Merrick Garland Makes David Weiss a Special Counsel

Merrick Garland just announced that after David Weiss requested it on Tuesday, he made Weiss a Special Counsel.

Given the way Garland let John Durham wildly abuse his authority, the way that Weiss tried to sand-bag Hunter Biden, and given Weiss’ permission of really problematic actions during the Trump Administration, I have grave concerns about this.

That said, it will make it harder for James Comer to continue holding dick pics hearings.

Update: Weiss has filed in Delaware to dismiss the tax charges there so they can be brought in a different district (presumably California and DC, though that suggests he’s going to try to file things past their statutes of limitation). This may mean DOJ has to release all the things that Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler revealed were in the file, including Weiss’ own disinterest in validating “the laptop.”

image_print
152 replies
  1. scroogemcduck says:

    I can’t see any way that this is good news. Hopefully Weiss won’t Ken Starr his way through the 2024 election.

  2. boloboffin says:

    Garland: Here, Trump, here’s a special prosecutor for Hunter Biden. Now leave the witnesses in your trials alone.

    • BirdGardener says:

      Noticed this article last night; Sam Bankman-Fried’s bail was revoked, and he’s being held in custody until his trial because he kept trying to influence witnesses. I was struck by some of the similarities to Trump. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-66481020

      Speaking in court on Friday, Judge Kaplan said: “There is probable cause to believe that the defendant has attempted to tamper with witnesses at least twice.”

      ….The court had already moved to tighten restrictions faced by Mr Bankman-Fried earlier this year, citing his efforts to contact people involved in the case and his use of a virtual private network.

      ….Prosecutors said Mr Bankman-Fried had shared the documents to try to make his case in the media that Ms Ellison was a “jilted lover” who had worked alone.
      They also argued that it would have a chilling effect on other potential witnesses because it could make them fear “personal humiliation and efforts to discredit their reputation” beyond what would be permitted in court. They said he had participated in roughly 1,000 phone calls with members of the press in recent months.

      His attorneys said he had shared documents that were already known to the reporter and had a right to speak to the media. They also said sending Mr Bankman-Fried to jail would hinder trial preparations.

      Earlier this month, Judge Kaplan barred Mr Bankman-Fried from speaking about the case.

      So there’s a recent high-profile case for regular folks to point to if Trump continues to try to influence witnesses.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    An excess of caution, which Biden also seemed to show in his reluctance to do the usual thing and replace all or most USAs at the beginning of his term. That may have been an artifact of too few Senate votes. It does not make governance easier.

    Apparently relatively small potatoes tax crimes have mushroomed into a cause celebre. Perhaps the lack of sound evidence and the SOL will put this Republican exercise to bed.

    • punaise says:

      I find it very hard to believe that President Biden ever succumbed to any venal “sins”, so if this helps lay that notion to rest, maybe a good thing?

      • paulka123 says:

        Since the stated purpose of the Republican party is not justice or truth, I hardly see that as a possibility (putting to rest that is).

        • wa_rickf says:

          Especially given there were NINE Benghazi investigations because the results of those investigations were not what he GOP wanted to hear.

        • punaise says:

          happy accident by a non-Catholic: “venal” was the intended meaning:

          Venial means minor in the circumstances; when speaking specifically of sins, it’s a slight sin, such as occasionally getting drunk or giving in to small temptations….

          Venal means corruptible, able to be bribed. Politicians are often described as venal. …

          • Wajimsays says:

            The question, of course, is what sins matter. I suspect that listening to either Protestant and Catholic definitions and bureaucratic moral scaling constitutes the sin of foolishness. The very worst and least trustworthy people I know and have known are the most pious, which to me is venal

            • adambulldog says:

              I have as little patience as you do for religiosity, but you are not using the word “venal” correctly.

            • Sara McIntire says:

              Seems like the right time and place to quote a John Hyatt song here: “Now the juke box is humming,
              all the venal shortcomings,
              Of men.”

    • emptywheel says:

      Right: There was a reason Weiss was willing to make a probation deal. And those reasons may make the difference for Hunter, particularly in a case filed as a felony case.

      Plus, it’s not clear whether Chris Clark will remain in charge or whether Abbe Lowell will take a larger role, and he was ready to ratchet things up in any case.

    • nothin from nothin says:

      There will be no putting to bed whilst right-wing media exist. At most, they move on to the next fabricated controversy.

      • Lisboeta says:

        I don’t think the US has anything other than right-wing MSM now: it’s either weakly right or strongly right.

  4. Peterr says:

    This strikes me as an effort to drive Trump’s trials out of the lead spot on the news and elevate Hunter, as least for an hour or two.

    • emptywheel says:

      By Garland? By Weiss?

      Neither makes sense.

      The plea talks were bound to collapse bc Weiss was trying to pull a fast one. Given the 5th Circuit ruling on the gun charge, Weiss had to act quickly before the gun diversion went off the table. ANd Hunter did not. So here we are.

      • Capemaydave says:

        Obviously just speculating here.

        I imagine Trump is calling everyone he knows to put pressure on Biden.

