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Judicial Watch: Secret Service Official: ‘Maybe We Were Asked for A Favor?’ in Investigation of Hunter Biden’s Gun

(Washington, DC)Judicial Watch announced today that it received 487 pages of records from the United States Secret Service (USSS) related to the investigation of Hunter Biden’s gun, reportedly disposed of in a dumpster in Delaware in October 2018. The records show agency officials discussing media reports of its alleged involvement with one finding it “odd” that the Secret Service was involved in the investigation when Joe and Hunter Biden were not receiving Secret Service protection at the time. Another official responds: “Maybe we were asked for a favor?”

The records show the agency alerted the Biden White House and crafted a public statement insisting it had “no involvement in this alleged incident” and refusing to provide any additional clarification to media inquiries.

Judicial Watch is investigating whether and how the Secret Service intervened for Hunter Biden in an incident involving a gun allegedly owned by him. In September 2022, Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records or communications about the reported purchase, possession, and disposal of a firearm owned by Hunter Biden found in a Delaware dumpster in October 2018 (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:22-cv-02841)).

Judicial Watch reported in December 2022 that the Secret Service repeatedly changed its position about whether it is in possession of records related to the investigation of Hunter Biden’s gun.

On October 29, 2020, a person whose name is redacted emails a Secret Service official in the “PID” (Protective Intelligence and Assessment Division) with a link to a Blaze article published earlier that day, reporting that Hallie Biden had taken a handgun owned by Hunter Biden in October 2018 and thrown it into a supermarket trash bin. The official then forwards the article to another official in the PID.

An official whose name is redacted later comments in this chain: “Oh dear…”

After being forwarded the same Blaze article, an unidentified Protective Intelligence Research Specialist responds to his colleagues: “It’s kind of odd that we were involved in the missing gun investigation when neither Hunter or Joe were even receiving USSS [Secret Service] protection at the time? Hmmm.” Another official replies: “Maybe we were asked for a favor?”

Senior Secret Service officials, whose names were disclosed in the records, were also notified of The Blaze article on November 2, 2020, including James Henry, then-Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Field Office; Michael D’Ambrosio, Assistant Director of the U.S. Secret Service in charge of oversight of all Secret Service domestic and foreign Secret Service offices; Steven Stanford, then-Deputy Assistant Director; Leonza Newsome III, then-Deputy Director; and Douglas Henderson, Deputy Assistant Director, Office of Investigations.

After The Blaze article was forwarded by James Henry to a colleague in the Wilmington, DE, office, whose name is redacted, the colleague responds to Henry: “Digging in now. There is more information but I don’t have it yet.”

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.”

The Communications Office then drafts and distributes internally a proposed response labeled “Draft/Predecisional/Draft.”

Under the subheading “Internal Background:”

The RAIC [Resident Agent in Charge] of the Wilmington Resident Office reported that all agents in his office denied any involvement. The Politico reporter refused to provide any details on the source of the information or that he was in possession of any official document, where we were identified. The statement has been drafted to address any implication that anyone from the service was involved in this incident.

Under the subheading “Draft for Release:”

Statement from the U.S. Secret Service

US Secret Service records confirm that the agency did not provide protection to any member of the Biden family in 2018, and that the Secret Service had no involvement in this alleged incident.

Later that day, Secret Service Director of Communications Catherine Milhoan forwards the draft response for the Politico reporter to Biden White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki and White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield: “Kate/Jen, Good afternoon. For your awareness. We will be releasing the statement at 4 p.m.” Milhoan then sent the draft to other USSS [Secret Service] officials, writing, “For your awareness … as part of our standard ops here at the USSS … WH Comms also has awareness of the query and our anticipated response.”

Milhoan then emails several senior Secret Service officials: “Thanks all. DHS OPA [Department of Homeland Security Office of Public Affairs] and WH Comms are tracking as well.”

After receiving the statement the reporter replies to the Communications Office, “Just to clarify. Did Secret Service agents ever visit StarQuest Shooters & Survival Supply and request records related to Hunter Biden?” A Secret Service official whose name is redacted replies, “Ben, To reiterate, the Secret Service had no involvement in this alleged incident.”

In a separate email on February 24, 2021, the Special Agent in Charge of the Presidential Protection Division, David Cho, emails six officials in the White House, including “JOD” [likely Jen O’Malley Dillon], “Just wanted to provide for awareness. Jen Psaki and Kate Bedingfield were notified by our CMR [Communications and Media Relations] on the below inquiry. Our response is also stated. In summary – no records of the event ever occurring. Please advise if you have any questions.”

On March 2, 2021, the Politico reporter follows up with additional questions to the Secret Service media office, which sets off further internal Secret Service exchanges. Schrecklinger asks:

I just wanted to follow up with another couple of questions:

Did Secret Service agents in Delaware do any work related to President Biden in the period between when his status as a protectee expired after his vice presidency and when it resumed during his most recent presidential campaign?

For example, during this period, were Secret Service agents ever in touch with the Delaware State Police to arrange police details for Biden?

An official in the communications office whose name is redacted then forwards the follow-up questions to an official in the Wilmington, DE, office, whose name is also redacted: “Can you give me a call on the below questions.”

Wilmington official replies, “I’ll give you a call in about an hour.” The Wilmington official then forwards the email exchange to James Henry, former SAC of the Philadelphia Field Office: “FYSA [For Your Situational Awareness].”

