complained that the people who used the interview reports he released to discredit his hearsay claims are just a bunch of dummies. They simply don’t understand.

The evidence I turned over to the committee was not cherrypicked and again, further supports my claims I brought forward to the committee. There have been critics on the committee who have tried to impeach some of the interview memos turned over and it is apparent that they do not understand how interviews in criminal investigations occur. [my emphasis]

In an attempt to deflect blame for his release of this interview report, he confessed that the Tony Bobulinski interview is not, as HWAM has billed it, an FD-302, a finished interview report.

I would point the members of the committee to Affidavit 4, Exhibit 400A (PowerPoint). I think that some of the members missed the point regarding this memorandum from the FBI intake of information provided by Anthony Bobulinski. You’ll notice that this is not an FBI 302 but is just a written document drafted by the Washington DC FBI agents from this interaction. The interview was not recorded and Bobulinski was voluntarily providing information to the FBI Agents. Since Bobulinski is providing the information in the presence of FBI Special Agents, he would still be criminally liable under Title 18 USC Section 1001 if he were to make any false statements. The Hunter Biden investigative team, including myself, had asked the assigned prosecutors to conduct an interview of Bobulinski but we were denied that request, and were never able to interview him. Interviewing Bobulinski would be normal process and procedure as a part of a criminal investigation for the team to corroborate evidence obtained in the investigation, elaborate on investigative leads, challenge some of the allegations made, and ask pertinent questions regarding the investigation. Again, this was not done! [my emphasis]

His complaint that HWAM has labeled it as a 302 is their fault.

Complain about the dumb Republicans for this error, Joe! While you’re complaining, Joe, you should similarly complain that James Comer invited Bobulinski for a voluntary, not compelled, interview, making it far easier for Bobulinski to dodge questions about what Mark Meadows handed him at a clandestine meeting in November 2020.

But not all of us are dummies, Joe. I noted that it wasn’t a 302 here.

The Bobulinski interview report Ziegler released, however, has not been entered in the official 302 form and by title is just a revision of his interview, with the author marked as one of the agents in the original interview; it appears to have been saved from Microsoft Word.

The fact that it’s not a 302 raises questions about Ziegler’s conduct in sharing it. Why would Ziegler share it if it were never approved? Why did he share it even though he has access to at least some of the communications that Lowell released which suggest Bobulinski couldn’t be telling the truth? If investigators were told Bobulinski wasn’t credible, why do they continue to float the “10 to H for the big guy” claims? Why did Shapley make Lesley Wolf’s prohibition — some weeks after the Bobulinski interview — on asking about the “big guy” reference central to his purported whistleblower complaint?

The Bobulinski claims are part of the Ziegler and Shapley media tour that — Abbe Lowell claims — generated political pressure with the result that David Weiss reneged on a plea deal and instead charged his client with nine tax charges (and three gun charges).

How did Ziegler get this report if it hasn’t been finalized into the FBI system? Ziegler describes only that it “was provided to the RHB investigation team by agents with the FBI.”

This was a memo and attachment that was provided to the RHB investigative team by agents with the FBI regarding information that was provided to agents with the FBI Washington Field Office from Anthony Bobulinski.

In his House Judiciary Committee, Tim Thibault described following up with the agent who did the interview, “to make sure that Baltimore got the FD-302s … that the agents had written and to also make sure that anything he had turned over to the agents got there.”

I guess Thibault, who spent 26 years in the FBI, is a big dummy too, because he called it a 302, too (and suggested it did get entered into the eGuardian system).

But Ziegler is an IRS agent, not the FBI agents that Thibault tried to make sure received the interview report.

And Ziegler has confessed to have obtained the report — finalized 302 or not — of the interview that Tony Bobulinski gave the day after spending time with Donald Trump, weeks before (by Cassidy Hutchinson’s telling) being handed something at a secret meeting with Mark Meadows.

The IRS obtained questionable witness testimony from a guy represented by a Trump-associated lawyer, volunteered immediately after spending time with Trump. That gets closer and closer to the President making a request that the IRS conduct an investigation into Hunter Biden and his father, a violation of 26 USC 7217, which makes it a crime for the President, by name, to ask the IRS to target someone specifically.

It shall be unlawful for any applicable person to request, directly or indirectly, any officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service to conduct or terminate an audit or other investigation of any particular taxpayer with respect to the tax liability of such taxpayer.

