Attorney General Merrick Garland assured a Senate panel on Tuesday that there will “not be interference” in the Justice Department’s probe into Hunter Biden’s business activities, and emphasized an appointee of former President Donald Trump is leading the investigation.
Garland was pressed on the matter during a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, with Republican Tennessee Sen. Bill Hagerty demanding to know whether he had been briefed on the probe. The attorney general noted that it’s being run by David Weiss, the US attorney in Wilmington, Delaware.
“I’m aware of that, but he reports to you,” Hagerty responded.
“He is supervising the investigation and I’m not at liberty to talk about internal Justice Department deliberations, but he is in charge of that investigation,” Garland said. “There will not be interference of any political or improper kind.”
The probe began as early as 2018 and concerns multiple financial and business activities in foreign countries dating to when Hunter Biden’s father was vice president. Investigators have examined whether Hunter Biden and some of his associates violated money laundering, tax and foreign lobbying laws, as well as firearm and other regulations, multiple sources previously told CNN.
Hunter Biden has not been charged with any crimes and has denied any wrongdoing. President Joe Biden is not being investigated as part of the probe of his son’s business activities, sources who have been briefed previously told CNN.
Hagerty asked Garland whether he thought it would be appropriate if the President ever called him into the Oval Office to say that his son didn’t break the law.
“Absolutely not. And the President has not done that. And the President is committed not to interfere, not only in that investigation but any other kind of investigation,” Garland said.
The senator then questioned how the “American people (can) be confident that (Biden’s) administration is conducting a serious investigation” into his own son, to which Garland replied: “Because we put the investigation in the hands of a Trump appointee from the previous administration.”
“And because you have me as the attorney general who is committed to the independence of the Justice Department from any influence from the White House in criminal matters,” he said.
Garland was also pressed by both Hagerty and Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana over whether there should instead be a special counsel at the Justice Department overseeing the Biden probe – a question the attorney general largely avoided answering directly.
“The question of whether they have a special counsel is one that is an internal decision-making within the department, so I don’t want to make any judgments one way or the other. But I’m quite comfortable with the United States attorney for that district continuing in the role that he’s playing,” he said.
Activity in the investigation has ebbed and flowed for years – with coronavirus disruptions and pausing around the 2020 election – and in some instances, investigators have not followed up for months after making initial outreach to possible witnesses.
CNN reported in March that in recent months, investigative activity in the probe has intensified along with discussions among Justice Department officials about the strength of the case, and whether more work is needed before seeking a decision on possible charges, according to people briefed on the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.
CNN’s Evan Perez and Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.