Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, claims a whistleblower has alleged that the FBI has information from a confidential informant — so far unsubstantiated — that President Biden received a bribe from a foreign national before taking office.

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has touted what he calls whistleblowers, too — people who have alleged wrongdoing and politicization within the ranks of the FBI.

Lawmakers have also interviewed a veteran IRS agent who sent a letter to Congress in April seeking whistleblower protection to testify about what he asserts is political interference in the Justice Department investigation into Hunter Biden’s tax returns.

Republicans have pinned the success of congressional investigations — which they hope will paint President Biden and his family as corrupt and the federal government as a political tool of the administration — on the allegations of these “whistleblowers.”

But Democrats, and some lawyers, argue that some of these people appear simply to be disgruntled employees with unsubstantiated claims, and have questioned whether they should be protected by whistleblower status under the law. Calling them “whistleblowers” has allowed Republicans to share only sparse details about their information, on grounds that the individuals need protection, and that has made their claims hard to vet, said committee staffers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.

Here’s what you need to know about the people the GOP is presenting as whistleblowers about alleged wrongdoing by Biden and the FBI.

Most federal employees are covered by the Whistleblower Protection Act, which shields them from professional retaliation if they report wrongdoing or abuse, provided they report their information through proper channels, including by speaking with Congress.

Employees in the intelligence community and the FBI, however, are covered by different laws, which extend protections if they report wrongdoing to specified managers and offices.

The protections offered under the statutes are designed to deter complainants from airing disclosures in the media. But if a complainant makes a disclosure to an official or entity designated under the law and can show that there are grounds to believe there was a violation of laws, rules or regulations, that person is entitled to whistleblower protections.

Even if a whistleblower’s complaint is ultimately dismissed as invalid by the agency, the whistleblower is allowed to follow up with a congressional oversight committee, provided that the person follows rules that govern release of classified information.

Essentially, if a whistleblower follows the rules, that person is protected by law from professional retaliation — regardless of the merits of the case.

“The test is how they made the disclosure in what affords them whistleblower status,” said Mark Zaid, a prominent lawyer who represents whistleblowers and intelligence and military officers. At the same time, a whistleblower does not “get an invulnerability shield to protect you from every action — particularly if the action is independent from the protected disclosures,” Zaid added.

Gary Shapley, a 14-year veteran of the IRS, sent Congress a letter in April seeking whistleblower protection to testify about what he asserts is political interference and improper handling of the ongoing Justice Department investigation involving Hunter Biden’s tax returns.

The letter also stated that Shapley, who oversees a team of a dozen agents investigating international tax and financial crime, had already reported to the IRS his concerns, including a “failure to mitigate clear conflicts of interest in the ultimate disposition of the case.”

He has not publicly provided details of his claim.

The Washington Post reported last year that federal agents had gathered what they believe was sufficient evidence to charge the president’s son Hunter with tax offenses and a false statement related to a gun purchase. According to court papers filed June 20, Hunter Biden has reached a tentative agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to two minor tax crimes and admit to the facts of a gun charge under terms that would likely keep him out of jail.

Shapley told CBS News on May 24 that although he is a registered Republican, he is not politically active, nor has he made any political donations. He also said he has not accepted any financial support to come forward.

The attorneys representing Shapley — Tristan Leavitt and Mark Lytle — notified Congress by letter that Shapley and “his entire investigative team are being removed” from the matter “at the request of the Department of Justice.” Shapley was initially represented by Zaid.

Shapley appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee on May 26 for a closed-door interview. Committee lawmakers can vote to make the information public and release a transcript of Shapley’s interview.

A letter sent by Shapley’s lawyers to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel revealed that an agent who works for Shapley has also complained about the handling of the case. The letter included an excerpt of an email sent by the unnamed agent complaining that the Justice Department has acted ‘inappropriately… for some time” with regard to the matter.

An IRS spokesperson said in a statement that while under federal law, the agency can’t comment on specific taxpayer matters, the IRS is “deeply committed to protecting the rights of whistleblowers.”

The spokesperson added that Werfel referred the matter to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Upon review of the findings and recommendations of any independent authority that completes an investigation of a whistleblower claim, we will take all necessary measures to ensure that whistleblower rights are fully protected,” the spokesperson said.

Comer and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) have said an unnamed individual has alleged that the FBI has possession of an unclassified internal document submitted by a confidential informant containing unsubstantiated allegations about President Biden and his family.

After Comer threatened to ask Congress to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt, the FBI allowed Comer and Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (Md.), the Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, to review the document in a secure location in the Capitol. It was later shared more widely with committee lawmakers.

The FBI previously told Comer that long-standing Justice Department policy limits how confidential human source information can be provided outside the FBI, because it could compromise the source or dissuade others from bringing sensitive information to law enforcement agencies. In a statement, the bureau cautioned: “Documenting the information does not validate it, establish its credibility, or weigh it against other information verified by the FBI.”

The Post has reported that the FBI and Justice Department under Trump Attorney General William P. Barr reviewed the allegations and determined there were no grounds for further investigative steps.

Comer has said that the unverified tip is dated June 30, 2020, and that it alleges a foreign national paid Joe Biden a bribe in exchange for a desired policy outcome.