[snip]

(e)Applicable person

For purposes of this section, the term “applicable person” means—

(1)the President, the Vice President, any employee of the executive office of the President, and any employee of the executive office of the Vice President; [my emphasis]

And now, three years after Bobulinski went to the FBI and — between meetings with Trump and his Chief of Staff — told them things that may not have been true, David Weiss has charged Hunter with tax crimes in an indictment that mentions the failed joint venture, SinoHawk, of which Bobulinski was a part.

Yet he didn’t mention Bobulinski’s role in it.

David Weiss appears to have hidden the role that Tony Bobulinski plays in these events, going so far as to insinuate that Hunter cut the SinoHawk partners out because of greed rather than justified distrust of Bobulinski. And in so doing, Weiss has hidden the taint — Donald Trump’s taint — that Bobulinski’s testimony may have had on the IRS investigation.

How David Weiss May Plan to Prove His Case against Hunter Biden

To understand the new indictment against Hunter Biden, consider that the maximum penalty for all nine charges in Los Angeles, covering four years, is eight years less (17 total) than the maximum penalty for the three charges tied to 11 days of conduct in Delaware (25 years).

The charges, and penalties, look like this:

  1. Failure to pay 2016 (1)
  2. Failure to pay 2017 (1)
  3. Failure to file 2017 (1)
  4. Failure to pay 2018 (1)
  5. Failure to file 2018 (1)
  6. Tax evasion 2018 (5)
  7. False return 2018 (3)
  8. False return 2018 (3)
  9. Failure to pay 2019 (1)

The LA indictment isn’t really about four years of conduct. It’s about the tax forms filed — ultimately in 2020 — for one year: 2018, the year of Hunter’s most desperate addiction (and also, as it happens, the year when this investigation began and a year when a bunch of people, including the then-President, his personal attorney, and some Russian spies — started targeting Hunter as a political ploy).

All the other charges are misdemeanor charges that would never be filed — especially not with someone who ultimately did pay the taxes — absent the felony charges tied to 2018.

But I suspect Weiss chose to include those charges — including for 2016, a year that not even the disgruntled IRS agents were always sure should be charged — to make the package as a whole sustainable.

The 2018 allegations

The 2018 allegations aren’t controversial (indeed, they are the ones that Joseph Ziegler has been detailing over and over).

Basically, Weiss is charging Hunter Biden for lying in 2020 to limit the taxes he had to pay on his still-substantial 2018 income that he blew on sex workers and cocaine.

Weiss alleges that when Hunter went over his finances with what happened to be a new tax accountant in 2019 and 2020, he told the accountant that payments to four women — one of whom is the mother of his fourth child, Lunden Roberts — and a bunch of travel expenses and payments to his kids were instead business expenses.

Here are some of the expenses that Weiss’ prosecutors will show — in the middle of a Presidential campaign — that Hunter wrote off as business expenses:

a. Claiming false “Travel, Transportation and Other” deductions including, but not limited to, luxury vehicle rentals, house rentals for his then-girlfriend, hotel expenses, and New York City apartment rent for his daughter;

b. Claiming false “Office and Miscellaneous” deductions, including, but not limited to, the purchase of luxury clothing, payments to escorts and dancers, and payments for his daughter’s college advising services;

c. Claiming false “Legal Professional and Consulting” deductions, including, but not limited to, payment of his daughter’s law school tuition and his personal life insurance policy;

d. Claiming false deductions for payments from Owasco, PC’s account to pay off the business line of credit, specifically by allocating 80 percent to “Travel Transportation and Other” and 20 percent to “Meals,” when in truth and in fact most of the business line of credit expenses were personal, including to a website providing pornographic content, payments at a strip club, and additional rent payments for his daughter; and

e. Claiming false deductions for payments from Owasco, PC’s account to JP Morgan Chase, specifically that these were for “consulting,” when in truth and in fact, these transfers included payments to various women who were either romantically involved with or otherwise performing personal services for the Defendant, including a $10,000 payment for his membership in a sex club.

To prove that Hunter deliberately lied on his 2018 tax returns, Weiss will have to prove that in a series of meetings with his accountant in 2020, Hunter affirmatively chose not to highlight certain expenses as personal expenses — including that $10,000 payment for membership in a sex club.

117. On January 28, 2020, the Defendant met with the CA Accountants in person at their office for more than three hours. During this meeting the Defendant reviewed the General Ledger and various schedules for Owasco, PC including a purported “Office Expense” schedule and a purported “Professional and Outside Service” schedule to confirm their accuracy.

