DOJ Backs ATF’s Hunter Biden Privacy Excuse in FOIA Appeal

Basically, the official Biden DOJ position is that the Hunter Biden gun story is none of our business. (Cropped from photo by acaben: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)

U.S.A. – -(“You appealed on behalf of your client, David Codrea, from the action of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on your client’s Freedom of Information Act request to certain records concerning Hunter Biden,” a Wednesday letter to attorney Stephen Stamboulieh from Administrative Appeals Staff Chief  Matthew Hurd observes. “I note that your appeal concerns ATF’s refusal to confirm or deny the existence of records responsive to your client’s request.”

By way of background for those new to this story, The Blaze reported in late October that “Hunter Biden’s handgun was taken from his vehicle without his knowledge by Hallie Biden,” his brother’s widow with whom he then had an affair, “and she placed it in a garbage can outside a Delaware supermarket.” Readers of this column will recall it tied that report in with the question of if the president’s son had broken the law by denying abuse of controlled substances on the Firearm Transaction Record, ATF Form 4473. Lying on the form is a federal felony. My AmmoLand report was followed up with two separate FOIA requests being filed a few weeks later, to both ATF and the Secret Service, which had also been reported to be investigating the Biden gun incident.

“[T]he request should have been denied categorically without a search due to the substantial privacy interests retained by the subject of Mr. Codrea’s request,” ATF then replied in May after initially challenging my qualifications to be considered a journalist, then claiming no records could be found, and then withdrawing its “no records” response.

Stamboulieh followed that up with a June 13 appeal, asserting:

“[T]he public interest substantially outweighs Mr. Biden’s privacy interest in this case … it is hard to find a way to argue that Mr. Biden’s privacy interest (whatever that interest is after he wrote a book detailing his drug and alcohol addictions) outweighs release of whatever records ATF may have responsive to the FOIA. Mr. Biden is clearly unconcerned about the release of his drug usage history, as he plainly discusses them in his book … Mr. Biden’s purchase of a firearm (and subsequent loss and lack of prosecution) is of such a public interest that twenty-two House of Representative members have asked that Mr. David Chipman ‘publicly commit to investigate allegations that Hunter Biden falsified information during a background check in order to illegally obtain a firearm’ … Mr. Hunter Biden’s ‘privacy interest is completely outweighed by the public interest in this matter…”

Hurd was not to be persuaded.

“ATF properly refused to confirm or deny the existence of such records,” he insisted. “Confirming or denying the existence of such records, including law enforcement records … would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy …”

The official Biden DOJ position is this is none of our business.

On the subject of law enforcement records, the Secret Service reports that it has none, and has signed an affidavit under penalty of perjury attesting to that. This is despite numerous media reports placing them at the scene of the investigation, and a mention of their presence in a text message found on Hunter Biden’s laptop:

“[T]he police the FBI [and] the secret service came on the scene.”

It hardly seems likely any functionary would assume the personal risks of lying about this, which leads to the question of who those reported to be “on the scene” were. Clearly, from the DOJ’s administrative appeals response, we can expect no help from them and the stonewalling will continue.

Not that we’re giving up.

“Now that we have exhausted our appeal, we will sue the agency for the release of these records which are obviously in the public interest,” Stamboulieh affirms.

Stay tuned.

About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

David Codrea

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