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, 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)).
The Secret Service initially responded to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request on April 2, 2021 and stated 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.
But then, on November 10, 2022, the Secret Service informed the District Court that it has run supplemental searches and has located over 100 records, totaling over 400 pages, potentially responsive to Judicial Watch’s request.
The Secret Service also told the court that it would complete its initial processing of all potentially responsive records by January 9, 2023, and send records out for any necessary consultations with other Executive Branch entities by that date. All other non-exempt, responsive records are to be produced to Judicial Watch by January 9.
“The Secret Service’s changing story on records raises additional questions about its role in the Hunter Biden gun incident. One thing is clear, Judicial Watch’s persistence means the public may get records that the Secret Service suggested didn’t exist,” 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.
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 fundraising scandal 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.