U.S. Attorney, now Special Counsel, David Weiss did not have full charging authority during the bulk of his federal investigation into Hunter Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland slyly admitted in his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Garland’s confession contradicts his previous under-oath insistence that Weiss possessed all of the authority he needed to properly charge President Joe Biden’s youngest son with various tax and gun crimes, some of which extended to other jurisdictions.
“You said [Weiss] had complete authority but he’d already been turned down. He wanted to bring an action in the District of Columbia and the U.S. attorney there said ‘no, you can’t.’ And then you go tell the United States Senate under oath that he has complete authority,” Chairman Jim Jordan explained during the hearing.
“No one had the authority to turn him down,” Garland claimed. One second later, Garland divulged that those U.S. attorneys in fact “could refuse to partner with him.”
Even after acknowledging Weiss’s attempts to charge Hunter were hampered by a U.S. attorney acting on behalf of the DOJ, Garland doubled down on his claims that the attorney “has full authority to conduct his investigation however he wishes.” He repeatedly invoked Weiss’s position as a Donald Trump appointee as proof that he was acting independently of the AG.
Despite the potential penalty of perjury, Garland claimed during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 1, 2023, that “the U.S. Attorney in Delaware has been advised that he has full authority … to bring cases in other jurisdictions if he feels it’s necessary.”
In a June 7 letter to Jordan, Weiss appeared to confirm that “I have been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges.” In a subsequent June 30 letter, however, Weiss reversed his claim and declared that his charging authority “is geographically limited to my home district.”
Weiss’s June 30 clarification is consistent with testimony from IRS whistleblowers, including email documentation they recorded in 2022, and testimony from FBI agents.
During the hearing, Garland attempted to discredit the agents’ attestations that the DOJ’s “cumbersome bureaucratic process” made it difficult for Weiss to charge Hunter by claiming “their description of the process as cumbersome is an opinion, not a fact.” He also claimed that Weiss’s letters “reflect that he had never asked me to be special counsel and that he understood the process for asking for a signature on a Section 515 form,” the form which Garland needed to sign for Weiss to prosecute outside of Delaware.
Weiss’s lack of jurisdiction was further confirmed in August when Garland named Weiss special counsel, an authority that allows the prosecutor to charge Hunter outside of Delaware. If Weiss truly did possess full autonomy in the Hunter case, as Garland dubiously declared on numerous occasions, he wouldn’t have needed the special counsel appointment to prosecute the president’s son.
Garland still claimed he had made it clear that Weiss could bring a case in any jurisdiction with the attorney general’s blessing via a Section 515 form.
For most of the hearing, Garland tried to appear as a hands-off department head who let Weiss independently conduct his investigation. Republicans quickly saw through that facade when Garland immediately refused to disclose whether he had communications with Weiss about Hunter’s case.
He also claimed could not “recollect” whether he discussed the investigation with anyone at the FBI.
“There is no question that he can answer whether such conversations occurred,” legal scholar Jonathan Turley noted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “When Bill Barr testified as Attorney General he confirmed subjects even in communications with the President while declining details on conversations.”