A U.S. attorney who whistleblowers say declined to allow the Hunter Biden case to move forward in his jurisdiction last year came from a firm that donated heavily to President Joe Biden’s election effort.
Joe Biden also appeared to nominate E. Martin Estrada, the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, after Hunter Biden’s legal team had already begun meeting with Justice Department officials to discuss the case prosecutors were building against Hunter Biden.
The timeline of Estrada’s nomination gained new significance after a pair of IRS whistleblowers testified that Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss waited months to present evidence in the Hunter Biden tax investigation to the California office and did not do so until days after Estrada took office.
Prior to being nominated, Estrada worked at a prestigious law firm, Munger, Tolles & Olson, that counted Democratic donors among its ranks.
Members of the law firm donated more than $120,000 to Joe Biden in 2020, according to OpenSecrets.
They gave more than $156,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2020.
Estrada himself appeared to donate to Vice President Kamala Harris in 2015.
Munger, Tolles & Olson did not respond to a request for comment.
The law firm has served as a pipeline for presidential nominees in the past.
He chose another lawyer from the firm, Jeff Bleich, to serve first in the White House counsel’s office and then as U.S. ambassador to Australia. His choice for U.S. ambassador to Argentina had been a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson.
President Joe Biden nomination of Estrada for the California U.S. attorney position looks to come after his son’s defense team began engaging with the Justice Department and Weiss’s office about the alleged tax-related offenses under investigation.
There is no evidence that Estrada’s nomination was linked to the Hunter Biden case.
However, the sequence of events involving Estrada’s office has come under scrutiny by House Republicans investigating whether Weiss, who is now a special counsel, faced roadblocks during his yearslong investigation of the president’s son.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Joseph Ziegler, an IRS agent who worked the case and has since blown the whistle to Congress, said Hunter Biden’s attorneys met with Justice Department lawyers to discuss the case on March 14, 2022. The meeting, known as a taxpayer conference, gave the Hunter Biden defense team the opportunity to argue against the case prosecutors were building.
Ziegler testified that the subjects of investigations are typically given one taxpayer conference but that Hunter Biden’s lawyers were given four.
“So that’s high. I have never heard of that in my career,” Ziegler testified.
He said Hunter Biden’s team met with the Justice Department for a second taxpayer conference on April 26, 2022.
Hunter Biden’s attorneys appeared to confirm the April 26, 2022, meeting with Justice Department Tax Division lawyers and prosecutors from Weiss’s office. Politico reported that Hunter Biden’s team came away from it with an understanding that the investigation concerned problems with their client’s taxes from 2014 to 2019.
The IRS whistleblowers testified that alleged violations from 2014 and 2015 would need to be brought to the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., while alleged violations from later years would need to be brought to the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
The Washington, D.C., U.S. attorney declined to allow the case to move forward in his jurisdiction in the spring of last year, several IRS officials have said.
Joe Biden did not announce Estrada’s nomination until June 6, 2022, nearly three months after Hunter Biden’s lawyers may have started to gain insight into the Justice Department’s investigation through their meetings with prosecutors.
The Senate confirmed Estrada on Sept. 13, 2022, and he was sworn in six days later.
Gary Shapley, another IRS whistleblower who spent years working the case, said the Justice Department inexplicably waited months to approach Central District of California prosecutors.
“There was no explanation as to why, after being declined in D.C. for 2014 and 2015, that it took until mid-September 2022 to present the case to the Central District of California United States Attorney’s Office,” Shapley testified.
“Prosecutors stated that they presented the case to the Central District of California in mid-September,” he added. “That happened to correspond with the confirmation of the President Biden appointee to the United States Attorney, Martin Estrada.”
Shapley went on to claim that Weiss’s team brought the case to the Central District of California “the same week” that the Senate confirmed Estrada, even though the team had been ready to present the case roughly six months earlier.
Estrada’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
However, the office has previously disputed the claim that Estrada blocked Weiss from moving forward in California.
“As the Attorney General has said, U.S. Attorney Weiss was given full authority to bring charges in any jurisdiction he deemed appropriate. He did not need approval from this office or the U.S. Attorney to bring charges in this district,” a spokesperson told the Washington Examiner in July.
House Republicans have requested transcribed interviews from Weiss, Estrada, and Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C.