WASHINGTON (AP) — A second U.S. Attorney has testified to Congress that the prosecutor overseeing the Hunter Biden investigation had full authority over filing charges, rebutting whistleblower claims that Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss didn’t have the final say on the case against the president’s son.
The allegation that Weiss was blocked from filing tax charges in California and Washington D.C., is one of the more explosive from Internal Revenue Service Agents who testified as part of a GOP probe that the case had been “slow-walked” and mishandled by the Justice Department.
Martin Estrada, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, said he told the House Judiciary Committee behind closed doors Tuesday that he understood that Weiss had full authority to bring charges and offered him logistical support. “I did not and could not ‘block’ Mr. Weiss since he did not need my approval to bring charges in my district,” he said in a statement.
That echoes testimony from Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., who testified last week that while he declined to partner with Weiss, he never did anything to block him and instead offered logistical support.
An attorney for IRS Agent Joseph Ziegler, on the other hand, said declining to partner with Weiss amounted to blocking him from going forward with the case outside his district. Lawyers for supervisory special agent Gary Shapley said U.S. Attorneys appointed by President Joe Biden “shouldn’t have been involved at all because of their conflict of interest.”
Weiss, for his part, has also said in writing he had full authority over the case. He is scheduled to testify himself on the subject on Nov. 7. While that testimony will also take place outside the public view, speaking about an open investigation is a very unusual step that Justice Department officials have said was warranted to “correct any misrepresentations.”
The five-year investigation into Hunter Biden had been expected to end with a plea deal this summer, but it imploded during a July plea hearing. Weiss has now charged the president’s son with three firearms felonies related to the 2018 purchase of a gun during a period Hunter Biden has acknowledged being addicted to drugs. No new tax charges have yet been filed.
The agreement had been pilloried as a “sweetheart deal” by Republicans who have made Hunter Biden’s business dealings and the Justice Department’s handling of the case a key part of an impeachment inquiry into the president.
Associated Press writer Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.