Hunter Biden tries to avoid in-person arraignment in federal gun charges case

16:52 18.09.2023 - FOX News, Jessica Chasmar

Biden's lawyers battle federal prosecutors over in-person arraignment.

Hunter Biden is battling federal prosecutors in trying to have his initial court appearance on federal firearm charges held via video conference, according to an order filed by a federal judge on Monday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher J. Burke issued the order asking Hunter's lawyers to explain no later than Tuesday why they want his arraignment held via video conference - a request prosecutors have opposed, Burke wrote.

The judge gave prosecutors until Wednesday to provide a reason why the arraignment should happen in person.

Hunter could face up to 25 years in prison for federal firearm charges announced last week, including making a false statement in the purchase of a firearm, which carries a maximum of up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

The second count, a false statement related to information required to be kept by a federal firearms licensed dealer, can garner up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

The third count, possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, can land up to a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, according to the documents.

The counts combine to carry a maximum of 25 years in prison and a $750,000 fine. Special counsel David Weiss, a Donald Trump appointee, has overlooked the investigation.

Meanwhile, Hunter's attorneys filed a lawsuit against the IRS on Monday, alleging that agents have "targeted and sought to embarrass" the president's son.

Hunter's Monday morning filing cites two major examples in IRS agents Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, two whistleblowers who claimed the IRS mishandled aspects of its investigation into Biden.

Shapley and Zielger testified before the House Oversight Committee earlier this year, saying they faced various limitations when tasked with investigating the president's son.

Hunter's lawsuit argues the pair's status as whistleblowers "cannot and does not shield them from their wrongful conduct in making unauthorized public disclosures that are not permitted by the whistleblower process."

Shapley's legal team responded to Hunter's lawsuit in a statement Monday morning, dismissing the move as a stalling tactic.

"This suit against the IRS is just another frivolous smear by Biden family attorneys trying to turn people's attention away from Hunter Biden's own legal problems and intimidate any current and future whistleblower," Shapley's attorneys wrote.

"The federal judge in Delaware who oversaw the aborted plea deal shot down similar claims against the whistleblowers after they exposed the secret backroom deal between Hunter Biden and the Department of Justice. Neither IRS SSA Gary Shapley nor his attorneys have ever released any confidential taxpayer information except through whistleblower disclosures authorized by statute. Once Congress released that testimony, like every American citizen, he has a right to discuss that public information."

Hunter's lawyer did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital's requests for comment. The Justice Department declined to comment.

Fox News' Joe Schoffstall, David Spunt, Anders Hagstrom and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

/ Monday, September 18, 2023, 4:52 PM /

themes:  Donald Trump  Delaware

Hunter Biden sues IRS, alleges agents tried to target' and embarrass' him

Disgraced first son Hunter Biden's legal team filed a lawsuit Monday against two Internal Revenue Service whistleblowers Monday, saying that they violated his right to privacy and tried to embarrass him when they publicized his tax information.

The legal action against IRS supervisory special agent Greg Shapley, and a second agent, Joe Ziegler came just four days after Hunter, 53, was indicted on federal firearms charges for allegedly lying about his drug use to buy a gun in 2018, a case that could go to trial as his father President Biden's bid for re-election heats up.

The suit seeks to "force compliance with federal tax and privacy laws" and stop the spread of "unsubstantiated allegations" and "unlawful disclosure" of Hunter's tax information.

Shapley and Ziegler were not named in the lawsuit, but the filing centers on statements and congressional testimony made by the agents, as they sounded the alarm on what they called a wide-ranging coverup in the Department of Justice's tax fraud investigation into the first son.

The agents disclosed private tax information in nearly two dozen interviews and statements, according to Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for the first son.

"IRS agents have targeted and sought to embarrass Mr. Biden via public statements to the media in which they and their representatives disclosed confidential information about a private citizen's tax matters," Lowell wrote.

Biden's suit sought $1,000 for each unauthorized tax disclosure and attorney fees, and all related documents.

The agents told the House Oversight Committee in July that political appointees interfered in the case and shielded investigators from probing finances of Hunter's that were linked to his father.

They also claimed federal prosecutors also blocked investigations into the president's possible role in multi-million dollar payments from a Chinese government-linked energy conglomerate that were made to Hunter, and from looking into emails found in his abandoned laptop that purported he was splitting revenue from his overseas business interests with his father.

