Long before the House opened an impeachment inquiry targeting President Joe Biden, the FBI had been investigating potential influence peddling by the president and his family in China, Ukraine, and elsewhere, according to information released by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
In the newest wrinkle of an unfolding legal drama for the president’s family, Grassley, co-founder of the Senate Whistleblower Caucus, revealed that for more than a decade, about 40 confidential informants have talked to the FBI about the Bidens.
Grassley signed a letter Tuesday seeking answers on these allegations from Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
In it, Grassley wrote that whistleblowers in the Justice Department, which is run by Garland and includes Wray’s FBI, have told his Senate office that officials tampered with key information streams and stymied the probe into the Bidens.
“Based on the information provided to my office over a period of years by multiple credible whistleblowers, there appears to be an effort within the Justice Department and FBI to shut down investigative activity relating to the Biden family,” Grassley wrote to Garland and Wray.
“Such decisions point to significant political bias infecting the decision making of not only the attorney general and FBI director, but also line agents and prosecutors,” Grassley wrote. “Our republic cannot survive such a political infection and you have an obligation to this country to clear the air.”
Neither the White House nor the Justice Department responded to The Daily Signal’s inquiries for this report.
Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee and a longtime advocate for government whistleblowers, also said he wants to know what the Justice Department did to sideline the information.
Here are seven keys to understanding the Justice Department’s problem-plagued investigation of the Biden family.
1. 40 Confidential Human Sources
The FBI maintained more than 40 confidential human sources out of numerous field offices who provided criminal information relating to Joe Biden, brother James Biden, and son Hunter Biden, Grassley wrote that he discovered.
“An essential question that must be answered is this: Did the FBI investigate the information or shut it down?” his letter to Garland and Wray inquires.
“Indeed, if those sources were improperly shut down, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for the FBI, as this letter will address,” Grassley wrote.
2. Burisma and Bribery
Justice Department and FBI officials investigating allegations of a $5 million bribe paid by an executive at Burisma, an energy company in Ukraine, to then-Vice President Joe Biden, lacked the authority to review the matter.
That same executive allegedly paid another $5 million to Hunter Biden, who sat on Burisma’s board for five years, until 2019.
An FBI form called an FD-1023 alleged a criminal conspiracy between Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky and Joe and Hunter Biden. Government officials were able to verify some information in that document and recommended further investigation.
In October 2020, the month before the presidential election, FBI agents from the Pittsburgh Field Office briefed Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf about the FBI form alleging a bribe to Biden when he was vice president under President Barack Obama.
“However, the meeting did not include any IRS agents, and AUSA Wolf prevented investigators from seeking information about Joe Biden ‘s involvement in Hunter Biden’s criminal arrangements,” Grassley wrote to Garland and Wray.
Grassley noted that former Attorney General William Barr, Wray, and FBI Deputy Director Paul Abate made clear that the FD-1023 form was part of an ongoing investigation.
The Iowa Republican said he wanted to see what actions were taken at the time by the lead prosecutor, U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss, who gained more prosecutorial power in August when Garland appointed him special counsel in the matter. Wolf is Weiss’ deputy when he was U.S. attorney.
“As such, it’s essential that we examine the alleged attempts by FBI personnel to sweep it under the rug, as well as what steps U.S. Attorney Weiss has taken to use the document for his ongoing investigation,” Grassley wrote.
3. Shutting Down Burisma Probe
The FBI’s Washington Field Office closed a corruption case into Zlochevsky, the Burisma executive, in December 2019.
The probe had been opened in January 2016 by an FBI squad specializing in cases under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Based out of the Washington Field Office, the squad included agents from FBI headquarters, Grassley says in the letter.
The senator’s letter to Garland and Wray notes that the information about the bribery allegations in the FBI form didn’t come from Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who worked briefly as an attorney for former President Donald Trump.
Going into the weeds for the attorney general and FBI director, Grassley writes:
A 1023 [form] must be serialized to a case, so that Biden family 1023 was serialized to the Pittsburgh Assessment. Accordingly, claims that the Biden family 1023 was part of the information provided by Giuliani are incorrect. The information in the Biden family 1023 was obtained separate from Giuliani from a long-standing, high-paid FBI CHS [confidential human source] who’s been used in other investigative matters by the FBI, as the Zlochevsky case illustrates.
4. ‘Contradicted Denials Made by Joe Biden’
Before becoming vice president, Bide represented Delaware in the Senate for 36 years.
Grassley’s letter says that on Oct. 5, 2020, about a month before the presidential election in which Biden defeated Trump, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Eric Miller and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tim Thibault were part of a teleconference. The call included the FBI’s Washington Field Office; its Baltimore Field Office; FBI agents in Wilmington, Delaware; and FBI management personnel.
“That call allegedly included Assistant Special Agent in Charge Alfred Watson, Supervisory Special Agent Joe Gordon, Special Agent Susan Roepcke, and Special Agent Joshua Wilson,” Grassley wrote, adding:
My office has been informed that on that call it was confirmed the Delaware case currently run by U.S. Attorney Weiss was opened as a money laundering and Foreign Agents Registration Act case, not a bribery case as the Biden family 1023 would appear to require, and that it was jointly worked with the IRS. On that call, it was made clear that Delaware FBI agents were in possession of email evidence that contradicted denials made by Joe Biden that he was never aware of or involved in Hunter Biden’s business arrangements.
