Tristan Leavitt, attorney for IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley, joined the Guy Benson Show today to discuss the latest on the Merrick Garland testimony about the David Weiss investigation into Hunter Biden. Leavitt also discussed the new Hunter Biden lawsuit against the IRS, calling it a “total smear” against Gary Shapley and the other IRS whistleblowers. Listen to the entire wide-ranging conversation below.
Leavitt had this to say on the new Hunter Biden lawsuit against the IRS:
“(Hunter Biden’s lawsuit) is a total smear job… this is just an attempt by Hunter Biden’s attorneys to lash out at these whistleblowers and deflect from the wrongdoing that their own client clearly committed. And we think more charges are probably on the way, which is also probably what they’re trying to get ahead of.”
Guy Benson: I’m very glad to welcome for the first time to this program Tristan Leavitt. He’s an attorney for IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley. We’ve talked about him a lot here. We played some of his clips from his testimony and interviews that he’s given. And Levitt represents him and is out there defending him and actually really charging ahead on this Biden crisis by adding more information into the pot for the public to consider. He’s also president of Empower Oversight and Trust. And it’s good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Tristan Leavitt: Thanks so much for having me, Guy.
Guy Benson: Okay. I want to start with today’s testimony up on Capitol Hill, the House Judiciary Committee. The attorney general, Merrick Garland, was there, and he faced a barrage of often tough, pointed questions from the Republicans, basically exclusively about the Hunter Biden investigation and other related matters. Of what you were able to see… I’m not sure how much you watched of it. And we’ll play some of the sound later in the show. Were there some big takeaways that you have having watched the attorney general try to dance through a minefield that he’s created for himself? In a lot of ways?
Tristan Leavitt: Yeah, absolutely. So it was clear from the outset that Garland was going to refuse to talk about much of the substance of the case. Right. So he said that Weiss is not just the deciding official, but it’s ongoing. Not going to talk about any of the details on that. And I think that became a very tightrope for him to walk as he was then asked various questions and then alternated between saying, I don’t know any of the details of that. But no, I appointed I appointed Weiss as special counsel, and I knew that this happened during Trump administration. So it was clear that he was aware of some significant elements of the case, but but kept trying to maintain that he had kept himself removed in some way that then led into this real challenge for him, because Weiss has previously written to Congress specifically on July 10th, he wrote to ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham, that Weiss had already had conversations with Justice Department officials about special charging authority. Most of that seems to the discussion seems to have focused on that being a statutory or sorry, a regulatory authority for something that’s in regulations that are just put out by the Justice Department, but that would allow someone to become a special attorney. And Garwin really sidestepped that in just saying, I’m not going to talk about who those discussions were with. He asserted that he couldn’t talk about the deliberations, but this is significant because DOJ has already ruled that information. And so to talk about it and no one is asking for the substance of the conversation, just literally who did Weiss speak to. And in refusing that information, he’s really setting up one of the key, key things that’s going to come up in this impeachment inquiry, because investigators will need to know whether Weiss had these discussions, part of the key allegations that Weiss requested authority and was denied it. And so Garland really stayed firm on avoiding getting into that. The one other thing that I would add is that when it comes down to the substance, Garland made several statements that may end up getting him in trouble. He quoted Weiss his letter, saying that Weiss has never been denied the authority to charge in any district. And this is pretty nuanced. But one could read that as saying he’s never been denied this regulatory authority, this special charging authority. The other way that one could read it is totally wrong, which is to say no jurisdiction ever denied it like DC or the Central District.
Guy Benson: Account, which they did.
Tristan Leavitt: And they absolutely did so right? Weiss Weiss His letter was ambiguous. Garland leaned in more to that and really gave it the impression that he was talking about specific districts. So he’s going to have to wiggle back out of that. And the other thing that Garland said very specifically was, yes, in any normal case, you have to have DOJ Tax Division’s authority, but not in this case because I had given ultimate authority. But ultimate authority is not a DOJ policy. It’s not in regulation. It was either the special attorney authority or special counsel authority. And basically all Garland has said is that he’s alternated between I promised him that authority and he already had it. And so lawmakers weren’t able to nail him down on that. But at the end of the day, that’s what he’s going to have to acknowledge, is either all of his statements are true, that Weiss had the authority and he could have over you know, he could have skipped over DOJ tax approval or as the record clearly shows, they weren’t. And Weiss never received that authority from Garland. In fact, the way Garland made it sound, they’ve never even talked about it before. Garland basically just says, Well, I talked about it in a few places publicly, so I assumed that Weiss knew, and Garland didn’t even comment on it publicly until a Senate hearing that was already after DC had declined the charges.
Guy Benson: Okay. But there was this bizarre on this exact point, this bizarre exchange between Jim Jordan of Ohio and the attorney general, where he’s like dancing on the head of a pin trying to pass this thing out and technically say, well, this might have happened, but not that this Listen to cut 35, especially toward the end.
