GOP impeachment investigators on Tuesday subpoenaed a deputy to the special counsel investigating Hunter Biden, expanding their inquiry into claims from two IRS whistleblowers that she took actions that “deviated from standard investigative procedures.”
The House Judiciary Committee subpoena to Lesley Wolf, an assistant U.S. attorney, asks for her testimony on Dec. 7 and comes shortly after the panel spoke with David Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware who has been leading the investigation.
Wolf was a central figure in testimony from IRS investigator Gary Shapley and his colleague Joseph Ziegler. The two questioned numerous decisions made by the career prosecutor in a case they described as being slow-walked by Weiss and his team.
“Information available to the Committee suggests that you — either directly or by instructing others — are responsible for many of the decisions to deviate from standard investigative protocol during the Department’s investigation of Hunter Biden,” the committee wrote in the cover letter of its subpoena, which The Hill reviewed.
Like the unprecedented testimony from Weiss himself amid an ongoing investigation, the subpoena indicates resistance from the Justice Department to having congressional investigators speak with a “line attorney” over a political appointee.
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Shapley and Ziegler repeatedly pointed to Wolf in testimony over the summer, accusing her of stymying investigative steps they wanted to take, including executing a search warrant at a storage facility rented by Biden. According to the two men, Wolf discussed the matter with Biden’s attorneys, something Shapley said ruined their chances of collecting evidence.
The two also said she was resistant to efforts to speak with Biden’s adult children and also wanted removed from search warrants any reference to the president.
Shapley’s own memos from the time indicate Wolf expressed concern about protecting the Justice Department’s credibility as the investigation was ongoing ahead of the 2020 election.
Many of their discussions took place in early September, falling within the 60-day window ahead of the election in which DOJ cools its investigation into political figures to avoid any improper influence on the contest.
“AUSA Wolf said that DOJ was under fire and that it was self-inflicted. She said that DOJ needs to repair their reputation,” Shapley wrote.
“AUSA Wolf said that DOJ has a zero tolerance for risk that any of these requests somehow tip off someone that would leak them to the media,” Shapley relayed of her concerns of executing a warrant so close to the election.
The subpoena nods to the battle to secure testimony from Wolf, even as the committee has heard from others involved in the investigation, including two high-level FBI personnel assigned to the case, who contested Shapley’s claims that there was any political motivation at play in how the investigation was handled.
“Although the Department has allowed other employees involved in the Hunter Biden investigation to testify, albeit with substantial scoping limitations, the Department has not agreed to make you available voluntarily,” Chair Jim Jordan wrote in the letter.
“The Department’s reasons for not allowing you to provide testimony are unpersuasive. Without specifically referencing you, the Department has generally claimed in correspondence that its longstanding policy is to not make non-Senate-confirmed and line-level Justice employees available for interviews. As we have repeatedly informed the Department, this claim is factually, legally, and historically inaccurate.”
Testimony from Wolf would likely run into similar problems as those present during an interview with Weiss, where he declined to answer numerous questions about the ongoing investigation.
“To my knowledge, I am the first special counsel to testify before the submission of the Special Counsel report. I have done so out of respect for the committee’s oversight responsibilities and to respond to questions raised about the scope of my authority,” Weiss said in opening remarks during the closed-door session.
“Today, I am prepared to address misunderstandings about the scope of my authority to decide where, when, and whether to bring charges in this matter. I do not intend to answer questions that could jeopardize the ongoing litigation, our investigations, or the rights of defendants or other individuals involved in these matters,” he added.
GOP investigators see the Biden investigation as just one prong of its larger probe into the Biden family, including the president.
While Weiss has charged Biden with three different gun charges after a plea deal on tax charges fell through, the special counsel has said he may still file tax charges against the president’s son.
Updated at 10:31 a.m. Nov. 22