Buried Alive: the Hunter Biden Distraction

The Bigger Story Behind the Hunter Prosecutions, and Serious Alleged Crimes That Were Disappeared

The following was first published on Sharyl Attkisson’s Substack.

Much attention is focused on the first criminal trial and conviction of the son of a sitting US president. But a larger story is getting lost—perhaps by design.

It’s a damning account provided by credible federal whistleblowers. They say an alleged foreign bribery trail leading from Hunter Biden to his father was covered up, allowed to grow cold, then forever buried.

The alleged coverup was said to have begun under the Justice Department and IRS of President Donald Trump as corrupt forces inside federal agencies plotted against his reelection. Former intelligence officers and Biden campaign officials assisted in the plan, sources claim, along with many in media—apparently for fear that the truth could derail Biden’s presidential run.

The scheme continued once President Biden was elected, the whistleblowers say, and was clinched in a way that the most serious allegations could never be fully investigated, prosecuted, or tied to Joe Biden and his associates.

The scandal involves Hunter’s infamous laptop computer, the plot to conceal and mislead the public about its authenticity, and controversial business dealings with foreign countries—including Ukraine and some of America’s leading adversaries.

Hunter’s recent convictions for gun-related crimes, and his pending tax-related charges are small potatoes compared to what might have been lodged if forces inside the government hadn’t run interference for the Bidens.

The IRS whistleblowers who started the investigation and unearthed crucial evidence have been pressured and smeared. Nobody has been held accountable for mistreating them, or for ensuring a solid dead end to what could have proven to be one of the most remarkable criminal cases of our time.

Read on for details.

Above: Joe Ziegler (left) and Gary Shapley, IRS investigators

The incredible story told by two federal whistleblowers starts in 2018. That’s when Joe Ziegler, a criminal investigator at the IRS, says he came across tax-related documents that prompted him to look into Hunter Biden’s financial dealings.

I asked Ziegler if he expected pushback to the idea of launching a case. After all, Hunter’s dad was a one-time US senator, former Vice President, and soon-to-be presidential candidate.

“I talked to other agents within my group, and they’re like, ‘big cases—big problems’,” Ziegler says, indicating that his colleagues discouraged him from touching political dynamite. “I told them, ‘We’ve got to treat everyone the same. Just because their last name is Biden…doesn’t mean that we should change the process of how we work that case’.”

Ziegler describes himeself as a Democrat gay man who is socially liberal and fiscally conservative. He adds, “That is where my principles lie. And at the end of the day, it wasn’t about my political beliefs; it was about doing the right thing, holding people accountable if they committed crimes, and doing the investigation like we would normally do.”

He couldn’t have imagined where his commitment to “treating everyone the same” and “doing like we would normally do” would lead.


The Beginning

I asked Ziegler exactly what Hunter Biden supposedly did wrong. He says it was providing foreign countries, including Romania, Ukraine, and China, with “access” to people in the Obama administration as Joe Biden was vice president “in exchange for a significant amount of money.” If true, that could amount to an international bribery and corruption scandal. And depending on how any payments were handled, it could encompass money laundering, in addition to other tax crimes.

“We not only investigate tax crimes; we investigate financial crimes, wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, international money laundering,” Ziegler told me.

The reason the IRS first got involved, Ziegler says, is that “money that was earned, there were tax returns that weren’t filed, and that there were taxes not paid on that income.” But the evidence, he says, was pointing to a deeper and more serious conspiracy.

Documents and testimony allege that then-Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter, and others in the Biden circle made tens of millions of dollars selling access and influence through shady business deals in Kazakhstan, Russia, China, and two countries where Joe Biden personally took charge over US relations: Romania and Ukraine.

The conflict of interest appeared to be overwhelming.

As vice president, Joe Biden paid special attention to Ukraine while his son raked in millions from a Ukrainian energy company under investigation for corruption: Burisma. Joe made six diplomatic visits to the notoriously corrupt nation during his term in the Obama administration. The US is seen as highly influential on the world business stage. Emails later revealed that Burisma officials viewed hiring Hunter, who had no experience or expertise in the field, as a way to parlay his connections, tamp down the corruption investigation, and pave the way for Burisma’s expansion in other countries.

