Attorney General Merrick Garland appeared to give differing answers on whether the U.S. attorney investigating Hunter Biden had authority to bring charges during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
During the Wednesday hearing, Garland testified that United States attorneys could “refuse to partner” with then-United States Attorney for Delaware David Weiss if he sought to bring charges against Hunter Biden in another jurisdiction. However, during previous testimony, Garland had said Weiss had “full authority” to bring cases in other jurisdictions if he believed it to be necessary.
Garland said Wednesday that no one “had the authority to turn” now-Special Counsel Weiss down, but then immediately noted when pressed by Committee Chair Rep. Jim Jordan that they could “refuse to partner with him.” Jordan pointed out that the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia did exactly that, and had turned Weiss down when he wanted to bring charges in the jurisdiction.
Republican members repeatedly pressed Garland on whether it was really “full authority” when Weiss could be turned down, and would have to ask permission from leadership to do it himself. Garland maintained that he had “promised” the authority to Weiss.
“All he would have to do is ask me for 515 authority, and I would sign it right away,” Garland told Republican South Carolina Rep. Russell Fry. “He had the authority because I promised he would have the authority”
For a district attorney to bring charges outside of their jurisdiction, he would have to be granted special attorney status by the Attorney General or DOJ leadership.
IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley alleged Weiss had sought and been denied special counsel status, a claim Weiss refuted in a July 10 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
AG Merrick Garland just admitted that David Weiss did NOT have full authority during the Hunter Biden investigation.
“They could refuse to partner with him.”
This directly contradicts Garland’s previous claims about Weiss’ authority. pic.twitter.com/xZYJhz2PWG
— House Republicans (@HouseGOP) September 20, 2023
In March, Garland told Congress that Weiss would have “full authority” to bring charges in another jurisdiction.
“[I]f it’s in another district, he would have to bring the case in another district,” Garland told Congress. “But as I said, I promise to ensure that he’s able to carry out his investigation and that he’d be able to run it. And if he needs to bring it in another jurisdiction, he will have full authority to do that.”
Garland noted upon further questioning in March he would still have to “authorize” such a decision.
“I would then have to, you know, authorize it and permit it to be brought in the jurisdiction — and that is exactly what I promised to do here,” he added.
Michael Batdorf, IRS Criminal Investigation field operation director, alleged during testimony with the House Ways & Means Committee that he had been frustrated by the California prosecutor’s decision not to cooperate with Weiss on bringing charges against Hunter Biden in 2022, according to Politico.
On Wednesday, Garland also refused to answer a question from Republican Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson about whether he discussed the Hunter Biden probe with Weiss.
“There is no question that he can answer whether such conversations occurred,” George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley wrote on Twitter. “When Bill Barr testified as Attorney General he confirmed subjects even in communications with the President while declining details on conversations.”
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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