U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to reporters before the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) at the U.S. Capitol on July 14, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong | Getty Images
WASHINGTON — After more than two years of demanding that the Justice Department appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, Republicans in Congress finally got their wish on Friday. And they were furious.
Reactions from the GOP began pouring in within minutes of Attorney General Merrick Garland’s announcement on Friday of a special counsel to oversee the criminal investigation of President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
“If Weiss negotiated the sweetheart deal that couldn’t get approved, how can he be trusted as a Special Counsel?” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted shortly after the announcement.
McCarthy said the decision to appoint David Weiss, a federal prosecutor in Delaware who was assigned by former President Donald Trump to lead the criminal investigation into Hunter Biden, “cannot be used to obstruct congressional investigations or whitewash the Biden family corruption.”
Special counsels occupy a unique position within the legal system. They traditionally operate outside of the Justice Department’s chain of command and the congressional oversight that accompanies it. Special counsels are required to produce final reports on the results of their investigations for the attorney general, but they are not required to keep Congress or the Justice Department updated on the status of their work.
The appointment of the special counsel came as Republicans in Congress ramp up political attacks and investigations of the Biden family ahead of the 2024 election. Republicans argued that a special counsel probe would effectively draw a curtain around evidence they are seeking.
The plea agreement called for Biden to plead guilty to two counts of failing to pay his taxes in return for prosecutors recommending a sentence of probation and the dismissal of a separate gun charge in two years. The deal was scrapped earlier this month after a judge determined the agreements contained “some atypical provisions.”
“The fix is in,” said a PAC backing former President Donald Trump, Make America Great Again Inc.
“David Weiss cut Hunter Biden an unprecedented plea deal that attempted to give Joe Biden’s corrupt son blanket immunity,” MAGA Inc. Spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said in a statement.
“Now, Merrick Garland expects us to trust Weiss to be the Special Counsel that finally brings Hunter Biden to justice,” said Leavitt.
A White House spokesperson referred CNBC to the Justice Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee jointly looking into the federal probe of the younger Biden’s taxes, also accused the DOJ of a “Biden family coverup.”
“Let’s be clear what today’s move is really about,” Comer said in a statement. “The Biden Justice Department is trying to stonewall congressional oversight as we have presented evidence to the American people.”
A spokesman for Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the House Judiciary Committee chairman who has taken the lead on investigating the federal probe of Hunter Biden, said Weiss “can’t be trusted.“
“This is just a new way to whitewash the Biden family’s corruption,” said Russell Dye, a spokesman for Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the House Judiciary Committee chairman who has taken the lead on investigating the federal probe of Hunter Biden.
Dye said the committee still expects the Justice Department to fully cooperate with Republicans’ investigation into Hunter Biden’s plea deal, “including not interfering with the 11 transcribed interviews” that have been requested.
Moreover, Weiss’ previous offer to appear before the committee this fall is still presumed to be valid, said Dye. As of Friday, the panel had not received anything from DOJ “indicating it is no longer willing to do so.”