If that was the goal: it worked.

Ties to Joe Biden

Ziegler says that early in the investigation into Hunter’s incomed and unpaid taxes, he began unearthing evidence that gave him strong reason to look into Joe Biden.

“There’s all sorts of things that we have in our tool belt to investigate cases. So, in this case, we had leads,” he told me.

I queried Zeigler about the popular narrative on the matter. “The press and many people, actually in both political parties, say things such as, ‘There’s no evidence tying Joe Biden to Hunter Biden’s businesses or any improper activities.’ When you hear that, what do you think?” I asked.

“I think it’s blatantly false,” Zeigler replied. “I would wholeheartedly disagree with it.”

Confidentiality rules bar him and others with access from discussing all the evidence they’ve seen. But some now-public material helps explain why they say they needed to dig into Joe Biden’s role. It’s something they say the Department of Justice told them they couldn’t do.

Emails show that in April 2014, Burisma hired Hunter, in the reported words of one Burisma executive, to “protect us, through his dad, from all kinds of problems.”

In May 2014, the month after Hunter was hired, Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi asked Hunter for “advice on how you could use your influence.”

In April 2015, Burisma’s Pozharskyi emailed, “Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together.”

Regarding that last email, Ziegler observes, “Vadym says, ‘Thank you for allowing me to meet with your father and spend some time with him.’ Okay, so there’s black and white. So the question I’d have as an investigator to Joe Biden: ‘What did you guys talk about? What were the discussions in that meeting? You’re in charge of Ukraine policy; why are you meeting with someone that’s involved in your son—your son’s a part of this board of directors—why are you meeting with him?’”

He was never permitted to pursue those questions.

Months after the arranged meeting between Burisma’s Pozharskyi and Vice President Biden in 2015, Biden seemingly gave Burisma exactly what it paid Hunter for. He demanded that Ukraine’s president fire the prosecutor targeting Burisma, and threatened to hold back $1 billion in US aid if the demand wasn’t quickly met.

Joe Biden later recounted the story about his December 2015 trip to Ukraine in remarkably candid detail before a Washington DC audience. By the time he gave his public account, a little more than two years had passed, and Biden was no longer vice president.

“I looked at [Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko] and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the [promised US taxpayer] money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired,” Joe Biden said during a videotaped appearance in January of 2018, prompting audience chuckles.

With Biden’s demands met, and prosecutor Viktor Shokin fired, Ukraine got the US tax money—and promises of much more.

“Today I’m announcing another $190 million — almost $190 million in new assistance to support Ukraine’s progress,” Vice President Biden announced on that December 7, 2015 visit. “It bring us to almost $760 million in direct support from the United States to Ukraine since the change in government in 2014, including more than $260 million in security assistance.”

At the time, Biden omitted his behind the scenes threat to force out the prosecutor targeting the company that paid Hunter to get that precise result.

Biden and his supporters would later insist the demand to remove the prosecutor was because he, Shokin, was corrupt. However, ethics norms would typically require Biden to keep a wide berth from weighing in on matters that could directly benefit his son, other family members, or their business partners. At a minimum, experts say the obvious conflict of interest should have been disclosed.

Better yet, Joe Biden’s son and family shouldn’t have been profiting from deals in countries where the Vice President had direct influence.


Hunter’s Laptop

Meantime, months into the IRS investigation of Hunter Biden, a trove of evidence emerged in the form of a computer.

The laptop belonged to the very troubled and admittedly crack-addicted Hunter. He’d abandoned it at a repair shop in 2019 two weeks before his dad announced his run for president. But Trump’s enemies and Biden’s supporters inside government actively conspired to conceal its authenticity from the public.

At first, the FBI seemed disinterested in obtaining and examining the rumored laptop, according to Ziegler, but he thought it could contain valuable evidence relevant to the IRS probe. At the IRS’s urging, the FBI finally took possession of it, but sat on it quietly as its validity was publicly debated.