[snip]

120. While he reviewed the schedules for “Office Expenses” and “Professional and Outside Services,” the Defendant affirmatively identified, with a yellow highlighter, personal expenses that should not be deducted as business expenses.

121. While the Defendant identified personal expenses on the “Office Expense” Schedule, including ones as small as a $15 payment to a tattoo parlor and a $35.56 payment to a bookstore, he did not identify the following personal expenses:

a. A $1,500 Venmo payment on August 14, 2018. That payment was to an exotic dancer, at a strip club. The Defendant described the payment in the Venmo transaction as for “artwork.” The exotic dancer had not sold him any artwork.

Weiss will have to prove that Hunter reviewed those expenses, remembered what they were, and nevertheless did not highlight them as personal expenses.

Weiss will be helped (as he will in the Delaware case), enormously, by Hunter’s decision to write all this up.

And the Defendant specifically described his stays in various luxury hotels in California and private rentals, and expenses related to them, in this way:

I stayed in one place until I tired of it, or until it tired of me, and then moved on, my merry band of crooks, creeps, and outcasts soon to follow. Availability drove some of the moves; impulsiveness drove others. A sample itinerary: I left the Chateau [Marmont] the first time for an Airbnb in Malibu. When I couldn’t reserve it for longer than a week, I returned to West Hollywood and the Jeremy hotel. There were then stays at the Sunset Tower, Sixty Beverly Hills, and the Hollywood Roosevelt. Then another Airbnb in Malibu and an Airbnb in the Hollywood Hills. Then back to the Chateau. Then the NoMad downtown, the Standard on Sunset. A return to the Sixty, a return to Malibu . . . An ant trail of dealers and their sidekicks rolled in and out, day and night. They pulled up in late-series Mercedes-Benzes, decked out in oversized Raiders or Lakers jerseys and flashing fake Rolexes. Their stripper girlfriends invited their girlfriends, who invited their boyfriends. They’d drink up the entire minibar, call room service for filet mignon and a bottle of Dom Pérignon. One of the women even ordered an additional filet for her purse-sized dog.

Notably, the Defendant did not write that he conducted any business in any of these luxury hotels nor did he describe any of the individuals who visited him there as doing so for any business purpose.

But Weiss will also have to prosecute this case in a way that is consistent with his prior decision to offer Hunter a plea agreement, which doesn’t also substantiate the disgruntled IRS agents’ claims of bias. Weiss has to be prepared to a tell a story that is consistent with his prior decision to offer a plea agreement here.

The challenges

To understand that tension, it helps to think about why Weiss may not have charged Hunter with felonies in the first place.

There’s no reason to believe it was bias. Indeed, the media and dick pic sniffing tour created by Ziegler and Jim Jordan have revealed that DOJ Tax attorneys weren’t entirely thrilled with the charges. And there’s good reason to believe that career prosecutors in Los Angeles advised US Attorney Martin Estrada it was a weak case; since Jordan insisted on Estrada providing testimony to HJC, Hunter might even succeed at obtaining the three memos that prosecutors provided to Estrada in advance of his decision not to join the case.

Career attorneys didn’t think it would be a sure thing to prosecute this case.

There are at least five things that make it hard.

First, as noted, Hunter was working with a new accountant starting in 2019. His prior accountant died in June 2019, within weeks of Hunter getting sober, and he didn’t get a new accountant for five months.

The Defendant used the services of D.C. Accountant from January 1, 2017, until D.C. Accountant’s death in or about June 2019. In November 2019, the Defendant engaged the services of an accounting firm in Los Angeles, California (hereafter the “CA Accountants”).

To make that process more difficult, Hunter didn’t have solid records for 2018, and so his accountants had to reconstruct things from bank and credit card receipts.

While D.C. Accountant had already created financial and accounting records in connection with the 2017 tax returns, no similar records existed for 2018. Therefore, the CA Accountants used available bank and credit card statements to create various schedules, including schedules for different categories of expenses, and a general ledger for Owasco, PC.

The indictment makes much of the fact that Hunter didn’t share the book with the accountants, but that’s not a crime (or that unusual).

Then, most obviously, there’s the addiction. Weiss will have to prove that when Hunter did not exclude personal expenses as personal expenses, he had an affirmative knowledge of what particular expenses were. In some ways, Hunter’s book helps him here — in it, he describes that everything was a blur.

