The ‘new’ head of the ‘highly sensitive’ investigation hasn’t been given any powers that he didn’t supposedly have before.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland, who works for President Joe Biden, desperately wants the world to know that the government’s investigation of his boss’ son is utterly apolitical. America’s top law-enforcement official is so desperate, in fact, that he has appointed a special counsel to handle the case.
That’s right. No mere employee of Garland’s US Department of Justice (DOJ) is going to be leading the criminal investigation of Hunter Biden. Garland on Friday assigned a special counsel to the case because he wanted to demonstrate to Americans the DOJ’s “commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters.”
Make no mistake: This is definitely one of those “particularly sensitive matters.” The president’s son has been accused of a litany of crimes – from failing to pay taxes to making an illegal gun purchase to transporting women across state lines for prostitution. It turns out he’s the sort of guy who was brazen enough to take pictures of himself smoking crack and driving his Porsche at 172 miles per hour, then to leave those images and countless other incriminating files on a laptop computer that he abandoned at a Delaware repair shop.
Most sensitive politically is the evidence suggesting that Hunter Biden ran an influence-peddling operation in which he allegedly solicited bribes in Ukraine and other countries by selling the family “brand.” The brand was then-Vice President Joe Biden and the political clout that he could wield for the family’s friends.
Those claims are the most serious because they connect the commander-in-chief to the alleged conspiracy. In fact, Hunter Biden allegedly patched in his father on conference calls with overseas business associates and once tried to coerce a Chinese businessman to resolve a payment dispute by claiming that Joe Biden was sitting next to him and would make the partner regret failing to comply.
President Biden has angrily denied having been with his son when the shakedown message was sent. He also has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of or involvement in his son’s business dealings. As evidence continues to mount to the contrary, it’s easy to see why Garland is concerned about public perceptions heading into the 2024 presidential election.
Republicans have accused the DOJ of giving the president’s son preferential treatment and of trying to protect the Biden family as Joe Biden seeks re-election. Two-thirds of US voters polled by Rasmussen Reports agreed, saying Hunter Biden got favorable treatment from federal prosecutors because his father is the president.
If all that doesn’t make the investigation politically sensitive enough, the cherry on top is that a DOJ special counsel has filed dozens of felony charges against Biden’s chief 2024 rival, former President Donald Trump, in two separate cases. Trump, the first ex-president in US history to be criminally indicted, has claimed that politically motivated prosecutors are trying to interfere in the election because Biden can’t defeat him in a rematch of their 2020 battle.
Garland’s solution was to appoint a special counsel in the Biden case. However, it turns out that the prosecutor assigned to the role is the same DOJ employee who has been running the Hunter Biden investigation since 2019. David Weiss, US attorney for the district of Delaware, was elevated to special counsel status at his own request. “Upon considering his request, as well as the extraordinary circumstances relating to this matter, I have concluded it is in the public interest to appoint him as special counsel,” Garland said.
The Pro-Biden press corps – meaning pretty much the entire US legacy media – nodded approvingly. For example, the New Republic was quick to claim that Biden’s attorney general had “annihilated several main Republican talking points.” The move “fully insulated the investigation from accusations of government interference,” the outlet added. NBC News said “distrustful” Republicans were still critical of the appointment.
As Garland pointed out, as special counsel Weiss will no longer be subject to “day-to-day supervision” by any Department of Justice (DOJ) official. And if the administration were to torpedo the investigation or block the filing of any charges, Garland would be required to inform Congress. The attorney general and Biden’s media backers also have noted that Weiss was appointed to his job by Trump and was allowed to continue leading the Hunter Biden investigation when the new president came into office.
But what really changed? Garland has repeatedly claimed that Weiss was given full authority all along to make prosecutorial decisions without any interference from higher-ups. If Garland is to be believed, Weiss merely has the same authority now, and his prosecutorial decisions will still have to conform with DOJ policies. He will have broad authority to file charges in any jurisdiction he chooses, but his boss insisted that he had that latitude before.
Weiss has backed up Garland’s claims that the investigation has been free of political interference. He denied allegations from IRS whistleblowers that the administration had declined to give him special-counsel status and that he had been prevented from filing indictments against the president’s son in Washington and Los Angeles, where some of the alleged crimes supposedly occurred.
Republican lawmakers were unimpressed by the fact Weiss was appointed as a US attorney by Trump, pointing instead to actions that suggested he was trying to protect the Bidens. The Delaware prosecutor’s investigation dragged on for four years, during which the DOJ declined to set the record straight when former US intelligence officials falsely claimed the laptop scandal was a Russian disinformation operation, deceiving voters just before the 2020 election. When Weiss finally did file an indictment in June, it was limited to tax and gun matters.
Weiss made a deal with defense lawyers that called for the felony gun charge to be dropped if Biden adhered to the terms of a diversion agreement. The president’s son also was enabled to avoid jail time on the two misdemeanor tax charges to which he agreed to plead guilty. It was a political happy ending that would allow Hunter Biden to move on, free of any felonies on his record, and end the distraction he was creating for his father’s re-election campaign.
Unfortunately for the Bidens, US District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika was taken aback by the deal, at least partly because it appeared that Weiss had given Hunter Biden immunity from prosecution for other possible crimes. The judge refused to accept the plea bargain late last month and sent the lawyers back to the drawing board to work out a revised agreement. Weiss said in a court filing on Friday that talks on a new plea deal were at an “impasse,” suggesting that the case was headed for trial.
It’s unlikely that such a trial would ever be allowed to happen, making a public spectacle of the allegations against Hunter Biden at a time when his father is asking voters for another four-year term in the White House. Even as Garland assures the public that the investigation will be guided “only by the facts and the law,” Weiss will have other concerns. Whether he carries the title of special counsel or US attorney for the district of Delaware, his job is to give the appearance of enforcing the law without causing any serious harm to the Bidens.
In the end, we can be pretty sure that no Biden will ever see the inside of a prison cell, unless he’s there for a photo op to show that he’s getting tough on crime.