        Weiss is a Trumper.

        Be a real shame if Weiss reached too high n got nothing in the end. /s

      • Peterr says:

        I agree with your last paragraph.

        But various GOP followers of Trump have been heaping pressure on the DOJ: “Sure, Trump appointed Weiss and Biden kept him on. But did Biden name him a Special Counsel, with all the super supreme investigative whiz-bang powers a Special Counsel gets? No. Never mind the fake charges the DOJ is bringing against Dear Leader. This is yet more proof that the investigation is rigged.”

        In addition to what you laid out in your comment, this request by Weiss also allows him to in essence tell these folks to STFU and get a life, which in turn lets Comer et al. embrace their whataboutism and scream “Hunter Biden!!!!” enough to get the mainstream media to give them some attention.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        Is Weiss just looking at H. Biden or will it involve all children of a President, looking at Jared in the ME, Ivanka in China and DJTJ i India in 2018?

  5. ThomasJ7777 says:

    I think it is a good thing.

    Tracking down the origins of the false allegations of bribery will reveal that all of these Republicans are liars, and that they invented this whole narrative.

    Lawsuits and punishable lies criminal charges will ensue.

  6. Spank Flaps says:

    Apparently now everything has to be both-sides’d, to appease Trump.
    This means the GOP gets double the political capital for every Trump crime.

  7. c-i-v-i-l says:

    The Special Counsel law says “The Special Counsel shall be selected from outside the United States Government.” I don’t understand why Weiss is eligible to be named SC.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Those are internal DoJ rules laid out in the CFR, the Code of Federal Regulations, not a statute. They are not the exclusive means through which the AG can delegate authority to a special counsel.

      • Beverley54 says:

        What I am trying to figure out is, if Weiss did not have jurisdiction to bring charges, does that mean he never had jurisdiction to accept a plea deal on those charges?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Two separate things. A plea arrangement is, in effect, a contract between the defendant and the government. But it has to be accepted by the court. In this case, the court wisely refused to do so. A prosecution is an adversarial proceeding in court.

  8. Carumochcymru says:

    First time commenting usually a lurker but I’m really confused now.
    Where it says defendant hasn’t responded by 11th august are they living in the future?
    Surely they’d have until the end of the 11th seen as its very early afternoon there 🤔 am i misreading something?

  9. BRUCE F COLE says:

    It strikes me, strictly from Garland’s POV, as what Marcy mentioned: an attempt to tamp down CT output from the dick pick brigade. The first several ‘graphs of Garland’s statement makes that pretty clear. He’s acquiescing to the Comer-induced complaint that Weiss has been hamstrung even though Weiss has roundly denied it.

    As to how Weiss proceeds from here, especially given the way Hunter’s botched plea deal went down under his direction, your assessment certainly holds water since the first move out of the gate was for Weiss to make it possible to move the tax issues to more appropriate venues, as if to comply with the direction of Comer’s complaints. Now the “Biden Crime Family” crew can claim that their criticism was justified — which may well last a few hours or more. Still, this takes some self-manufactured wind out of their sails.

  10. Upisdown says:

    Will Weiss be the one prosecuting if the case is filed in DC or California?

    Also, can the tax cases be upped to felonies after they were originally filed as misdemeanors? If so, would the original classification be allowed to be mentioned during the trial? It seems like the rationale for considering them misdemeanors would be important.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As a lawyer in the DoJ, Weiss can appear in any federal court. He would have DoJ attorneys on his staff who are admitted in the district in which he prosecutes a case.

  11. jdmckay8 says:

    Everything I read wrt HB’s settlement up until about 2 weeks ago, specifically spoken by seasoned lawyers, said terms of Hunter’s tax liability was boilerplate for someone in his position: eg. 1st time offender, and that HB had paid the tax liabilities.

    Now all of a sudden, that’s not so? Hmmmm….

    I’m confused: is it without fear or favor, or with fear or favor. Confused because factors 100% removed from anything to do with Hunter seem to be driving things.

    I also believe from past reading a FARA violation required advocacy on behalf of foreign client outside of the client’s home country.

    From Weiss’ Delaware filing:

    However, during the July 26, 2023, hearing that the Court set on this matter, the Defendant pled not guilty. Since that time, the parties have engaged in further plea negotiations but are at an impasse. The Government now believes that the case will not resolve short of a trial.

    If HB’s team has done their homework on the laptop as well as there is good reason to believe they have, seems like, if this goes to trial, it could not only blow up in Weiss’ face but lead to exposing the truth wrt what really happened with the laptop.

  12. Fancy Chicken says:

    While this will undoubtedly fuel the right wing outrage machine for awhile, I believe it’s possible that some good can come of this-

    As Dr. Wheeler noted, this may put a kabash on Comer’s redonculous hearings. And if Weiss tries any Durham bullshit, a neutral judge, Lowell as defense attorney, and a savvy jury will be able to reach an outcome based on law and fact, not dirty tricks and wild speculation. We saw where that got Durham. And Garland’s decision to not editorialize Durham’s turd of a final report was expedient; as time progressed the right wing echo chamber began to criticize Durham for not breaking up “the deep state” and his lack of convictions. I also believe it helps insulate President Biden maybe just a tiny but meaningful bit, from all the false attacks he’s getting for being behind Smith’s prosecutorial decision.

