The Secret Service found more than 100 records that may be responsive to a lawsuit seeking details about an investigation into a gun-related incident involving Hunter Biden, according to a recent court filing.
The disclosure marks a turn in the long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case brought by Judicial Watch after the Secret Service previously walked back a statement that said it had found potentially responsive documents about communications regarding the discovery of a firearm owned by Biden that was found in a Delaware dumpster several years ago.
Although Judicial Watch is casting the fresh development as evidence of the Secret Service being unable to get its story straight about the records, the joint filing between the conservative watchdog group and Homeland Security Department, which is the parent agency of the Secret Service, states that the two parties held consultations that led to further clarity on the scope of the request.
“USSS initially responded to Judicial Watch on April 2, 2021, that it had located potentially responsive records and would process them in accordance with FOIA, but this response was sent in error. On October 13, 2022, USSS sent an updated letter to Judicial Watch to inform it that USSS had actually never located any records responsive to Plaintiff’s request after conducting a search and, thus, should have sent a no-records response on April 2, 2021 instead,” the filing says.
“Since the Complaint was filed, the Parties have conferred about the intended scope of Judicial Watch’s FOIA request and, in response, USSS has run supplemental searches and located over 100 records, totaling over 400 pages, potentially responsive to Judicial Watch’s request under the clarified understanding of that request,” the filing adds.
The joint filing, which was submitted last month in Washington, D.C., federal court, was published by Judicial Watch on Thursday.
Judicial Watch initially filed its FOIA request after the Blaze reported a source who claimed Hallie Biden, the widow of then-presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son Beau, took a handgun owned by Hunter and placed it into a trash can outside of a Delaware supermarket in October 2018. Hallie and Hunter, who was her brother-in-law, were dating at the time. At the behest of Hunter, after he had been informed of what she did, Hallie went to retrieve the firearm, but she found it missing, according to a police report obtained by Politico. Sources told the news outlet that the gun was returned days later by a man who regularly rummages through the grocery store’s garbage seeking recyclables.
In text messages between the pair reported by the Washington Examiner, Hallie said she was worried Hunter would “use” the firearm. Hunter complained how he did not believe he would “ever recover from all of this,” noting that Hallie’s actions made it appear he had “threatened you and your family with a gun.” No arrests were made nor charges filed in connection with the incident, but there remains an air of mystery about the role played by the Secret Service, which was not providing protection to now-President Joe Biden at the time.
Sources told Politico that Secret Service agents asked the owner of the store where Hunter purchased the gun, seeking paperwork about the sale, but the owner refused under suspicions that they wanted to conceal his ownership of the firearm. The Secret Service told the Washington Examiner last year it had “no involvement in this incident.” Hunter, who has struggled with drug addiction over the years, said “no” when asked if he was “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance,” according to paperwork associated with the gun purchase.
The Secret Service will complete its initial processing of records in the FOIA lawsuit by January 9, 2023, at which time the agency will give any responsive, non-exempt records to Judicial Watch, the November joint filing says. The Secret Service will continue to do so on a rolling, monthly basis as consultations with other Executive Branch entities take place, the filing adds.
Upon publishing the filing to the group’s website, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton released a statement that said, “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.”