U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland spent six hours answering questions from House Judiciary Committee members Wednesday about the Justice Department’s operations, according to a Fox News report.
Garland addressed concerns about Special Counsel David Weiss and Garland’s perceived bias against Catholics, parents confronting school boards and abortion opponents.
The attorney general deflected questions about why the DOJ allowed the statute of limitations to expire on tax fraud charges for the years Hunter Biden served on the board of directors for Burisma.
He said Weiss would address that issue in a later statement and declined to comment on it before then.
Republicans questioned Garland about his role in the Hunter Biden investigation, especially in light of the ongoing impeachment inquiry against President Biden and allegations of corruption within the Biden family.
“I am not the president’s lawyer,” Garland said, adding the Justice Department’s “job is to follow the facts and the law, and that is what we do.”
“I promised the Senate that I would not interfere,” he added, “I would not influence the investigation.
He disdainfully refused to respond to questions about policy decisions made by top DOJ administrators.
“I do not intend to discuss internal Justice Department deliberations, whether or not I had them,” Garland told Congress.
House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) brought up Hunter Biden’s association with Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings.
Rep. Jordan noted the DOJ did not pursue potential tax charges against Hunter Biden for 2014 and 2015, years which Hunter reportedly did not declare “approximately $400,000” in income from his role at Burisma.
“Mr. Weiss was the supervisor of the investigation at that time and at all times,” Garland responded. Jordan commented, “We all know why they did it,” implying a connection to the president.
A heated exchange broke out between Garland and Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (R-NJ) regarding the DOJ’s investigations into Catholic and pro-life groups.
Van Drew questioned Garland about an anti-Catholic memo within the FBI, which resulted in undercover agents being sent to Catholic Churches.
“The idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous,” replied the attorney general, adding he and the FBI director were “appalled by that memo.”
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) questioned Garland about the DOJ’s alleged targeting of parents at school board meetings, referring to a 2021 memo from Garland.
“There’s nothing to rescind,” Garland responded, claiming the memo did not label parents as terrorists.
Roy also grilled Garland about why the DOJ had prosecuted 126 instances involving pro-life groups, compared to only four involving pro-choice groups.
The Texas Republican cited the case of Mark Houck, a pro-life activist who faced potential imprisonment for demonstrating outside an abortion clinic but was later acquitted.
“The Justice Department respects the jury’s verdict,” Garland answered.