Attorney General Merrick Garland testified that he never had any discussions with U.S. attorney David Weiss regarding details of the Hunter Biden investigation, while at the same time affirming to the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday that the prosecutor had total authority over the probe — despite just granting him special counsel authority only month.
Garland testified before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday as part of the panel’s hearing to examine how the Justice Department has “become politicized and weaponized under the leadership of Attorney General Merrick Garland.”
Garland, during testimony, stressed that he is “not the president’s lawyer,” and that the Justice Department’s “job is to follow the facts and the law, and that is what we do.”
Republicans pressed Garland on whether he had any discussions about the Hunter Biden investigation with Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware who has been leading the probe since 2018, to which he repeatedly denied.
“I promised the Senate that I would not interfere… I would not influence the investigation,” Garland said. “I do not intend to discuss internal Justice Department deliberations, whether or not I had them.”
Garland also said he does not know “the specifics of the investigation.”
Meanwhile, Garland explained that Weiss “knows how to conduct investigations,” and maintained that he has “not intruded or attempted to evaluate that.”
Garland repeatedly said during the first hours of his testimony that he never had discussions with Weiss about the investigation, and said the prosecutor had the necessary tools to continue his years-long probe into President Biden’s son.
But whistleblowers testified to Congress that Weiss had requested special counsel authority from the Justice Department back in 2022, but was denied.
In August, Garland ultimately granted Weiss that authority.
“Mr. Weiss asked to be made special counsel. I had promised that I would give him all the resources he needed and I made him special counsel,” Garland testified Wednesday.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, though, pressed Garland on what changed, again noting whistleblower testimony that said Weiss requested special counsel authority much earlier, but was denied. Jordan referred to a letter Weiss sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in July.
“Mr. Garland, What changed on July 10th, 2023? David Weiss wrote the Senator Graham and said, I have not requested special counsel designation. August 11th, you announced that he’s now the special counsel. What happened in that 31 days?” Jordan asked.
“As I said publicly, days before my announcement, I think three days, Mr. Weiss had asked to become special counsel,” Garland said. “He explained that there were — he had reached the stage of his investigation where he thought that appropriate… I had promised to give him the resources he needed.”
Jordan pressed Garland on “what stage” of the investigation he was referring to after “five years” of investigating.
“What stage are we in? … the beginning stage, the middle stage, the end stage? They keep hiding the ball stage? What stage? When?” Jordan asked.
“I’m not permitted to discuss ongoing investigation,” Garland said.
Jordan fired back: “Isn’t that convenient?”
“Something changed in 31 to 32 days from July 10th to August 11th,” Jordan continued. “I think it’s that two whistleblowers came forward and a judge called B.S. on the plea deal. You guys tried to get past them,” Jordan said.
Hunter Biden, in July, planned to plead guilty as part of what critics called a “sweetheart” plea deal to two misdemeanor tax counts of willful failure to pay federal income tax. That deal would have allowed him to avoid jail time on a felony gun charge. That plea deal collapsed in federal court in July.
Hunter Biden ultimately pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and one felony gun charge.
Since Weiss has been granted special counsel authority, the president’s son was indicted on three federal gun charges. Biden was charged with making a false statement in the purchase of a firearm; making a false statement related to information required to be kept by a federal firearms licensed dealer; and one count of possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance.
Hunter Biden is expected to plead not guilty.