Plus, everyone involved believed that a jury would be sympathetic to a recovering junkie who fucked up his taxes in the first full year he was sober. While prosecutors are likely to be able to exclude some of the evidence that this entire investigation was a political hit job, Hunter’s attorneys will surely be able to play to the sympathies of Democratic jurors for Hunter’s father.

And whereas in some venues, the sheer extravagance of Hunter’s expenses — the decision to blow $1,727 in April 2018 on a Lamborghini until his Porsche was shipped out — might turn off jurors, this is LA. At least some jurors might not find such extravagances offensive in the way that they would in other areas.

You only need one.

And all that’s before you consider the general difficulties of this case. Ziegler testified that when he opened this case, he had nothing but payments to sex workers and public divorce complaints. What he used to get beyond that was a claim that Hunter deliberately hid his Burisma income in 2014 — a claim not backed by this indictment (which says that the money instead went into the joint business Hunter had with Devon Archer). Ziegler’s supervisor documented improper political influence at least from the then-President, and likely others. As I have described, it’s not clear whether Delaware ratcheted up this investigation before Ukrainians pitched what was a likely influence operation. And for the entirety of 2019, Trump partisans — including one who accepted something that might be an envelope from the then-President — kept attempting to tamper in this investigation. One thing Abbe Lowell has been assiduously doing is documenting the people who may have committed crimes in an effort to ensure his client would be prosecuted — people like Tony Bobulinski and Rudy Giuliani. Even ignoring the October 2022 leak to the WaPo (which I don’t think can directly be attributed to Shapley or Ziegler), Lowell does have a real claim that Zielger and Gary Shapley shared grand jury information in an effort to force Weiss to charge this. As Lowell described in his subpoena request, if he can prove that Trump spoke to anyone in the IRS about this case, Trump, too, would be among those who committed a crime, 26 USC 7217, in an effort to see his client charged.

Lowell has a real case that DOJ chose to ignore the crimes of up to seven people, including Donald Trump, to pursue this prosecution against his client.

Some of the witnesses against Hunter will be his old business partners — though those same people will attest to how debilitating his addiction was. A critical witness will be James Biden, the President’s brother. Others, however, will be people who can easily be impeached as political partisans or disgruntled ex-wives. At this point, Lowell might even be able to call Ziegler to discredit the case Ziegler built.

All those difficulties explain why David Weiss might have decided in May 2023 that it would be a just resolution to get Hunter to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges covering just 2017 and 2018, along with a diversion agreement for the gun charge.

The reneged plea deal

David Weiss reportedly decided in May 2023 that it would be a just resolution to plead this out. By June 20, though, when he surprised Chris Clark by stating the investigation was ongoing, he may have changed his mind.

Particularly given the six misdemeanor charges for which no one else would be charged and the like comparators of Roger Stone, this indictment will face the same challenges that the Delaware one will: selective prosecution at least for those misdemeanor charges and vindictive prosecution for the decision to charge an indictment holding a 17-year criminal exposure months after claiming to offer a misdemeanor plea. As I’ve described, selective and vindictive prosecution claims are virtually impossible to show, but this case also includes unprecedented aspects that might make this case different.

While malicious prosecution claims are normally just as impossible as selective and vindictive ones, Shapley and Ziegler have given Lowell abundant basis to at least try to make that claim, particularly given that Weiss didn’t allege the criminal wrong doing in 2014 that Shapley and Ziegler have made their white whale.

Finally, there is the claim (possibly to be made as part of a vindictive prosecution claim) that Weiss reneged on a plea deal, by offering a resolution to all charges but then claiming the investigation was ongoing.

Jordan’s efforts help again, here — not just because his efforts do provide a plausible claim of political pressure, but because of the testimony he has demanded.

When describing the threats that he and members of his team started experiencing around the time that — Lowell has claimed — he reneged on a plea deal, David Weiss used the word “intimidate.”

Q Has the outsized attention given to this case resulted in threats and harassment against members of your office?

A Yes. Members of my office, agents assigned to the case, both from the IRS and from the FBI, doxing family members of members of my office. So, yeah, it’s part and parcel of this case.

Q Do you have concerns for the safety of individuals working in your office?

A I really can’t speak to the intention of any actor in this realm. I just know that these — that certain actions have been taken by individuals, doxing, and, you know, threats that have been made, and that gives rise to concern. We’ve got to be able to do our jobs. And, sure, people shouldn’t be intimidated, threatened, or in any way influenced by others who — again, I don’t know what their motives are, but we’re just trying to do a public service here, so —

Q Have you yourself been the subject of any threats or harassment?

