Washington (CNN) — Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday rejected claims that the Justice Department interfered in the Hunter Biden probe, while the White House repeatedly refused to answer questions about a newly released text message where Hunter Biden invoked his father to a Chinese businessman.
In congressional testimony publicly released on Thursday, two IRS whistleblowers who worked on the probe alleged to lawmakers that the president’s son had been given preferential treatment by the Justice Department. The whistleblowers made several explosive allegations, including that the IRS had recommended far more serious charges for the president’s son, that US Attorney in Delaware David Weiss was blocked from bringing charges in other states and that Garland denied a request from Weiss to be named as a special counsel.
Hunter Biden has since agreed to plead guilty next month to two tax misdemeanors and struck a deal with federal prosecutors to resolve a felony gun charge. His attorney, Chris Clark, on Friday said “any suggestion the investigation was not thorough, or cut corners, or cut my client any slack, is preposterous and deeply irresponsible.”
When pushed on the allegations during a news conference Friday, Garland said that Weiss was “permitted to continue his investigation and to make a decision to prosecute any way in which he wanted to and in any district in which he wanted to.”
“I don’t know how it would be possible for anybody to block him from bringing a prosecution, given that he has this authority,” Garland said.
Garland rejected any claim that he would not appoint Weiss as a special counsel, stating that “Mr. Weiss never made that request to me.”
“Mr. Weiss had, in fact, more authority than a special counsel would have,” Garland added. “He had and has complete authority, as I said, to bring a case anywhere he wants in his discretion.”
Additionally, Garland said he would “support Mr. Weiss explaining or testifying” about the allegations raised by the whistleblowers “when he deems it appropriate.”
White House avoids questions Hunter Biden text
Later Friday, the White House refused to say Friday whether Biden was present in July 2017 when Hunter Biden texted a Chinese business partner, claiming he was sitting with his father, and using that claim as leverage to pressure a Chinese company into paying him.
The questions referred to a portion of the testimony in which a IRS supervisor-turned-whistleblower told House lawmakers that Justice Department prosecutors denied requests to look into messages allegedly from Hunter Biden where he used his father as leverage to pressure a Chinese company into paying him.
“I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled,” according to a document the whistleblower gave to Congress, which quotes from texts that are allegedly from Hunter Biden to the CEO of a Chinese fund management company.
The message continues: “Tell the director that I would like to resolve this now before it gets out of hand. And now means tonight.” The message goes onto say, “I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction. I am sitting here waiting for the call with my father.”
The second, unnamed IRS whistleblower also testified to lawmakers about this alleged WhatsApp message, saying prosecutors questioned whether they could be sure Hunter Biden was telling the truth that his father was actually in the room in the messages. The unnamed whistleblower testified that they did not know whether the FBI investigated the message.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, pressed repeatedly on the issue, referred questions to the White House Counsel’s Office, insisting the matter had been addressed.
Ian Sams, a spokesman for the counsel’s office, said in an email that Joe Biden hadn’t been in business with his son. But he did not specifically provide information about Joe Biden’s whereabouts when Hunter texted the Chinese businessman on July 30, 2017.
“As we have said many times before, the President was not in business with his son,” he wrote. “As we have also said many times before, the Justice Department makes decisions in its criminal investigations independently, and in this case, the White House has not been involved.”
But neither said definitively whether Joe Biden was with Hunter when the text was sent.
Asked whether Joe Biden had been involved in coercive business dealings by his son, Jean-Pierre said: “I appreciate the question. I believe my colleague at the White House counsel has answered this question already, has dealt with this, has made it very clear. I just don’t have anything to share outside of what my colleagues have shared.”
In a statement Friday, Hunter Biden’s lawyer Chris Clark suggested the messages were written at a time when the president’s son was suffering from addiction.
“The DOJ investigation covered a period which was a time of turmoil and addiction for my client. Any verifiable words or actions of my client, in the midst of a horrible addiction, are solely his own and have no connection to anyone in his family,” the statement read.
President Biden has said he’s never spoken to his son about his foreign business arrangements.
“I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,” he said in 2019.