IN HUNTER BIDEN CASE, A WHATSAPP SMOKING GUN? The White House and Democrats in Washington hoped that Tuesday's announcement of a plea bargain in the Hunter Biden investigation would mark the end of questions surrounding what Republicans call the "Biden family business." They were wrong. Really, really wrong.
On Thursday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) held a news conference to release the transcripts of interviews with two IRS officials who have become whistleblowers about the Hunter Biden matter. The short version is that the two officials, both very experienced, both with detailed first-hand knowledge of the Biden case, allege that the Justice Department made a string of decisions "that had the effect of benefiting the subject of the investigation." From Whistleblower #1, Gary Shapley: "I am alleging, with evidence, that DOJ provided preferential treatment, slow-walked the investigation, [and] did nothing to avoid obvious conflicts of interest in this investigation."
There's a lot to discuss. For the purposes of this newsletter, let's look at one piece of new evidence that was released. It's a WhatsApp message from July 30, 2017, that Shapley says the IRS discovered not on Hunter Biden's laptop but during the execution of a warrant to search iCloud records. In it, Hunter Biden was speaking to a man named Henry Zhao, a Chinese businessman involved in Biden's shady dealings in China and also, reportedly, an official in the Chinese Communist Party.
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Hunter Biden wanted something from Zhao - it appears it was a payment of some sort - and he wanted it immediately. "I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled," Hunter Biden wrote. "Tell the director that 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. I am sitting here waiting for the call with my father."
Shapley said the IRS team discovered the message in August 2020. Even for people who questioned the authenticity of the Hunter Biden laptop - and we now know the FBI had verified its authenticity in December 2019 - the WhatsApp message was worth investigating. "In August 2020, we got the results back from an iCloud search warrant," Shapley said. "Unlike the laptop, these came to the investigative team from a third-party record keeper and included a set of messages. The messages included material we clearly needed to follow up on."
No kidding. The July 30, 2017, WhatsApp message was the clearest evidence ever that Joe Biden, then the former vice president, knew about his son's business dealings. Now, maybe Hunter Biden was lying in the message. Maybe his father wasn't in the room. Maybe there's some other explanation. What was clear was that the WhatsApp message was evidence that needed to be investigated. But Shapley and the other IRS investigators soon ran into a brick wall at the Justice Department.
The IRS team wanted to execute a search warrant at the guest house and Joe Biden's house in Delaware, where Hunter Biden was staying at the time of the message. In discussions with the Justice Department, they were told that there was more than enough probable cause to get a warrant but that "optics" were a problem. A Justice Department official told them, in Shapley's words, that "a lot of evidence in our investigation would be found in the guest house of former Vice President Biden but said there is no way we will get that approved."
This was in September 2020. Remember, that was just two months before the presidential election. The Justice Department could prudently decide not to get a warrant for a physical search at a major party candidate's house so shortly before voting. On the other hand, the election came and went. But according to the whistleblowers, the Biden Justice Department frustrated their efforts right and left.
The new Biden team made sure that Justice Department prosecutors and IRS investigators knew they should not dig too deeply into the Hunter Biden case. In August 2022, Shapley said, "I learned how defense counsel felt about the case when prosecutors told us on a prosecution team call that Chris Clark, Hunter Biden's counsel from Latham and Watkins, told them that if they charge Hunter Biden, they would be committing 'career suicide.'" Everybody got the message: Don't look too closely at the president's son.
In the end, IRS investigators became convinced that Hunter Biden should face felony charges of tax evasion. They had the evidence to prove it. That recommendation went to the Justice Department and was turned into two misdemeanors, in which Hunter Biden would plead guilty to not filing his tax returns on time. Republicans immediately called that a slap on the wrist, and not a very hard slap, at that.
Now, the Biden White House says it's all over. Case closed. Let's move on. But the president does not control the House of Representatives, and House Republican investigators appear determined to learn what really happened in the case. Most especially, they want to know if Joe Biden knew about, and benefited from, his son's business dealings - something the president has denied repeatedly. They've already made a lot of progress.
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Original Author: Byron York
Original Location: In Hunter Biden case, a WhatsApp smoking gun?