Judicial Watch: FBI Says it Won’t Produce Records on Intervention to Help Hunter Biden on Missing Gun Due to ‘Ongoing Criminal Investigation,’ Federal Judge Orders Sept. 6 Hearing on Records Dispute
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today announced that a federal court scheduled a hearing in its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records regarding the gun owned by Hunter Biden that reportedly was thrown in a trash can behind a Delaware grocery store. In a joint status report to the court, the FBI stated it would not produce records about the incident due to an “ongoing criminal investigation.”
The video hearing was set by DC U.S. District Court Judge Jia M. Cobb for September 6, 2023, at 10:00 a.m.
Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the FBI withheld records in response to a January 30, 2023, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:23-cv-00920)). Judicial Watch 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 discarded in a Delaware trash receptacle circa October 2018.
All records of communications of FBI officials regarding the reported purchase, possession, and disposal of the firearm.
The FBI claims it has completed a search for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request but alleges an unspecified number are exempt from disclosure due to an “ongoing criminal investigation:”
FBI has completed a search for records responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] request and is currently processing those records. 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. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(A) (FOIA does not apply to information where disclosure “could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings”); see also U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Delaware, Tax and Firearm Charges Filed Against Robert Hunter Biden, U.S. Department of Justice (June 20, 2023), https://www.justice.gov/usao-de/pr/tax-and-firearm-charges-filed-against-robert-hunter-biden . An ongoing investigation creates the need for increased internal review, including in this case review by the Special Counsel.
Judicial Watch argues the Biden FBI is withholding information about the number of documents they are hiding and whether any records will ultimately be released:
This is case is indisputably of significant public intertest. It is also time sensitive. [Judicial Watch] has asked and Defendant has refused to provide the number of potentially responsive records that needs to be processed in this case. Without this number, Plaintiff cannot evaluate – let alone agree to – a processing time of 120 days … Because this case could proceed down several different paths, [Judicial Watch] believes this case may benefit from a status conference at this juncture.
“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.”
In February 2023, from a separate lawsuit, Judicial Watch released records from the United States Secret Service that implicate the FBI in the unusual action to help Hunter Biden.
In response to a February 24, 2021, email inquiry from Politico reporter Ben Schreckinger regarding the Secret Service’s involvement in the investigation of the Hunter Biden gun incident, the Communications Department asks for “more information or documentation.” Schreckinger responds: “Sure thing. Agents visited StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply and asked to take possession of the paperwork Hunter had filled out to purchase a gun there. The FBI also had some involvement in the investigation.”
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.
In June 2023, Judicial Watch sued the CIA for all communications of the spy agency’s Prepublication Classification Review Board (PCRB) regarding an October 19, 2020, email request to review and “clear” a letter signed by 51 former intelligence community officials characterizing the Hunter Biden laptop story as having “all the earmarks of a Russian disinformation campaign.”
In July, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ for records from the Office of the Attorney General and Office of the Deputy Attorney General regarding the Internal Revenue Service investigation of Hunter Biden.
In June 2023, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice for a copy of the FBI FD-1023 form that describes “an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions.” Judicial Watch also asked for communications about the FD-1023.
In May 2023, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit against the National Archives for Biden family records and communications regarding travel and finance transactions, as well as communications between the Bidens and several known business associates.
On October 14, 2022, Judicial Watch sued DOJ for all records in the possession of FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten regarding an August 6, 2020, briefing provided to members of the U.S. Senate. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) raised concerns that the briefing was intended to undermine the senators’ investigation of Hunter Biden.
Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the U.S. State Department on April 20, 2022, for messages sent through the SMART (State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolkit) system that mention Hunter Biden.
In December 2020, State Department records obtained through a Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit showed that former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch had specifically warned in 2017 about corruption allegations against Burisma Holdings.
In October 2020, Judicial Watch forced the release of State Department records that included a briefing checklist of a February 22, 2019, meeting in Kyiv between then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Sally Painter, co-founder and chief operating officer of Blue Star Strategies, a Democratic lobbying firm which was hired by Burisma Holdings to combat corruption allegations. At the time of the meeting, Hunter Biden was serving on the board of directors for Burisma Holdings.