    Maybe I’m just a naive lefty but I do believe our courts still function well on most days and optimism seems particularly necessary now and in the near future.

  13. Molly Pitcher says:

    OT, but no where else to put this, NYT and several others are carrying a story about two members of the Federalist Society are saying Trump should not be able to run because of the 14th A.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/10/us/trump-jan-6-insurrection-conservatives.html

    “Two prominent conservative law professors have concluded that Donald J. Trump is ineligible to be president under a provision of the Constitution that bars people who have engaged in an insurrection from holding government office. The professors are active members of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, and proponents of originalism, the method of interpretation that seeks to determine the Constitution’s original meaning.

    The professors — William Baude of the University of Chicago and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas — studied the question for more than a year and detailed their findings in a long article to be published next year in The University of Pennsylvania Law Review.”

    “He summarized the article’s conclusion: “Donald Trump cannot be president — cannot run for president, cannot become president, cannot hold office — unless two-thirds of Congress decides to grant him amnesty for his conduct on Jan. 6.” “

    • ToldainDarkwater says:

      My sense is that we’re never going to see a big tipping point in support for Trump. Just a slow erosion of support, of people walking away either loudly or quietly. There are signs of high levels of contention within the Republican camp everywhere.

      • DrStuartC says:

        This is wishful thinking, unfortunately. What will happen is usually what has happened already. His base still idolizes him, they continue to send him money, and will be voting for him in the primaries. He’s taken over the Grand Old Personalitycult, and the leaders are stuck with him as long as 90% of GOP voters are still dedicated Trumpublicans.

        On the other hand, what will also likely happen, is what we saw with the “non-red wave” in the midterm elections. It was a historical sized failure on the part of the Republican Party. The abortion issue is one of the two most often overlooked issues driving millions and millions of young people to mobilize, become politically aware, and vote. The republican politicians on the Supreme Court stupidly overreached, and just look at the demographics. Millions more voters have turned 18 since the midterms! They are the largest voting bloc now (18-45) and are overwhelmingly progressive in their values, attitudes and concerns. They were pissed enough at “boomers” about climate change before the SC overturned Roe. And now they’re even more pissed off about abortion. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next year, but I trust an overwhelming number of young people and women will put aside any reservations about Biden’s age bc of his positions on abortion and climate change.

    • Matt___B says:

      a long article to be published next year

      Why the wait? Are they busy proofreading footnotes or something?

      • Peterr says:

        My guess is that it will appear in the University of PA Law Review as a professional piece, and the law review has a substantial lead time between accepting an article and it appearing in print. Meanwhile, they released it themselves because of the timely nature of the topic.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          They’re sick of Trump too. It would benefit their cause for him to be disqualified. I doubt Aileen Cannon will get/heed this memo, or that it will go anywhere except as a plea-deal trial balloon.

          Seriously, how many Republicans are willing to call it an insurrection?

    • Joeff53 says:

      I read the abstract and nowhere does it mention how this is to be effectuated. Is every voter supposed to say ok, guess I can’t vote for him? Sure, Jan. Seems like a state level official needs to rule him ineligible either sua sponte or by court order. And it won’t matter unless it’s a state that Trump needs. So that leaves a handful with Dem officials/courts—WI, PA, AZ?, NV?

      [FYI – fixed your email address typo. /~Rayne]

      • ceebee_dee says:

        Adding NC to the try-this list. A 14A3 suit was brought vs Madison Cawthorn referring to state procedures. NAL and unclear how to find court records.

      • SteveBev says:

        I have posted this on another thread previously so apologies if reposting is a breach of protocol/etiquette.

        It is an extremely interesting read.

        Amongst other things this proposition tickled my interest :

        ‘Finally we would believe it would be wrong for courts to refuse to decide cases, otherwise lawfully in their jurisdiction, concerning Section Three on the pretense that such matters are “political questions”. Outside such exercises of power to exclude, to expel, or impeach and try, committed to each House’s judgment, Section Three is enforceable by the judiciary •as well as• other officers n454 . Section Three’s terms embody rules and standards enforceable as any other constitutional provision is enforceable. There is no freestanding judicial power from abstaining from enforcing the Constitution whenever doing so might be difficult or controversial.’

        This suggests to me that the authors are suggesting that a Judge in a court proceeding lawfully seized of a matter in which the conditions precedent for the enforcement of Section Three fall to be determined, and are determined, has the power and the duty to declare the provisions satisfied.

        That would seems bold.

        As the point appears to include any criminal court trying relevant criminal charges against a person subject to the disqualification, for whom upon conviction disqualification is inexorable constitutional consequence.

