The U.S. prosecutor investigating President Joe Biden's son was not receiving assistance from other U.S. prosecutors, an IRS official told members of Congress in newly disclosed testimony.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware David Weiss was feeling stymied after attempts to bring charges against Hunter Biden in two other jurisdictions didn't work, Michael Batdorf, the IRS official, said on Sept. 12 in testimony obtained by The Epoch Times.
"I was frustrated," Mr. Batdorf said, recalling the December 2022 call in which he learned the U.S. attorney in central California would not accept Mr. Weiss's recommended charges. "He was probably a little frustrated ... because he now had to make some decisions on what he was going to do."
Mr. Weiss disclosed to IRS officials earlier in the year that another attempt, in Washington, was blocked by the U.S. attorney there, according to testimony and emails from two other IRS officials. Mr. Batdorf said he had no reason to doubt the accounts.
Mr. Weiss was working with the IRS to investigate Mr. Biden's taxes, but felt compelled to take action outside of his district because that's where evidence of crimes laid. He needed the cooperation of a second federal prosecutor to bring charges, but could not secure it.
Mr. Weiss went to the Washington prosecutor, Matthew Graves, in the summer of 2022 but Mr. Graves, appointed by President Biden, "said they could not charge in his district," according to a summary of an October 2022 meeting involving IRS officials and Mr. Weiss that was crafted by IRS investigator Gary Shapley.
Whistleblower AccountMr. Shapley's account was backed by his superior, Darrell Waldon. "You covered it all," Mr. Waldon told Mr. Shapley, adding that he would be referring the matter to an inspector general. An FBI official who was in the meeting, on the other hand, said he did not remember such statements.
Mr. Batdorf, testifying to the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, shed new light on the sequence of events.
He said he participated in a call in late 2022 with Mr. Weiss and was told then that Mr. Estrada had declined to bring charges against Mr. Biden.
"He just said that they had declined," Mr. Batdorf said.
Spokespersons for Mr. Estrada and Mr. Weiss have declined to comment or not responded to requests for comment.
Mr. Weiss ultimately brought tax charges in Delaware, even though the alleged crimes had been committed elsewhere.
The charges were for the years 2017 and 2018.
Mr. Biden intentionally did not pay more than $200,000 in taxes across the two years, according to charging documents.
He was prepared to plead guilty but pleaded not guilty after a plea deal—which would have involved the resolution of a felony gun crime—fell through.
Mr. Batdorf also said he was surprised when Mr. Weiss chose not to charge Mr. Biden for not paying taxes in 2014 and 2015, when the latter received large sums of money from the Ukrainian company Burisma.
"Based on my supporting of the case all the way through, yes, I was surprised," he said. "Of course there was some level of frustration, yes."
A federal court has since dismissed the tax charges, both misdemeanors, because prosecutors said they wanted to bring the charges in a different venue.
Attorney General TestimonyAttorney General Merrick Garland, appointed by President Biden, has maintained that Mr. Weiss had the authority to bring charges in whichever venue he chose.
Mr. Weiss was “permitted to … make a decision to prosecute any way in which he wanted to and in any district in which he wanted to,” Mr. Garland told reporters after Mr. Shapley publicly raised concerns about the way the case was handled.
Mr. Garland made similar statements during an appearance before Congress.
Mr. Weiss initially said that he was "granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges.”
Mr. Batdorf said in his testimony that he was one of the officials who made the decision to remove Mr. Shapley from the case. He said the move was made because Mr. Weiss had grown to distrust Mr. Shapley, but that Mr. Shapley was not informed until May 2023.
"Mr. Batdorf testified that Gary was not removed from the case for any misconduct. Rather, after Gary spoke up in that meeting about the improper handling of the case, U.S. Attorney Weiss refused to interact with him—which is obvious retaliation for protected whistleblower disclosures regardless of whether Mr. Batdorf wants to admit it," Tristan Leavitt, one of Mr. Shapley's attorneys, said in a statement.
Government Opposes RequestMr. Biden, meanwhile, requested that he be allowed to appear remotely in court for arraignment on the new charges.
Mr. Weiss's team told U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Burke, who is overseeing the case, that they oppose the request.
While remote appearances were common during the COVID-19 pandemic, since June 2022, "the Court has almost always held in-person initial appearances and arraignments for defendants," prosecutors said in a filing on Wednesday. "This defendant should be treated no differently."
Adequate reasons for allowing a remote appearance include injury or indigence but Mr. Biden has not contended he is either, prosecutors said.
"If 'convenience' was a legitimate basis to warrant virtual proceedings, every defendant would ask for them in every case," they said.
Mr. Biden's lawyers had said that there would be a significant financial impact on government resources if the defendant were forced to travel to Delaware for arraignment.
"Mr. Biden understands both the charges against him and his rights, which are the primary purposes of this proceeding, and we believe the Court can be assured of that fact by conducting this initial appearance by video," they said. They added later: "Mr. Biden is not seeking any special treatment in making this request. He has attended and will attend any proceedings in which his physical appearance is required."