Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says the elevation of U.S. Attorney David Weiss to serve as the special counsel in charge of investigating Hunter Biden, the president’s son, “doesn’t pass the smell test,” given the plea agreement Weiss negotiated with the younger Biden earlier this year fell apart under court scrutiny.
Attorney General Merrick Garland granted Weiss’s request for broader authority to investigate Biden after negotiations with Biden’s defense deal over a plea agreement on tax and firearms charges stalled.
As special counsel, Weiss will not be subject to day-to-day supervision by Justice Department officials but he will still have to comply with the department’s regulations, procedures and policies. The designation allows him to file charges in any jurisdiction.
Graham, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, said the elevation of Weiss falls short of what is needed to fully investigate Biden’s business dealings, given the plea agreement that Weiss negotiated earlier this year, which wouldn’t have required Biden to serve any time in prison.
“The plea deal arranged by Mr. Weiss’ team was the biggest sweetheart deal in the history of the American legal system. To allow this same team to continue to investigate potential financial crimes involving Hunter Biden and others doesn’t pass the smell test,” Graham said in a statement.
Under that plea deal, Biden would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and would have avoided prosecution on a felony firearms charge by entering a pretrial diversion agreement.
Biden was prepared to plead guilty to not paying federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018 but the deal failed to pass muster with Delaware District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika, who sought clarification about whether the deal would protect Biden from further prosecution.
House Republicans launched an investigation of the deal earlier this month, pointing to claims by IRS whistleblowers who worked on the Biden investigation that he received lenient treatment.
“Appointing Weiss special counsel doesn’t solve any of the problems exposed in this case. Whistleblowers have told Congress time and time again that the Justice Department had its thumb on the scale when it came to the Hunter Biden investigation,” he said Friday.
Democrats have pushed back on the Republican criticism by pointing out that former President Trump nominated Weiss, a registered Republican, to serve as U.S. attorney for Delaware in 2017.
“He’s been a career federal prosecutor for decades doing white collar crime prosecutions, investigations. He was nominated by President Trump, served under Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a Biden ally, pointed out to reporters in June.