The truth about Hunter Biden
Let's be real.
On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he had appointed the US Attorney overseeing the investigation into Hunter as Special Counsel. Only weeks ago, it seemed like David Weiss’s five-year-long investigation into the president’s son was winding down, as the Trump appointee had reached a plea agreement with HB. But that deal swiftly fell apart when it became apparent after some gentle questioning by a judge that the defense lawyers and the prosecutors had a different understanding of the deal. She ordered them to work it out and come back. That’s all over now, and Weiss has asked to dismiss all the filings involved since he expects to go to trial. Beyond just those three charges—two for tax evasion, one for lying about his drug use while purchasing a gun—looms the specter of additional and perhaps more serious charges related to Hunter Biden’s infamous foreign lobbying efforts.
In his press conference, Garland said that he was appointing Weiss to the now dual role of US attorney and special counsel because Weiss had come to him and indicated that the investigation had reached a point where he needed the powers of a special counsel. What are those privileges? Well, the most obvious one is that a special counsel has a certain level of independence from Main Justice that a US attorney normally doesn’t.1 Weiss was reportedly already operating mostly independently because of the inherent weirdness of the president’s son being investigated by the president’s Justice Department. But this makes it more official. (Though a special counsel isn’t free to operate totally independently. Garland can still stop Weiss from filing any charges he might to file, but if he did so, he’d have to alert Congress.) There is some speculation that this move was mainly about rebutting GOP accusations of bias since Weiss was not operating under the “day-to-day supervision” of Main Justice anyway.
The other main thing a special counsel can do that most US attorneys cannot is pursue crimes committed outside of their jurisdiction. A pair of IRS whistleblowers had alleged in testimony before the House that Weiss had wanted to bring charges against Biden in other places but that the US attorneys for those districts wouldn’t partner with him on it. They claimed that in a meeting in October 2022, Weiss told them that he had requested to be appointed Special Counsel but that he had been denied. Weiss then denied that he had requested that appointment (at the time) but admitted to having “had discussions with Departmental officials regarding potential appointment under 28 U.S.C. § 515, which would have allowed me to file charges in a district outside my own without the partnership of the local U.S. Attorney.”
At least by the spring, he did have that authority: “The U.S. attorney has been advised,” Garland told Congress in March, “that he has full authority to make those referrals you’re talking about or to bring cases in other districts if he needs to do.”
Regardless, he is special counsel now, so if the lack of that designation was somehow holding him back, it is no longer.
It’s a bad day for Hunter Biden, who seems likely to go on trial for the existing charges and is in jeopardy of being charged with new charges in other matters.
But it might also have been a bad day for House Republicans. You could be forgiven for thinking they’d be happy with this news since it means a Trump appointee was given even wider latitude to investigate and charge the son of a Democratic president they despise. You’d be wrong, though.
They are unhappy. Spittin’ mad!
For one thing, it makes it harder for them to accuse the White House of personally trying to get Hunter off scot-free. That’s the main reason. But another reason may lie in an epistolary back-and-forth Weiss had with Jim Jordan a few months back.
In May, Jordan requested the DOJ give his committee access to a bunch of internal documents from their investigation. A few weeks later, Weiss responded that he would not be accommodating that request because doing so would be in contravention of “longstanding Department of Justice policy and practice,” which requires them to “protect confidential law enforcement information from disclosure” in “open matters.”
Jordan then replied saying, effectively, “Nuh-uh, give them to us.” Finally, Weiss replied again and reiterated that they couldn’t have the documents but that he would personally be willing to come and testify before the committee about any questions they had. This was presumably going to happen when Congress came back from recess.
But it is not clear that will happen now. A Democratic aide told CNN that it would be harder for them to get him to testify as special counsel, and, while declining to speak about Weiss specifically, a DOJ source pointed out “that two previous special counsels, John Durham and Robert Mueller, testified only after they submitted their final reports, which came after yearslong investigations.”
If the plea deal had gone through and Weiss had wrapped up his investigation into other matters (which he actually hadn’t said he was done with), then the DOJ would have to respond to these requests, and they could subpoena Hunter, too, who wouldn’t be able to plead the 5th about crimes he may have committed for which he was no longer facing legal jeopardy.
If Hunter Biden’s lawyers’ interpretation of the failed plea deal—which basically was that it would have covered all federal crimes, even ones he wasn’t charged with—had been accepted by Weiss’ team and gone through, then Jim Jordan could have a nice little TV moment. But now he might not get to bust that nut for months, if ever.
So, what does all this mean? Speaking for myself, I don’t give a shit. Lol.
Surprise! This is another installment of the Calm Down Original Series
The headline of this post is “The truth about Hunter Biden,” and that is the truth. I don’t care. Never have. Probably never will.
I just wrote only 1,000 words about Hunter Biden, and I am already reaching for a crack pipe. By the end of the post, I’m gonna be buying a gun illegally just to blow my own head off.
But, look, you’ve come this far so before we get into why I don’t care about any of this, let me tell you what my theory is about the news today that I outlined above.
I think that the plea deal fell apart a few days ago, and Weiss realized he was going to be going to trial. Since there has been such partisan rancor and suspicion about all of this already, he went to Garland and asked for the official independence that comes with the title of Special Counsel in a sure-to-be-unsuccessful attempt to inoculate the proceedings from further politicization.
The IRS whistleblowers’ allegations seem less impressive than they sort of appear. It sounds like the IRS did recommend charging Hunter Biden with some felonies, but it was only a recommendation. Doesn’t seem hard to believe that the investigators might have thought their case was a little stronger than the prosecutors.
It’s entirely possible that I am wrong about this, and since Garland will have to alert Congress if he vetoes any charges Weiss wants to file—since that is explicitly in the language of the federal regulations—we’ll find out.2
But I’m not on pins & needles about it because, again, I really don’t care about any of this. Let me tell you why.
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