      • Rick Ryan says:

        Baude & Paulsen discuss this at some length in Section 2. The gist is that Trump simply *is* ineligible, on constitutional grounds, and votes for him should be treated as those for any constitutionally-ineligible candidate (I read another piece, which Baude & Paulsen partially disagree with, that kept comparing the situation to voting for Obama in 2024, who is of course ineligible per the 22nd Amendment: https://electionlawblog.org/?p=125256). Enforcement then falls upon anyone and everyone with legal power over elections.

        As I understand it, this means voters shouldn’t vote for an ineligible candidate, the state election officials should not count the votes that do (they should not place them on the ballot in the first place, but write-ins will inevitably happen), and the electors shouldn’t submit votes for the candidate. They then make an (IMO, rather strange) argument that Congress should *not* reject the votes of any that do, but that the ineligible President could/should be removed by impeachment or the 25th Amendment (being ineligible thus rendering them “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”).

        It seems extremely unlikely to me that anyone would actually try to enforce Trump’s ineligibility (I guess I could maybe — maybe — see a deep blue state removing his name from the ballot). I think theirs is more a glorified political argument dressed as a legal one (with the digression about Congress not rejecting votes mostly intended to avoid accidentally legitimizing certain Jan 6, 2020 actions). The break from Trump is the interesting part, from a pragmatic perspective, although I do find the hypothetical scenarios of dealing with an ineligible candidate pretty interesting from a theoretical one.

        • Elvishasleftthebuilding says:

          It seems to me that one path to test this would be a lawsuit brought against a Secretary of State, asserting that as Trump is ineligible to serve as President, it is unlawful for him to appear on a Presidential ballot.

            • Elvishasleftthebuilding says:

              It’s a helluva lot more efficacious than counting on some kind of after the fact lawsuit on an election – the 14th amendment theory is nice, but it’s academic and no federal court would invalidate an election of Trump or disqualify him from office..

              So, if this theory is to be vindicated, it needs to be done at the state level, with secretaries of state. This was precisely the theory that was approved by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Madison Cawthorn case (overruling a district court). https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/05/24/madison-cawthorn-insurrectionist-challenge/ . No fact finding on whether Rep. Cawthorn participated in an insurrection was made by the Appeals Court or the district court.

              Admittedly, the Cawthorn case was decided in federal court – but that case was brought by Cawthorn in federal court to enjoin a state proceeding by voters to disqualify Cawthorn in a state lawsuit. https://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinions/221251.P.pdf

              I’d agree if it was your assertion that you don’t believe the 14th amendment theory. But the proper way for it to be tested, as shown by the Cawthorn case, is with state secretaries of state in cases where such challenges are permitted.

              • Ginevra diBenci says:

                One of the authors is citing the Couy Griffin (Cowboys for Trump) in New Mexico case as the sole precedent; he was removed from (local) office after participating in J6.

                The idea seems to be that state-level action to keep Trump off the ballot should be the focus.

  14. Rwood0808 says:

    Another example of this antiquated thinking that all problems can be solved in the courtroom.

    Garland just gave the right-wingers another weapon to wield in their psi-ops campaign. They don’t want the truth, they want the issue so they can use it beat Biden over the head with it. Why he refuses to see that I’ll never understand. Now we’ll have to suffer through another Ken Star theater show for the next few years.

    Nothing to gain by doing this that wasn’t on the way already.

  15. DaveVnAz says:

    Would Weiss be authorized to investigate Hunter Biden including his laptop, his FIRA exposure, Taxes and of course the million$ bribed to the Biden “family”? I’m pretty sure these issues have been linked to or pointed out before on EmptyWheel.

  16. Molly Pitcher says:

    According to the Daily Beast, Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen is considering running for Congress as a Democrat against longtime Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Apparently Cohen told Semafor.

  17. 3balls2strikes says:

    Some Republicans are saying that a Special Counsel needs to be selected from outside government- anyone know whether that’s true?

  18. David F. Snyder says:

    Makes some (possible) sense to me. Given Comer and Jordan’s interloping antics, this could get them off Weiss’ back some. I’m not sure how the plea denial factors in, but it must be part of Weiss’ motivation. The Trumpers seem determined to give him a black eye over this folderal. I hope Weiss doesn’t pull a Ken Starr & Son type move. I trust Garland knows what he’s doing, keeping things as clean as possible—I hope that trust is not misplaced.

    • 3balls2strikes says:

      The more I’m reading and learning, it seems that Weiss will be operating in a more constrained Durham-like fashion as opposed to the free-range Starr.

      • ButteredToast says:

        The statute under which Starr was appointed expired in 1999. Though it’s still possible Weiss will abuse his authority, as Dr. Wheeler noted.

        • Joeff53 says:

          Starr was appointed by a panel of reactionary judges including David Sentelle, a Jesse Helms protégé, after first cashiering the incumbent SC Robert Fiske, who to their lights was not sufficiently Savonarolish.

