| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

U.S. Attorney General denies that Hunter Biden tax probe was stymied

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland refuted claims made by an Internal Revenue Service whistleblower that the Justice Department had prevented the federal prosecutor in charge of looking into President Joe Biden’s son Hunter from pursuing more aggressive criminal tax charges.

For the first time since Hunter Biden was criminally charged on Tuesday with two counts of willfully failing to pay income taxes, U.S. Attorney David Weiss, the top federal prosecutor in Delaware, “was given complete authority” to decide whether to charge Biden. Garland stated as much to reporters at a press conference.

“David Weiss was appointed by President Trump as the U.S. attorney in Delaware and assigned this matter during the previous administration,” Garland said.

“He was given complete authority to make all decisions on his own,” the attorney general added.

Weiss’ office on Tuesday revealed in a court filing that Biden has agreed to plead guilty to the two misdemeanor tax charges. He has also agreed to enter into a pretrial diversion program to avoid facing a more serious felony count of possessing a firearm while a drug addict.

Republicans have since attacked the charging decision, calling it a sweetheart deal that will likely allow the younger Biden to avoid prison time.

On Thursday, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives released the transcript of an interview with Gary Shapley, an IRS criminal supervisory agent who worked on the Hunter Biden probe.

Shapley said that the Justice Department slow-walked the case, starting during the Trump administration and continuing through Garland’s tenure.

Most notably, Shapley said investigators uncovered evidence of more serious tax crimes that could only be pursued in either Washington, D.C., or California, but not in Delaware.

But when Weiss sought permission from Garland to be designated as special counsel, so he could bring charges from anywhere in the country, his request was denied, Shapley said.

Garland denied that claim on Friday. “Mr. Weiss never made that request to me,” he said, adding that Weiss actually had “more authority” than a special counsel.

  • Reuters