Justice Department pushes back against House GOP’s subpoenas in Hunter Biden investigation

The Justice Department is resisting subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee for the testimony of four government attorneys involved in the criminal investigation of Hunter Biden, in the latest impeachment probe showdown between the Biden administration and congressional Republicans.

In a letter to Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, obtained by NBC News, the DOJ’s assistant attorney general for congressional affairs said the subpoenas, which have not previously been reported, were neither justified nor constitutional.

The targets of the subpoenas are not named in the DOJ letter, but people familiar with the matter said that they are Matthew Graves, U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C.; Lesley Wolf, a former Delaware federal prosecutor who was involved in the Hunter Biden investigation; and two line attorneys in the DOJ’s tax division.

The subpoenas are part of the House impeachment investigation into President Joe Biden, which included an examination of whether he “abuse[d] his power as President to impede, obstruct, or otherwise hinder investigations (including Congressional investigations) or the prosecution of Hunter Biden.”

Russell Dye, a House Judiciary Committee spokesman, called the DOJ’s arguments about the relevance of the witnesses to the impeachment inquiry “patently ridiculous.”

“The Committee has uncovered substantial irregularities in the investigation and prosecution of the President’s son,” he said in an email. “DOJ’s position is that because interviews with certain witnesses…(haven’t) uncovered any evidence to directly implicate the President, the Committee’s investigation of the matter should end, and no more witnesses should be interviewed.”

Dye added that the two line tax attorneys “were directly involved in irregularities that are under scrutiny. They could provide explanations for the irregularities that would be exculpatory. Or they could give testimony regarding political causes for those irregularities that would be inculpatory.”

Jim Jordan in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images file )

Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte, the DOJ’s head of congressional affairs, wrote that the agency has “taken extraordinary steps” to assist the committee in its investigation, including allowing the special counsel, David Weiss, to testify.

Graves and Wolf have also already testified in front of Congress about the Hunter Biden investigation. People familiar with the matter said that the DOJ is most concerned about trying to protect the line tax attorneys, who are career public servants, from partisan attacks. Executive branch agencies are typically reluctant to subject mid-level bureaucrats to a congressional grilling.

“None of the four individuals the Committee now seeks to depose has responsibility for the Department’s responses to congressional inquiries, including on this matter,” the letter said. “Put simply, there is a mismatch between the information demanded and the asserted purpose and scope of the Committee’s investigation, including as described in the impeachment resolution.”

The letter also pushed back against claims by Republicans that the Hunter Biden investigation was tainted by political influence.

It said Weiss’ closed door testimony showed that he “had authority to determine where, when, and whether to bring charges,” and was “never blocked from bringing charges or taking any investigative steps by the U.S. Attorneys for the District of Columbia or the Central District of California, whose approval or partnership he did not require to pursue charges in districts outside of Delaware.”

Nor was Weiss ever blocked from bringing charges or taking any investigative step by the Tax Division, the letter said, adding, “David Weiss first requested to be appointed Special Counsel in August 2023. He never requested, nor was he denied, Special Counsel status before then. When he requested Special Counsel status, he was promptly appointed.”

After Weiss testified, Jordan said his story “doesn’t stack up.”

The DOJ letter does not explicitly say the agency will not comply with the subpoenas. It asks committee to send written questions and grant extra time to respond.

“We also request that the Committee defer any attempts to enforce the subpoenas, which at the very least would be premature,” the letter concludes, adding that a demand that the attorneys testify without DOJ lawyers in the room advising them “means the subpoenas lack legal effect and cannot constitutionally be enforced.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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