A I’ve certainly received messages, calls, emails from folks who have not been completely enamored of my — with my role in this case. [my emphasis]

As Lowell noted in his subpoena request, the former President — who Judge Engoron and Jack Smith’s prosecutors have both shown deliberately incites his followers to generate threats against his adversaries — has made at least four such posts in the period when Weiss was deliberating over what to do.

D. Trump Truth Social posts on June 20, 2023:

  • “Wow! The corrupt Biden DOJ just cleared up hundreds of years of criminal liability by giving Hunter Biden a mere ‘traffic ticket.’ Our system is BROKEN!”
  • “A ‘SWEETHEART’ DEAL FOR HUNTER (AND JOE), AS THEY CONTINUE THEIR QUEST TO ‘GET’ TRUMP, JOE’S POLITICAL OPPONENT. WE ARE NOW A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY!”
  • “The Hunter/Joe Biden settlement is a massive COVERUP & FULL SCALE ELECTION INTERFERENCE ‘SCAM’ THE LIKES OF WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN IN OUR COUNTRY BEFORE. A ‘TRAFFIC TICKET,’ & JOE IS ALL CLEANED UP & READY TO GO INTO THE 2024 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. . . .”

D. Trump Truth Social post on July 11, 2023: “Weiss is a COWARD, a smaller version of Bill Barr, who never had the courage to do what everyone knows should have been done. He gave out a traffic ticket instead of a death sentence. Because of the two Democrat Senators in Delaware, they got to choose and/or approve him. Maybe the judge presiding will have the courage and intellect to break up this cesspool of crime. The collusion and corruption is beyond description. TWO TIERS OF JUSTICE!”

David Weiss wasn’t going to charge Hunter with a felony on the tax charges. Then Donald Trump got involved, and Weiss and his team started getting intimidating messages, and he decided he would.

That’s a pretty compelling — and unprecedented — due process claim.

Hunter’s former attorneys

One way Weiss tries to prove his case otherwise is his inclusion of 2019 — one of the misdemeanor charges — in the indictment.

After he got sober, the indictment alleges, Hunter still didn’t pay his taxes.

As the charge tied to 2019 describes, Hunter filed taxes in October 2020, but didn’t pay them off, presumably until 2021, when Kevin Morris paid off his remaining tax debt.

D. The Defendant owed taxes for 2019, which he chose not to pay.

156. The Defendant filed a 2019 From 1040 on October 15, 2020, and self-reported that he earned total gross income of $1,045,850 and taxable income of $843,577 and self-assessed that he owed $197,372 for the 2019 tax year.

157. The Defendant did not pay any of his outstanding tax debt when he filed his return.

E. The Defendant had the funds available to pay his taxes.

158. In 2020, prior to when the Defendant filed the 2019 Form 1040, the Defendant’s agent received multiple payments from the publisher of his memoir and then transferred the following amounts to the Defendant’s wife’s account in the amounts and on the dates that follow:

a. $93,750 on January 21, 2020; and

b. $46,875 on May 26, 2020.

F. Rather than pay his taxes, the Defendant spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle.

159. From January through October 15, 2020, the Defendant spent more than $600,000 on personal expenses rather than pay any of the $197,372 he owed for tax year 2019.

This is, in my opinion, a necessary but also the weakest part of the indictment. The table Weiss includes showing where Hunter blew his money shows his expenses dropped already in 2019 (during just half of which year he was sober), and it doesn’t include 2020 at all.

Instead, Weiss includes this paragraph, showing that Kevin Morris paid for Hunter’s rent and his car, which happened to be a Porsche.

17. From January through October 15, 2020, an entertainment lawyer (hereafter “Personal Friend”) provided the Defendant with substantial financial support including approximately $200,000 to rent a lavish house on a canal in Venice, California; $11,000 in payments for his Porsche; and other individual items. In total, the Defendant had Personal Friend pay over $1.2 million to third parties for the Defendant’s benefit from January through October 15, 2020.

