By Zachary Stieber
President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden attended a White House dinner on June 22, two days after he admitted to violating federal law.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Biden appointee who heads the Department of Justice (DOJ), was also among the attendees at the dinner, held in honor of visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Garland’s wife Lynn Rosenman Garland and Hunter Biden’s wife Melissa Cohen Biden were also on hand.
Garland and Hunter Biden were not pictured speaking with each other during the event.
The dinner featured music from violinist Joshua Bell and the United States Marine Band Chamber Orchestra. Other attendees included Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); Martin Luther King III, a son of the late Martin Luther King Jr.; and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.
Hunter Biden has agreed to plead guilty to intentionally not paying more than $200,000 in taxes, DOJ prosecutors said in court filings on Wednesday. The taxes were owed on more than $3 million in income across two years, 2017 and 2018.
The president’s only surviving son also is entering pretrial diversion for illegally possessing a gun while using illegal drugs, prosecutors said. Hunter Biden faces up to two years in prison for the tax charges.
Hunter Biden has not spoken about the developments and his lawyer declined to comment. He said previously that he was confident a probe of his tax affairs would “demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately.” He’s scheduled to appear in federal court in Delaware in July to ask a judge to approve the plea agreement. U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika, a Trump appointee, was assigned to the case.
Garland has not commented on accusations unveiled Thursday that the DOJ interfered with the investigation into Hunter Biden.
Whistleblowers from the IRS part of the investigation into Hunter Biden told members of Congress that Hunter Biden received “preferential treatment” from both the IRS and the DOJ.
Gary Shapley, one of the whistleblowers, said DOJ assistant U.S. attorney Lesley Wolf blocked investigators from accessing a laptop computer recovered from a Delaware store that was verified as belonging to the president’s son.
“This decision is unprecedented in my experience,” Shapley said. “Investigators assigned to this investigation were obstructed from seeing all the available evidence. It is unknown if all the evidence was reviewed by agents or by prosecutors.”
The DOJ declined to comment.
President Biden before the dinner refused to answer shouted questions about his son’s case, or whether the U.S. has a two-tiered justice system.
Former President Donald Trump was recently charged with violating multiple laws for allegedly holding onto classified documents beyond his presidency and obstructing the probe into the matter. Trump has pleaded not guilty and says he’s innocent.
One whistleblower also said that Hunter Biden conducted business with a Chinese businessman while his father was with him, undermining the president’s claims that he has never spoken with his son about business dealings. The whistleblowers also said that U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who just charged Hunter Biden, tried bringing charges against Hunter Biden in Washington and in California in 2022 but was denied both times.
“Yet U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland told Congress that Weiss had all the authority necessary to pursue the charges. Well, which is it?” Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Weiss, a Trump appointee, said in a recent letter that he was “ranted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges.”
Garland told reporters during a briefing: “As I said from the moment of my appointment as attorney general, I would leave this matter in the hands of the United States attorney—who was appointed by the previous president and assigned to this matter by the previous administration—that he would be given full authority to decide the matter as he decided was appropriate, and that’s what he’s done.”
Additional questions about the case should be presented to Weiss, Garland said.
Weiss has also said that the investigation is ongoing.
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the ranking member of the committee, said the allegations were “premature” and called the release of the whistleblower interview transcripts a “stunning abuse of power.”
Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), a former prosecutor, said the plea agreement that was announced this week was “very unusual” and questioned why the DOJ did not probe further into some of the allegations.
“I think you’ll see a level of criminality that I don’t think anybody expected to see in these whistleblowers transcripts,” LaHood said.