          [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username and email each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You’ve made repeated typos entering your email address this last 7-10 days, adding an extra “J” which I have fixed for you; I don’t have the time to continue to do so. You’ve also used “Joe” as your username before I could catch it to point it out. PLEASE make an effort here or risk getting perma-stuck in moderation. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  19. mainsailset says:

    It became clear from the judge’s intervention in the plea hearing that Weiss had every intention to keep the investiation active. Garland’s statement “…as well as any matters that arose from that investigation or may arise…” as well as his comment of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ makes me wonder just what Weiss pitched to Garland on Tuesday. It looks like the case itself just had the goal posts moved beyond what Weiss thought he had the day of the hearing. Problem for Weiss is that SC status doesn’t give him the power to recreate history. Doesn’t mean he won’t try.

    • HorsewomaninPA says:

      I had similar thoughts. Does an Attorney for the United States District Court for the District of Delaware have the ability to investigate potential crimes that he discovered that go beyond the specific defendant? Does a Special Counsel?

  20. Molly Pitcher says:

    Rayne I have been thinking about you with what is happening in Hawai’i. Do you know Kānaka Maoli who are affected ?

    I am donating to World Central Kitchen Maui. Unless you have a better suggestion.

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t personally know any kānaka maoli on Maui as my family members are on Oahu and Hawai’i; the folks there who bear the same last name (who my dad’s family calls “the Maui bunch”) acquired the name in a different manner than my family. WCK-Maui is an excellent recipient for your donation as folks there will need a decent meal for quite some time to come and WCK will capably handle the logistics.

      The AAPI Nonprofit Database includes the Maui Food Bank in Wailuku — https://impactaapi.org/list?location=Hawaii — which may need funds once the first month has passed after the fire. If I come across any other recommended nonprofit NGOs helping Maui wildfire victims I’ll share them.

      ADDER: Good video about the cultural losses to kānaka maoli community. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VENe4IqzX9g

  21. RitaRita says:

    I have no problem with the appointment of the Special Counsel. I am not sure David Weiss is the best choice since it looks like he tried to trick HB into signing off on something less than HB thought he was getting.

    As the Captain Obvious article in the Washington Post points out it poses a political problem for Joe Biden. But with or without a Special Counsel, Republicans would make a fuss either way. Sound bites are more important than truth.

    The HB investigation should prompt investigations into possible public corruption by the friends and family of politicians. Trump, in part, ran in 2016 on the issue of how easy it was to bribe public officials. He promised to drain the swamp. I am waiting for the investigation into Jared’s dealing with the Saudis.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah? I have a huge problem with it. In every regard. It is one of the dumbest things in history, and Garland is a coward for doing this. Make it stop.

      And Weiss. Good grief. No David, you do not just blithely get to dismiss “without prejudice” on bogus charges that would have never been brought against Hunter Smith or Hunter Jones, years after they had paid back the past due taxes and interest.

      Marcy is right to be concerned about Weiss. Special prosecutors should not be a cottage industry, and Weiss apparently thinks it is just that. This is not just bad precedent, but horrible precedent. Abbe ought go nuclear on this. Won’t be comfortable for POTUS, but is deserved.

      For the love of anything and everything holy, STOP trying to fashion the criminal justice system as a cudgel to enforce political beliefs.

      • David Brooks says:

        The hyperbole aside (the “one of” modifier isn’t toning it down much), I’m with bmaz on the last paragraph. Unfortunately he is only being heard on one side of the aisle, and just a single pew, come to that.

          • David Brooks says:

            I may not have been clear enough. By “pew” I meant to extend the “aisle” analogy – IOW, the Emptywheel row of seats on the left side of the aisle. By “being heard” (not “argue”) I meant your plea to stop politicizing the justice system in out-of-court discussions. I agree, many here agree, but there are too many deaf ears all around the church. Yes, when the time comes, require the jury not to allow politics into it.

            • bmaz says:

              There are generally chairs in the jury box. The pews are at the rear of the courtroom, where the public sits.

      • BRUCE F COLE says:

        Lowell should be fired after having failed to pick up on Weiss’ plea deal shell game, having had the judge point it out to him just as his client was about to enter his plea.

      • David F. Snyder says:

        Still trying to wrap my head around this. I know Barr appointed Durham (secretly) while Durban was still AUSA in NH, which was considered a bad precedent (was this the first time that has ever happened? AUSA to SC?). MG wasn’t as secretive but I can see it’s not a good idea to recruit SCs from within the DOJ. Definitely I can now see the downside more clearly.

      • Spencer Dawkins says:

        I agree with your characterization (“dumbest things in history”). I’m less comfortable attributing cowardice to Garland – I think he’s more likely to be over-cautious, and if he wanted to be a coward, he didn’t have to do anything at all, and just ignore everything about Hunter Biden going forward. But I’m honestly at a loss to come up with less pejorative explanations for this appointment.

        And I understand the decision is up to Garland, but I’m also at a loss to explain Weiss’s REQUEST to be appointed, unless he’s thinking the case(s?) against Hunter Biden have gone so far off the rails that this might give him an opportunity for a do-over and try to repair his reputation, but at least to me, there’s a huge difference between “you need to appoint a special counsel” and “you need to appoint ME as special counsel”. If I was Weiss, I’d gladly hand Hunter Biden off to someone else.

