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FBI Director Christopher Wray said whistleblower allegations claiming FBI agents falsely labeled derogatory information on Hunter Biden as disinformation are “deeply troubling,” but Republicans are calling on him to further acknowledge broader “politicization” within the bureau.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, Wray was asked by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., about allegations “highly credible whistleblowers” at the Justice Department and FBI shared with Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office last week.
Grassley, R-Iowa, in a letter to Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland last week, detailed the allegations and indicated that the whistleblowers said there was “a scheme in place among certain FBI officials to undermine derogatory information connected to Hunter Biden by falsely suggesting it was disinformation.”
The whistleblowers also alleged a “pattern of active public partisanship” at the agencies pertaining to investigations into the Trump campaign and suppression of information on the Hunter Biden probe.
“When I read the letter that describes the kinds of things that you’re talking about, I found it deeply troubling,” Wray testified Thursday.
The whistleblowers alleged a “pattern of active public partisanship” by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Timothy Thibault and others.
Grassley warned Wray and Garland in his letter last week that Thibault’s “partisanship likely affected investigations briefed to, and approved by, senior Justice Department and FBI officials.”
According to Grassley, the whistleblowers say that DOJ and FBI employees must follow strict substantial factual predication in order to open an investigation and that Thibault did not follow these policies.
Wray, during the hearing, promised that those whistleblowers would be protected.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday, Wray was asked by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., about allegations that “highly credible whistleblowers” at the Justice Department and FBI shared with Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office last week. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Wray also removed Thibault from his supervisory role.
But Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., is calling for further action with regard to partisanship within the FBI.
“It’s about time Director Wray acknowledges that the politicization of the FBI is ‘deeply troubling,’” Johnson told Fox News on Friday. “Unfortunately, this has been obvious during his entire tenure as director, and he’s done nothing about it.”
Johnson was referring to politicization related to the FBI’s investigation into whether President Trump’s first campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
“I suppose better late than never,” Johnson said. “But I’m not holding my breath.”
Johnson last week demanded that the Justice Department open an internal investigation or appoint a special counsel following the new whistleblower allegations and further claimed that the FBI had been “weaponized” against sitting members of the Senate.
Both Johnson and Grassley recounted events between July 2020 and October 2020, during which the FBI, including Thibault, FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten and Democratic senators gave Republicans investigating the Hunter allegations the runaround on information, falsely alleging that the GOP was advancing “foreign disinformation” regarding President Biden’s son.
GOP senators allege an Aug. 6, 2020, meeting after whistleblower corroboration was explicitly intended to “undermine” their investigation into Hunter Biden.
“It’s about time Director Wray acknowledges that the politicization of the FBI is ‘deeply troubling,’” Sen. Ron Johnson told Fox News on Friday. “Unfortunately, this has been obvious during his entire tenure as director, and he’s done nothing about it.” (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
“If these recent whistleblower revelations are true, it would strongly suggest that the FBI’s August 6, 2020, briefing was indeed a targeted effort to intentionally undermine a Congressional investigation,” Johnson wrote in a letter to Biden administration officials last week.
“The FBI being weaponized against two sitting chairmen of U.S. Senate committees with constitutional oversight responsibilities would be one of the greatest episodes of Executive Branch corruption in American history.”
Johnson said that, for nearly two years, he has “sought to get information from the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) about the purpose of, and who ordered, this briefing.”
The Aug. 6, 2020, briefing, according to sources familiar with the meeting, was unsolicited. It was delivered by the FBI on behalf of the intelligence community and was “not specific” and “not connected” to Johnson and Grassley’s ongoing work.
Johnson and Grassley were working at the time on a joint investigation into Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings and his “extensive and complex financial transactions.”
At the time of the release of their investigation’s interim report in September 2020, Grassley and Johnson said their probe “faced many obstacles” from Democrats and executive agencies that “failed to comply with document requests.”
Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson’s report also revealed that they obtained records from the U.S. Treasury Department that “show potential criminal activity relating to transactions among and between Hunter Biden, his family, and his associates with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals.” (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
The 87-page report stated that Obama administration officials “knew” that Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Burisma was “problematic” and that it interfered “in the efficient execution of policy with respect to Ukraine.”
