During a Senate Judiciary hearing on Wednesday, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) strongly disputed Attorney General Merrick Garland’s past assurance that there would “not be interference of any political or improper kind” in the Delaware U.S. attorney’s investigation into Hunter Biden’s shady business activities.
Lawmakers grilled the attorney general over the Hunter Biden probe, as well as the rise of fentanyl-related deaths, prison policy for transvestites, and the Justice Department’s aggressive actions against pro-life activists.
Justice Department regulations forbid U.S. attorneys from bringing charges outside their jurisdictions, and require the prosecuting attorney to either to get permission from that jurisdiction’s U.S. attorney or to transfer the case to them.
When pressed on this, Garland insisted that David Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware, has been authorized to bring charges against Hunter Biden in another jurisdiction or state, if it is deemed necessary.
“The U.S. attorney has been advised that he has full authority to make those kind of referrals that you are talking about and to bring cases in other jurisdictions if he feels it’s necessary. And I will assure that if he does, he will be able to do that,” Garland testified.
Multiple news outlets reported last fall that the FBI squad working with Weiss believed it had collected enough evidence to charge Hunter with crimes related to tax fraud and lying about his drug use when he purchased a firearm. The decision of whether to charge Hunter Biden with those or other crimes rest with Weiss, who was nominated by then-President Donald Trump in November 2017 and confirmed by the Senate in February 2018.
During the hearing, Senator Grassley asked Garland a noticeably specific question about a potential referral of charges to two other states.
“Has the Delaware U.S. Attorney sought permission from another U.S. Attorney’s office such as in the District of Columbia or in California to bring charges (against Hunter Biden)? If so was it denied?” Grassley asked.
“I don’t know the answer to that, and I don’t want to get into the internal elements of decision making by the U.S. attorney, but he has been advised that he is not to be denied anything that he needs,” the attorney general replied.
Grassley, and 32 other Republican Senators signed a letter last September asking Garland to give Weiss the powers of a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings.
“Given the politicization of the DOJ under your watch and the importance of avoiding any appearance of impropriety, the undersigned request that you provide U.S. Attorney Weiss the full protections and authorities of a special counsel,” the letter said. “This is one important action that you can take that will go a long way in restoring faith in our governmental institutions.”
“If you provided the Delaware U.S. Attorney with Special Counsel authority, isn’t it true he wouldn’t need permission from another U.S. Attorney to bring charges?” Grassley pressed the AG.
Garland said it was a “complicated question,” but answered that those kinds of charges would have to authorized by his office, and he would “give him full authority to do that.”
“If it’s in another district, he would have to bring the case in another district, but as I promised to ensure that he’s able to carry out his investigation and that he be able to run it, and if he needs to bring it in another jurisdiction, he will have full authority to do that,” the attorney general insisted.
Grassley pointed out that volumes of potentially criminal evidence against Hunter Biden is already in the DOJ’s hands, according to whistleblower information shared with Congress.
“Recent lawfully protected whistleblower disclosures to my office indicate that the Justice Department and the FBI had at one time over a dozen sources who provided potentially criminal information relating to Hunter Biden,” Grassley said. “The alleged volume and similarity of the information would demand that the Justice Department investigate the truth and accuracy of the information,” he added.
The Iowa Republican then asked Garland what steps the Justice Department has taken to determine the truth and accuracy of the whistleblowers’ claims.
“Congress and the American people I think have a right to know,” Grassley said.
Garland said that he has left the matter in the hands of the Delaware’s U.S. Attorney, “so any information like that should have gone to that U.S. attorney’s offices and the FBI squad that is working with him.”
“I pledged not to interfere with that investigation and I have carried through on my pledge,” Garland said.
Grassley indicated he wasn’t impressed with Garland’s assurances.
“If the U.S. attorney there in Delaware has to seek permission from a Biden-appointed U.S. attorney to bring charges, then the Hunter Biden criminal investigation isn’t insulated from political interference as you publicly proclaim,” Grassley stated.