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Who Is Joseph Ziegler, the Gay IRS Whistleblower in Hunter Biden Probe?

Who Is Joseph Ziegler, the Gay IRS Whistleblower in Hunter Biden Probe?

Joseph Ziegler

Initially, there were accusations that Ziegler, as a gay Democrat, was biased toward Biden, but now some Republicans say his identity shows he's fair and reliable in saying the IRS was hampered in the investigation.

Some Republicans once said Joseph Ziegler, the Internal Revenue Service agent who testified before Congress Wednesday about possible interference in the investigation of Hunter Biden, was biased in Biden’s favor because he’s a gay man and a Democrat. Now that he’s a whistleblower saying the investigation was insufficient and hampered by outside forces, the GOP is pointing to those facts as evidence he’s not biased.

Ziegler has worked for the IRS since 2010 and before that was an external auditor with Ernst & Young, a firm providing consulting, accounting, and other business services. He testified Wednesday along with Shapley as the Republican-led Oversight Committee sought evidence to back its allegations that the U.S. Department of Justice interfered in the IRS’s investigation of Hunter Biden. Biden is expected to enter into a plea deal on misdemeanor charges of failing to pay income tax and a felony charge of illegally possessing a firearm. He will plead guilty to the tax charges, and the gun charge will be dismissed if he complies with certain conditions, and he will likely avoid jail time. Many Republicans are claiming that as the president’s son, he received favorable treatment.

Joseph Ziegler is "Agent X"

Ziegler was previously known as “Agent X” in the Biden probe, but his identity was made public at the insistence of the House Oversight Committee, which held the hearing Wednesday. He also gave a deposition to members of Congress behind closed doors last month.

“People have said, because I’m gay and that I am working as the case agent on this investigation, that I must be a far-left liberal, perfectly placed to fit some agenda. This was stuff that was on social media regarding me,” Ziegler said in the deposition, according to a transcript obtained by CNN. “I can tell you that I am none of those things. I’m a career government employee, and I have always strived to not let politics enter my frame of mind when working cases.” He said he was once a conservative but is now a “middle-of-the-road” Democrat.

A former aide to Donald Trump had used Ziegler’s identity to say he’s biased in favor of Biden, but the IRS agent’s testimony Wednesday showed the GOP has changed its tune.

“I recently discovered that people are saying I must be more credible because I’m a Democrat who happens to be married to a man,” Ziegler said in his opening remarks, as reported by Newsweek. “I’m not more credible than this man sitting next to me [his supervisor, Gary Shapley] due to my sexual orientation or my political beliefs. The truth is my credibility comes today from my job experience with the IRS and my intimate knowledge of the agency’s standards and procedures.”

Such a comment about his credibility came from no less that Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is well-known for his anti-LGBTQ+ views. “The whistleblowers, as I’ve noted, we have no reason to believe they’re lying,” Cruz said Monday on his Verdict podcast, according to a separate article in Newsweek. “One of them is a gay Democrat who’s married to a man. Both of them are career IRS employees; neither of them have any indication that they’re in any way, shape, or form Republican.”

Ziegler recently told CBS News he didn’t vote in the 2020 presidential election. “I thought it would be irresponsible of me to do so because I didn’t wanna show bias one way or the other,” he said.

What Did Ziegler Say at the Hearing?

Ziegler and Shapley “told lawmakers Wednesday that Justice Department officials stopped their investigators from scrutinizing President Joe Biden and his grandchildren, after finding evidence potentially linking them to Hunter Biden’s troubled finances,” CNN reports.

“It appeared to me, based on what I experienced, that the U.S. attorney in Delaware in our investigation was constantly hamstrung, limited, and marginalized by DOJ officials as well as other U.S. attorneys,” Ziegler testified, according to CNN. Ziegler has said he favored both felony and misdemeanor charges on the tax matter.

The two IRS officials further said U.S. Attorney David Weiss asserted that he couldn’t make final decisions about charging Hunter Biden, but Weiss and his ultimate boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland, have disputed this.

“Also, it’s common for there to be internal disagreements among investigators, like those described by the IRS agents, a point Democrats have made in memo ahead of the hearing,” CNN reports.

The initial implication that Ziegler was biased in favor of the Bidens came from former Trump aide Garrett Ziegler, no relation to Joseph. Garrett Ziegler put out a report for conservative research firm Marco Polo in 2022 regarding the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop computer, which has been a focus of Republicans’ investigation. The report included a photo of Joseph Ziegler and his husband, Newsweek notes, plus the assertion that the husband was connected “at least socially” to Demetre Daskalakis, a gay physician who has worked in the New York City health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and later was appointed by Joe Biden as deputy coordinator of the response to the mpox outbreak.

Garrett Ziegler has since “appeared to walk back on his criticisms upon learning [Joseph] Ziegler was whistleblowing against the Bidens,” Newsweek reports. The former Trump aide recently said on Steve Bannon's podcast that the IRS agents didn’t “want to be the fall guys” in the matter.

The hearing was also notable for far-right U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene displaying nude pictures of Hunter Biden.

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