A month before the 2020 election, the New York Post pubished a major story about the laptop computer and its salacious contents. Twitter and other social media censored the story, and more than 51 ex-intelligence officials signed a letter implying the news was nothing more than Russian disinformation. Signers included infamous Trump nemesis and ex-CIA Director John Brennan. Another signer was former CIA director Mike Morell. He later testified the letter was organized by none other than Antony Blinken, Joe Biden’s foreign policy advisor for the 2020 campaign, who went on to become secretary of state.

Two weeks after the letter was published, with the laptop story effectively censored and debunked, even though it was true, Biden managed a come-from-behind victory over President Trump.

Storage Unit

Ziegler and his supervisor in the IRS International Tax and Financial Crimes Group, Gary Shapley, moved forward with their probe and took steps to gather evidence at a storage unit belonging to Hunter. However, they say the Justice Department stopped them from executing a search warrant. Not only that, they say they learned that Justice Department officials and went behind their back and tipped off Hunter’s attorneys.

“If someone had committed a crime, they would probably go clean out that unit if they thought you were looking at it?” I asked Ziegler.

“Yes,” he agreed. “That would be what, as an investigator, what I would expect someone to potentially do.”

The IRS investigators say they quietly continued navigating roadblocks and pursuing the investigation as best they could. By early 2022, they’d built a case for multiple criminal charges against Hunter, with the possibility of bigger charges and more people getting caught in the dragnet. By now, his father was president.

“We ended up recommending the felony and misdemeanor tax charges in February of 2022,” says Ziegler. “It now goes from IRS to [Department of Justice] as a recommended prosecution.”

But then they say they faced further obstruction. The Department of Justice would only allow charges to be filed if federal prosecutors located in Washington DC and California, where the alleged crimes occurred, first agreed to go along. That was a very unusual bar to be set, said Ziegler.

“I came to find out that the DC US attorney’s office not only said no to helping us in bringing the charges, but they had also said that ‘We don’t think you have a case to bring it here in DC.’ California had also said no to bringing charges in their district. So now we have DC saying no, California saying no.”

Ziegler and Shapley exercised their right to blow the whistle on the alleged obstruction to members of Congress. Their IRS bosses yanked them both from the Biden case on May 15, 2023.

“Who told you guys you were off the case?” I asked.

“The special agent in charge of the Washington, DC, field office told us,” said Shapley, Ziegler’s supervisor.

“I wrote a heartfelt email up to the commissioner of the IRS, through my leadership chain,” Ziegler added. “I’m like, ‘We need to meet to talk about this — is a huge risk for the IRS.’ And it was met with one of my leaders in my field office saying that I may have broken the law, and that I should cease and desist from sending any communication outside the management chain. That’s when I knew I had to come forward because they were essentially trying to silence me. They didn’t care what happened in this case. They just were trying to silence me.”

Ziegler and Shapley eventually testified in public.

“There should not be a two-track justice system depending on who you are and who you’re connected to. Yet, in this case, there was,” Shapley told a Congressional hearing in July 2023.

After the IRS pulled the duo from the case, they learned that President Biden’s Justice Department secretly negotiated a shocking plea deal giving Hunter broad immunity for alleged crimes dating back to 2014—with the promise of no jail time.

The story might have ended there but for a federal judge. She rejected Hunter’s controversial plea deal in July of 2023, commenting, “I have concerns about the agreement.”

Under pressure, prosecutors were forced to take a fresh look, and ended up charging Hunter with a dozen felony gun and tax crimes. The tax crimes were the very ones the Justice Department rejected when Ziegler and Shapley had recommended them.

Buried Forever?

Hunter Biden was recently convicted of gun-related charges. But Ziegler and Shapley say a crucial and more important facet of the case is likely lost forever. The Justice Department let the legal time limit to file charges expire on serious potential felonies. The crimes were allegedly committed during the time when Hunter was collecting millions from the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, and his dad got the prosecutor targeting Burisma—fired.

Letting the statute of limitations expire on those particular allegations effectively meant any taxes Hunter taxes owed wouldn’t be collected, and any leads to other suspects or crimes from that period are lost. More importantly, it ensured an end to any investigation into the alleged foreign bribery trail reportedly leading to Joe Biden and others.

“That would’ve brought up a bunch of ancillary evidence that would’ve likely proven either President Joe Biden’s involvement or other potential crimes,” Shapley told me.

