Attorney General Merrick Garland’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday gave lawmakers the opportunity to press him on the Hunter Biden case.
Garland’s testimony brought out significant revelations surrounding special counsel David Weiss and the refusal from Biden-appointed U.S. Attorneys in D.C. and the Central District of California to cooperate with Weiss on potentially charging Hunter Biden. However, the attorney general refused to elaborate on details of the Hunter Biden case and allowed Weiss to be defined by his appointment by former President Donald Trump.
Below are the biggest missed opportunities from Garland’s testimony. (RELATED: Here Are The Biggest Takeaways From Merrick Garland’s Testimony About The Hunter Biden Case)
Correcting the record on David Weiss’ bipartisan support
Garland and Democratic lawmakers repeatedly highlighted Weiss’ appointment as Delaware U.S. Attorney under Trump. Republicans missed the opportunity to effectively counter the talking point.
“Mr. Weiss is a longtime career prosecutor, President Trump appointed him,” Garland told Republican Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson.
Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York, Zoe Lofgren of California and Steve Cohen of Tennessee were among the lawmakers who emphasized Weiss’ appointment under Trump in their questions to Garland.
“Mr. Weiss was appointed by then President Trump. Your decision was to leave the Trump-appointed attorney completely in charge of this, hands off from you. He makes all the calls without interference from the attorney general. Is that correct?” Lofgren asked. Garland answered her question in the affirmative.
“Did you say that President Trump … appointed Weiss, who then you appointed?” Cohen asked.
“Yes, President Trump appointed Mr. Weiss as United States Attorney,” Garland replied.
“So that should take care of that issue,” Cohen remarked.
Weiss was appointed U.S. Attorney by Donald Trump with bipartisan support from Delaware Democratic Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons.
“I want to thank the White House for working with Sen. Carper and me to present an excellent nominee for U.S. attorney,” Coons said in February 2018 upon Weiss’ nomination. Weiss served as acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware under former President Barack Obama and worked with Hunter Biden’s late brother Beau Biden on legal cases in that role.
Towards the end of Garland’s testimony Republican Wyoming Rep. Harriet Hageman pressed Garland on his emphasis on Weiss being appointed by Trump.
Whose team is Attorney General Garland on? I think we’ve seen enough of his partisan enforcement of the law to know it’s not the side of the American people. pic.twitter.com/dvsyKakvpT
— Rep. Harriet Hageman (@RepHageman) September 20, 2023
“Mr. Garland, one of the things you have done and repeated over and over and over again is that to point out that Mr. Weiss was appointed as U.S. attorney by President Trump, as though that somehow inoculates him from criticism by us. Is that really how this game is played, that if someone is appointed by a Republican, then they’re supposed to be on the Republican team, or if they’re appointed by a Democrat, they’re on the Democrat team? You were appointed by Mr. Biden, weren’t you? Are you on the Democrat team?” Hageman said.
“Let me just be clear, the point that he was appointed by a Republican counteracts the claim that he was a partisan decision to benefit Democrats,” Garland clarified.
Discussing the details of Devon Archer’s testimony
Hunter Biden’s former business associate Devon Archer testified to House Oversight in July and said Joe Biden spoke with his son’s business partners on more than 20 occasions. Archer recalled a spring 2014 dinner then-Vice President Joe Biden attended with Russian oligarch Elena Baturina and a spring 2015 dinner with Vadim Pozharskyi, an executive with Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.
Archer also discussed a meeting Joe Biden had in Beijing with a Chinese business associate whose daughter later received a college recommendation letter from then-VP Joe Biden. (RELATED: Here’s All The Evidence Connecting Joe Biden To Hunter Biden’s Foreign Business Dealings)
In addition, Archer told House Oversight how the Biden family “brand” represented by Joe Biden protected Burisma and kept the firm in business. Hunter Biden was paid more than $80,000 per month to sit on Burisma’s board despite his lack of experience in the energy sector and Ukrainian affairs, according to bank records released by House Oversight in August.
Baturina wired $3.5 million in February 2014 to a holding company controlled by Biden and Archer that was seldom used afterwards, the bank records show.
Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz asked Garland about Archer’s testimony describing how Hunter Biden sold business associates the appearance of access to Joe Biden.
