In a Tuesday congressional hearing, Special Counsel David Weiss, tasked with investigating Hunter Biden, clarified the boundaries of his legal powers, emphatically stating to lawmakers, “It wasn’t a question of my authority. It was just a question of deciding to move forward.” [Source]
Weiss, a Trump-era appointee who continued his role into the Biden administration, provided these insights while testifying before the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee. His decision to testify, especially during an ongoing investigation, aimed to clear up misconceptions about his role in the Hunter Biden case.
Throughout his testimony, Weiss indicated that the Justice Department had affirmed his authority to pursue criminal charges across various districts. However, he did not seek final authorization for such actions, a detail that emerged from the transcript of his congressional testimony. [Source]
A key aspect of Weiss’s testimony revolved around whether he had been granted special attorney authority under 28 U.S. Code § 515 in 2022. This authority would allow him to file charges outside his jurisdiction. Weiss shared with Congress, “Look, if you decide to proceed in D.C., you have the authority to do so, and you have the authority to—under 515, to bring whatever charges you deem appropriate.” This implied that he could also pursue charges in California if necessary.
Despite his authority, the U.S. attorneys for the District of Columbia and Central California declined to join Weiss in charging Hunter Biden, though they offered administrative support. Weiss underscored that his efforts were not obstructed, stating, “They never said no. I asked for it. They said, Let’s follow the process.”
Congressional investigators probed Weiss about his decisions not to file charges in other districts and his later elevation to special counsel. Weiss responded, “The question speaks to deliberations…charging decisions. Those are things I just can’t get into.”
The hearing also addressed allegations by IRS whistleblowers Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, who claimed Weiss’s office delayed the Hunter Biden case and showed undue leniency. Shapley recounted his shock at Weiss’s assertion of not being the decisive figure in charge filings, to which Weiss responded, “It’s not what I said, nor is it what I believed, as I’ve told you guys repeatedly today.”
Hunter Biden, who has been charged with three felony gun charges in Delaware and pleaded not guilty, remains a central figure in this unfolding narrative. Weiss declined to discuss specifics about the collapse of a plea agreement and future steps in the investigation.
The session also delved into the procedural intricacies of federal prosecutions, particularly the role of the Justice Department’s Tax Division in approving felony charges. Weiss confirmed, “DOJ Tax has approval — is required to approve Title 26 charges.”
This testimony, mirroring Weiss’s previous communications to Congress, elicited diverse reactions. Democrats considered it insignificant, while Republicans, like Rep. Matt Gaetz, expressed frustration at the unanswered questions, commenting, “Mr. Weiss was here incarnate, but not particularly in spirit.”