WASHINGTON (CN) — Hunter Biden sued the International Revenue Service on Monday, claiming that agents illegally disclosed his tax information and failed to protect his private records.
The suit comes just four days after President Joe Biden’s son was indicted on federal firearm charges by special counsel David Weiss on Thursday, following the collapse of a plea deal with federal prosecutors over misdemeanor tax charges to avoid a gun possession charge.
In the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia — not the District of Delaware, where Weiss filed the indictment — Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, wrote that the suit is not meant to challenge the legitimacy of the agency’s investigation or target whistleblowers.
“Rather, this 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,” wrote Lowell, of Winston & Strawn.
Hunter Biden is seeking all the documents related to the disclosure of his tax information, plus $1,000 for each disclosure and attorneys fees as compensation.
Lowell named the two IRS agents, Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, who have come forward as whistleblowers, speaking out about what they say was interference into the investigation of Hunter Biden. Lowell wrote that the two members of the IRS Criminal Investigation office have “targeted and sought to embarrass Mr. Biden via public statements to the media” that he calls “a campaign to publicly smear Mr. Biden.”
The two appeared in television interviews as far back as April, when an attorney representing Shapley — unnamed in the lawsuit — disclosed the IRS inquiry and alleged the investigation was hampered by preferential treatment and politics.
Lowell further points to closed-door testimony both Shapley and Ziegler gave to the House Committee on Ways and Means, where the pair were reminded that disclosing either tax returns or their testimony that day was illegal.
Despite that warning, Shapley and Ziegler went on to speak on television about details from Hunter Biden’s tax returns, including the number of deductions, the nature of those deductions and claims of liability for certain tax years.
Committee Chairman Representative Jason Smith, R-Mo., is also singled out in the lawsuit for his part in releasing Shapley and Ziegler’s testimony.
Smith alleged in a public release from the committee that the pair's testimony revealed a “two-tiered judicial system” that gives preferential treatment to the wealthy and politically connected, specifically focusing on the now-collapsed plea deal that would have allowed Hunter Biden to admit guilt on tax misdemeanor charges and avoid a felony gun charge.
The public disclosures didn’t end with the committee’s report. Ziegler said on CNN that he had initially recommended Hunter Biden be charged with both felony and misdemeanor charges for tax year 2017 and suggested that FBI general counsel Jason Jones had further information but had been instructed by the Justice Department not to talk.
Lowell wrote that the harm Hunter Biden has suffered, both reputationally and emotionally, “has been staggering.”
The suit comes as House Republicans have jumped on the legal woes of President Biden’s only surviving son as signs of wider corruption within the Biden family, most recently culminating in the opening of an impeachment inquiry into the president.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the inquiry last Tuesday, saying that House Republicans had uncovered “serious and credible allegations into President Biden’s conduct,” and that “taken together, these allegations paint a picture of a culture of corruption.”
Republicans have alleged that Hunter Biden used his family name to secure overseas business deals in order to entice potential partners with access to his father while he was vice president in the Obama administration. They further claim that the elder Biden knew of the deals and spoke with some of the potential partners.
The IRS did not respond to a request for comment.Follow @@Ryan_Knappy
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