“Hunter Biden associate Devon Archer told us that Hunter sold the appearance of access to then-Vice President Biden. Are you confident he has stopped?” Gaetz asked. Garland deferred to Weiss and said he did not intend on interfering with the ongoing Hunter Biden investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“Did Devon Archer not say Joe Biden did nothing wrong?” Cohen asked Garland. The attorney general said he only knew about Archer from media reports and Cohen repeated his claim that Archer’s testimony said Joe Biden did not do anything wrong.
Archer told House Oversight that Hunter Biden “called D.C.” in December 2015 because of pressure from Pozharskyi and Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky. He was unable to confirm whether Joe Biden was on the other end of the phone call.
Hunter Biden’s former business associate Eric Schwerin worked with then-VP Biden’s office on media requests related to Zlochevsky at the time Hunter made his phone call, according to archived emails and the House Oversight Committee.
Then-VP Biden’s office also sent talking points to State Department officials instructing them not to single out Zlochevsky ahead of Joe Biden’s December 2015 Ukraine trip, internal emails show. (RELATED: House Oversight Demands Records Of Joe Biden’s Push To Remove Ukrainian Prosecutor Going After Burisma)
Republicans did not press Garland further on these details.
Clarifying whether Lesley Wolf is still on the Hunter Biden case
Assistant Delaware U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf’s status on the Hunter Biden case remains unclear after Garland’s testimony. IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler accused Wolf of stonewalling search warrants and tipping off Hunter Biden’s defense attorneys.
Republican Wisconsin Rep. Scott Fitzgerald asked Garland if Wolf was still on the case and the specific allegations made against her.
“I’m not going to talk about any individuals in the Justice Department. As I said before, singling out individuals has led to serious threats to their safety,” Garland said. It’s unclear if any credible threats have been made against Wolf. Garland also deferred to Weiss and his reputation in response to Fitzgerald’s follow up question.
Republican Texas Rep. Nathaniel Moran brought up Wolf’s alleged behavior later in the hearing and Garland responded by deferring to Weiss and DOJ standards.
Moran pressed Garland on the details provided by Shapley on Wolf’s apparent decision to prevent investigators from searching Hunter Biden’s storage locker in northern Virginia.
“Once again, I don’t know anything about these allegations, I don’t know whether they are correct or not. These are questions most appropriately put to Mr. Weiss,” Garland said.
Wolf worked on the DOJ’s negotiations with Hunter Biden’s legal team on his failed guilty plea agreement as recently as early June, Politico reported. Her name does not appear on any of the Delaware court documents in Hunter Biden’s case. Instead, DOJ special attorneys have signed the document alongside Weiss.
Hunter Biden was expected to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors in July until his plea deal fell apart in court. Delaware U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika questioned an immunity provision tucked into a pretrial diversion agreement for Hunter Biden’s felony gun charge, resulting in a dispute between Biden’s defense counsel and the DOJ. The first son ended up pleading not guilty to the two tax misdemeanors.
.@Jim_Jordan: “Did you consider anyone else when Weiss requested special counsel designation?”
GARLAND: “Did not consider an alternative.”
JORDAN: “The guy who presided over [plea deal, statute of limitations] was the ONLY guy under consideration…Is that right?”
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) September 20, 2023
Garland appointed Weiss special counsel in August after the IRS whistleblower testimony that Hunter Biden received special treatment under Weiss’ watch as Delaware U.S. Attorney. Garland testified Wednesday that he did not consider anyone from outside the DOJ to serve as special counsel.
Weiss filed a motion in August to withdraw Hunter Biden’s tax charges in order to potentially charge him in D.C. or the Central District of California. Noreika approved Weiss’ motion and dismissed the Delaware tax charges without prejudice.
Hunter Biden was indicted on Sept. 14 on three counts related to his October 2018 purchase of a Colt Cobra revolver as he allegedly battled a crack cocaine addiction. He will plead not guilty to the charges, Biden’s attorney said in a Tuesday court filing.
The House Ways and Means, Judiciary and Oversight Committees are investigating the whistleblower allegations and leading the House impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. The first impeachment inquiry hearing is scheduled for Sept. 28.