The U.S. attorney in Delaware denied retaliating against an I.R.S. official who had disclosed details of the Hunter Biden investigation, and denied being blocked from pursuing serious charges against Mr. Biden, the president’s son, in Los Angeles and Washington.
David C. Weiss, an appointee of former President Donald J. Trump held over by the Biden administration, defended the integrity of his investigation in a two-page letter sent to House Republicans late Friday, in which he provided the most detailed explanation yet of the five-year probe that culminated in a plea agreement last month that would rule out prison time for Mr. Biden, who was facing misdemeanor tax charges and a separate gun charge.
The Department of Justice “did not retaliate” against Gary Shapley, who claims Mr. Weiss helped block a promotion he had sought after reaching out to congressional investigators, Mr. Weiss wrote in the letter to Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Mr. Weiss went on to address, in hypothetical terms, the core of Mr. Shapley’s allegations: that Biden-appointed U.S. attorneys in California and Washington had blocked Mr. Weiss from prosecuting Hunter Biden on felony tax charges during a period when the president’s youngest son was earning millions representing foreign-controlled businesses.
Mr. Shapley, testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee in May under what Republicans said were whistle-blower protections, also said he and other investigators had witnessed Mr. Weiss saying last year that he would not be the “deciding official” regarding whether to prosecute Mr. Biden, and that Mr. Weiss had been turned down when he sought special counsel status after being told by local prosecutors that he could not bring charges. House Republicans released the testimony last month.
While Mr. Weiss did not deny that those offices had turned down his request to bring the more serious charges, he backed up Attorney General Merrick B. Garland’s public statement that he had been given full authority in the case, and that he had the option of overruling prosecutors by simply reaching out to Mr. Garland or his top aides.
As the U.S. attorney in Delaware, “my charging authority is geographically limited to my home district,” wrote Mr. Weiss.
“If venue for a case lies elsewhere, common departmental practice is to contact the United States Attorney’s Office for the district in question and determine whether it wants to partner on the case,” he added. “If not, I may request special attorney status.”
Deputizing a federal prosecutor as a special attorney is distinct from making them a special counsel. The special attorney provision is, in essence, a workaround that allows an outsider to intervene in cases that span multiple jurisdictions or have special conditions. The special counsel regulations, by contrast, contain internal Justice Department reporting requirements and congressional oversight provisions.
Mr. Garland has said Mr. Weiss never asked him for either power.
Mr. Weiss did not address those issues explicitly in the letter he sent to Mr. Jordan on Friday. But he said that if he wanted to bring charges against Mr. Biden in California or Washington, he would do so without concern about being blocked by the department’s leadership.
“I have been assured that, if necessary after the above process, I would be granted § 515 Authority in the District of Columbia, the Central District of California, or any other district where charges could be brought in this matter,” he wrote, referring to the section of federal law that defines the role of a special attorney.
The letter follows a June 7 missive he sent to committee Republicans making many of the same points in less specific terms.
Mr. Weiss has been deeply frustrated by what he believes to be unwarranted attacks on his character and motives, and was eager to air his response to Mr. Shapley’s allegations before the July 4 break, according to two people familiar with the situation.
An email sent to Mr. Weiss’s spokeswoman was not answered immediately.
Mr. Jordan, along with Representative James R. Comer of Kentucky, who leads the Oversight Committee, and Representative Jason Smith of Missouri, who heads the Ways and Means Committee, sent letters on Thursday to Mr. Weiss and other officials involved in the Hunter Biden investigation requesting their testimony on the matter.
Mr. Weiss said the Justice Department’s legislative affairs office was reaching out to Mr. Jordan’s staff “to discuss appropriate timeline and scope” for his public testimony once it was appropriate to do so.
In his statement announcing Mr. Biden’s plea agreement, Mr. Weiss said the investigation was “ongoing,” which legally precludes him from testifying about the details.