        I was selected for three terms on the Internet Engineering Steering Group, and one theory about those positions was “we don’t want anyone in that role who actually *wants* the job”. I wonder if special counsel positions are the same way!

  22. David Brooks says:

    No, this will not appease the right-wing noise machine.

    House Judiciary in February: “Appoint a Special Counsel!”

    House Judiciary yesterday: “Not that one!”

    • Ebenezer Scrooge says:

      Amen, brother! You can’t argue with bad faith, no matter how good your argument. Bad faith will either ignore your rejoinder, lie about your premises, or change the topic. Heck, if Comer wants to, he can say: “Special counsels are unconstitutional, and Garland appointed one only so that Hunter Biden can get out on a technicality. This kind of suspicious behavior is all the more reason my committee must investigate!”

  23. Peacerme says:

    I’ve been wondering about Bmaz’s position on Garland here. And Peter. It feels to me, like decisions are being made in a “codependent” fashion as opposed to letting hard cold facts lead the behavior and language of the DOJ.

    How many of these decisions are being made to “manage” the behavior of an anti social, toxic narcissist and his followers. (I’ve used the analogy before but it is similar to trying to manage the behavior of an addict.) We as a nation will lose our way unless we allow the facts to lead our decisions rather than keeping up appearances and trying to figure out how to manage the mentally ill. (Trump and his followers).

    We risk losing our way when we think we can manage the behavior of Trump and his followers. What works over time as slow plodding progress is allowing truth and its natural consequences to lead. Which has been occurring.

    Trump must keep his power game going to win. He can’t use truth. It all has to be power. He will continue to use power and control. Set up the consequences. His behavior is predictable. I see this happening with some judges. Prosecutors.

    It will have to be unpredictable. The only predictable part is that he will do whatever he can to maintain his power and protect himself from narcissistic crises. Humiliation.

    We have to ignore distractions. Tell the truth. Let the facts lead and do not let the fear of what trump will do or what he does do, to change our course or direction.

    His illness will speak. On that we can trust. That part is invariant. He can’t get outside of his mental illness. There is no cure for narcissism. Truth is his kryptonite.

    I worry that Garland is trying to manage appearances of “fairness” to appease the insanity. I could be wrong. I have no facts. It just looks as if this might be his motive. If so, that is dangerous and enables the collective delusion.

    The minute we let Trumps insanity choose our responses we are going down the insanity rabbit hole with trump.

    The minute a family begins to try to control the addiction the family begins to lose its mind. Because the family is being ruled by an invalid thought that they can change the addictions course. Living in the truth of addiction with the addict is the most powerful way to help an addict see the truth. When the family attempts to control the addiction, the delusion colludes with the addicts main delusion that they can in fact control their use. This is the delusion that must fall before an addict can truly reach sobriety. The family unknowingly maintains the delusion that the addict can control it.

    The collective delusion our USA family is living by is that trump is too fragile to handle the truth. That his followers can’t handle the truth. And it’s working sometimes. When he claps back because of his psychosis we back off. The only cure for insanity is truth. But narcissists cannot cope with the truth. They create a delusion. A narrative that maintains their ego and protects them from shame. He cannot be saved.

    He’s insane. We cannot respond to him as if he is sane. Alanon works when it does because it teaches a family to live in the truth of the disease. Not reacting to mental illness but plotting behavior based on the reality of that family members disease.

    Right now if we the USA was the family and trump a sick family member, too many of us in this nation are not responding to trumps insanity with truth.

    Garland is behaving as if Trump is legit. He’s not. He’s insane. And his followers have a collective delusion. This is the appropriate language. This is the truth. The more we live in the truth and treat him as if he is insane the healthier our country will be. We don’t have to hate him. But we must accept the valid cognitive distortions that trump exhibits as delusion. Not Republican strategy. The republicans are colluding with his mental illness. There is no strategy.

    I fear Garland doesn’t want to stand up for truth for fear of conflict or looking biased. Right now truth has a left wing lean. Let the facts speak. I wish Garland had come out stronger and also addressed the trump children and their profiteering.
    Our press needs to understand this mental illness he has is for real. It has real consequences. It affects his ability to know what is real. This is dangerous. We can’t manage trump but we can manage the way we respond to trump.

    Sunlight. That’s the only way to beat a toxic narcissist. Accountability. But trump et al will fight tooth and nail to avoid ego collapse. He will do anything. He needs to be watched. The more the truth comes at him the more he will act out. The more the truth is told.

    Further investigation is not likely to add anything meaningful to our collective knowledge. It pales in comparison to our valid struggle to save our democracy. It muddies the water. A mad man is trying to run our country.

    Thanks for weighing in all. I can’t help but apply systems theory to the psychological impact of all of this on our collective mental health. And obviously my bias is that this sight and it’s dedication to seeking facts, keeps us all sane. (You are the medicine).

    Garland need an alanon meeting. Or maybe the whole country does.

