By Catherine Yang
In President Joe Biden’s first public answer since a special counsel was appointed to investigate his son Hunter Biden’s financial dealings, the president deferred to the Justice Department (DOJ).
“I have no comment on any investigation that’s going on,” he told reporters during a press conference at Camp David. “That’s up to the Justice Department, and that’s all I have to say.”
The president had previously ignored all questions on the matter.
On Aug. 11, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss as special counsel in the ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden.
“Mr. Weiss advised me that in his judgment, his investigation has reached a stage at which he should continue his work as a special counsel, and he asked to be so appointed,” said Mr. Garland.
House committees are also investigating Mr. Biden’s financial dealings, including possible foreign lobbying violations.
The DOJ has been investigating Mr. Biden since 2020, and Mr. Weiss led the DOJ’s investigation beginning February 2021. This led to charges being filed in June and what Republicans decried as a “sweetheart deal.”
Mr. Biden was charged with two counts of failure to pay income tax and one charge of unlawful possession of a firearm, and the DOJ announced a plea bargain in which Mr. Biden would plead guilty to the two tax offenses and avoid conviction on the firearms offense.
The case went to trial on July 26, and the plea deal seemed to immediately fall apart. The judge noted that the linking of these two crimes was “atypical” and asked the attorneys to return with more information. Mr. Biden then pleaded not guilty.
Then on Aug. 17, the judge dismissed the tax charges against Mr. Biden.
Mr. Weiss cited ongoing investigations and venue problems that may arise—not trying the two misdemeanor tax charges in Delaware could allow him to bring new charges in another jurisdiction, such as the District of Columbia and California.
“The Government, in the exercise of its prosecutorial discretion, is considering what tax charges to bring in another district and may elect to bring the same charges set forth in the instant information or different ones,” prosecutors said in court filings last week.
The news of Mr. Weiss’s appointment was met with criticism, as Mr. Weiss was named in earlier testimonies in House investigations into Mr. Biden’s foreign business dealings.
Whistleblowers from the Internal Revenue Service testified before Congress, alleging that DOJ officials “dragged their feet” on IRS investigations purposefully, when Joe Biden became the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020.
They alleged that in March 2022, Mr. Weiss sought special counsel status in order to investigate without so much oversight from political stakeholders, but the request was refused. Months later in fall, he sought charges against Mr. Biden in California, and his request was denied this January.
Publicly, Mr. Garland had told Congress that Mr. Weiss had the authority needed to pursue the charges, and Mr. Weiss later also publicly stated he had not sought special counsel status and had the authority to pursue charges, contrary to the whistleblowers’ testimonies.
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on the Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Federal Workforce, raised objections regarding Mr. Weiss’s impartiality, which the special counsel role requires.
“Merrick Garland hired a Special Counsel who he knew would not investigate the President’s illegal behavior while he was Vice President,” he told The Epoch Times previously.
“He is placing the same prosecutor in charge of Hunter Biden’s sweetheart deal. David Weiss has shown himself to not be an impartial decision-maker, and therefore I do not believe he is qualified to be Special Counsel. Lawmakers will not stand idly by and will rigorously seek accountability and transparency in this process,” he said.
Sen. Lindsay Graham, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the appointment was a continuation of the DOJ’s “sweetheart deal.”
“To allow this same team to continue to investigate potential financial crimes involving Hunter Biden and others doesn’t pass the smell test. If the goal of Attorney General Garland’s decision to appoint Mr. Weiss as special counsel in the Hunter Biden investigation was to put this story to bed, he failed miserably,” he said.
House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) labeled it a “coverup.”
“Let’s be clear what today’s move is really about,” Mr. Comer said in a statement. “The Biden Justice Department is trying to stonewall congressional oversight as we have presented evidence to the American people about the Biden family’s corruption.”