Attorney General Merrick Garland is a bitter partisan hack, but apparently not a bright one.
His timing for giving Hunter Biden a sweetheart deal marks him as dumb as a rock.
Garland easily could have buried the 5-year-old case during the first two years of Joe Biden’s tenure, before Republicans won the House majority in the 2022 midterms.
Had he done so, The Post and a few other outlets would have barked at the rancid favoritism, but the caravan of corruption would have moved on with the blessing of the Democrats running Congress and their media mouthpieces.
In short order, the case would have been forgotten, in part because so many of the incriminating details we know now were still secret.
Instead, Garland foolishly waited until the GOP, armed with subpoena power, could demand documents from banks, protect whistleblowers and hold hearings.
As a result, GOP-led committees have demonstrated beyond doubt that the Department of Justice cooked the books.
Testimony from IRS whistleblowers showed that department lawyers obstructed investigators and withheld key evidence, including the laptop, from their probe of the president’s crooked son.
Garland’s minions also let the statute of limitations expire on earlier tax crimes despite having clear evidence.
We also know now that the bombshell testimony came despite efforts by Garland and Christopher Wray’s FBI to block it and stonewall Congress, adding further taint to the case and everybody involved who helped the son avoid the same punishment ordinary citizens would face.
Perhaps most important, DOJ lawyers blocked any questions about Joe Biden’s role in the influence-peddling schemes, which netted the family tens of millions of dollars.
“At every stage, decisions were made that benefited the subject of this investigation,” Greg Shapley, the IRS agent formerly in charge of the case, told Congress.
The disclosures led House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to up the ante Monday by saying the Biden family business dealings are “rising to level of impeachment inquiry.”
He made the comment after my colleague Miranda Devine reported that a former partner of Hunter Biden, Devon Archer, is expected to testify that the first son frequently put Joe Biden, then the vice president, on speakerphone during Hunter’s foreign business calls.
Joe’s appearance, even if it was just a long-distance hello, would be a signal to the foreign paymasters that the “Big Guy” was in on the schemes.
Buying a vice president of the United States isn’t cheap or routine, so the rogue buyers from China, Ukraine, Russia, Romania and elsewhere would want solid assurance they would get the influence they were paying for, especially given Hunter’s well-known affection for crack cocaine and prostitutes.
Joe’s appearance on the calls could ease their fears and convince them to open their wallets.
So here we are, with the sensational testimony and impeachment talk serving as a backdrop for the Wednesday hearing where Hunter’s slap-on-the-wrist settlement lands in the lap of a judge in Wilmington, Del.
The process is normally a routine one where the judge, after getting affirmation that both sides agree to the terms, approves it and passes the agreed-upon sentence.
That would mean probation for Hunter Biden and a promise to be a good boy, pay his taxes in the future and not own a gun.
But there is an alternative, and if there is any true justice remaining, federal District Judge Maryellen Noreika will seize it.
She could and should use her power to scuttle the deal on the grounds that the punishment doesn’t fit the known crimes and declare that her court will not approve a blatant miscarriage of justice.
That would be a bold move in any case where the parties have an agreement, and especially so because the Bidens are to Delaware what the Gottis were to Queens.
Although Noreika was nominated to the federal bench by Donald Trump, she won Senate confirmation with the support of Delaware’s two Dem senators, so she also would have to set aside worries about outside pressure and even retaliation.
But there is a clear precedent for her to send the parties back to the drawing board, most notably the case involving former Trump official Gen. Michael Flynn.
Recall that Washington, DC, Judge Emmet Sullivan initially rejected the Trump Justice Department’s move to drop its case against Flynn for lying to the FBI, and even appointed a retired judge to examine the facts.
Although Flynn had pleaded guilty, Justice lawyers argued they could not prove he intended to lie or that his comments were “material” to an investigation. Yet Sullivan resisted until he was forced to approve the settlement by a higher court.
Noreika doesn’t have to go that far because she has much more material to work with, including the indefensible decision involving the statute of limitations.
According to Shapley, Justice officials let Hunter Biden avoid two years of penalties for tax fraud, 2013 and 2014, in which he declared $400,000 of income from Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, as a loan instead of payment for serving on its board.
The agency let the deadline pass despite having evidence that Hunter’s partner warned him he had to declare the money as income and refile his taxes. Hunter did neither, and got away with paying zero because the fix was in.
The handling of the gun case is also suspicious, with Hunter lying on a federal background form about his drug use. An administration that is fixated on restricting gun ownership can’t very well defend lenient treatment for the president’s son when it is calling for tougher penalties on everyone else who illegally buys a gun, yet that’s the deal Hunter got.
On first blush, the impeachment process McCarthy cited might not seem relevant to the son’s case. However, the speaker, in pledging that “we will follow this all the way to the end, and this is going to rise to an impeachment inquiry the way the Constitution tells us to do this,” was emphasizing the nature of the investigation, which almost certainly will uncover additional crimes Hunter committed.
To cite just one example, an informant’s 2020 allegation that Joe and Hunter each received $5 million in bribes from the owner of Burisma was apparently never investigated. Noreika might point to that as reason enough why she can’t possibly approve an agreement that is, at best, incomplete and, at worst, corrupt.
Scott’s great positives
Sen. Tim Scott is far behind in the GOP presidential polls, but he leads in having a positive message. Here’s an excerpt: “I am tired of the left’s grievance and victimhood narratives. They’re indoctrinating our kids to believe we live in an evil country. Well, friend, I know that America is the land of opportunity, NOT a land of oppression! Under President Tim Scott, the era of victimhood is OVER.”
Here’s a question nobody is asking except The Boston Globe, which wonders in a headline: “RFK Jr. is running on the Kennedy name. What does that mean for the family’s legacy?”
𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆: nypost.com
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁 firstname.lastname@example.org