Lesley Wolf worked in relative obscurity for nearly 16 years as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, but now the former federal prosecutor says she’s been threatened and harassed after Republicans falsely accused her of going easy on Hunter Biden.
In her prepared opening statement, released to the media, for a closed-door deposition demanded by House Republicans as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, Wolf said:
“My desire to serve my community and my country, such a great source of pride, has recently come at significant cost. As a private person, the once routine and mundane details of my life have become the subject of public interest in an invasive and disturbing manner. Far worse, I have been threatened and harassed, causing me to fear for my own and my family’s safety.”
Her deposition on Thursday came a day after the House, on a party-line vote, formalized the Republican majority’s impeachment inquiry even though they haven’t found any evidence that the president benefited from his family’s foreign business dealings or accepted bribes.
Wolf joins the growing list of prosecutors, judges, obscure government officials, election workers, and others who have been targeted and harassed after incurring the wrath of former President Donald Trump and his minions—for merely doing their jobs.
On Friday, a federal jury in Washington awarded $148 million in damages to two former election workers in Georgia—Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss—for the harm caused to them by defamatory statements made against them by disgraced former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani following the 2020 election.
Wolf’s problems arose simply because she happened to work for Delaware U.S. District Attorney David C. Weiss, a Donald Trump appointee, who first began investigating Hunter Biden’s financial dealings in late 2018. President Biden retained Weiss in his post so that he could continue the investigation of his son.
Wolf was part of the team that initially worked out a plea deal with Hunter Biden on gun and tax charges this summer. Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay his 2017 and 2018 taxes on time. He also agreed to terms to avoid prosecution on a felony charge alleging that he falsely asserted that he was sober when he bought a handgun in 2018.
But the plea deal collapsed due to differences over the scope of immunity that Hunter Biden would have received from future investigations. In August, Attorney General Merrick Garland elevated Weiss to special counsel status in the investigation. In September, Weiss’ office indicted Hunter Biden on three felony counts for allegedly illegally purchasing the handgun.
Then, earlier this month, Weiss obtained an indictment from a federal grand jury in California, charging Hunter Biden with nine tax-related criminal charges, including three felony counts. Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said his client would not have been indicted if his surname were not Biden.
Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. And there was nothing in either indictment related to his father.
The president’s son declined to appear for a closed-door deposition in the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday, holding a press conference outside the Capitol at which he said he would only testify in public—so Republicans couldn’t selectively leak excerpts from his testimony. House Republicans have threatened to hold him in contempt of Congress.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee—who himself refused a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 select committee—and other MAGA Republicans still feel that the DOJ has gone easy on Hunter Biden.
Whistleblowers from the IRS’ criminal division claimed in congressional testimony this year that Wolf blocked them from pursuing certain search warrants and generally disagreed with their plans to be more aggressive in investigating the Biden family.
“She limited what they could do in their investigation,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of the leaders of the impeachment effort, said on Fox News in June, shortly before requesting a transcribed interview with Wolf and other officials. Jordan subsequently sent Wolf a subpoena.
On Thursday, Wolf joined the ranks of other Justice Department officials who’ve said that politics had nothing to do with their decisions in the Hunter Biden case.
After the hearing, Jordan complained to reporters that Wolf had refused to answer most of the questions she was asked during the deposition., NBC News reported.
But in her prepared opening statement, Wolf broadly defended her work and said she was bound by DOJ policies not to discuss an ongoing investigation.
“At all times while serving as an AUSA, I acted consistently with the Justice Manual, DOJ policy directives, and my statutory/legal and ethical obligations. I followed the facts where they led, and made decisions in the best interests of the investigation. This includes, but is by no means limited to, policies and rules governing politically sensitive investigations, election year sensitivities, attorney search warrants, search warrant filter requirements, and professional conduct rules barring contact with represented parties.”
Wolf also revealed that she had recently left her post as a federal prosecutor, but said her decision “was long pre-dated and was unconnected to the baseless allegations against me.” She said she “agreed to stay with the office months longer than planned because of my belief that my family and I were safer when I remained an AUSA.”
Fox News did not mention this in its online story, nor did that story mention the threats Wolf said she has received as a result of the allegations against her. Instead, its story was headlined: “Jordan says former prosecutor who allegedly scuttled Hunter investigation ‘refused’ to answer questions.”
Rep. Glenn Ivey, a Maryland Democrat, attended the deposition and said that Republicans kept asking Wolf about the Hunter Biden case during the four-hour-plus deposition. Huffpost reported:
“They kept showing her documents and things that they knew that she couldn’t comment on, asking her questions about the ongoing investigation, even though they knew she couldn’t comment on it,” Ivey said in an interview with the outlet.
Ivey does not believe that Republicans deliberately incited harassment against Wolf, but he said it was “irresponsible” for lawmakers to be putting people’s names out in the public to the extent that they have.
“They know at this point that when they put people’s names out there and connect them in these types of investigations, and make suggestions about them being involved in cover-ups and things like that, they know that this is going to be a consequence of that,” Ivey said.
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Weiss voluntarily agreed to respond to the subpoena. She concluded her opening statement by observing all too accurately:
“I have no doubt that after today the threats and harassment and my own fear stemming from them will heighten exponentially. This not only scares me, but as someone who loves this country, it also breaks my heart. We are living in a day and age where politics and winning seem to be paramount and the truth has become collateral damage.”