Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss testified on Tuesday that before his appointment as special counsel earlier this year, a top Justice Department official gave him special attorney authority in May of 2022 to proceed with charges against Hunter Biden in Washington, D.C., or California. That testimony would have been an explosive twist in the House’s investigation into the DOJ’s obstruction of the Hunter Biden case — but for the fact that Weiss soon after contradicted himself, saying he had instead been promised special attorney authority. That Weiss can’t keep his story straight is telling of a bigger scandal.
On Tuesday, the Delaware U.S. attorney, who is doing double duty as special counsel, sat for an interview with the House Judiciary Committee, a transcript of which The Federalist has reviewed. While much of the interview consisted of Weiss refusing to answer the House’s questions under the guise of protecting an ongoing investigation, he did respond to questions about his charging authority.
The House focused on whether Weiss had sought what is called Section 515 special attorney authority from the Department of Justice. Under Section 515, a U.S. attorney for one federal district may bring criminal proceedings in another district “when specifically directed by the Attorney General.” Thus, if Weiss had been granted special attorney status under Section 515, he could have brought criminal charges against Hunter Biden in a California federal district court or in the District of Columbia, even though he was the U.S. attorney for Delaware.
IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley previously testified to the House Ways and Means Committee that during a meeting on Oct. 7, 2022, Weiss had told the team investigating Hunter Biden that he had previously asked the DOJ for “special counsel authority” but was told to follow the process. While on Tuesday Weiss testified that he had not requested special counsel authority prior to seeking a special counsel appointment in August of 2023, Weiss said that he had asked the DOJ about the possibility of obtaining “special attorney” authority under Section 515.
According to Weiss, in February of 2022, he reached out to then-Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General John Carlin to ask about obtaining Section 515. “I would have reached out because we were looking to bring certain portions of our investigation to either D.C. or L.A. at that time,” Weiss explained. But rather than grant Weiss Section 515 authority, Carlin told Weiss to follow the process, which entailed seeking the agreement of the Biden-appointed U.S. attorneys to partner in a prosecution of the president’s son.
The D.C. U.S. attorney later refused to partner with Weiss, sending him to California to request that the U.S. attorney there partner on the case. However, according to Weiss, before he spoke with the California U.S. attorney, he spoke again with Carlin in early May, telling the associate deputy AG that D.C. had decided against joining the investigation.
“[M]y recollection,” Weiss continued, was “that John Carlin at that time said, ‘look, if you decide to proceed in D.C., you have the authority to do so, and you have the authority under 515, to bring whatever charges you deem appropriate.”
Now, had he stuck with that story, that would have been something — because for the last half-year or so, Weiss and Attorney General Merrick Garland have been playing the ridiculous lawyers’ game: It depends on what the meaning of “have” is. But not long after claiming Carlin told him he had “the authority under 515,” Weiss changed his story again, as this exchange shows:
House: Okay. You’ve said in your letters and you reiterated again today that you were assured that you would be granted 515 authority if it proved necessary. At what point would you need to formally go through the process to obtain Section 515 authority?
Weiss: I would execute on that authority at the time we were ready to bring the charges, to file.
House: Okay. And, accordingly, if you were not ready to bring charges, you would not formally go through the process to obtain 515 authority. Is that correct?
Weiss: That’s correct.
So we are back again to where we were before, which is that Weiss did not have the authority to charge Hunter Biden in D.C. or California. That directly conflicts with what Garland told Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, during a hearing on March 1, 2023, when the head of the DOJ 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.”
“Has full authority” is clearly not the same thing as “will be given full authority” or “has been assured he will be given full authority.”
Why the Word Games?
The constantly changing storylines and knots in which Weiss and Garland are willing to tie themselves rather than admit the truth — that Weiss did not have ultimate charging authority in the Hunter Biden investigation — should make Americans pause to consider why.
Why have we been playing some six months of word games? Why are Garland and Weiss sticking with the ridiculous claim that there are no inconsistencies in their explanations, when they could merely acknowledge the situation? Namely, Weiss didn’t have the authority to charge Hunter Bidden in California or D.C., but had assurances that he would be given that authority if he asked.
There are two reasons Weiss and Garland refuse to acknowledge the obvious. First, it would require them to concede that they misled Congress and the American public about Weiss’s independence.
For months the attorney general assured the country that politics played no role in the Hunter Biden investigation because Weiss was a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney with ultimate authority over the case. To now admit that wasn’t quite accurate would be a concession that Garland misled both Congress and the public.
Second, if Weiss were to concede he still needed to obtain authority to charge Hunter Biden in California, he would be confirming whistleblower Gary Shapley’s version of the meeting on Oct. 7, 2022. According to Shapley’s notes, Weiss said he did not have authority to charge Hunter Biden in California but “he would have to request permission to bring charges in CA from the Deputy Attorney General/Attorney General.”
And if Shapley’s version of the meeting is accurate, it’s likely the rest of the obstruction to which he testified is too. No wonder Weiss and Garland continue to play ridiculous word games.