(WASHINGTON) — Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said Sunday that the process of getting a special counsel appointed to investigate Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s younger son, was “bumpy” and that it seems Hunter Biden did “unlawful and wrong things.”
But, Raskin said, federal prosecutors should be allowed to continue their work unimpeded by politics.
“David Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware, who had been nominated by Donald Trump, can make the decisions about what to charge, where to charge and when to charge,” Raskin told ABC “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl. “And with the collapse of the plea agreement that he had apparently worked out with Hunter Biden, now he wants to be certain that he’s got the authority to go bring charges wherever he wants.”
The change in the plea status was detailed in court filings by prosecutors on Friday, the same day Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he was elevating Weiss to special counsel.
Weiss, who has overseen the investigation of Hunter Biden for some five years, asked on Tuesday to become a special counsel, which will grant him further independence and new powers.
Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to tax charges.
“From my perspective, it is the rule of law and the justice system working itself out the way that it does and, obviously, it’s bumpy and this side or that side doesn’t necessarily prefer this course of events,” Raskin said on Sunday. “But our job, I think, as political people is to allow the justice system to run its course.”
Raskin said that Weiss becoming a special counsel will not functionally change how he’s been operating: “To me, it seems to formalize what has basically been the understanding from the beginning.”
When asked by Karl what he believes changed for Weiss and Garland, Raskin cited the issues with Hunter Biden’s plea deal. He also said there has been inappropriate political pressure on Weiss.
Hunter Biden had originally agreed to acknowledge his failure to pay taxes on income he received in 2017 and 2018. In exchange, prosecutors would have recommended probation. Hunter Biden also would have agreed to a pretrial diversion on a separate gun charge, with the charge being dropped if he adhered to certain terms.
But the agreement with prosecutors was deferred by a judge after a hearing in Delaware late last month, with the judge questioning some of the terms.
Prosecutors said in their filings on Friday that they were at an “impasse” with Hunter Biden’s attorneys over any potential deal.
“I don’t know what factors went into the calculus to appoint [Weiss as special counsel] Obviously, there had to be some public interest rationale for it. The material change in circumstance that I can discern is simply the collapse of the plea agreement,” Raskin said on Sunday. “But when that agreement appeared to evaporate, then I suppose they wanted to formalize that the U.S. attorney for Delaware had the authority that he needed in order to prosecute the case. And, certainly, there was political pressure being brought on it, which I don’t approve of myself. I think it’s not our job as politicians to be second-guessing and trying to micromanage.”
Leading Republicans in Congress, some of whom previously called for Weiss to become a special counsel, then sharply criticized that development.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy wrote in a social media post that Weiss may not be able to be “trusted” because of his role in the previous Hunter Biden plea agreement.
On “This Week,” Raskin pushed back on his conservative colleagues, arguing they were hypocritical.
“You may as well just say: ‘How could Kevin McCarthy, who told Donald Trump that it was his people who had stormed his own office and the Capitol, was at fault but then turned around a week or two later to curry favor again with Donald Trump be trusted on any of this?’ And this is why we have a justice system. Let’s just let them do their job,” Raskin said.
Republicans have increasingly focused on Hunter Biden, including on his controversial past business work overseas, which they contend at least suggested influence peddling by the larger Biden family while Joe Biden was in office.
The White House has repeatedly dismissed that, saying there is no evidence Joe Biden is or was ever involved in Hunter Biden’s business.
Pressed by Karl on “This Week,” Raskin conceded he was “concerned” about how Hunter Biden may have been profiting off of his family name but then pointed back to conduct by Donald Trump and Jared Kushner during the Trump administration.
“They’ve not laid a glove on Joe Biden as president. They haven’t been able to show any criminal corruption on his part,” Raskin said of Republicans. “What they’ve got is Hunter Biden. And we’ve all seen … that this guy was addicted to drugs and did a lot of really unlawful and wrong things. And we have said, let the justice system run its course.”
ABC News’ Lucien Bruggeman contributed to this report.
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