On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing with two IRS whistleblowers about the federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s tax crimes. IRS supervisory special agent Gary Shapley and criminal investigator Joseph Ziegler (previously known only as Whistleblower X), testified for six hours in a session that featured a great deal of sparring between House Republicans and Democrats.
On Thursday’s show, Shapley and Ziegler joined Megyn for an exclusive joint interview about the Congressional hearing and why they chose to come forward.
In case you haven’t been keeping up with the complexities of the numerous investigations into the Biden family, Shapley and Ziegler were on Capitol Hill to speak to their probe into Hunter Biden’s tax crimes that began in November 2018. Ziegler was the criminal investigator assigned to the case, while Shapley was his supervisor.
They came forward earlier this year and privately spoke to the House Ways and Means Committee about their frustration over how Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss and others handled the investigation. They alleged authorities showed preferential treatment to the first son and that they were handcuffed in their probe.
The transcripts from those conversations were released just days after prosecutors reached a plea deal with Hunter. He is expected to plead guilty to federal tax and firearms charges but face no prison time or felony charges. Many legal experts have argued it’s a sweetheart deal that amounts to a slap on the wrist.
The House Oversight Committee Hearing
The House Oversight Committee hearing allowed Democrats and Republicans to publicly question Shapley and the previously anonymous Ziegler. The marathon session did not reveal much beyond what was already known from the nearly 400 pages of testimony the two men provided, but it did show the schism that exists between the two parties.
GOP representatives generally argued that Hunter was afforded special treatment under a two-tier system of justice (though Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene raised some eyebrows when she brought sexually explicit posters of Hunter to make a point about his salacious past), while House Democrats claimed the first son was thoroughly investigated by the team led by a Trump-appointed attorney and tried to spin the Republican argument about fairness.
Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH) was one of several black lawmakers who sought to bring race into the discussion. She listed off statistics about the criminal justice system and IRS auditing process, which led to this exchange with Shapley:
Rep. Brown: I know the American people are confused because we’re all confused about what we’re doing here… Do you know the rate at which black taxpayers are audited as compared to taxpayers who are not black?
Shapley: No, I don’t know.
Rep. Brown: Well, the answer is black taxpayers are audited at 2.9 to 4.7 times the rate of non-black taxpayers. Another question for you, sir. Yes or No: Will this hearing help alleviate the racial disparity in the rates of the IRS audits?
Shapley: That’s not the topic.
Megyn said the proceedings were embarrassing. “My main reaction watching what happened yesterday was you were treated very disrespectfully,” she said. “You’re not partisan hacks. You’re career servicemen who… when you saw something unethical, you found the courage to speak up about it, which isn’t easy to do.”
She wondered if they were rethinking that decision after the questions they received on Wednesday. “I know you have both gone to the inspector generals of the relevant agencies involved, but whistleblowing to Congress provides another layer of security that those inspector generals are going to have to actually investigate and the American public now knows and will be watching,” she said. “It’s a smart move, but, watching this yesterday, all I could think is these guys have got to be second guessing their decision to look at these nimrods on Capitol Hill as any sort of oversight on all of this.”
The Politicization of the Process
Both Shapley and Ziegler admitted that the hearing felt highly politicized even though their work is not. “When we’re conducting these investigations, it’s not about politics,” Shapley said. “There’s just nothing political.”
As they shared with Megyn, they personally represent both sides of the political aisle. Shapley said was raised in a liberal household but is a registered Republican, while Ziegler explained that he is a gay man brought up in a conservative family. He generally considers himself to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative. And as he stated during the committee and on the show, he is a Democrat.
Shapley said there were “good questions from both sides” and “unfair questions from both sides,” but what he found most challenging was the format. “There were opportunities where I was asked a question and I just wasn’t allowed to finish,” he noted. “I’ve really never witnessed that before… [but] I guess it’s just business as usual there.”
While both whistleblowers were comfortable with the facts they presented, Ziegler expressed frustration that their testimony wasn’t taken more seriously by Democrats. “Being someone who has liberal beliefs… I was kind of disappointed that… [they] didn’t care about what we came there to say,” he said. “We’re just trying to do the right thing for the right reason.” As he explained, there were “some things that happened as a part of this investigation” that he and Shapley believe were improper, which is why they’re “bringing those facts forward.”
At the end of the day, he felt like there was a lack of interest. “The thing that struck me the most from yesterday is that it seemed like there were certain people that really didn’t care what we had to present to Congress,” Ziegler said. “And that’s disappointing.”
To that point, Megyn said some lawmakers seemed preoccupied with their own agendas. “You have [Rep. Brown] talking about racial disparities; you have Marjorie Taylor Greene showing X-rated photos of Hunter Biden from the laptop,” she lamented. “What you’re alleging is rather stunning, and it’s on the part of our most trusted federal law enforcement officers inside of the Department of Justice.”
Why This Testimony Matters
It can be easy to look at this tax probe as just another one of the many into the Biden family. “To the viewers who are at home who haven’t been paying attention to this, who are looking at you two guys and say, ‘I don’t like IRS agents… so what if Hunter Biden didn’t perfectly dot the I’s and cross the T’s on a couple of tax returns,’ why is this a national story,” Megyn asked.
Shapley said the reason is twofold. “I think what we’re doing is… the right thing,” he said. “And the mission of IRS [Criminal Investigation] is to instill confidence in the tax code.” That means you have to be able to trust that every investigation that comes across their desks is “being treated equally and fairly,” he added.
There should be no confusion, he said, as to why that is important. “Democrats said… ‘We’re confused why we’re here’ – well, Americans aren’t confused why we’re here because… there’s two IRS agents standing up and saying, ‘This person got preferential treatment’… if it was a business owner on the corner, [he or she] wouldn’t have gotten that special treatment and probably would have been in jail already,” he explained. “So, that’s what I say to America… We’re the big, bad IRS, and we’re here fighting for you because it needs to be a fair application of justice.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Shapley and Ziegler by tuning in to episode 591 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.