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IRS chief responds to allegations of whistleblower retaliation: 'IRS follows the direction of the Justice Department'

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel admitted last week that if an IRS whistleblower had their "work assignment" changed, it came at the direction of the Justice Department.

There are at least two IRS whistleblowers, one being a criminal supervisory special agent, that claim the Justice Department has interfered in a high-profile criminal investigation. While the attorneys representing the supervisory agent have been careful not to name the subject of that investigation, it is believed to be the Hunter Biden probe.

What did Werfel say?

Responding to allegations of internal retaliation against IRS whistleblowers, Werfel sent the House Ways and Means Committee a letter on May 17 denying those accusations, Fox News reported.

But he also suggested the Justice Department is responsible for actions taken against the whistleblower who came forward last month.

"I want to state unequivocally that I have not intervened — and will not intervene — in any way that would impact the status of any whistleblower," Werfel wrote, according to Fox News.

"The IRS whistleblower you reference alleges that the change in their work assignment came at the direction of the Department of Justice," he explained. "As a general matter and not in reference to any specific case, I believe it is important to emphasize that in any matter involving federal judicial proceedings, the IRS follows the direction of the Justice Department."

The admission corroborates what lawyers for the supervisory agent disclosed last week.

Attorneys Mark Lytle and Tristan Leavitt told Congress the entire investigative team handling the Hunter Biden probe was removed from the case.

Today the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Supervisory Special Agent we represent was informed that he and his entire investigative team are being removed from the ongoing and sensitive investigation of the high-profile, controversial subject about which our client sought to make whistleblower disclosures to Congress. He was informed the change was at the request of the Department of Justice.

The lawyers characterized the development as "clearly retaliatory."

The supervisory IRS agent is set to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday.

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