The Department of Justice (DOJ) declined a request by Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss for additional charging authority for the Hunter Biden case in spring 2022, prior to his special counsel appointment.
Weiss, the lead prosecutor in the Hunter Biden investigation, testified Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee and described a call with two DOJ officials who turned down his request for special attorney authority under section 515, according to a transcript of his testimony reviewed by the Daily Caller. (RELATED: Top Hunter Biden Prosecutor Confirms Key Detail Of IRS Whistleblower Testimony, Jim Jordan Says)
Weiss spoke on the phone with Associate Deputy Attorney General Bradley Weinsheimer, his main point of contact, and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General (PADAG) John Carlin after he reached out about extending the investigation into D.C. and California. (RELATED: Special Counsel Investigating Hunter Biden Still Hasn’t Filled Out His Legal Team Months After Appointment)
“I initiated email contact with Mr.Carlin, and I subsequently had a conversation with John Carlin, and I believe Brad Weinsheimer was on the call,” Weiss testified.
Weiss described how the DOJ officials told him to follow the normal charging process instead of giving him the extra authority.
“We discussed the fact that I would — they wanted me to proceed in the way it would typically be done, and that would involve ultimately reaching out to the U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia,” Weiss stated, according to a transcript of his testimony reviewed by the Daily Caller.
“I raised the idea of 515 authority at that time because I had been handling the investigation for some period of time. And, as I said, they suggested let’s go through the typical process and reach out to D.C. and see if D.C. would be interested in joining or otherwise participating in the investigation,” he added.
President Joe Biden-appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves testified before the Judiciary Committee in October and confirmed he declined to partner with Weiss on the Hunter Biden case, according to a transcript reviewed by the Daily Caller.
U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California E. Martin Estrada, another Biden pick, also testified before the committee and confirmed his refusal to work with Weiss on the Hunter Biden case.
Weiss told the Judiciary Committee he viewed the 515 authority as necessary for him as a U.S. Attorney to file charges in a different jurisdiction.
“As I understand it, the Special Attorney under 515 was for the purpose of allowing me, as a U.S. Attorney in one jurisdiction, to possibly proceed with charges in another jurisdiction,” Weiss explained.
Weiss also described his conversation with DOJ officials about the “process” surrounding potential cases in the District of Columbia.
“As I said, they said let’s proceed as we would in the normal process. We talked a bit about the fact that it’s often the case in D.C. that a DOJ component, whether it’s Tax Division or Public Integrity, would develop a case and reach out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. and give them an opportunity to participate. So the discussion was let’s proceed in a typical fashion,” Weiss elaborated, according to a transcript of his testimony reviewed by the Daily Caller.
At another moment during his testimony, Weiss specifically recalled his request for section 515 authority.
“I did ask for 515 Special Attorney authority,” Weiss stated. “In the spring of 2022.”
Weiss nevertheless insisted he would have been given 515 authority by the DOJ if the U.S. Attorneys declined to partner with him on the case.
“They said to follow the process, talk to Graves, give him the opportunity to join. When I completed that process, I returned to 515, and I was assured you had the authority to proceed in D.C. and to file any charges you deem appropriate,” Weiss said.
He was pressed again on section 515 authority and the nature of his phone call later in his testimony, resulting in a dispute over specific terminology.
“But [515 authority] wasn’t granted, right?”
“Yes. We have been over this,” Weiss said. “It wasn’t granted. They said, follow the process. I followed the process,” Weiss repeated.
“I asked for something, and in that conversation they didn’t give it to me,” Weiss added. He refused to say if the decision not to grant 515 authority was a “denial” by DOJ officials.
“I’m not — you want me to say it’s a denial, but it’s not. Not when I know that, weeks later, I was specifically told, ‘You can proceed.’ So it’s the same question, it’s the same request,” Weiss insisted, according to a transcript of his testimony reviewed by the Daily Caller.
“From my mind it’s a sequencing event. It’s not a denial in any way, shape or form. That’s the way I interpreted it,” Weiss clarified.
IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley testified about an Oct. 7, 2022, meeting where Weiss allegedly said the DOJ denied his request for special counsel authority and told him to follow the process. Shapley’s attorneys have shared an email and handwritten notes containing Shapley’s account of the meeting.
Weiss’ rebuked Shapley’s accusation that he requested special counsel authority and Shapley’s allegation that Weiss said he did not have the final say on whether to file charges.
“I described that I had a conversation with Main Justice about following the process,” Weiss said in response to a question about Shapley’s notes.
“And I didn’t request Special Counsel authority. I requested what I characterized as 515 authority,” Weiss testified. He also told investigators he was not accusing Shapley of lying.
“I don’t — I can’t speak to Mr. Shapley. I’m not saying anything about whether he’s lying. I’m not suggesting that he’s lying. I don’t know the basis for his statements or what he’s committed to his notes,” Weiss said, according to a transcript of his testimony reviewed by the Daily Caller.
He previously denied Shapley’s accusations in a July letter to Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Two IRS officials have testified about a rift between Weiss and Shapley that resulted in Shapley’s removal from the Hunter Biden probe.
In early June, Weiss wrote a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan saying he had “ultimate authority” over the Hunter Biden investigation. A few weeks later, Weiss wrote a second letter to Jordan where he said his charging authority was geographically limited.
Jordan told reporters after Weiss’ testimony Tuesday that Shapley had been vindicated by Weiss’ admission he was denied special attorney authority and instructed to follow the DOJ process.
“And that answer, I think the key is, is entirely consistent with what Mr. Shapley said after the October 7, 2022 meeting, when he said USA Weiss requested Special Counsel authority when it was sent to DC and Main DOJ denied his request and told him to follow the process,” Jordan asserted.
Shapley had accused Graves and Estrada of refusing to cooperate on the case prior to their testimony. The Ways and Means Committee released a trove of documents in September supporting the IRS whistleblower testimony. Hunter Biden is suing the IRS for alleged illegal disclosures by Shapley and Ziegler.
The attorney general said Weiss had “full authority” over the Hunter Biden matter and Garland said he did not consider anyone else for the special counsel position.
Henry Rodgers contributed to this report.