The Federal Bureau of Investigation is citing an “ongoing criminal investigation” in refusing to turn over records on Hunter Biden’s trashed gun.
It’s the same suspect blocking argument the FBI is trying to use in The Star News Network’s lawsuit demanding the agency turn over the Covenant School killer’s manifesto in Nashville.
Government watchdog Judicial Watch on Friday announced a federal court has scheduled a hearing in its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records on the gun owned by President Joe Biden’s troubled son that reportedly was thrown in a trash can behind a Delaware grocery store. U.S. District Court Judge Jia M. Cobb set the hearing for September 6, at 10:00 a.m.
Judicial Watch is seeking “the reported purchase, possession, and disposal of a firearm owned by Hunter Biden discarded in a Delaware trash receptacle circa October 2018.” The organization is asking for all records, “including investigative reports, telephone logs, witness statements, memoranda, and firearms purchase documentation, related to the reported purchase, possession, and disposal of a firearm owned” by Hunter Biden. And it has requested all “records of communications of FBI officials regarding the reported purchase, possession, and disposal of the firearm.”
In a joint status report to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the FBI insists it will not produce records about the incident because of an “ongoing criminal investigation.”
“FBI’s position is that the number of potentially responsive records is exempt from disclosure under FOIA exemption 7(A), as this case relates to an ongoing criminal investigation,” the agency argues in the court filing. FBI attorneys cite U.S. code, arguing that the Freedom of Information Act “does not apply to information where disclosure ‘could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.’”
The FBI asserts that an ongoing investigation “creates the need for increased internal review including in this case review by the Special Counsel.” Agency officials have proposed extending its review to December 18, releasing only what it deems to be “non-exempt information subject to FOIA.”
Judicial Watch argues President Joe Biden’s FBI is withholding information about the number of documents it is hiding and whether any records will ultimately be released. The watchdog said the lawsuit is “indisputably of signifiant public interest” and time-sensitive.
“The FBI continues to stonewall on its reported clean-up operation to shield Hunter Biden from facing the criminal consequences of his gun scandal – this time using the compromised Special Counsel ‘investigation’ of Hunter as a new excuse to hide records that we asked for back in January,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
Last month, Attorney General Merrick Garland named Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who has long been investigating the first son, as special counsel in the ongoing case. Weiss, who worked with the president’s late son, Beau Biden, when he was Delaware’s attorney general, was front man in a plea deal that would have allowed Hunter Biden to escape prison time for pleading guilty to two tax misdemeanors and his felony gun charge. The deal collapsed when the judge questioned the gun charge diversion agreement.
“As the president revs up his re-election campaign, his strategists will be hoping the fallout from his son’s legal drama and tabloid-friendly life does not prove an unwelcome distraction, the BBC understatedly noted in a piece on Hunter Biden’s myriad legal and ethical problems.
The FBI also cited an “ongoing criminal investigation” in arguing against releasing key records in the Covenant School killer case.
Star News Digital Media Inc., the parent company of The Star News Network and The Tennessee Star, filed a federal lawsuit in May demanding the FBI turn over Audrey Elizabeth Hale’s manifesto and related writings. The 28-year-old woman, who identified as a transgender male, stormed into the Nashville private elementary school on March 27 and fatally shot three 9-year-olds and three staff members. Hale was killed by responding police officers. Her writings, The Star News Network believes, shed light on her motives and her actions, and would be invaluable in helping the public protect itself from future mass shootings.
The Nashville Metropolitan Police Department (MNPD) has said Hale “acted totally alone.” Yet, local police and the FBI continue to insist that the investigation — or a criminal procedure — is ongoing. The law enforcement officials assert they do not have to release the documents under state and federal public records law, pointing to provisions related to ongoing investigations.
“Both the MNPD and FBI investigations are active and ongoing,” Alexander W. Resar, trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice wrote in a response to The Star News Network’s motion seeking summary judgment and the immediate release of Hale’s manifesto. The lawsuit is being heard in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee-Nashville Division.
Dan Lennington, attorney for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, the Milwaukee-based civil rights law firm representing The Star News Network in the lawsuit, previously said the FBI’s arguments are driven by speculation. He notes DOJ uses the word “potential” several times in its brief.
“The FBI filed dozens and dozens of pages in federal court describing why they are withholding the manifesto but failed to provide any justification for their ongoing investigation other than their interest in continuing to look at the documents,” Lennington said.
There appears to be a pattern here.
In May, the FBI refused House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer’s request for records — “highly credible unclassified whistleblower disclosures” — involving Joe Biden’s alleged illegal dealings when he was vice president. On the threat of being held in contempt of Congress, FBI Director Christopher Wray in June agreed to allow members of Comer’s committee to review the records and receive a briefing.
There’s a growing concern about an FBI cover-up.
In February, from a separate lawsuit, Judicial Watch released records from the U.S. Secret Service that implicate the FBI in unusual actions to help Hunter Biden.
Hallie took Hunter’s gun and threw it in a trash can behind a grocery store, only to return later to find it gone.
Delaware police began investigating, concerned that the trash can was across from a high school and that the missing gun could be used in a crime, according to law enforcement officials and a copy of the police report obtained by POLITICO.
But a curious thing happened at the time: Secret Service agents approached the owner of the store where Hunter bought the gun and asked to take the paperwork involving the sale, according to two people, one of whom has firsthand knowledge of the episode and the other was briefed by a Secret Service agent after the fact.
Judicial Watch has at least 10 federal lawsuits focused on Biden family corruption.
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.