    • OldTulsaDude says:

      I appreciate your comment. One point of contention, though. We should judge Garland not by what he does not say but by his actions. I personally think this was a really poor action taken, and, like you, I suspect it was done to appease, to “keep the peace”. As you well know, appeasement does not work with an addict. We must keep in mind, though, that Garland’s duties lie with the law, not as a PR provider for how we think things should be. It is not up to Garland; it is up to us.

    • timbozone says:

      Further investigation will lead to more that needs to be told. I’d like to give Garland the benefit of the doubt here with regard to appointing Weiss. I think that it is telling that Garland stated publicly that he was appointing Weiss a Special Counsel because >Weiss< requested the need for a Special Counsel ('s powers?).

      The situation here in the country, politically, is incredibly complex. We should not forget that there are foreign powers also who have helped foment some of the confusion and jaundice here. It is hard not to let one's paranoia run wild with all the possibilities with what is going on with the Weiss being made a Special Counsel, but it is also clear that Garland has a ton on his plate…and Hunter Biden is maybe not the first or second or even third thing that Garland wants distracting him from bigger issues of the moment.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Peacerme, your comment is provocative in the best way; it made me think hard about these points. While I too sense some attempt at conciliation, if not appeasement, on Garland’s part with the Weiss SC appointment, I also see some limits to what seems to be your prescription for national self-inventory.

      You must know that malignant narcissism isn’t a mental illness (and certainly not an addiction) but a personality disorder. Bandy X. Lee’s “folie a millions” concept for describing Trump supporters takes this into account–along with the fact that their “madness” is foundationally based not on untruth but on mistruth, the firehose of lies that has sustained their power since before Trump descended his gilded escalator.

      It seems you seek some intervention with Garland, but he never contributed to that power (and permission) structure founded on deliberate distortions of the truth. His minor (and obviously failed) attempts to appease it now should not, I believe, be our focus as we try to turn this thing around.

  24. Jenny T says:

    Please forgive my ignorance, but why is there a Special Counsel? If a plea deal falls apart, then the case should go to trial, right? Can’t he just have a trial and be done with all this dragged out Hunter Biden shit??

    • timbozone says:

      We don’t know yet. Hopefully, it’ll be contained in the Special Counsel’s report (if any).

    • Purple Martin says:

      So, a federal prosecutor, upon not reaching a judge-approved plea agreement with a defendant (for whatever reason), may decide to either take the case to trial, or drop the charges.

      Weiss previously said he had not yet reached a point of needing Special Counsel authority and if he did, he’d been assured he would receive it.

      And…that’s what happened. Unable to charge anywhere but in his own district (Delaware—Hunter Biden had waived venue for the plea), Weiss now needs SC authority to enable charges to be brought in the venue where the charged act occurred (in this case, likely either DC or CA).

      So he asked for it and, as he’d been assured by DoJ, received it.

  25. Jenny T says:

    Oh, never mind. Just saw a write up from Liz Dye explaining it. So basically the current prosecutor who couldn’t satisfy the frothers is now being given more authority to try and satisfy the frothers (and there was/is a jurisdiction issue). Ok, got it.

    • Upisdown says:

      Here’s how I see it as a non-lawyer.

      Going forward, Weiss has to re-file his tax charges in one of two blue jurisdictions, and the gun charge can no longer be wrapped into the total charging package. I don’t see how the gun count survives after the 5th district ruled that law unconstitutional. If Weiss wants to bring it as a stand-alone charge in Delaware, I think he’d be likely to lose because of the recent ruling and also because of the weakness of the case compared with other prosecutions.

      I predict the gun count will get dropped completely and there will be a brand new plea deal on the two tax counts which now won’t be complicated by the unusual diversion agreement. With Garland effectively out of the picture there can’t be any valid complaints about interference from “Biden’s DOJ”.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Weiss seems to be fishing for more than a couple of minor tax charges that for any other defendant would be pled out, not taken to trial. But he has two big hurdles: evidentiary problems and the SOL.

        • timbozone says:

          It’s unlikely that he’s “fishing” here. Garland wasn’t saddled with this appointment per se… One would think that whatever Weiss used to justify his request for appointment here must have had some meat on it for Garland to acquiesce?

      • David Brooks says:

        “…there can’t be any valid complaints about interference from “Biden’s DOJ”.” I’m glad you included the word “valid”, or the entire sentence would have been an obvious hook, and I would have commented. Oh, look.

  26. LaMissy! says:

    Jamie Gorelick has been one of Merrick Garland’s mentors since the Clinton administration and they’ve known each other since their undergraduate days. Gorelick’s mentor at Harvard Law was Alan Dershowitz. Gorelick also served as the ethics lawyer for Jared and Ivanka.

    Perhaps this is just life at Big Law Firms.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Long time mover and shaker Jamie Gorelick is an equal opportunity advocate.

      Horace Rumpole described himself as the next taxi in the rank: as a barrister, he took all comers – for the defense – and was usually paid by legal aid. Gorelick does not accept legal aid. Her next client is often the latest mega-corporation to business model itself into big trouble. She was BP’s lead counsel after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

      A nominal, hard right Democrat, she is a member of the board of Amazon and United Technologies, and served as a reliable member of the 9/11 Commission. That she served as the “ethics lawyer” for Jared and Ivanka is almost comical.

