Merrick Garland testified that he had not discussed the federal investigation into Hunter Biden with Joe Biden, emphasizing that the president has repeatedly said the Justice Department’s prosecutorial decisions would not be made by the White House.
Hunter Biden has reportedly been under criminal investigation for years as federal authorities scrutinize his taxes and potentially his foreign business dealings, and the 51-year-old's financial transactions with China might be at the forefront. GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, pressed the appeals court judge on the investigation into the president’s son.
“Have you discussed the case with the president or anyone else?” the Iowa Republican asked. “And I don’t expect you to discuss your private conversations with the president, but members of this committee always ask judges or other people, ‘What did you discuss with the president?' … So, have you discussed this Hunter Biden case with the president or anyone else?”
“I have not,” Garland replied. “The president made abundantly clear in every public statement before and after my nomination that decisions about investigations and prosecutions will be left to the Justice Department. That was the reason I was willing to take on this job. So, the answer to your question is ‘no.'”
In early February, President Biden asked all Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys for their resignations, though a DOJ official said earlier this month that acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson called Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who is conducting the criminal tax inquiry into Hunter Biden, and asked him to remain in office while the investigation is playing out. John Durham was asked to step down as U.S. attorney for Connecticut but allowed to stay on as special counsel, though Garland declined to promise on Monday that Durham would be allowed to finish his investigation into the Trump-Russia investigators.
Grassley also noted in his submitted statement the investigation that he and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin had opened into the Biden family’s financial dealings, claiming that “our investigation found deep and extensive connections between and among the Biden family and foreign nationals linked to the communist Chinese government.” The senator said he had written to the Justice Department requesting that it review whether or not Hunter and James Biden should register as “foreign agents” and said Garland would have to answer that letter if confirmed.
“Although our report was widely criticized by the left, Hunter Biden announced that he’s under criminal investigation for his taxes and financial dealings, which is the very fact pattern our report exposed,” Grassley said in a statement submitted to the Senate record. “If confirmed, you’ll oversee that investigation and today you must be clear that you’ll handle it objectively and without any interference from the White House.”
The Justice Department appeared to reveal on Friday that its acting criminal division chief, Nicholas McQuaid, who until recently was a law firm colleague of the attorney representing Hunter Biden, has recused himself from matters related to the investigation into Biden’s son.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois argued in his opening statement that during the Trump years, the Justice Department “became an arm of the White House, committed to advancing the interests of President Trump, his family, and his political allies.”
“It came as little surprise, then, that the United States Department of Justice became the Trump Department of Justice,” Durbin claimed, adding, “But a restored Justice Department, a department under new leadership, can, and I believe will, meet this moment.”
Biden’s campaign and many in the media dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop story as being part of a Russian disinformation operation, though then-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said that “there is no intelligence that supports that … Hunter Biden’s laptop is part of some Russian disinformation campaign.”
After the election, it was revealed that Hunter Biden has been under criminal investigation as federal authorities scrutinize his taxes. After being asked in December if he still thought reports about his son were Russian disinformation, Biden replied, “Yes, yes, yes. God love you, man — you're a one-horse pony, I tell you.”
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