The allegation in the document came to the FBI through the Pittsburgh field office, where Barr had created a channel for allegations involving Ukraine, according to people familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail sensitive information. Such Ukraine allegations included materials Rudy Giuliani — then-President Donald Trump’s personal attorney — had gathered from Ukrainian sources claiming to have damaging information about Biden and his family.

Grassley himself has said on Fox News that he has read the document and acknowledged that he is not certain if its allegations are accurate.

“We aren’t interested in whether or not the accusations of Biden are accurate or not — we are responsible for making sure the FBI does its job and that’s what we want to know,” Grassley said in a Fox News interview.

In a May 14 interview with the Fox Business Network, Comer claimed that the informant who provided the information recorded in the document is now missing.

“Unfortunately, we can’t track down the informant,” Comer told host Maria Bartiromo. “We’re hopeful that the informant is still there.”

Asked to provide additional details about the informant, he declined to comment.

In his role as the chairman of the House select subcommittee on the “weaponization” of the federal government, Jordan has showcased testimony from a number of FBI agents who have aired complaints against the bureau.

The FBI has said some of the agents have been disciplined for misconduct, which experts said could undercut their ability to be considered whistleblowers under the law.

“These are people who engaged in serious misconduct — they were not just disciplined because they disagreed with the worldview of the FBI,” said Avi Kumin, a lawyer who specializes in assisting government whistleblowers. “So there are a few problems with that in terms of labeling these people as whistleblowers; just saying that you had a difference of opinion is not the same as alleging a violation of the various disclosures that the law for FBI whistleblowers protect.”

Stephen Friend resigned as an FBI special agent after being placed on leave. During testimony to the committee on May 18, he claimed that the FBI deviated from standard practices while investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol in order to promote a narrative that violent extremism is on the rise. He also said that after raising these concerns with the appropriate personnel, he was retaliated against by having his security clearance suspended. In a statement, Friend said his clearance was revoked the day before he was scheduled to testify, which he termed “highly suspicious.”

In a letter sent to Jordan, the FBI said Friend’s security clearance was revoked because of allegations of multiple violations of FBI rules and guidelines.

Friend met with the Justice Department’s inspector general to provide more information on May 19.

Friend has received financial support from allies of Trump. He told lawmakers that in December, while on unpaid leave from the FBI, he accepted $5,000 from a nonprofit run by Trump ally and former Defense Department official Kash Patel. Friend, now a senior fellow at the Center for Renewing America, also testified that Jordan’s office suggested he reach out to Jason Foster, founder of Empower Oversight and former chief investigative counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee under Grassley, and that his legal fees are now being partly covered by Foster’s group.

Marcus Allen, a staff operations specialist at the FBI who was suspended without pay, is also being represented by Leavitt. During a congressional hearing this month, Allen claimed that the bureau retaliated against him by suspending his security clearance because he complained about “the official narrative of the events of Jan. 6.”

In a written complaint to the Justice Department inspector general, he questioned the veracity of congressional testimony last year from Director Wray, who had declined at the time to acknowledge whether the government had assets who had infiltrated extremist groups. Some Trump allies have claimed that the Jan. 6 attack was set up by government agents, a baseless allegation refuted by evidence in dozens of criminal cases connected to the assault.

“There is a significant counter-story to the events of 6 January 2021 at the US Capitol,” Allen wrote in an email to his superiors after Wray’s testimony. “There is a good possibility the DC elements of our organization are not being forthright about the events of the day or the influence of government assets.”

The FBI wrote that Allen “espoused alternative theories” about the Jan. 6 attack “in apparent attempts to hinder investigative activity.” The letter cited an FBI guideline that says agents can be suspended if “there is any reason to suspect an individual’s allegiance to the United States.”

Allen is seeking to reverse his suspension, and Leavitt told The Post he believes the inspector general is likely to side with him.

Garret O’Boyle, another suspended special agent, was the final FBI witness to testify before Congress in this month’s hearing. He alleged that the FBI tried to force him to perform duties outside normal law enforcement activity and that he was retaliated against when he made disclosures to his chain of command and then to Congress.

The details of O’Boyle’s claims are unclear, as he has declined to share the information widely. Democrats, in an extensive report issued in March that challenged the credibility of the FBI agents, said it appeared that O’Boyle was “asked to consider taking a particular investigative step with respect to a January 6 matter; that he declined to do so; and that he suffered no professional repercussions for exercising his judgment.”

In a June 8 letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), members of the House Judiciary Committee, referred O’Boyle to the Justice Department over allegations that he lied to the committee about why his security clearance was suspended by the FBI.

During a closed-door interview with lawmakers, Jennifer Moore, the FBI’s executive assistant director for human resources, said the FBI had found O’Boyle responsible for removing sensitive information from an FBI computer and subsequently leaking it to Project Veritas, the right-wing nonprofit known for conducting undercover sting operations. During his committee interview, however, O’Boyle denied leaking information to the media before his suspension, potentially committing perjury, according to Nadler and Plaskett.

An FBI investigation into O’Boyle’s security clearance is still active, O’Boyle testified at the hearing. Erica Knight, a spokesperson for O’Boyle, said in a statement that the FBI had failed to demonstrate “any meaningful transparency or accountability” toward O’Boyle.

“There are no signs that the bureau will be taking the needed steps to restore trust in the American people, which is what prompted Garret to exercise his whistleblower rights in the first place,” Knight added.

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