Story by Stephen Silver
12 Jul 2023
Donald Trump rips prosecutor for Hunter Biden deal: The former president has criticized David Weiss, the prosecutor he appointed, for reaching a deal with Hunter Biden that is unlikely to land the president’s son in jail.
Did Donald Trump Go To Far?
When federal prosecutors reached a deal last month with Hunter Biden in which he agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges and most likely avoid jail time, the Republican line soon emerged that this had been a sweetheart deal, one that pointed to a “two-tiered system of justice” that favors Democrats.
One weakness in that theory? The U.S. Attorney for Delaware who agreed to it, David Weiss, was appointed to office by Donald Trump. Weiss is a Republican who was assigned the case in 2018, during Trump’s presidency, and stayed on into the Biden presidency.
Trump has now weighed in on that.
“Weiss is a COWARD, a smaller version of Bill Barr, who never had the courage to do what everyone knows should have been done,” Trump said Tuesday of the U.S. Attorney who he himself appointed. “He gave out a traffic ticket instead of a death sentence. Because of the two Democrat Senators in Delaware, they got to choose and/or approve him. Maybe the judge presiding will have the courage and intellect to break up this cesspool of crime. The collusion and corruption is beyond description. TWO TIERS OF JUSTICE!”
It’s not clear why Hunter Biden would have received a “death sentence,” for a case involving non-payment of taxes. However, Trump has suggested in the past that he would favor the death penalty for drug offenses.
Since the deal was announced, Republicans have also been pushing the talking point, backed by an IRS whistleblower, that Weiss was blocked from pursuing stronger charges in other jurisdictions, and also that he had asked for and been denied special counsel status.
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As reported by the New York Times, Weiss has written a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he stated that he did not seek Special Counsel status. This contradicts the testimony by Gary Shapley, an IRS official who worked on the Hunter Biden case.
Weiss said that Shapley “might have misunderstood him” during the October 2022 meeting where Shapley says Weiss had asked for such status. He had, however, asked about the possibility of being made a “special attorney.” Per Politico, Weiss says he was “assured that I would be granted this authority if it proved necessary,” and this happened prior to the October 2022 meeting that was at the center of Shapley’s whistleblower claims.
“To clarify an apparent misperception and to avoid future confusion, I wish to make one point clear: In this case, I have not requested special counsel designation,” Weiss said in the letter. He added that he had “never been denied the authority to bring charges in any jurisdiction.”
The letter, the Times noted, did not address Shapley’s claim that Weiss had been blocked by Biden-appointed U.S. attorneys in two other states, California and Washington, from prosecuting the son of the president.
What’s next in the case? House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hinted this week that House Republicans may push for Weiss to testify, although he was not clear whether Weiss would face a subpoena. Such a push would likely come from a committee, rather than the speaker himself.
“There’s a lot of questions here that continue to rise from every time, the more you look it,” McCarthy told reporters this week, per Mediaite. “Weiss has not come before us and talked to us. Weiss wrote a letter that raises even more questions.”
An MSNBC op-ed this week argued that the Hunter Biden whistleblower case is “fizzling.”
“It seems to me entirely possible that Weiss and Shapley were talking past each other — that Weiss was telling Shapley, correctly, that he would not be appointed a special counsel and that the agent interpreted that statement, incorrectly, to mean Weiss could not bring charges outside Delaware,” Barbara McQuade writes.
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.