Attorney General Merrick Garland takes fire from House Republicans

(The Center Square) – House Republicans peppered Attorney General Merrick Garland with questions during a hearing Wednesday about the probe into Hunter Biden, the president’s son.

As The Center Square previously reported, two IRS whistleblowers testified before Congress that the DOJ abused its power and interfered into their inquiry into Hunter Biden’s alleged tax crimes. Notably, they testified that the investigation was slowed so that the statute of limitations could run out on some charges.

Supervisory Special Agent Gary Shapley and Criminal Investigator Joseph Ziegler, both IRS employees with a combined 27 experience years at the agency, testified before Congress that Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf helped block investigators’ plan for an interview of the president and a search warrant of the Biden residence in Delaware.

“Everyone knows why they did it,” House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said at the hearing. “Those tax years, that… involved the president. It’s one thing to have a gun charge in Delaware. That doesn’t involve the president of the United States. But Burisma? That goes right to the White House.”

Garland seemed to preempt some of these criticisms in his opening statement, saying he was not obligated to do the bidding of the president or Congress. He declined to give specific answers to many of the Republicans’ questions, including around the federal indictment of former President Donald Trump.

“Our job is to pursue justice, without fear or favor,” Garland said in his opening statement. “Our job is not to do what is politically convenient. Our job is not to take orders from the president, from Congress, or from anyone else, about who or what to criminally investigate. As the President himself has said, and I reaffirm today: I am not the president’s lawyer. I will also add I am not Congress’s prosecutor.”

That reference to Congress’s prosecutor is an apparent reference to Republicans’ frustrations with the DOJ for not prosecuting Hunter Biden more aggressively. House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., has released a steady stream of evidence in recent months alleging that Hunter Biden was involved in an overseas “bribery scheme” and that his father knew about it.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who kicked off an impeachment inquiry on the same issue, pointed to about 150 U.S. Treasury Department suspicious activities reports filed by the agency around Hunter Biden’s dealings as well as bank records and the testimony from IRS whistleblowers who said the Biden family and associates received around $20 million from entities in adversarial nations.

Special counsel David Weiss indicted Hunter Biden earlier this month over a gun purchase he made in 2018 after his plea deal unexpectedly fell through. Hunter Biden, who is also expected to face tax charges, was ordered by a federal magistrate judge on Wednesday to appear in court at his Oct. 3 hearing.

Garland has taken fire over a string of incidents where critics say the agency has wrongly weaponized its power and targeted Americans, including working with social media groups to censor Americans posts and allegedly being more aggressive in prosecuting conservatives and right-leaning groups.

“As someone who grew up in the Soviet Union, I’m disturbed by the fact that so many hardworking Americans—including my constituents—are afraid of political persecution by our own government,” said Rep. Victoria Spartz, R-Ind. “Unfortunately, it does not seem like AG Garland is.”

House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., and Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., recently sent a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration requesting travel records for Air Force Two after allegations that Hunter Biden may have used the vice president’s plane for his overseas deals when his father held that position in the Obama administration.

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