Just when you thought the Justice Department’s handling of the Hunter Biden case couldn’t appear more corrupt, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that he was appointing Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss as “special counsel” in the case.
Not only is Weiss the same controversial federal prosecutor who has botched the investigation of President Joe Biden’s son so far, but the written rules governing special counsels call for the attorney general to appoint “an outside Special Counsel.” (Emphasis added.)
In other words, someone who doesn’t have the inherent conflict of interest that any employee of the Justice Department has—such as when the department is investigating the son of federal prosecutors’ ultimate boss, the president of the United States.
Yet what does Garland do? Appoint the same U.S. attorney for Delaware who, through either incompetence or intentional action, already has compromised this investigation.
This is a cynical move designed to obfuscate further and delay what should be a straightforward prosecution of Hunter Biden’s myriad criminal activities and shield Joe Biden and his administration from prosecutorial scrutiny.
How can we say this?
This is the same David Weiss who gave the president’s son the sweetheart deal of the century, one that would have allowed the younger Biden to walk away almost scot-free with no jail time for serious tax evasion and a violation of federal gun laws.
Whose office refused to approve a search warrant for the president’s guest house, where Hunter Biden was living, despite admitting there were sufficient grounds to justify a search warrant.
Whose office tipped off Biden’s lawyers that IRS agents intended to search his storage unit, giving them time to move any potentially important evidence.
Why have no charges been filed against Hunter Biden under the Foreign Agent Registration Act for his blatant violation of that federal law? And what kind of federal prosecutor ever would agree to a plea agreement on some charges while supposedly still “investigating” the defendant for other offenses?
Weiss is the same person who, Garland said in sworn Senate testimony, had the “full authority to make those kinds of referrals that you are talking about or bring cases in other jurisdictions if he feels that it’s necessary.”
Garland added: “I will assure that if he does, he will be able to do that.”
If Garland’s testimony was truthful, and Weiss had all the authority he needed to investigate and prosecute Hunter Biden, then why appoint Weiss as special counsel five months later? What has changed, other than politics and the public perception of the misbehavior of this Justice Department?
Something doesn’t make sense. In fact, it stinks.
Recall, this is the same Weiss that slow-walked the serious tax case against Hunter Biden and allowed an agreement with his attorneys to expire, thus making it impossible to charge the president’s son for failing to pay his income taxes in 2014 and 2015.
It’s the same Weiss who, according to IRS special supervisory agent Gary Shapley and IRS criminal investigator Joseph Zeigler, told them and several others during an Oct. 7 meeting in the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office that he was “not the deciding official on whether charges are filed” against Hunter Biden.
Shapley and Zeigler later came forward as whistleblowers to House investigators.
Weiss told those at the meeting at his office, including Shapley and Zeigler, that he tried to bring cases against the younger Biden in the District of Columbia and in California, but that fellow U.S. attorneys in those jurisdictions “would not allow him to charge” him there.
And Weiss told them the kicker: He had asked “Main Justice” for special counsel status and was denied.
So, was Weiss lying to them? Was he telling his team this simply because he didn’t have the stomach to go after the president’s son?
What is the truth about what happened? And why should anyone have any confidence that a change in Weiss’ title will somehow correct the mishandling of the case to date by Weiss and other lawyers in his office?
Also keep in mind that Weiss hasn’t testified under oath yet, as demanded by House Republicans, to clear up what was said at that Oct. 7 meeting, nor has Garland. They clearly don’t want to, given the indicators of credibility for the two IRS whistleblowers.
Given the questions about Weiss’ credibility and competence as a prosecutor, as well as the lawyers working for him, why would the attorney general select him as a special counsel, knowing full well that the relevant regulation calls for him to pick someone outside government?
Hundreds of qualified former U.S. attorneys or retired federal judges or other distinguished lawyers could have stepped into the role of special counsel and conducted an impartial, thorough investigation and prosecution.
The facts here, much of which have been gathered by the Justice Department and House investigators, aren’t terribly difficult: Hunter Biden got money from entities abroad (including China and Ukraine) while his father was vice president; he refused or failed to pay taxes on this income; he didn’t register as a foreign agent; and he lied on a federal form when he applied for a handgun.
Any experienced former prosecutor could handle that case and follow the facts (if allowed) wherever they lead. This case could have been wrapped up years ago.
And therein lies the rub. By violating the stated requirements for a special counsel in appointing Weiss, Garland guaranteed that the “investigation” of Hunter Biden will be one in name only. The facts—all of them—never will come to light.
Charles “Cully” Stimson is a leading expert in national security, homeland security, crime control, immigration, and drug policy at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Read his research.
Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, and former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice. He is a member of the board of the Public Interest Legal Foundation.
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