Hunter Biden looks on during the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on April 18, 2022.
Jonathan Ernest | Reuters
More than 30 Senate Republicans on Monday called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to give the federal prosecutor, who has been investigating Hunter Biden for several years, “special counsel and powers.”
The group, which includes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, wrote in a letter to Garland that the move was justified because the criminal investigation involves President Joe Biden’s son. They also claimed it would “avoid the appearance of impropriety”.
Receiving the authority of US Attorney for Delaware David Weiss as special counsel would “give the American people additional assurances that the investigation into Hunter Biden is free from political interference,” the letter argued.
If Garland complies with the request, it could give congressional Republicans and Democrats insight into the rationale for a future decision by Weiss on whether to prosecute Hunter Biden. Legislators might not otherwise be able to obtain that justification if Weiss is not granted special adviser status.
Granting Weiss that status would also force Garland to explain to Congress any disagreement he had with any measure suggested by Weiss during the investigation, up to and including a recommendation that Hunter Biden be indicted.
Former President Donald Trump and his GOP allies have used Hunter Biden and his deals to file attacks against the President for years.
Hunter announced the existence of the criminal investigation in late 2020, shortly after his father was elected president. He was informed that Weiss was examining his “tax affairs”.
“I take this matter very seriously, but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will show that I have managed my affairs lawfully and appropriately, including with the assistance of professional accountants,” Hunter said at the time.
In their Monday letter to Garland, Republican senators wrote, “There is no way of knowing the full scope of the investigation, but evidence appears to be mounting that Hunter Biden has committed numerous federal crimes, including but not limited to tax fraud.” money laundering and foreign lobbying violations.”
However, Hunter Biden has not been charged with any of these crimes. It is unclear whether he will ever be charged.
An Arkansas woman who had an illegitimate child by Hunter Biden testified before a federal grand jury in Delaware earlier this year as part of the criminal investigation, her attorney told CNBC in March. The attorney, Clint Lancaster, also said the woman turned over a significant portion of Hunter’s financial records to federal investigators.
“I expect him to be charged,” Lancaster said of Biden at the time. “Just based on what I’ve seen in his financial records, I’d be surprised if he weren’t charged.”
Hunter Biden’s criminal defense attorney, Christopher Clark, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter to Garland. Neither did the voice actors of Garland and Weiss.
CNBC has asked Weiss’ office if he has applied to be appointed special counsel.
Trump appointed Weiss as the chief federal attorney in President Biden’s home state. Weiss, unlike other US attorneys appointed by Trump, was allowed to remain in his job and continue his investigation into Hunter Biden when President Biden took office.
Under federal law, the Attorney General may appoint a special counsel when an investigation or prosecution of an individual by a U.S. Attorney’s office or the Department of Justice “would create a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.”
A spokeswoman for Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, one of the signers of the letter to Garland, said in an email to CNBC that Weiss would be “received the protection and powers of a special counsel if the Attorney General complies with the letter’s request, how [Trump’s attorney general William] Barr did it with US Attorney John Durham.”
Read more about CNBC’s political coverage:
Barr appointed Durham as a special counsel to investigate the origins of the DOJ’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the contacts between Trump’s campaign team and Russians.
Special Counsel, like US attorneys, can file criminal charges during an investigation.
But the law also requires them to make a confidential report to the Attorney General explaining why they chose or declined to prosecute anyone in the case.
The Attorney General is also required by law to notify the chairperson and senior minority member of both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees with an explanation for each appointment of a special counsel and removal of a special counsel.
The law states that when a Special Counsel completes an investigation, the Attorney General must notify the same members of Congress with “a description and explanation of the cases (if any) in which the Attorney General has concluded that a proposed action by a Special Counsel is so.” was inappropriate or unjustified according to established departmental practice that it should not be pursued.
The law also states that the attorney general can determine that the public release of a special counsel’s reports “would be in the public interest.”