NATIONAL NEWS

GOP lawmakers clash with Attorney General Garland over Hunter Biden investigation

Sep 20, 2023, 10:12 AM

Attorney General Merrick Garland is sworn in at the start of a House Judiciary Committee hearing, W...

Attorney General Merrick Garland is sworn in at the start of a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans clashed with Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday, accusing him and the Justice Department of the “weaponization” of the department’s work in favor of President Joe Biden‘s son Hunter.

Garland’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee was the first in two years and came at an unprecedented moment in the department’s history: He’s overseeing two cases against Donald Trump, the first former president to face criminal charges, and another against the sitting president’s son, Hunter Biden.

Republicans on the committee — led by Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman — came out of the gate with accusations that the Justice Department is protecting the Biden family, while targeting his opponent, Trump.

“There’s one investigation protecting President Biden. There’s another one attacking President Trump,” Jordan, Republican of Ohio, said in his opening statement. “The Justice Department’s got both sides of the equation covered.”

Garland defended the country’s largest law enforcement agency — more than 115,000 employees — at a time when political and physical threats against agents and their families are on the rise.

“Our job is not to take orders from the president, from Congress, or from anyone else, about who or what to criminally investigate,” the attorney general said.

He added, “I am not the president’s lawyer. I will also add that I am not Congress’s prosecutor. The Justice Department works for the American people.”

Early in the hearing, Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana asked Garland whether he had talked with anyone at FBI headquarters about the Hunter Biden investigation. The attorney general’s response began with a long pause before he said: “I don’t recollect the answer to that question,” later adding “I don’t believe that I did.”

Garland then said repeatedly that he purposely kept the details of the investigation at arms length, to keep a promise not to interfere.

Democrats sought to focus on other criminal justice issues, including domestic terrorism, hate crimes and gun violence. Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the committee, decried what he called Republicans’ focus on “long discredited conspiracy theories” about Hunter Biden and a laptop said to have belonged to him.

“That is their goal. They want to divide this country and make our government appear like it’s broken,” Nadler said.

The Democrats labored to undermine what they see as Republican misinformation in their ongoing defense of Trump, who is now the Republican front-runner to challenge Biden in next year’s election. They say Republicans are trying to detract attention from the indicted former president’s legal challenges and turn a negative spotlight on Biden.

Garland’s testimony also comes just over a week after Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., launched an impeachment inquiry into his boss, Biden, with a special focus on the Justice Department’s handling of Hunter Biden’s yearslong case.

The White House has dismissed the impeachment inquiry as baseless and worked to focus the conversation on policy instead. Hunter Biden’s legal team, on the other hand, has gone on the offensive against GOP critics, most recently filing suit against the Internal Revenue Service after two of its agents raised whistleblower claims to Congress about the handling of the investigation.

Republicans contend that the Justice Department — both under Trump and now Biden — has failed to fully probe the allegations against the younger Biden, ranging from his work on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma to his tax filings in California and Washington D.C.

An investigation into Hunter Biden had been run by the U.S. Attorney for Delaware, Trump appointee David Weiss, who Garland had kept on to finish the probe and insulate it from claims of political interference. Garland granted Weiss special counsel status last month, giving him broad authority to investigate and report his findings.

Asked by Republican Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina whether he had tried to figure out if Weiss was facing any hurdles in bringing charges against the president’s son, Garland said he had purposely kept his distance to keep a promise not to interfere.

“The way to not interfere was to not investigate an investigation,” Garland said.

Weiss, since 2018, oversees the day-to-day running of the probe and another special counsel, Jack Smith, is in charge of the Trump investigation, though Garland retains final say on both as attorney general.

Last week, Weiss used that new authority to indict Hunter Biden on federal firearms charges, putting the case on track toward a possible trial as the 2024 election looms.

The Republican chairmen of the Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means committees launched an investigation into Weiss’ handling of the case, which was first opened in 2018 after two IRS agents claimed in congressional testimony in May that the Justice Department improperly interfered with their work.

Gary Shapley, a veteran IRS agent assigned to the case, testified to Congress that Weiss said in October 2022 that he was not the “deciding person whether charges are filed” against Hunter Biden. That testimony has been disputed by two FBI agents also in that meeting who told lawmakers that they have no recollection of Weiss saying that.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

FILE - The 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., is seen, Oct. 2...

Terry Spencer, Associated Press

Six years after the Parkland school massacre, the bloodstained building will finally be demolished

The demolition of the building where 17 people died in the 2018 Parkland school shooting is set to begin. Crews will begin tearing down the three-story building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Friday.

3 hours ago

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and U.S. President Joe Biden shake hands while meeting i...

Fatima Hussein, Associated Press

G7 leaders agree to lend Ukraine billions backed by Russia’s frozen assets. Here’s how it will work

Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies have agreed to engineer a $50 billion loan to help Ukraine in its fight for survival that would use interest earned on profits from Russia's frozen central bank assets as collateral.

3 hours ago

File - Workers install lighting on an "X" sign atop the company headquarters, formerly known as Twi...

Associated Press

What happened to the likes? X is now hiding which posts you like from other users

Social media platform X is now hiding your likes.

10 hours ago

Police say they arrested a man Friday in the investigation of a violent murder in West Valley City....

Teresa Crawford, Associated Press

3 deputies shot while responding to northern Illinois home, suspect also wounded, official says

Authorities say three sheriff’s deputies have been shot while responding to a northern Illinois home.

11 hours ago

A rare white buffalo calf, reportedly born in Yellowstone National Park's Lamar Valley, is shown on...

Amy Beth Hanson, The Associated Press

Reported birth of rare white buffalo calf in Yellowstone National Park fulfills Lakota prophecy

The reported birth of a rare white buffalo in Yellowstone National Park fulfills a Lakota prophecy that portends better times, according to members of the American Indian tribe who cautioned that it’s also a signal that more must be done to protect the earth and its animals.

11 hours ago

A star athlete, Hilton Crawford appeared many times in the South Park High School yearbook....

Ben Kuebrich, KSL Podcasts

‘Ransom: Position of Trust’: Suspected kidnapper had red flags in police record

What drove a “family friend” to kidnap a 12-year-old boy? Hilton Crawford was a police officer, a trusted coach and pillar of the community.

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

GOP lawmakers clash with Attorney General Garland over Hunter Biden investigation