An attorney for IRS investigator-turned-whistleblower Gary Shapley spoke out Thursday following reports a Justice Department official reached out for information about his client's allegations about Hunter Biden, before abruptly becoming disinterested.
Tristan Leavitt, one of Shapley's lawyers, told "The Story" on Thursday the account of events is more nuanced than initial reports. He said Shapley was automatically shielded by whistleblower protections by matter of statute, but that he and co-counsel Mark Lytle were trying to have their client authorized to disclose sensitive taxpayer information about the subject of his complaint, Hunter Biden.
According to a report from Fox News correspondent David Spunt, Shapley was originally encouraged in April by Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer, who reportedly said he would indeed be protected as a whistleblower.
Lytle, Shapley's other attorney, told Spunt that the day following his discussion with Weinsheimer, Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss met with Weinsheimer and then-Hunter Biden attorney Christopher Clark in Washington.
In the time following that get-together, the promises of whistleblower protection "suddenly disappeared," the reporter said.
On "The Story," Leavitt said he sent Congress a letter around that time requesting the aforementioned taxpayer data authorization, and that Weinsheimer's contact with Lytle soon followed.
"He offered that the Justice Department wanted to hear all about the allegations," Leavitt said, adding that what happened next contradicted Garland's own public comments about Weiss' prosecutorial independence.
"We tried to take that in good faith. That sounded a little bit like an intel-gathering pursuit prior to [Shapley] testifying before Congress. But what we didn't know at the time was that Weinsheimer had already scheduled a meeting the very next day with Hunter Biden's attorneys and U.S. attorney David Weiss, which is completely contrary to what Attorney General Merrick Garland had told Congress and the American public just seven weeks earlier."
While he and Lytle corresponded with Congress, Garland again claimed Weiss had ultimate authority to prosecute Biden from his perch in Wilmington.
Later, revelations instead allegedly showed Weiss had been stymied from bringing charges in Los Angeles and Washington by their respective U.S. attorney offices.
Garland has since appointed Weiss to special counsel status, raising questions about the prosecutor's ultimate autonomy. Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett previously argued Garland's move further confounds federal regulations that require a special counsel be someone currently outside of government.
Leavitt later added that after Garland's comments about Weiss' independence, Shapley and his IRS team were removed from the case by May 15.
After flagging that situation to Congress and Weinsheimer's office, Leavitt claimed the Justice Department official showed "zero interest in pursuing this and helping further."
"He just said, ‘you have to talk to David Weiss’," he recalled, adding the Justice Department further declined to set up a meeting with Weiss as they reportedly did for Clark.
"So it was a complete turnaround. And this really raises a lot of questions about the involvement of 'Main-Justice' in this case."
While most of Hunter Biden's case was dismissed in Delaware and fell under special counsel investigation, Leavitt commented on the one piece that remains in Wilmington court – the alleged federal gun law violation stemming from a firearm registered to the first son discarded in a trash receptacle near A.I. duPont High School in Greenville.
"[T]hat gun charge has remained there in Delaware. And it's clear that Judge [Maryellen] Noreika is not tolerating any lounging about here," he said.
"It's clear she expects them to determine what they're going to do… This will help to show whether David Weiss is serious about these charges and about his assignment as special counsel or not."
Noreika rejected Hunter Biden's plea deal in July. On Thursday, the Trump appointee ordered attorneys in the case to file a status report on the matter by September 6.
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Fox News' David Spunt and the Associated Press contributed to this report.