On March 10, 2021, the reporter follows up again with the Secret Service about their failure to respond to his follow-up questions of March 2, writing, “Circling back on this. I spoke to someone on your team about this last week and they said they would get me a statement by the end of the day, but I haven’t seen anything land. If you all want to weigh in on this, please get back to me by the end of the day today.” An official in the Secret Service Communications Office responds, “Ben, we have no additional information to provide for this request.”

On March 25, 2021 Special Agent in Charge Benjamin Kramer, emails then-Secret Service Assistant Director of Intergovernmental and Legislative Affairs (IGL), Jeremy Sheridan, a copy of the March 25 Politico article about Hunter Biden’s gun and cited the Secret Service statement in the article:

On Oct. 23, 2018, President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and daughter in law Hallie were involved in a bizarre incident in which 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 …

Arriving on the scene, Delaware State Police retrieved security camera footage from the store …

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.

***

The Federal Bureau of Investigation also responded to the scene, according to people familiar with the situation. At the time, the FBI was monitoring Hunter Biden as part of an investigation that remains ongoing and that currently focuses on his taxes. The FBI declined to comment.

***

A Secret Service spokesperson said the agency has no record of involvement in the incident: “U.S. Secret Service records confirm that the agency did not provide protection to any member of the Biden family in 2018, and that the Secret Service had no involvement in this alleged incident.”

Kramer then asks Sheridan, “Confirming this is comment we can relay if inquiries are made from Hill counterparts or if anything further needs to be discussed (?).” Sheridan replied, “Yes, the comment as provided in the article is our response to any inquiries.”

On March 25, 2021, Milhoan forwards the Politico article to several senior Secret Service officials: “For your awareness … the article is total BS as we all know. Leadership is aware and I will let you know if CMR [Office of Communications and Media Relations] receives any queries.”

On March 26, 2021, New York Post reporter Lorena Mongelli reaches out to the Secret Service Communications Office, asking for comment on text messages on Hunter Biden’s lost laptop:

It appears the text messages were sent from Hunter Biden in which he indicates that the Secret Service did in fact respond to the Oct. 23, 2018 [gun] incident. This information contradicts your previous statement relating to the incident and we would like to know whether the Secret Service would like to respond to these new findings.

A person from the Communications Office, whose name is redacted replies: “We have received your inquiry, would you be able to provide copies of these alleged text messages for reference?”

Mongelli responds:

The Daily Mail actually posted copies of the same text messages the NY Post is referencing.

This is what one text message says:

“She stole the gun out of my trunk lock box and threw it in a garbage can full to the top at Jansens [sic]. Then told me it was my problem to deal with,” Hunter wrote.

“Then when the police the FBI the secret service came on the scene she said she took it from me because she was scared I would harm myself due to o my drug and alcohol problem and our volatile relationship and that she was afraid for the kids.”

***

You can view images of the messages here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9403757/Texts-Hunter-Biden-therapist-Hallie-Biden-leaving-gun-trashcan.html

“These new documents suggest that one can’t take at face value the Secret Service’s denial that it wasn’t involved in the Hunter Biden gun cover-up,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

In October 2020, The Blaze reported that in October 2018, Hunter Biden’s handgun was taken by Hallie Biden, the widow of then-presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son Beau. In 2021, Politico reported:

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.

The Secret Service initially responded to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request in this case on April 2, 2021, stating that it had located potentially responsive records and would process them in accordance with FOIA. Then, on October 13, 2022, the Secret Service said that the April 2021 response was sent in error and that it did not have any records responsive to the FOIA request.

Through FOIA, Judicial Watch has uncovered significant information about Hunter Biden, who served on the board of directors for Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings despite having no previous experience in the energy industry.

In October 2022, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Justice 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.

In December 2020, Judicial Watch received records from the State Department tying Hunter Biden’s Burisma Holdings’ lobbying operation to an influence-peddling operation involving the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election. Also uncovered were State Department records showing that former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch had specifically warned in 2017 about corruption allegations against Burisma Holdings.

In October 2020, 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. The briefing checklist notes that Painter also planned to meet with Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) Officer Martin Claessens “regarding the Burisma Group energy company.” (Painter was implicated in the Clinton-era fundraisingscandal exposed by Judicial Watch that involved the alleged sale of seats on Commerce Department trade missions to Democratic National Committee donors.)

In September 2020, State Department records  include a January 17, 2017, email from George Kent, the Obama administration’s deputy assistant secretary of state in charge of Ukraine policy, which was copied to then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, highlighting Russia-linked media “trolling” Joe Biden over “his son’s business.” An email was sent four days prior to the inauguration of President Donald Trump to a redacted recipient and CCd to Yovanovitch with the subject line “medvedchuk-linked vesti trolls Biden.” Kent writes: “Burisma – gift that keeps on giving. (With medvedchuk affiliated Vesti pushing the troll like storyline on visit day)”

In June 2020, U.S. Secret Service records showed that, for the first five and a half years of the Obama administration, Hunter Biden traveled extensively while receiving a Secret Service protective detail. During the time period of the records provided, Hunter Biden took 411 separate domestic and international flights, including to 29 different foreign countries. He visited China five times.

Judicial Watch is also suing the DHS for Secret Service records on Hunter Biden’s travel and security costs, and suing the State Department for messages sent through the SMART (State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolkit) system that mention Hunter Biden.

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