  27. Lumpy2000 says:

    For the past year, commenters here have been verbally attacked by moderators for suggesting that Garland wasn’t doing a good job, and mods claimed Garland’s a consummate professional who was diligently getting things done behind the scenes. Commenters here were also literally harangued about how the House Jan6 public hearings were hurting the DOJ efforts to investigate, and members of the committee were clowns doing work mainly for the cameras. Now there’s an editorial turnabout, with recent posts saying that that Congressional hearings actually advanced the ball a lot for the DOJ case, and now we’re reading that maybe Garland hasn’t been doing a good job after all.

    If there’s not editorial consistency at this blog, it really limits the usefulness of the work here. Yes, facts emerge and conditions do change, and opinions are subject to change. The issue I’m addressing is moderator open hostility towards differing opinions – not dumb opinions about law, but reasonable interpretations about optics and politics – but then there’s an editorial reversal later.

    • bmaz says:

      Well hi there. The people that run this place have been here nearly 17 years. You, “Lumpy” have been here for one whole comment. Thanks for playing through though.

      The “editorial consistency at this blog” is that we say what we think and are honest in doing so. That, “Lumpy”, is actual “editorial consistency”.

    • Rayne says:

      With all due respect, fuck off with your editorial consistency bullshit. We’re not a monolith, we’re individuals.

      You’re also talking about persons, entities, and events which have developed and changed over time, addressed disparate issues, and not in a vacuum.

      For the rest of the community I’m going to point out you’ve commented two times, the first last November, and under two different names. This most recent comment was made from a IP address on a VPN server which has been reported for spam.

      Editorial consistency my left ass cheek.

  28. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    This is another absolutely disgusting display of cowardice and appeasement from Garland; the wrong man for the job from the start. It was a massive mistake of Biden to appoint him and not clean house.

    We will not make it if we keep rolling over like this.

    • David F. Snyder says:

      I disagree. Garland proved his mettle with the Unabomber and OK City and he’s not taking it easy on domestic terrorists. I think folks are underestimating the workload J6 and Trump put on MG and the DOJ (coupled with the post-pandemic crime rate rise). Moreover, cleaning house sets precedence for when Dems are out of power, a very dangerous thing to do with the GOPutinites (lords and ladies of whataboutism) leaning hard into whatever you want to call what they’re into. The Mahabharata speaks long and deeply on the essence of these matters, but that can’t be condensed into a blog comment.

      • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

        The GOP has not cared about precedent or norms for some time, and if only one side is respecting them, even in relatively low-stake scenarios, that side is going to lose.

        Regardless of this decision, the next DOJ under a Republican is going to be an extension of the worst of their party’s political will.

      • bmaz says:

        I generally approve of how Garland has reformed the credibility of DOJ.

        What he has done, here, as to Hunter Biden is beyond cowardice.

        • David F. Snyder says:

          Well, we’ll see. I’ve seen some sly moves where somebody got their back slit open (so to speak) in a career-ending way (with back stabbed walking away from the situation as if a coward) but they still didn’t realize it had been done. Things are not as they always appear. But then, maybe MG was just being chickenshit or obtuse – it just seems out of character to me. I am naive, admittedly.

          • ItTollsForYou says:

            If I understand what you’re saying, it COULD be that MG is just giving Weiss enough rope to hang himself with. But even still that would be a very silly move, as Weiss doesn’t need to have any sort of outcome with this case, he just needs to keep it alive through 2024

  29. Upisdown says:

    I wish someone in the media would specify what crime it is that Hunter Biden may have committed beyond possibly cheating on his taxes. Burisma board member? Not a crime. Doing business in China? Not a crime. Providing legal counsel to a Romanian? Not a crime. Having LLC’s? Not a crime. Transferring your money to relatives? Definitely not a crime.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      Yeah the guy wasn’t part of Bidens campaign, wasn’t part of his white house staff, and didn’t work at any businesses owned by Biden. It is not surprising that his issues with addiction would become political fodder, but the media unsurprisingly is acting like all these federal prosecutions of some random citizen because of his last name is normal and par for the course.

  30. zscoreUSA says:

    This may mean DOJ has to release all the things that Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler revealed were in the file, including Weiss’ own disinterest in validating “the laptop.”

    Interesting. Verrrry interesting.

  31. harpie says:

    Marcy: https://nitter.net/emptywheel/status/1690842489693884418#m
    Aug 13, 2023 · 9:47 PM UTC

    Really worthwhile interview of Abbe Lowell.

    If I’m David Weiss, I would be reflecting on the fact that James Comer’s a dick pic sniffing puff compared to Abbe Lowell. [link]

    Links to:
    Transcript: Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s attorney, on “Face the Nation,” August 13, 2023 https://www.cbsnews.com/news/abbe-lowell-hunter-biden-attorney-transcript-face-the-nation-08-13-2023/ AUGUST 13, 2023 / 1:11 PM / CBS NEWS

Comments are closed.