"Any time we potentially wanted to go down the road of asking questions related to the president, it was, 'That's going to take too much approvals, we can't ask those questions,'" Ziegler had said in an interview with CBS News.

Monday's lawsuit, filed in DC federal court, claimed that the sharing of Biden's personal tax information was not permitted under whistleblower protections.

The legal action came almost exactly three months after Hunter struck a plea deal with the feds to plead guilty to two misdemeanors in connection with his failure to pay more than $100,000 in taxes in both 2017 and 2018. The agreement would have also seen his felony charge of possessing a firearm while addicted to crack cocaine dismissed.

But the probation-only agreement, which followed a five-year investigation and was dubbed a "sweetheart deal" by Republicans, was scuttled at a July 26 hearing after Hunter's lawyers learned that prosecutors were keeping additional charges on the table in connection with an ongoing investigation into his overseas business deals and financial records, and the judge expressed concern over its structure.

After Biden pleaded not guilty, US Attorney David Weiss withdrew the charges in Delaware and was granted special counsel status by Attorney General Merrick Garland Aug. ..... 

President Biden has denied any impropriety or involvement in his son's international lobbying activities, which were first detailed by The Post in a bombshell 2020 expose.

Hunter Biden lawsuit against IRS a 'frivolous smear' to discourage more whistleblowers, attorney says

Journalist Matt Taibbi called the lawsuit 'ironic;.

An attorney for one of the Internal Revenue Service whistleblowers who cried foul on the Justice Department's handling of Hunter Biden's influence peddling and tax investigation called the first son's new lawsuit against the agency a "frivolous smear."

Hunter Biden's attorneys alleged Monday that IRS agents have targeted their client and "sought to embarrass" him. They demand $1,000 in damages for each "unauthorized disclosure" of the first son's tax returns.

Mark Lytle, an attorney for whistleblower Gary Shapley - the investigator who testified to Congress that the Wilmington U.S. Attorney's office was "different from any other case in" his 14 years of public service - told FOX News the suit is an attempt to frighten others from providing information to the legislature.

"This lawsuit is just a frivolous smear to try to block the whistleblowers or any potential whistleblowers from coming forward. There were no violations. The whistleblowers followed the [whistleblower] statute," he said Monday on "The Story."

Lytle cited how Shapley's testimony and that of fellow agent Joseph Ziegler essentially led to Hunter Biden's sweetheart plea deal being exposed.

In the end, Judge Maryellen Noreika rejected the plea deal, and Attorney General Merrick Garland ultimately appointed the lead Delaware federal prosecutor, David Weiss, the special counsel in the case.

Weiss' special counsel status allowed all but Hunter's federal firearms charges to be litigated beyond Delaware.

In response to these developments, Lytle claimed, Hunter Biden and his team are deciding to "com[e] after the whistleblowers."

Anchor Martha MacCallum noted, however, that the suit is not against Shapley and Ziegler, but the agency itself.

Lytle argued the tax disclosures were each "legitimate and protected" by law, adding that Shapley and Ziegler encountered numerous steps wherein the investigation was slow-walked or blocked at junctures that could potentially lead to President Biden himself.

Former Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi - whose dissemination of information pertaining to the Hunter Biden laptop saga and alleged federal interference therein created shockwave last year - called the lawsuit itself ironic in a separate interview on "The Story."

"It's certainly ironic, isn't it? It seems like the government bent over backwards to keep a lot of information that was clearly newsworthy out of the public domain as a result of a variety of things, including the censorship of this story," he said.

"We didn't learn for a very long time through these whistleblowers that there was this whole galaxy of shell companies that Hunter Biden was tied to."

Taibbi said it is difficult to understand how Hunter Biden could claim the tax information revealed by the investigators is a violation of personal privacy when the data is relevant to a major legal probe.

"As soon as [federal agencies] start behaving like independent entities, of course they become enemies of. Hunter Biden," he added. "That's certainly ironic. I mean, again, the evidence shows that they bent over backwards to try to accommodate him, even when he said ridiculous things like trying to claim that income was a loan when clearly it's a taxable event as soon as he gets it."

"They hid the stuff and now it's coming out and he's upset about it. And that's what this lawsuit is," he added.

Hunter Biden sues IRS, alleges agents tried to 'target' and 'embarrass' him

Biden's lawsuit calls out IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler.

