By Samuel Chamberlain
First son Hunter Biden’s legal team appeared to pull a dirty trick Tuesday to block the release of damning evidence ahead of his expected guilty plea to federal charges of tax evasion and weapons crimes.
The drama began in the morning when the House Ways and Means Committee filed an amicus brief to Delaware US District Judge Maryellen Noreika arguing that the 53-year-old had benefited from “political interference which calls into question the propriety of the investigation” into alleged crimes including money laundering, felony tax evasion and failure to register as a foreign agent.
The filing included testimony by two IRS whistleblowers who sat for transcribed interviews May 26 and June 1.
What happened next was outlined in a letter sent to the judge Tuesday afternoon by the committee’s top lawyer, Theodore Kittila.
“[A]t approximately 1:30 p.m., we received word that our filing was removed from the docket,” Kittila said. “We promptly contacted the Clerk’s office, and we were advised that someone contacted the Court representing that they worked with my office [emphasis original] and that they were asking the Court to remove this from the docket. We immediately advised that this was inaccurate. The Clerk’s Office responded that we would need to re-file. We have done so now.”
Kittila included email exchanges with court officials and Hunter Biden’s attorneys in the fresh filing.
“Hi Ted, Following up on our recent telephone conversation, the woman who called was a Jessica Bengels,” confirmed court official Samantha Grimes. “… She said she worked with Theodore Kittila and it was important the document was removed immediately or they could file a motion to seal. I do deeply apologize for all the confusion on our part.”
When Kittila confronted the first son’s legal team, Hunter’s attorneys tried to claim the filing contained confidential tax and identifying information, even though the whistleblower testimony has been public for more than a month.
The time stamps from the emails also indicated the request to take the document down was made after Kittila refused a request to file the testimony under seal.
“As far as I am aware, the managing attorney from Latham called the clerk’s office to note that personal tax information of the defendant had been filed in a non reacted [sic] manner and to inquire regarding having the information sealed, as we told you we would and as you said you understood,” Clark wrote. “As far as I am aware the clerk took the filing down on their own accord. Your attempts to publicly file my client’s personal financial information with no protection ls [sic] are improper, illegal and in violation of applicable rules … We will seek all appropriate sanctions in response to your actions.”
“You should probably take a step back from your statements,” Kittila warned. “The clerk’s office advised that it was represented to her that the request was being made by my firm. We will be advising Judge Noreika of this improper conduct.”
In an evening order, Noreika gave Hunter’s attorneys until 9 p.m. to “show cause as to why sanctions should not be considered for misrepresentations to the Court.” — while noting they had not formally filed any request to seal evidence in the matter.
However, she also ordered the filing sealed until close of business Wednesday.
“We filed what was already public (voted out by Congress) as something for the judge to be aware of,” Ways and Means Committee spokesperson JP Freire told The Post. “They then misrepresented themselves to get it taken down.”
Shortly before 9 p.m., Bengels submitted an affidavit in which she blamed a miscommunication among the clerks for the removal of the Ways and Means filing.
“I am completely confident that I never indicated that I was calling from Mr. Kittila’s firm or that I worked with him in any way,” she said. “The only mention of his name was when [the clerk] had asked me if the filings had been entered by Mr. Kittila’s firm and I answered that I believed that to be the case.”
In a letter to the judge, Hunter’s lawyers said: “We have no idea how the misunderstanding occurred, but our understanding is there was no misrepresentation.
“We hope this letter and the attached declaration dispels any suggestion that undersigned counsel or our staff would ever intentionally misrepresent or mislead the Court with respect to any matter,” the defense team added.
It remains unclear whether the controversy will affect Noreika’s decision about whether to accept the first son’s plea, which Republicans have derided as a “sweetheart” deal.