US President Joe Biden’s son Hunter has sued the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), accusing two agents of wrongly sharing his personal tax information.
The lawsuit on Monday says the agents of the United States tax agency “targeted and sought to embarrass Mr Biden”.
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Hunter also says federal whistleblower protections sought by the agents do not include the sharing of confidential information in press interviews and testimony before Congress.
The legal filing comes as a long-running investigation into Hunter continues to unfold against a sharply political backdrop, including an impeachment inquiry aimed at his father.
Hunter was indicted last week on federal firearms charges, with prosecutors accusing him of making false statements related to drug use in order to acquire a firearm in 2018.
His defence attorneys have indicated they plan to fight the charges, but the case could be on track towards a possible high-stakes trial as the 2024 election looms.
President Biden is seeking re-election in a likely rematch with his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, who leads the GOP’s nomination race.
The new civil lawsuit filed in Washington alleges the improper disclosures included the specific tax years under investigation, deductions and allegations about liability.
While the suit does not question the investigation itself, it seeks to “force compliance with federal tax and privacy laws” and stop the spread of “unsubstantiated allegations” and “unlawful disclosure” of his tax information.
IRS supervisory special agent Greg Shapley, and a second agent, Joe Ziegler, have claimed there was a pattern of “slow-walking investigative steps” into Hunter in testimony before Congress. Both have denied political motivations.
They have alleged that the prosecutor overseeing the investigation, Delaware US Attorney David Weiss, did not have full authority to bring charges in other jurisdictions.
Weiss, who was originally appointed by former President Donald Trump and kept on to oversee the Hunter probe, has denied that he lacked authority to bring charges. Attorney General Merrick Garland has also said Weiss had “complete authority”.
Still, Weiss sought and was granted special counsel status last month, giving him broad authority to investigate and report out his findings.
Hunter had been expected to plead guilty to misdemeanour charges that he failed to pay taxes on time as part of a plea deal with prosecutors that also included an agreement on the gun charge.
That deal, however, imploded in court after a judge raised questions about it. Republicans had decried the plea agreement as a “sweetheart deal”.
The IRS and lawyers for the two men did not immediately return messages seeking comment from The Associated Press news agency.