Hunter Biden's attorneys filed a lawsuit against the IRS on Monday, alleging that agents have "targeted and sought to embarrass" the president's son.


Biden's lawsuit seeks for the court to declare that the IRS "willfully, knowingly, and/or by gross negligence, unlawfully disclosed Mr. Biden's confidential tax information."

In addition, Biden is demanding $1,000 in damages for "each and every unauthorized disclosure of his tax returns," including disclosures that happened after the fact. Fox News Digital reached out to the IRS for comment on the lawsuit, but they did not immediately respond.

"Biden is the son of the President of the United States. He has all the same responsibilities as any other American citizen, and the IRS can and should make certain that he abides by those responsibilities," the lawsuit said. "Similarly, Mr. Biden has no fewer or lesser rights than any other American citizen, and no government agency or government agent has free rein to violate his rights simply because of who he is."

"Yet," the complaint says, "the IRS and its agents have conducted themselves under a presumption that the rights that apply to every other American citizen do not apply to Mr. Biden."

The lawsuit goes on to allege that IRS agents Shapley and Ziegler "targeted and sought to embarrass" Biden through statements to the media. The suit clarifies that the pair of agents are only the "most recent" example of the alleged activity.


Fox News' David Spunt contributed to this report.

Biden's son Hunter sues IRS, alleges unlawful release of his taxes

President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden sued the U.S. Internal Revenue Service on Monday, alleging unlawful disclosure of his taxes by whistleblowers who work for the U.S. tax agency.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, focused on statements made by IRS agents Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler in media interviews amid a long-running investigation by House of Representatives Republicans into the younger Biden's taxes and business dealings.

Hunter Biden, 53, is at the center of a political maelstrom, as House Republicans mount an impeachment inquiry against his father focused on alleged ties between his business practices and his father's policies during his father's tenure as vice president from 2009 to 2017. They have so far presented no evidence showing that the elder Biden profited from his son's businesses. The White House has denied any wrongdoing.

Hunter Biden is the first child of a sitting U.S. president to have been criminally indicted. Prosecutors last week charged him with three counts related to the fact that he was lying about using illegal drugs when he bought a firearm. Hunter Biden and prosecutors earlier had reached a plea deal over tax and gun charges, but it collapsed.

Monday's lawsuit refers to "more than 20 nationally televised and non-congressionally sanctioned interviews and numerous public statements" by Shapley, Ziegler and their lawyers about Hunter Biden. Shapley and Ziegler have testified in Congress as whistleblowers about alleged political interference in an IRS investigation into Biden's taxes. The Justice Department has denied any such interference.

"The lawsuit is about the decision by IRS employees, their representatives, and others to disregard their obligations and repeatedly and intentionally publicly disclose and disseminate Mr. Biden's protected tax return information outside the exceptions for making disclosures in the law," the lawsuit reads.

Biden is seeking $1,000 for each unauthorized disclosure of his tax return information, a declaration from the IRS, a data security plan from the agency, production of documents related to Biden's taxes and other relief.

The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee called the lawsuit intimidation in a post on social media. The IRS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hunter Biden last week also filed a lawsuit against a former White House aide during Donald Trump's presidency over the aide's alleged role in the publication of embarrassing images and emails.

Trump, who has cheered on the impeachment inquiry, was the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. The Senate acquitted him both times. Trump also has been charged in four criminal cases this year.

Hunter Biden ordered to appear in-person at arraignment on Oct. 3

Washington - Hunter Biden, President Biden's son, must appear in-person for his arraignment on three felony gun charges that is set for Oct. 3, according to a court order issued Wednesday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Burke of the federal district court in Delaware said in his brief order that the president's son "should not receive special treatment in this manner - absent some unusual circumstances," and therefore must be physically present for his initial appearance and arraignment.

Lawyers for Hunter Biden had asked the court to hold the proceeding by video conference, writing in a letter to Burke that the "financial impact on government resources and the logistical burden on the downtown Wilmington area are significant in having him travel across the country for what should be a rather short proceeding." Hunter Biden currently lives in California, and the courthouse is in Wilmington.

They said that regardless of whether his appearance is virtual or in-person, Hunter Biden will waive reading of the indictment returned by a federal grand jury last week and plead not guilty to the three charges he is facing.

"In short, Mr. Biden is satisfied that his constitutional rights will be met by conducting his initial appearance by video conference," Hunter Biden's lawyers wrote.