“Is that off the table now?” I asked.

“2014 and ’15 statute of limitations have expired,” he replied flatly.

After Hunter’s recent conviction on gun charges, the Trump campaign released a statement that read, “This trial has been nothing more than a distraction from the real crimes of the Biden Crime Family, which has raked in tens of millions of dollars from China, Russia and Ukraine.”

The FBI’s Hidden Evidence

The whistleblowers say there’s one final outrage. At the very time the Justice Department was blocking their queries into the Bidens, the FBI had evidence corroborating their leads—even alleging bribery against Joe Biden—but the agency kept it secret.

The evidence was an FBI record of interviews with a trusted source. In 2023, a whistleblower brought the record’s existence to the attention of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Grassley demanded the document from the FBI, but FBI Director Christopher Wray withheld it until Grassley forced its release with a subpoena.

In the document, a Ukrainian-American source whom the FBI trusted at the time provided damning details of meetings he said he’d had with Burisma executives in 2015 and 2016. The FBI document indicates Burisma’s founder reportedly claimed he’d been “coerced” to pay the Bidens millions, and had documents showing the payments. He also claimed to have text messages and 17 recordings of the Bidens, including Joe; and said that it would take investigators “10 years” to find proof of the illicit payments to the “Big Guy,” understood to mean Joe Biden.

When the FBI first got that information, it was mid-2020, at the height of Joe Biden’s presidential run against Trump. The bribery allegations stood to shake his campaign, but they were kept hidden from the public and the IRS investigators working the case.

In 2024, as the Congressional investigations into the Biden dealings heated up on Capitol Hill, prosecutors took the step of turning on the FBI’s once-trusted informant: Alexander Smirnov. He was the source who’d reported those bribery allegations against the Bidens.

Despite the FBI describing Smirnov as an informant who’d proven reliable in the past, the Department of Justice now said that he was not to be believed on the Biden allegations and charged him, four year after the fact, with making a false statement and creating a false and fictitious record.

Ziegler and Shapley says that’s not the only germane evidence that other agents in the government withheld from them. It turns out Hunter’s laptop contained material that would have validated their investigation into the Bidens and provided further leads. But they say the FBI kept it hidden. They only later learned about the evidenced from news media reports, they say, and with the Department of Justice letting the statute of limitations expire on the crucial time period, it’s now worthless.


Joe and Hunter Biden declined my interview requests on the subject. In June 2023, President Biden was asked about the bribery accusations documented in the FBI report.

“Where’s the money?” Biden asked, quickly following with: “I’m joking. It’s a bunch of malarkey.”

Biden has long denied any involvement in his son’s work. In September of 2019, he stated, “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”

Ethics experts say there’s a serious conflict of interest whether Joe Biden was involved with the business dealings or was truly ignorant of them; a world political leader who doesn’t know his son and associates are making millions from foreign adversaries impacted by the leader’s decisions is an equally problematic scenario.

Hunter’s lawyer has said “if Hunter’s last name was anything other than Biden, the charges would not have been brought.” He also says that, in finally charging Hunter, the Department of Justice prosecutor “bowed to Republican pressure” and “piled on nine new charges when he had agreed just months ago to resolve this matter with a pair of misdemeanors.”

Familiar Notes

A source involved in the investigations says the scheme to protect Hunter and Joe Biden resembles efforts to protect Hillary Clinton from scandal and criminal charges when she ran for president in 2016.

The controversial Clinton Foundation had reportedly fallen under investigation by three FBI offices. But the probe was kept strictly secret and never amounted to anything.

In addition, an FBI investigation in 2016 as Hillary ran for president found her guilty of serious mishandling of classified materials as President Obama’s Secretary of State. Then-FBI Director James Comey stated that, “110 [of Hillary Clinton’s known] e-mails in 52 e-mail chains…contain[ed] classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information.”

Clinton had falsely insisted there was no classified information in her emails.

Yet Clinton was never charged.

Comey stated that while the actions of Clinton and her staff were “extremely careless,” the officials meant no harm.