[snip]

Notably, in 2020, well after he had regained his sobriety, and when he finally filed his outstanding 2016, 2017, and 2018 Forms 1040, the Defendant did not direct any payments toward his tax liabilities for each of those years. At the same time, the Defendant spent large sums to maintain his lifestyle from January through October 15, 2020. In that period, he received financial support from Personal Friend totaling approximately $1.2 million. The financial support included hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments for, among other things, housing, media relations, accountants, lawyers, and his Porsche. For example, the Defendant spent $17,500 each month, totaling approximately $200,000 from January through October 15, 2020, on a lavish house on a canal in Venice Beach, California.

Much of those third party expenditures, I imagine, went to Hunter’s ex wife and to child support for his fourth child. Particularly given that Morris did pay off the taxes, this is a complaint that that happened in 2021 and not 2020.

So a great deal of Weiss’ case depends on convincing jurors that that $17,500 lavish house on the canal is corrupt. Why didn’t the President’s son sell the Porsche and buy a Honda, prosecutors will ask, so he could at least start paying off his taxes due?

Undoubtedly, Weiss is banking on such claims being politically impossible during a Presidential election. To take this to trial, Hunter Biden has to be willing to let a paparazzi press spend valuable campaign reporting time on how a person can spend $383,548 on sex workers and $100,330 on adult entertainment in one year, 2018. It risks making the 2024 campaign precisely what Rudy Giuliani intended the 2020 one to be.

But there’s one other thing that, I think, Weiss plans to use to ensure he can bring this case.

Thus far, the indictment only alleges that Hunter lied to the accountant who did his 2018 taxes. But depending on what Lowell does over the weekend, it may make it easier for Weiss to claim that Hunter lied, in 2022, to his attorneys.

In June 2022, one of Hunter’s attorneys wrote Mark Daly — a DOJ tax prosecutor — and described that if he were to testify, Hunter would claim to have engaged in five different kinds of business in 2018. Two of those paragraphs are redacted in the version Joseph Ziegler released. Ziegler has suggested that one includes a woman with whom he was sleeping (who is undoubtedly one of the four women described as have been on Owasco’s payroll in 2018). Another includes a guy who may have been his dealer.

The third unredacted paragraph describes residual meetings involving Hudson West — meetings in which his uncle James Biden was involved.

Throughout the beginning of 2018, Mr. Biden recalls working extensively on ventures related to Hudson West III, including on a potential investment in a project at Monkey Island.  Meetings and interactions related to Hudson West III took place with, among others, James Biden, Jiaqi Bao, Mervyn Yan, and Gongwen (Kevin) Dong, including (via teleconference) in March 2018.  Mr. Biden also evaluated several business ventures with Mr. Schwerin and James Biden throughout 2018.  These efforts involved several in‐person meetings with James Biden, including we understand in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York.  We understand that ventures that were evaluated by Mr. Biden in the context of these meetings included one venture to expand an insurance business into Los Angeles, and another related to development of treatment centers on the west coast for substance abuse programs.

In his September 2022 interview — and, I have no doubt, in the President’s brother’s recent grand jury appearance — James Biden said he wasn’t involved in any business deals with Hunter in 2018.

James B stated that he recalled not being involved with anything beyond 2017. James B stated that he wanted a “soft landing” for RHB.

I think it exceedingly likely that Weiss will threaten to argue (if he hasn’t already gotten crime-fraud excepted testimony), that Hunter lied to his attorneys in 2022 about his ongoing business efforts in 2018. Obtaining a crime-fraud exception (from the Chief Judge in Los Angeles, probably) would have required fewer, if any, approvals as Special Counsel.

Abbe Lowell has been promising for months that he plans to argue that David Weiss reneged on a diversion agreement and plea in the summer — at a time, Weiss has since testified, he and his team were getting “intimidat[ing]” messages. But central to that plan has always been getting Chris Clark to testify about what Weiss and Lesley Wolf promised in May 2023.

Weiss may have already gotten testimony from Hunter’s former lawyers. Or, Weiss may imagine that the attorney-client waiver required to get Clark’s testimony about how he reneged on the plea deal will make it easier — if not provide a venue — to ask Clark about what Hunter said that led Clark to offer that proffer last summer.

But Lowell’s vindictive prosecution claim is due on Monday. Weiss indicted this case on the last grand jury day possible before that vindictive prosecution claim (not to mention any legal action in advance of Hunter’s compelled testimony before Congress on Wednesday).

To rebut a vindictive prosecution claim, David Weiss will need proof about what changed. And one thing that may have changed, with the grant of Special Counsel status, is to make it easier to obtain a crime-fraud exception for Hunter’s former attorneys.