WASHINGTON — The nation’s top law enforcement official said Wednesday that Republican claims that a two-tier justice system favors the president’s son are a fantasy.
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Republicans said Garland’s Justice Department went easy on Hunter Biden and blamed former President Donald Trump.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, questioned whether the rhetoric in the Hunter Biden case had “any basis in reality.”
“No, that’s not the case,” Garland replied.
It was a more direct answer than Garland gave to numerous questions from Republicans about the investigation, which led to a grand jury indictment this month of the president’s son on illegal gun possession charges and could lead to more indictments.
Despite Hunter Biden’s legal threat, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that “the solution has been found” at the Justice Department. He alleged that senior officials interfered with an IRS investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes and that other officials obstructed Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss in prosecuting the case.
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) said the American public doesn’t trust the Justice Department. “You see, of course, that the Justice Department is aggressively pursuing President Biden’s political rival, Mr. Trump, while at the same time they see restraint and special treatment for the president’s son,” he said at the hearing.
Garland emphasized that he was not interfering in Hunter Biden’s case, repeatedly pointing out that Weiss was assigned to the investigation during the Trump administration and that President Biden left him the task of closing the case.
Weiss initially agreed to a plea deal with Hunter Biden, but the agreement collapsed in August due to a disagreement between prosecutors and Biden’s legal team over the extent of his immunity from further prosecution. Garland then elevated Weiss to special counsel at his request.
Republicans cited testimony from two IRS whistleblowers who said Justice Department officials blocked some of their efforts to pursue the case, such as frowning on certain search warrants and alerting the Secret Service to plans to contact Hunter Biden for an interview . More recent statements from FBI whistleblowers are available cast doubt on some of their claims.
While Republicans suggested there were efforts to protect the Biden family, they accused Garland of not intervening more in the case. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), for example, asked Garland whether he was aware that prosecutors had not filed certain tax charges against Hunter Biden until it was too late under federal law to do so, citing an IRS whistleblower complaint . Garland said prosecutors’ decisions rest with Weiss.
“I have deliberately not delved into the facts of the case, not because I am trying to escape responsibility, but because I am trying to discharge my responsibilities,” Garland once said.
The message was lost on Republicans. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) asked Garland if he knew of specific money transfers related to Hunter Biden’s business, which Garland did not know.
“It’s like intentionally looking away,” Gaetz said.