Six Biden administration officials have been hit with subpoenas by House Oversight Committee chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) over allegations that the Secret Service tipped off the Biden transition team about a planned Hunter Biden tax probe interview.
Mr. Comer said on Sept. 5 that he sent letters and subpoenas to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle as the Oversight Committee examines whether the Department of Justice (DOJ) engaged in misconduct in the Hunter Biden criminal probe.
The six subpoenas—one to Mr. Mayorkas for documents and five for depositions to Secret Service and DHS officials—include accusations that DHS employees blocked the Secret Service from sending information to Congress regarding the DOJ's alleged misconduct in the Hunter Biden investigation.
“The Department of Justice initiated the Biden family coverup and now DHS under the leadership of Secretary Mayorkas is complicit in it," Mr. Comer said in a statement.
"Investigators were never able to interview Hunter Biden during the criminal investigation because Secret Service headquarters and the Biden transition team were tipped off about the planned interview," he added.
Calling it one of "many examples of misconduct and politicization" during the Justice Department's criminal investigation of the president's son, Mr. Comer demanded that Mr. Mayorkas provide all documents and communications regarding the alleged tip-off and Congress' request for information about alleged DOJ misconduct.
The subpoenas also compel depositions with DHS and Secret Service employees who were involved in providing a response to congressional committees.
In a statement to The Epoch Times, a DHS spokesperson denied obstructing or withholding a response to the inquiry, asserting that staff followed standard procedures to ensure accuracy and protect sensitive information.
In July 2023, an FBI whistleblower told the House Oversight Committee that the 2020 transition team of then-President-Elect Joe Biden was notified in advance that the FBI was planning to interview the president's son, Hunter Biden, on Dec. 8, 2020.
The tip-off was previously revealed by former IRS investigator-turned-whistleblower Gary Shapley, who was responsible for overseeing the Hunter Biden investigation on the IRS side.
The FBI whistleblower, who remains anonymous, said that he opened the investigation into Hunter Biden in 2019, and the agencies later joined their probes in April 2020.
“The initial plan was to make approaches of multiple witnesses, to include subject Hunter Biden, on December 8th,” the whistleblower said, according to an interview transcript released by the Oversight Committee on Aug. 14 (pdf).
At the time, Hunter Biden was already under Secret Service protection, so the agents decided that the Secret Service needed to be notified about the planned interview to avoid confusion.
“The initial plan was to have the local field office of the Secret Service be notified the morning of [Dec. 8, 2020,] to diminish opportunities for anybody else to be notified,” the whistleblower said.
FBI and IRS agents planned to interview Hunter Biden on Dec. 8, 2020 but were told that morning to stand down, according to the FBI whistleblower.
“I was notified by my assistant special agent in charge that we would not even be allowed to approach the house; that the plan, as told to us, was that my information would be given to the Secret Service, to whom I don't know exactly, and, you know, my name, my contact, you know, my cell phone, for example, with the notification that we would like to talk to Hunter Biden; and that I was not to go near the house and to stand by,” the FBI whistleblower said, per the transcript.
The whistleblower added that he never learned who decided on the tip-off and that, in the end, the agents didn't manage to interview.
President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden attend the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on April 10, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
'Muzzling the Secret Service'
In June, Mr. Comer (along with the chairs of two other Congressional committees) asked Ms. Cheatle, the Secret Service director, to make those Secret Service employees who received the tip-off available for transcribed interviews.
Mr. Comer said Tuesday that the Secret Service was blocked by DHS from providing substantive responses to the committees.
In his statement, Mr. Comer alleged that DHS was obstructing the committee's investigation "by muzzling the Secret Service" from providing a response to Congress.
In letters to Mr. Mayorkas and Ms. Cheatle, which were sent alongside the subpoenas, Mr. Comer alleged that the DHS Office of Legislative Affairs had “instructed the Secret Service to withhold a response the Secret Service had prepared for the committees.”
A Secret Service spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that DHS would be replying on behalf of both agencies.
The DHS spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that it was "working to respond to this inquiry appropriately, including identifying the relevant information and individuals."
"The claim that we obstructed or withheld a response is categorically false and these subpoenas are entirely without basis," the spokesperson continued, adding that Mr. Comer was "misconstruing" the DHS' review process.
"DHS was following standard procedures for the review and submission of materials to Congress, which have been utilized across multiple Congresses," the spokesperson said.
"These reviews are a normal and necessary step in the process to ensure protection of law enforcement sensitivities, matters relating to ongoing investigations, privacy and privilege issues, consistency in our responses, and more," the spokesperson added.
In addition to issuing a subpoena to Mr. Mayorkas, Mr. Comer subpoenaed DHS Director of Oversight in the Office of Legislative Affairs K. Shiek Pal; DHS senior adviser to the general counsel Stephen Jonas; DHS Office of Legislative Affairs Assistant Secretary Zephranie Buetow; Secret Service Assistant Director in the Office of Intergovernmental and Legislative Affairs Vincent Tutoni; and Secret Service Acting Special Agent in Charge in the Congressional Affairs Program David McKeown.
Meanwhile, Hunter Biden was charged in June with two misdemeanor counts of failure to pay taxes and illegal gun possession.
Initially, Mr. Biden agreed to plead guilty to the tax crimes and have the gun charge resolved through a pretrial diversion, which would have likely spared him any prison time.
But the plea deal fell through, and Mr. Biden pleaded not guilty instead.