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Why the Hunter Biden scandal is no longer a laughing matter – JONATHAN TURLEY

Below is my New York Post column on the expanding scandal surrounding the Hunter Biden investigation. Even CNN’s legal analysts are now calling the Justice Department’s handling of the investigation “unholy mess.” The responsibility for this theater of the absurd is Attorney General Merrick Garland who has again shown a lack of strength and leadership at a key moment for his department.

Here is the column:

“There is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh, and this is not one of them.”

These words of Inspector Jacques Clouseau may have to be stamped in the House Oversight Committee hearing room. It was a month ago that House Democrats mocked the testimony of two whistleblowers who testified about the rigged investigation to protect Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son.

Now it seems that the controversial “love deal” was not the first choice of US Attorney David Weiss. In fact, he planned to let Hunter walk without even a misdemeanor charge despite massive unpaid taxes, gun violations, and working as an unregistered foreign agent, among other alleged crimes.

The reason for his change to Justice, according to the New York Times? Those pesky whistleblowers.

One of the most insulting moments for respected IRS agents came from ranking members Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who derided the accusations as part of “this Inspector Clouseau-style search for something that doesn’t exist [that] has turned our commission into a theater of the absurd, an exercise in futility and shame.”

Raskin assured the audience that such “disagreements” are “routine” matters in investigations (a position echoed by his junior colleague, Representative Dan Goldman of New York). IRS agents tried to counter that they had never seen anything like what happened in this case.

The case then became anything but a laughing matter for Democrats. Hunter Biden’s plea deal collapsed minutes after a federal judge asked some basic questions.

When U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika objected to broad immunity language, she asked the prosecutor if she had ever seen such a deal. He answered “no” and the deal quickly fell apart, with Hunter Biden’s lawyer finally saying exasperatedly, “Just boot it.”

The language was anything but routine.

An FBI agent then spoke to Congress and confirmed the testimony of IRS agents, including that Hunter Biden was tipped off about an attempt to interview him. The officer said they were forced to sit a block away and told to stay away from the house. The interview was then cut short. He described being “annoying” and how this was not routine.

The New York Times, which has spent years downplaying the Hunter Biden scandal, has published a internal account of the research. The Times reported that U.S. Attorney David Weiss was preparing to let Hunter walk “without requiring a guilty plea to any charge.” However, that “changed in the spring, when a pair of IRS officials in the case accused the Justice Department of undermining the investigation. Mr. Weiss suddenly demanded that Mr. Biden plead guilty of committing tax crimes”.

In other words, according to the Times, these two mocked whistleblowers prompted the Justice Department to prosecute. Why would that be?

Attorney General Merrick Garland insisted that no political pressure or political considerations would affect the investigation.

Still, the Biden team appeared to raise the potential embarrassment for the president and the Justice Department if Hunter faced serious charges. new the emails reveal that Hunter Biden’s lawyers told prosecutors that if there were serious charges, it would be President Biden in the spotlight.

Hunter’s attorney, Chris Clark (who I just asked the court to be allowed out of Biden’s team) wrote Weiss and prosecutors that it was best for everyone to simply walk away: “This of all cases does not even justify the spectacle of a sitting president testifying in a criminal trial nor the possibility of a resulting outcome. Constitutional crisis”.

So the Justice Department had Biden’s team warned to avoid embarrassing the president in any trial while its own investigators threatened to reveal embarrassing details about the special treatment given to Hunter.

The solution appeared to be a plea deal that would involve lesser crimes with no jail time. The appearance of prosecution without any real consequences for the Bidens. Time would not be served, and again the investigation could be closed without further complications or controversy.

The wheels then fell off in court and left everyone in a bit of a daze.

There was no way to kill the case now.

There was no way to sign the original plea agreement.

Congress was subpoenaing Weiss and key Justice Department figures to answer questions about this investigation, the compromised investigation and the sweetheart deal.

Weiss had agreed to give answers when she thought the plea deal was a done deal. Now, that “show” was becoming more and more likely.

It got even worse. If Merrick Garland eventually gave in to demands for a special counsel, the regulations specified that the person had to come from outside the Justice Department. That meant it couldn’t be Weiss. Presumably, that person would begin by reviewing not only the evidence, but also crimes that may have been charged years earlier.

However, the Justice Department reportedly allowed the statute of limitations to run on major crimes, including tax crimes related to suspicious payments to Hunter Biden from Ukraine and other countries.

Garland decided to break the rules and appoint the most controversial person (with the possible exception of Hunter himself) to provide an independent examination of the case: Weiss.

While Weiss may justify his actions or dispute these allegations, he is clearly seen as compromised by many in the public eye. He is accused of conducting an allegedly rigged investigation and, now according to the Times, only pursued the “sweetheart deal” when whistleblowers moved to expose allegations of special treatment for the president’s son.

The question is why, knowing the mistrust in the past handling of the investigation, Garland would ask for a guaranteed appointment to further deepen this malaise. According to a new ABC News/Ipsos survey, Nearly half of Americans don’t trust the Justice Department to conduct the Hunter Biden investigation in a “fair and nonpartisan manner.”

For these Democratic members and Garland, the case has truly become the “theatre of the absurd” that Raskin predicted…only no one’s laughing.

Jonathan Turley is an attorney and professor at George Washington University Law School.


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