The Department of Justice directed Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss not to respond to congressional inquiries, according to an email provided exclusively to The Federalist. That same email stressed that under DOJ policy, only its Office of Legislative Affairs, or OLA, can respond to requests from the legislative branch.
Yet Weiss would later sign and dispatch a letter to the House Judiciary Committee in response to an inquiry sent directly to Attorney General Merrick Garland. And in that letter, Weiss misleadingly claimed he had “been granted ultimate authority over” the Hunter Biden investigation. The DOJ’s disregard of its own policy provides further proof that both Garland and Weiss intended to obfuscate the reality that Weiss never held the reins of the Hunter Biden investigation.
On May 9, 2022, Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin wrote to Delaware U.S. Attorney Weiss inquiring about several aspects of the Hunter Biden investigation. After the senators sent a follow-up email to the Delaware U.S. attorney’s office requesting a response by week’s end, Delaware’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney Shannon Hanson asked the DOJ about protocol and then updated Weiss, stating in an email:
Consistent with my conversation with [redacted] last night, we are supposed to forward this and any other correspondence to OLA. Per DOJ policy, only OLA can respond on behalf of the Department to a request from the legislative branch.
On June 9, 2022, the OLA, as provided for in the DOJ’s policy, responded to Grassley and Johnson’s letter. The following month, Grassley and Johnson dispatched a second letter to Weiss, as well as Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray. In an email reviewed by The Federalist, the Office of Legislative Affairs told Weiss’s office it would “take the lead on drafting a response” to Grassley and Johnson’s letter.
The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project obtained these emails and the most recent one revealing the DOJ’s policy that only the “OLA can respond on behalf of the Department to a request from the legislative branch,” after its Director Mike Howell filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the DOJ. The email to Weiss summarizing the DOJ policy contained in this latest batch of court-ordered disclosures proves huge given the sequence of events that occurred earlier this year.
On May 25, 2023, House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland questioning him about the removal of the IRS whistleblowers from the Hunter Biden investigation. Although Jordan directed his inquiry to Garland, on June 7, 2023, Weiss dispatched a letter to the House Judiciary chair, noting in his opening: “Your May 25th letter to Attorney General Garland was forwarded to me, with a request that I respond on behalf of the Department.”
Weiss then stated, as Garland had previously indicated, that he (Weiss) had “been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges and for making decisions necessary to preserve the integrity of the prosecution…”
That Weiss would respond on behalf of Garland raised eyebrows at the time. Jordan noted “the unusual nature of your response on behalf of Attorney General Garland,” and asked for information concerning the names of individuals who drafted or assisted in drafting the June 7 letter, as well as details concerning the drafting and dispatching of the letter.
But now we know it wasn’t merely “unusual” for Weiss to respond on behalf of the attorney general — it was in apparent violation of the DOJ policy that only the OLA would respond to legislative inquiries. And it was that same policy that prevented Weiss from responding to the earlier questions posed by Johnson and Grassley directly to the Delaware U.S. attorney.
The content of Weiss’s June 7 letter provides a pretty clear answer for why the DOJ ignored its own policy and enlisted the Delaware U.S. attorney to respond to Jordan: Garland needed Weiss to verify what the attorney general had previously told Grassley during a March 1, 2023, hearing. During that hearing, Garland expressly stated 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.” Weiss’s assertion in the June 7 letter that he had “been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges and for making decisions necessary to preserve the integrity of the prosecution…” seemingly confirmed Garland’s testimony.
Of course, as informed Americans now know, the release of the IRS whistleblower’s testimony — that Weiss claimed he was not the ultimate decisionmaker — forced the Delaware U.S. attorney to pen a follow-up letter to Jordan. In that June 30, 2023 sequel, Weiss, while purporting to stand by what he had previously written, contradicted his earlier representation that he had “been granted ultimate authority.” Instead, Weiss explained he had “been assured” that “if necessary,” he would be granted authority to charge Hunter Biden in any other district.
Having ultimate authority and being assured that you would be given ultimate authority if necessary are clearly two different things, yet Weiss gave cover for Garland in his June letters. Now we have further proof that the DOJ was behind those letters — otherwise, Weiss would be in violation of the department’s policy.
The DOJ did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment on Weiss’s apparent violation of the department’s policy.