Hunter Biden looks on through the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, April 18, 2022.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Greater than 30 Senate Republicans asked Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday to present the federal prosecutor who has been investigating Hunter Biden for several years “special counsel protections and authorities.”
The group, which incorporates Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, wrote in a letter to Garland that the move is warranted since the criminal investigation involves President Joe Biden’s son. In addition they contended it will “avoid the looks of impropriety.”
Giving U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss special counsel authority would also “provide additional assurances to the American people who the Hunter Biden investigation is free from political influence,” the letter argued.
If Garland honors the request, it could give Republicans and Democrats in Congress insight into the grounds for any future decision by Weiss on whether to prosecute Hunter Biden. Lawmakers may not otherwise get that justification if Weiss will not be granted special counsel status.
Giving Weiss that status also would force Garland to clarify to Congress any disagreement he had with an motion proposed by Weiss through the probe, as much as and including a suggestion that Hunter Biden be charged.
Former President Donald Trump and his GOP allies have for years used Hunter Biden and his business dealings to lodge attacks against the president.
Hunter disclosed the existence of the criminal probe in late 2020, shortly after his father was elected president. He said that he had been informed that Weiss was looking into his “tax affairs.”
“I take this matter very seriously but I’m confident that an expert and objective review of those matters will exhibit that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the good thing about skilled tax advisors,” Hunter said on the time.
Of their Monday letter to Garland, the Republican senators wrote, “There is no such thing as a way of knowing all the scope of the investigation, but evidence appears to be mounting that Hunter Biden committed quite a few federal crimes, including, but not limited, to tax fraud, money laundering, and foreign-lobbying violations.”
Nonetheless, Hunter Biden has not been charged with any of those crimes. It will not be clear if he’ll ever be charged.
An Arkansas woman who had a toddler by Hunter Biden out of wedlock testified before a federal grand jury in Delaware earlier this yr as a part of the criminal probe, her lawyer told CNBC in March. The lawyer, Clint Lancaster, also said that the lady had handed over a major amount of Hunter’s financial records to federal investigators.
“I expect him to be indicted,” Lancaster said about Biden on the time. “Just based on what I saw in his financial records, I could be surprised if he is not indicted.”
Hunter Biden’s criminal defense lawyer Christopher Clark didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on the letter to Garland. Nor did spokesmen for Garland and Weiss.
CNBC has asked Weiss’s office if he sought the special counsel designation.
Trump appointed Weiss as the highest federal prosecutor in President Biden’s home state. Weiss was allowed to stay in his job, unlike other U.S. attorneys appointed by Trump, and to proceed his probe of Hunter Biden when President Biden took office.
Under federal law, the attorney general can 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 present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.”
A spokeswoman for Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, certainly one of the signatories of the letter to Garland, said in an email to CNBC that if the attorney general complied with the letter’s request, Weiss would “get the protections and authorities of special counsel, as [Trump’s attorney general William] Barr did with U.S. Attorney John Durham.”
Read more of CNBC’s politics coverage:
Barr appointed Durham as special counsel to analyze the origins of the DOJ’s investigation of Russian interference within the 2016 election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russians.
Special counsels can lodge criminal charges, just as U.S. attorneys can do, during an investigation.
But by law in addition they are required to present the attorney general a confidential report explaining why they decided or declined to prosecute anyone within the case.
The attorney general is also required under the law to notify the chairman and rating minority member of each the Senate and House Judiciary committees with a proof for any appointment of a special counsel, and the removal of any special counsel.
The law says that when a special counsel concludes an investigation, the attorney general must notify those self same members of Congress with “an outline and explanation of instances (if any) during which the Attorney General concluded that a proposed motion by a Special Counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it mustn’t be pursued.”
The law also says the attorney general can determine that public release of a special counsel’s reports “could be in the general public interest.”