An agent from the FBI’s Washington Field Office interviewed one of Hunter Biden’s former business partners, Navy veteran Tony Bobulinski, in October 2020, according to Grassley’s letter.
“Bobulinski provided first-hand knowledge as an eye and ear witness to Joe Biden’s involvement in potentially criminal schemes with Hunter Biden,” Grassley wrote to Garland and Wray.
5. ‘Illegally Treat Income as Loan’
Interestingly, Grassley’s letter comes days after the House Oversight and Accountability Committee revealed that in 2018, James Biden wrote a $200,000 check to his brother Joe Biden, noting the purpose was a “loan repayment.”
The $200,000 check was written the same day that James Biden got a $200,000 payment from a company called Americore Holdings LLC.
This evidence seems to contradict the president’s repeated assertion that he never profited from the business deals made by his son or other family members.
Labeling payments such as this as loans or loan repayments is consistent with what whistleblowers have told Grassley’s office.
Grassley’s letter mentioned another one of Hunter Biden’s business ventures, this one with China’s CEFC energy conglomerate.
The Iowa Republican referred to “the Bidens receiving an unsecured $5 million loan, intended to be forgivable, from CEFC in 2017 that would serve as payment for actions Joe Biden took during his vice presidency.”
“This financial strategy to illegally treat income as a loan is consistent with IRS whistleblower testimony that indicated Hunter Biden attempted the same with respect to other income, including payments received from Burisma,” Grassley wrote.
House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., wrote Thursday to White House counsel Edward Siskel asking for evidence that the president had loaned his brother $200,000.
“If Joe Biden did personally loan James Biden an amount that was later repaid by the $200,000 check, please provide the loan documents, including the loan payment, loan agreement, and any other supporting loan documentation,” Comer wrote to the White House counsel, adding:
As you may know, the Internal Revenue Code has specific requirements for delineating and reporting ‘below-market [rate] loans’ from gifts. While there are some exceptions, for example loans of $10,000 or less, the payment in question would not appear exempt from such requirements if it is a loan. Indeed, there appears to have been no interest paid on the ‘loan’ based upon the White House’s own representations. The current lack of documentation leaves reason to doubt claims that this transaction was repayment for a legal loan. We request documentation clarifying the nature of this payment and whether all applicable documentation and IRS filings were properly made.
6. Still No Russian Collusion
Although the FBI’s own confidential sources had gathered information on the Bidens, FBI headquarters in August 2020 named a Washington-based task force to discredit it as foreign disinformation.
That discrediting included the source behind the FBI’s FD-1023 form alleging the $10 million paid by Burisma’s founder to Joe and Hunter Biden.
Separately, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania coordinated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York in reviewing the confidential human source at the center of the FBI form. The two offices discovered no evidence of known sources of Russian disinformation.
However, the FBI task force managed to stifle the Biden investigation, at least in the short term.
Grassley noted that a whistleblower alleged the FBI developed information in 2020 about Hunter Biden’s alleged criminal financial moves and related activity, but shut the probe down “based on false assertions that it was subject to foreign disinformation.”
“That assessment was used by an FBI HQ team to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation and caused investigative activity to cease,” Grassley wrote Garland and Wray.
Thibault, the FBI assistant special agent in charge, had ordered some aspects of the Hunter Biden probe closed. Grassley stressed that Thibault’s testimony to the House Judiciary Committee verified what whistleblowers had said.
FBI agents and DOJ officials working in Pittsburgh had to pause their work for weeks at a time, Grassley wrote, because the assessment had to be reapproved every 30 days by multiple Justice Department and FBI officials.
On June 30, 2020, the FBI form alleging Joe Biden took a bribe was sent to the FBI Pittsburgh office.
“FBI leadership,” Grassley wrote to Garland and Wray, “would likely have been briefed.”
“Either on that day or shortly thereafter, travel mentioned in the Biden family 1023 [form] was confirmed as well as some meetings that took place,” the senator said.
7. What Are DOJ and FBI Hiding?
He wants to interview at least 25 employees of the Justice Department and FBI, Grassley says in his letter to the attorney general and FBI director.
He has sought information from the Justice Department since July 25, 2022, with respect to the whistleblowers’ disclosures and has gotten no responsive information, the Iowa Republican says.
Grassley asks Garland and Wray to respond by Nov. 17 about his request for specific communications between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York related to the FBI’s 1023 form and Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.
Grassley’s letter also seeks records dating back to 2014 that:
—Refer to Mykola Zlochevsky, Hunter Biden, James Biden, or Joe Biden.
—Relate to meetings on May 2 and 3, 2017, between Tony Bobulinski and Joe Biden.
—Constitute the case file on the FBI task force that attempted to cast the 1023 form on the Bidens as foreign disinformation.
—Relate to the FBI task force that dropped its probe of Zlochevsky, the Burisma founder.
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