The House Oversight and Accountability Committee on Wednesday held a hearing with two IRS whistleblowers who allege the government’s investigation into Hunter Biden was mishandled.
The whistleblowers repeated claims they previously told Congress about how IRS investigators recommended charging President Joe Biden’s son with crimes more severe than the two tax misdemeanors to which he agreed to plead guilty last month. (Hunter Biden also struck a deal with federal prosecutors to resolve a felony gun charge.)
House Republicans have used allegations from the whistleblowers to argue that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has given favor to the Biden family while unfairly targeting conservatives. Democrats have said the hearing was being used by the GOP as a distraction from former President Donald Trump’s legal cases.
The hours-long hearing featured several fiery exchanges and accusations. Below are five of the most notable moments.
1. Identity of IRS ‘Whistleblower X’ Revealed
Prior to Wednesday’s hearing, the identity of one of the IRS whistleblowers had been concealed. The hearing revealed his identity to be Joseph Ziegler, a special agent of the IRS for 13 years who identifies as a gay Democrat.
His supervisor and fellow whistleblower, 14-year IRS veteran Gary Shapley, was seated next to him throughout the hearing.
“I hope that I am an example to other LGBT people out there, who are questioning doing the right thing at a potential cost to themselves and others,” Ziegler said during opening statements. “I kind of equate this to the experience and feelings I encountered when coming out; it was honestly one of the hardest things I ever had to go though.”
2. Biden Officials Were Allegedly ‘Tipped Off’ About the Investigation
In Shapley’s opening remarks, Shapley detailed the various ways that the DOJ allegedly tried to stymie IRS agents’ probe into Hunter Biden, including prosecutors purportedly concealing contents of his laptop from investigators.
“Investigators were not allowed to follow up on WhatsApp messages from Hunter Biden’s Apple iCloud backup, where he suggested he was sitting next to his father,” Shapley said. “Prosecutors instructed investigators not to ask about the ‘big guy’ or ‘dad’ when conducting interviews.”
Shapley also alleged that Biden officials were privy to some early information about the probe.
“The Biden transition team was tipped off about interviews the night before the investigation went over,” he said.
Newsweek reached out to the White House via email Wednesday evening for comment regarding the whistleblowers’ allegations presented in the hearing.
3. Marjorie Taylor Greene Presented Naked Photos of Hunter Biden
“Parental discretion is advised,” GOP Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said at the beginning of her questioning time before she began holding up multiple, magnified naked photographs—including some that were sexual in nature—of Hunter Biden and various women. [Genitalia was censored in the photos.]
Greene asked Ziegler whether Hunter had violated the Mann Act, an anti-human trafficking law, as well as if he had written off prostitutes as a business expense at his law firm, Owasco PC.
“I can tell you that there were deductions for what we believe to be escorts and then that $10,000 golf club membership. Yes. That was not a golf club membership. That was for a sex club payment,” Ziegler said.
4. Attorney General Merrick Garland Received a Boost
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, has suggested an impeachment inquiry could be justified for Garland due to alleged contradictions between his testimony to Congress about the Hunter Biden case and information provided by the IRS whistleblowers.
On Wednesday, Shapley said he had no evidence that Garland intentionally misled Congress.
“Let me be clear, although these facts contradict the attorney general’s testimony and raise serious questions for you to investigate, I have never claimed evidence that Attorney General Garland knowingly lied to Congress,” Shapley said.
5. The Statute of Limitations Expired on Some Charges
Shapley and Ziegler previously told Congress that prosecutors intentionally slowed the Hunter Biden investigation in order for the statute of limitations to run out on some of the earlier crimes he’s been accused of committing.
On Wednesday, Shapley said Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney Davis Weiss, who oversaw Hunter Biden’s case, allowed the statute of limitations to expire on charges related to income he received while serving on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings.
“In November of 2022, the statute of limitations was set to expire for the 2014 and 2015 charges in D.C., which included the 2014 felonies for the attempt to evade or defeat tax and fraud or false statement regarding Burisma income earned by Hunter Biden,” Shapley said.
He added, “The statute of limitations had been extended through a tolling agreement with Hunter Biden’s defense counsel, and they were willing to extend it past 2022. Weiss allowed those to expire.”