Jim Jordan: Quote, Mr. Weiss has full authority to bring cases in other jurisdictions if he feels it’s necessary. That was your response, Attorney General, to Senator Grassley’s question on March 1st, 2023, just referencing when Mr. Bishop was questioning you, only problem is he’d already been turned down by the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia. Mr. Graves… So he didn’t have full authority, did he?
Merrick Garland: I had an extended conversation with Senator Grassley at the time. We briefly touched on the Section 515 question and how that process went. I have never been suggested…
Jim Jordan: Points Real simple, Mr. Garland. You said he had complete authority, but he’d already been turned down. He can’t bring an action in the District of Columbia. And the U.S. attorney there said, No, you can’t. And then you go tell the United States Senate under oath that he has completed it already.
Merrick Garland: I’m going to say again that no one had the authority to turn him down. They could refuse to partner with him.
Jim Jordan: You could use whatever language. Refuse to partner is turning down.
Merrick Garland: Well, it’s not the same under a well-known Justice Department practice.
Guy Benson: No one had the authority to turn waste down. But they could refuse to partner with him. I’m just trying to unpack that and understand what that even means, because there were jurisdictions where a case, felony case could and probably should have been brought against Hunter Biden, the Biden appointees overseeing those jurisdictions, one in California, one in D.C. refused to do it. They wouldn’t do it. And one of the central allegations of your client. Gary SHAPLEY, Is that why it’s at least behind closed doors with subordinates, was complaining, saying he wished he had that authority. You wish you could be special counsel. You wish he didn’t have to defer basically to these other guys who were saying no. That was contemporaneously written down in emails, confirmed that that is what Weiss was saying at the time. And now, fast forward into mid-to-late 2023, you’ve got the attorney general saying, well, these other U.S. attorneys and prosecutors didn’t have the authority to turn down Weiss, but they could refuse to partner with him. And of course, they didn’t, because those prosecutions in those jurisdictions weren’t brought. It just seems so convoluted.
Tristan Leavitt: Yeah. And I think the a couple of important pieces to remember. Right. So one is in a typical situation with a typical U.S. attorney, they’re charging authority is only limited to their district. So if the district if the U.S. attorney for Delaware wants to bring a case in the district of D.C., he has to have that U.S. attorney partner with him in D.C. in this case. So so that’s the distinction. And actually, I use that term partner, because that’s kind of become the conventional term. It’s not it’s not clear to us that was the term that’s ever been used before. It’s kind of introduced by the Justice Department to get around saying that D.C. declined the charges. Right.
Guy Benson: But I don’t know what they did.
Tristan Leavitt: Right. So why waste took those cases? They had prosecutors go to D.C., the prosecutors go to Los Angeles to present to the central District of California and say, here’s the case, here’s why we think it’s a good case. We’d like you to join with us. We’d like to so that we can bring the case in your jurisdiction. And in each case, the the political appointed U.S. attorney, you know, appointed by President Biden didn’t recuse themselves on a case involving the son of the person who appointed them. And they made the decision. And in fact, in D.C., we know that that decision was made after the first assistant U.S. attorney, who’s kind of like the top deputy, had had been optimistic about the case. And then the White House had come out with a statement saying the president still thinks his son did nothing wrong. And right around that time is when U.S. Attorney Matt Grace said, never mind, we’re not doing this. But to Garland’s point, you know, again, he says he says they couldn’t block him from doing it in this case. And so Galan is trying to gloss over that. This in every other cases, the typical process. And just to say, well, and again, what he seems to be saying is because I had vaguely out there said he had some sort of authority, he must have known or he must have had or something else. But again, to put it in black and white, there’s two processes for whites to actually do what Galan is saying. One is to get this Section 515 authority special attorney authority, which required the approval of either the attorney general or Deputy Attorney General Lisa monaco or the other, is to do what he did most recently, which is to ask for special counsel authority. And sorry, I need to reverse that special Section 515 authority is the is in the law. Congress wrote that the the special counsel authority is just a departmental regulation. But and he recently received that but without those two instances, without asking for special counsel authority or special attorney authority, Weiss had no route to go. And Garland just keeps glossing over that again and again, saying, Well, because I told him he had the authority. But there’s no record of this supposedly.