Hunter Biden joined Burisma in April 2014 and, at the time, reportedly connected the firm with consulting firm Blue Star Strategies to help the natural gas company fight corruption charges in Ukraine. During the time Hunter Biden was on the board of the company, Joe Biden was vice president and running U.S.-Ukraine relations and policy for the Obama administration.
Grassley and Johnson’s report also revealed that they obtained records from the U.S. Treasury Department that “show potential criminal activity relating to transactions among and between Hunter Biden, his family and his associates with Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese nationals.”
Grassley and Johnson said they received records that Hunter Biden “sent thousands of dollars” to individuals who have “either been involved in transactions consistent with possible human trafficking; an association with the adult entertainment industry; or potential association with prostitution.”
“Some recipients of those funds are Ukrainian or Russian citizens,” the report states, adding that “the records note that it is a documented fact that Hunter Biden has sent funds to nonresident alien women in the United States who are citizens of Russia and Ukraine and who have subsequently wired funds they have received from Hunter Biden to individuals located in Russia and Ukraine.
“The records also note that some of these transactions are linked to what ‘appears to be an Eastern European prostitution or human trafficking ring,’” the report stated.
Hunter Biden has been under federal investigation since 2018, a source familiar with the matter told Fox News. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Meanwhile, the report states that Senate investigators found millions of dollars in “questionable financial transactions” between Hunter Biden and his associates and foreign individuals, including the wife of the former mayor of Moscow as well as individuals with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
According to the report, an investment firm co-founded by Hunter Biden, Rosemont Seneca Thornton, “received $3.5 million in a wire transfer” from Elena Baturina, the wife of the former mayor of the Russian capital.
The report went even further and alleged that not just Hunter Biden but other members of the Biden family “were involved in a vast financial network that connected them to foreign nationals and foreign governments across the globe.”
Following the 2020 presidential election, Hunter Biden himself revealed he was under federal investigation for his “tax affairs.”
Hunter Biden has been under federal investigation since 2018, a source familiar with the matter told Fox News.
Fox News has learned that the investigation has now reached a “critical stage,” as officials are looking into whether to charge President Biden’s son with various tax violations, possible foreign lobbying violations and more.
Vice President Joe Biden and sons Hunter Biden, left, and Beau Biden walk in the Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 2009. (David McNew/Getty Images)
A separate source told Fox News that the federal grand jury looking into Hunter Biden’s business dealings wrapped up its latest term late last month but said no charges have been filed.
The investigation is being conducted by Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a prosecutor appointed by former President Donald Trump.
The source told Fox News on Wednesday that Weiss and Justice Department officials were looking into whether to charge Hunter Biden with various tax violations and, more seriously, possible foreign lobbying violations. The source said Hunter Biden could face possible false statements charges.
Fox News first reported in December 2020 that Hunter Biden was a subject/target of the grand jury investigation, according to a well-placed government source. According to the source, a “target” means that there is a “high probability that person committed a crime,” while a “subject” is someone you “don’t know for sure” has committed a crime.“
The federal investigation into Hunter Biden was predicated, in part, by suspicious activity reports (SARs) regarding suspicious foreign transactions.
Another source familiar with the investigation told Fox News in December 2020 that the SARs related to funds from “China and other foreign nations.”
A Treasury Department official, who did not comment on the investigation, spoke broadly about SARs, telling Fox News that SARs are filed by financial institutions “if there is something out of the ordinary about a particular transaction.”
The official told Fox News that the mere filing of a SAR does not mean there has been a criminal act or violation of regulations. Instead, it’s a flag that a transaction is “out of the ordinary” for the customer. The official noted, though, that an SAR could be part of a money laundering or tax investigation.
“I take this matter very seriously, but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisers,” Hunter Biden said in December 2020.
Brooke Singman is a Fox News Digital politics reporter. You can reach her at Brooke.Singman@Fox.com or @BrookeSingman on Twitter.