April 15, 2024

An attorney for Hunter Biden says purported screenshots of a text message from Hunter Biden to a potential Chinese business partner where he refers to Joe Biden — a message that has been the subject of intense scrutiny following statements made by an IRS whistleblower — are “not real and contain myriad of issues.”

Abbe Lowell, who is one of Hunter Biden’s attorneys, made the statement in a letter to Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has interviewed the whistleblowers. The letter was obtained by NBC News.

IRS Supervisory Special Agent Gary Shapley told the committee under oath that, as an investigator for the IRS, he obtained messages Hunter Biden sent on the WhatsApp platform, including one in 2017 that he read demanding payment from a Chinese businessman named Henry Zhao.

In the message, Shapley said, Biden appeared to suggest that he was sitting with his father, then the former vice president, saying, “I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction.”

Attorneys for Shapley said in a statement, “Biden family lawyers have resorted to intimidation before — reportedly threatening federal prosecutors with “career suicide” if they charged Hunter Biden — so this attempt to intimidate our client and the oversight authorities scrutinizing the politicization of that case is no surprise.”

Lowell wrote that the screenshots of the message as tweeted by Smith, “both include a photo of Mr. Biden not from 2017 but from the White House Easter Egg roll in April 2022 (long after the purported message was sent); both images depict the message in a blue bubble, when WhatsApp messages are in green; one super-imposed image of the Chinese flag for the contact ID, when surely that was not how a text or contact was kept; and one purports to be a screenshot with the ‘. . .’ of someone composing a text (as in Apple’s iMessage) when that does not happen on WhatsApp.”

He wrote, “In short, the images you circulate online are complete fakes.”

Lowell’s letter takes issue with what he says is “self-styled IRS ‘whistleblower'” who he says is “claiming that title in an attempt to evade their own misconduct” and to “feed the misinformation campaign to harm our client, Hunter Biden, as a vehicle to attack his father.”

Lowell added, “These interviews were orchestrated recitations of mischaracterized and incomplete ‘facts’ by disgruntled agents who believed they knew better than the federal prosecutors who had all the evidence as they conducted their five-year investigation of Mr. Bidens.”

The letter from Hunter Biden’s counsel comes after last week’s release of transcripts by the House Ways and Means Committee. As NBC News reported, Shapley told the committee that US Attorney David Weiss sought authority to charge Hunter Biden in two federal districts with charges broader than the tax-related misdemeanors that the president’s son agreed to plead guilty to last week, according to a 212- page transcript of Shapley’s interview.

Shapley said Attorney General Merrick Garland was not telling Congress the truth when he asserted in earlier testimony that Weiss, who is based in Delaware, had the authority to charge in other jurisdictions, including California and Washington, DC Shapley said bringing charges in those districts is not something the US attorneys there, who were appointed by President Joe Biden, would do.

The Justice Department denied Shapley’s assertions.

Lowell concluded his letter with, “Chairman Smith, it is easy when a committee does not operate with fairness and thoroughness and an adherence to rules and procedures to forward a false political narrative.”

Hunter Biden is expected to plead guilty in late July to two misdemeanors or tax crimes as the result of a yearlong federal criminal investigation. He denies any wrongdoing associated with any of his foreign business dealings.

The IRS has previously denied comments on the allegations raised by Shapley.

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