Guy Benson: Right? They say that’s what happened. But functionally, in reality, it didn’t work that way. And he only got the special counsel authority after they got totally embarrassed twice, first by your client and the other IRS IRS whistleblower, which threw a giant wrench into the first sweetheart deal. They were organizing for Hunter Biden behind the scenes. And then secondly, when the judge asked a question that created this big kerfuffle in the courtroom and basically DOJ again got caught about to give the store away to Hunter Biden, they couldn’t actually admitted publicly. So then finally, Merrick Garland said this looks bad enough politically. Let’s use the special word special counsel. But it was like a last resort thing that he did deeply, belatedly, into this process for, I think, obviously political optics reasons. And I know and I appreciate that you’re getting in the weeds and trying to explain these different regulations and authorities. What people need to understand is. They had the evidence to bring the cases. They apparently wanted to bring the cases. They went to the jurisdictions and the cases were never brought there, jurisdictions where Biden appointees were in charge. That’s what people need to understand, like, oh, or why or whatever. If he had full authority and really wanted to bring the cases and he had carte blanche to do it. They would have done it, but they didn’t. Which belies this very technical, lawyerly claim that we keep getting from Garland and from Weiss. Which is why I am deeply skeptical of both of them. Now, Tristan, I want to build on this a little bit, because we have seen now some counter allegations from Democrats. The media I saw published a few stories in the last few days casting doubt on the veracity of your client, Gary SHAPLEY, who was the original IRS whistleblower. And the claim is that in closed door meetings and testimony, other witnesses have contradicted what Mr. Shapley has said on. I don’t actually know what they’re objecting to or what they’re saying isn’t accurate or true. We’ve seen the allegations from Shapley. He’s presented some actual evidence back from the time memorialized of the frustrations of the dead ends of the basically obstruction of the investigation from within. But the media is saying apparently there are other witnesses saying he’s not telling an accurate or full story. Can you respond to that? Do we know specifically what the counterclaims are here?
Tristan Leavitt: Yeah, we do. Absolutely. And I’ll try to break it down as simply as I can and for the ease of doing that. Let me touch on three buckets quickly again. The first one so just is background. Congress interviewed four witnesses in the last week and a half, and three of them were also attendees. At an October 7th, 2022 meeting at the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is where Special Agent Shapley took these handwritten notes documenting that way, said, I’m not the deciding official, and described requesting what Gary was writing down at the time. What he wrote down was special counsel authority. As we as we’ve highlighted just now, it’s confusing, which is which. Right. But again, Gary, just sitting there in a meeting taking notes, and that’s what he wrote down. The other witnesses were two to the two FBI top officials from the Baltimore field office and then the top official in in Gary’s Washington, D.C. office, his supervisor at the time. So those four you’ve got two from the FBI, two from the IRS, or they’re in the meeting with U.S. Attorney White. And this is kind of the behind closed door frustration meeting. And in that what what these individuals were asked was if they remember some of these key lines. So they ask, do you remember him saying he’s not the deciding official and none of the three. All three of them said, I don’t recall that name again, None of them. Two of them didn’t take notes. One took notes at the time and has since shredded them. And he Gary supervisor actually at the time in October 2022, wrote in response to an email summary about the meeting you covered. It also seemed at the time he agreed with what was said. But the other thing is that all of those witnesses preceded them to say What I remember is a long discussion about process. And it becomes clear from listening, from reading those transcripts that the process they were describing was having to go to the attorney general to get authority to bring these cases. Now, it’s also clear that these other individuals were not in the weeds. The two FBI officials, one of them basically said don’t pay attention to tax stuff. It’s not my responsibility. The other one just said that she really hadn’t followed closely the ins and outs of it. But Special Agent Shapley went into this meeting with a really specific background. One is that he had been tracking in the spring of 2022, when Senator Hagerty actually asked Merrick Garland about whether there would be any interference in the case. And so this is recorded in his notes that day when White said, I’m not releasing official Gary’s recounting of it that evening says this conflicts with what Garland said to Congress.
Guy Benson: So he has a written record of that from the meeting that was blessed basically by a supervisor at the time when he typed up those notes into an email at the time again, and the people that the media is now reporting are contradicting him actually aren’t. They’re just not remembering the same exact details, which I think is important based on what you’re telling me. We only have about a minute, minute and a half left. So what are those other two buckets if you can quickly cover them.
Tristan Leavitt: Yeah. The other two are that they all said that they recognized that it required approval from the attorney general. And again, that’s the whole ballgame. Right. Is that acknowledging that belies the attorney general statement and these other witnesses just weren’t keyed into that. The final thing is that they also contradicted each other. One of them, one of the FBI people, said she didn’t remember something that her boss said. So, again, these witnesses all show it’s difficult to remember, meaning a whole year later, unless you took notes like Gary did.
Guy Benson: Make sense very, very quickly. Hunter Biden’s lawyers have now sued over the IRS disclosures, saying this is a violation of their client’s privacy. Quickly, your response to that.
Tristan Leavitt: It’s a total smear job, but I would encourage people to go to defend whistleblowers dot com. That’s a legal defense fund that we set up for them. But this is just an attempt by Hunter Biden’s attorneys to lash out at these whistleblowers and deflect from the wrongdoing that their own client clearly committed. And we think more charges are probably on the way, which is also probably why they’re trying to get ahead of.
Guy Benson: Tristan Leavitt is one of the attorneys for Gary Shapley, that IRS whistleblower who kind of blew the cover off of this story in a major way. And obviously, this drama is not anywhere near over. Tristan, we appreciate your time. And as events unfold, we hope to get you back here.
Tristan Leavitt: Yeah, happy to. Anytime. Thanks so much, Guy.