by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Last week, an IRS whistleblower alleging the Justice Department interfered with the Hunter Biden criminal probe was removed, along with his entire team, from participating in the ongoing investigation. The removal has raised questions about whether the Justice Department is engaged in political retaliation against the whistleblowers, in violation of whistleblower protection laws.
Now the IRS whistleblower’s attorney and the whistleblower advocacy group Empower Oversight have sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel providing further evidence of intimidation against the whistleblower’s team.
On May 18, a second IRS whistleblower sent an email to IRS leadership, including Werfel, expressing concern that he was being removed from the Hunter Biden criminal investigation after nearly five years of work on the case without an explanation. In response to the whistleblower’s letter, IRS officials responded by alleging that the whistleblower was committing a potential crime merely by asking IRS leadership why he was removed from the investigation. According to the letter:
“In response to making his good faith expression of reasonable concerns—concerns shared by our client—the case agent had a right to expect that his email would be taken seriously, considered, and addressed professionally without retribution, as the law requires.
“Instead, the IRS responded with accusations of criminal conduct and warnings to other agents in an apparent attempt to intimidate into silence anyone who might raise similar concerns.” …
… The letter goes on to notify Werfel that, as IRS commissioner, he is responsible for making sure that whistleblowers are not retaliated against. In addition to being legally required to stop employees from threatening or otherwise attempting to silence whistleblowers from speaking to members of Congress about corruption, the letter specifically notes that the law is clear that agencies may not require that whistleblowers “seek approval from [their] direct report” before speaking out.