They also said Hunter Biden was asking for the proceeding to be held by video conference to "minimize an unnecessary burden on government resources and the disruption to the courthouse and downtown areas" when someone with Secret Service protection files cross-country and must be transported to and from a downtown location. Such movement requires agents and vehicles in both California and Delaware, and his participation in-person would also require roads in Wilmington to be closed, the lawyers said.

"Mr. Biden is not seeking any special treatment in making this request," they wrote. "He has attended and will attend any proceedings in which his physical appearance is required."

Special counsel David Weiss, who is overseeing the case against Hunter Biden, opposed the request for a virtual initial appearance and arraignment, noting that since June 2022, when an order authorizing video teleconferencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic expired, the court has "almost always" held in-person appearances.

"An in-person hearing is important to promote the public's confidence that the defendant is being treated consistently with other defendants in this District and in other Districts," Weiss and prosecutors on his team wrote in a letter to the court.

They said that though the proceeding is expected to be "straightforward," an in-person proceeding "may be more conducive to addressing any unforeseen issues that arise."

Hunter Biden was indicted on three counts related to his purchase of a firearm, a Colt Cobra 38SPL revolver, in October 2018 while he was a drug user, according to the charging document. The first count alleges the president's son knowingly made a false statement on the form required for firearms purchases, on which he certified that he was not an unlawful user of any narcotic drugs.

Prosecutors said he also made a false representation to the Wilmington-based firearms dealer that sold Hunter Biden the gun, and knowingly possessed the gun during a 11-day period in October 2018 despite being an unlawful drug user, in violation of federal law.

The three counts are felonies, and if Hunter Biden is convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison.

Biden's son Hunter sues IRS, alleges unlawful release of his taxes

Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, has filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Monday, accusing the agency of violating his privacy rights. The lawsuit comes in response to the IRS disclosing details about his taxes and the investigation into his conduct to Congress and the public. The suit also follows Hunter Biden's recent indictment on separate charges related to his purchase of a handgun in 2018.

The decision to proceed with the lawsuit demonstrates Hunter Biden's determination to counter inquiries from congressional Republicans, even as he faces potential further prosecution on tax charges by the Justice Department during his father's re-election campaign. The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Washington, argues that the IRS investigators breached taxpayer privacy rules and intentionally sought to embarrass Hunter Biden by disclosing confidential information about his tax matters.

The lawsuit highlights the public testimony and statements made by two IRS investigators, Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, who have been providing information to House committees investigating President Biden and his family for potential wrongdoing. Ziegler has claimed that the Justice Department's inquiry into Hunter Biden's taxes was influenced by politics, a statement disputed by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and U.S. Attorney for Delaware David C. Weiss, who oversees the case.

 ..... It argues that he has the same rights as any other citizen and that no government agency or agent should be allowed to violate those rights based on his identity. The lawsuit challenges the argument made by the IRS agents, their lawyers, and House Republicans that the disclosures were protected as whistleblowing and were authorized by the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax issues.

Hunter Biden's lawsuit disputes the legality of the disclosures made to Congress, claiming that the agents and their lawyers also revealed details about the investigation in more than 20 interviews and public statements to the media. The suit argues that their status as whistleblowers does not shield them from unauthorized public disclosures that violate the whistleblower process.

The lawsuit reveals that the IRS agents disclosed information potentially damaging to Hunter Biden and his father beyond the disclosures made to Congress. It references a search warrant that uncovered evidence of Hunter Biden invoking his father's name while pressuring a Chinese businessman to proceed with an energy deal. Hunter Biden's plea deal with the Justice Department, which would have seen him pleading guilty to misdemeanor tax charges and avoiding a gun charge, fell apart during a court hearing in July. Last week, he was indicted on three counts related to violating gun laws for allegedly lying about his drug use when purchasing a handgun in Delaware five years ago. He may also face tax charges for late filing and disputed deductions.

 ..... The lawsuits come amid an impeachment inquiry against President Biden led by House Republicans, who are investigating potential connections between Hunter Biden's business practices and his father's policies during his tenure as vice president.

The IRS has not yet responded to the lawsuit, and the House Judiciary Committee, led by Republicans, has deemed it "intimidation." It remains to be seen how the legal battle will unfold for Hunter Biden, who has become the first child of a sitting U.S. president to face criminal charges.

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