Garland Says He Doesn’t Remember Whether He Discussed Hunter Biden Case With FBI

Attorney General Merrick Garland provided testimony to the House Judiciary Committee on Sept. 20.
Garland Says He Doesn’t Remember Whether He Discussed Hunter Biden Case With FBI
Attorney General Merrick Garland is sworn in to testify before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the "Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice" on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Sept. 20, 2023. (Evelyn Hockstein/ReutersGarld)
Joseph Lord

Attorney General Merrick Garland says he doesn't remember whether he discussed Hunter Biden's case with the FBI.

During his Sept. 20 testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Garland was asked about allegations that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had used its power to protect Mr. Biden and the first family from an IRS tax crime probe.

On June 26, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) revealed allegations claiming that higher-ups at the DOJ and IRS had sought, through various means, to protect Mr. Biden from an investigation over a million-dollar tax crime case.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) asked Mr. Garland whether he had "talked to anyone at FBI HQ about the Hunter Biden investigation."

"I don't recollect the answer to that," Mr. Garland replied.

"You don't recollect whether you've talked to anyone at FBI HQ about an investigation into the president's son?" Mr. Johnson asked.

"I don't believe that I did," Mr. Garland said.

The answer spoke to a common theme throughout Mr. Garland's hearing with the committee, during which he repeatedly demurred, citing a lack of awareness regarding questions' subjects or referring to "ongoing investigations."

The DOJ and FBI have faced a series of accusations of politically motivated conduct since President Joe Biden took office, including, most recently, allegations that it sought to protect Mr. Hunter Biden and his family.

Mr. Garland rejected those allegations in his opening comments.

Allegations Against DOJ

In their June disclosures, two whistleblowers, Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, claimed that the two agencies had taken steps to "slow-walk" and prevent the investigation from moving forward, with an assistant U.S. attorney reportedly citing the political "optics" of such a move.

Mr. Shapley said in his testimony that "career DOJ officials dragged their feet on the IRS taking ... investigative steps" that would have been normal in any other investigation.

Mr. Shapley also said IRS investigators were told by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf that, because evidence needed for the investigation would be found in a guest house owned by President Biden, “there is no way” that a search warrant for evidence would ever get approved. She cited optics as a primary consideration.

Additionally, Mr. Hunter Biden’s attorneys were allegedly given “crucial information” about the investigation.

In one such instance, the attorneys were allegedly made aware that the IRS knew about documents stored in a Northern Virginia storage unit, giving the attorneys time to remove any documents that could be used in the case against their client.

Additionally, the whistleblowers claimed that U.S. Attorney David Weiss, nominally in charge of the investigation into Mr. Hunter Biden, was prevented from pressing charges against him in both the District of Columbia and the District Court of Central California.

According to Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler, during an Oct. 7, 2022, meeting they attended, Mr. Weiss said that he was "not the deciding person" on whether charges were filed against the president's son—an apparent contradiction of Mr. Garland's oft-repeated claim that Mr. Weiss had "full authority" over the case.

Previous Charges

After this claim came to light, Mr. Garland was quick to deny the allegations.
"I don't know how it would be possible for anybody to block him from bringing a prosecution, given that he has this authority," Mr. Garland said. "I'd say he was given complete authority to make all decisions on his own."

Mr. Garland suggested that Mr. Weiss had the same or more authority as the special counsel, which operates independently from the rest of the DOJ.

Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler said they ultimately recommended three felony charges against Mr. Hunter Biden relating to millions of dollars that he had failed to report to the IRS and that came from foreign sources.

But earlier this year, Mr. Weiss brought a much gentler series of charges against the president's son: two misdemeanor counts of willful failure to pay taxes and a felony gun charge that would have been diverted in a pretrial agreement.

However, that plea agreement fell apart after U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika rejected it as being fraught with procedural irregularities.

The day after the plea agreement fell apart, Mr. Garland officially appointed Mr. Weiss as special counsel over Mr. Hunter Biden's case.