The same generous interpretation was later extended to Comey himself after an Inspector General (IG) recommended Comey’s prosecution—but the Department of Justice declined. The IG found that Comey had leaked sensitive FBI information to use against then-President Trump. It was published by the New York Times. The IG also said that, as FBI Director, Comey kept official FBI memos against Trump in a personal safe at home, and then violated policies by retaining them when he left the agency. One of the memos contained information classified “CONFIDENTIAL.” The IG said that Comey also committed violations by providing the memos to his private attorneys without FBI authorization.

But Justice Department let Comey off the hook, reportedly because Comey didn’t mean any harm and didn’t know he violated the law.

A similar courtesy was extended to former Vice President Mike Pence when he was found to have classified documents after leavig office. And it was also given to President Biden after several traunches of classified materials, dating back decades to his time as US senator as well as vice president, were uncovered in his possession.

In February, a special counsel assigned to examine Biden’s mishandling of the classified documents concluded that Biden shouldn’t be charged for the alleged crimes because a jury would find him to be “a well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory…It’d be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him—by then a former president well into his eighties—of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.”

Trump would not be given the same treatment for arguably less serious alleged infractions. His Florida home was raided by the FBI, and he was charged with document crimes even as he was debating and negotiating with the US archives over what materials he was entitled to take with him as former president.

The Whistleblowers

As for the IRS whistleblowers, they’re off the Biden case, but still working for the IRS at the moment, believing that pursuing the facts without favor has put their jobs at risk.

“I’ve received information that they’re plotting and planning behind us, and we’re prepared for that when it happens,” said Shapley. “I mean ultimately, Republican or Democrat—for us, it’s not about that. It’s about treating each taxpayer the same. And it was about the facts and the evidence.”

“It is definitely a fear of mine,” Ziegler agreed. “The fear of retaliation, the fear of losing my job, losing my income, the fear of what could happen, because you essentially fought with the hornet’s nest.”

Last week, after his convictions on gun-related crimes, Hunter dropped his lawsuit against Trump ally and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Hunter had accused Giuliani of manipulating data from the laptop.

Hunter has pleaded not guilty to failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes over four years.

There are no charges related to unpaid taxes, money laundering, or bribery during the time period where he received millions from Burisma and other foreign governments.

Visit The Sharyl Attkisson Store today

Shop Now

Unique gifts for independent thinkers

Proceeds benefit independent journalism

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 thoughts on “Buried Alive: the Hunter Biden Distraction”

  1. Makes my blood boil all over again, Sheryl. It is criminally egregious what these same taxpayer funded agents are doing to Trump. How “crimes” were revived decades after claiming they occurred. Long out side of any statute of limitations in the first place. Egregiously unfair and this makes Biden the most hated man in America.

    Tax revolt – we must stop paying these people to do this to us. Repeal 16th Amendment – no more mandatory withholding taxes. Make them BEG for our money. Make them accountable for our money. Or they are just S.O.L. Period.

  2. Thanks for the overall timeline of events. No doubt a great deal of granular information has emerged and will continue to emerge concerning ALL of the events mention in this timeline.

    It’s worth saving this information as a roadmap of previous occurences and for context concerning events yet to transpire or still being discovered.

  3. Ordinarily, allowing the statute of limitations to run, as DJ did on the earlier tax returns, is legal malpractice and a violation of the rules of professional conduct. I have yet to hear any reasonable explanation for that inaction by the DJ.

    Special Counsel Jack Smith’s actions and especially “X” comments about Trump and Judge Cannon clearly show he answers to no client, even the Department of Justice. Calling Trump the “ AntiChrist” during holy week, and many other vicious comments, as well as challenging judge Cannon to “make my day” with a picture of a gun, show that he answers to no one. No lawyer would make public comments like that for fear that a judge would penalize his client as a result. Smith has no client and was not properly appointed. The DOJ does not adhere to law and is unhinged.

  4. None of this comes a a big surprise. When you look at how the DOJ has been weaponized against anyone this administration doesn’t like or fears their language.
    Then there’s J.Smith, a total violation of his position, his unapproved position.
    Then there’s the NYC judge giving inappropriate and incorrect to a jury.
    You tell me how they are allowed to thumb their nose at law? With no consequences.

Scroll to Top