“Shoeless Joe” and the Fixing of the Biden Scandal

Below is my column in The Hill on the appointment of David Weiss as special counsel. Despite my enthusiastic support at this nomination, I have come to view Attorney General Merrick Garland as a failure as Attorney General. This decision captures why I have lost faith in his leadership — and why his department is at one of the lowest levels of public trust.

Here is the column:

Roughly 100 years ago, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson admitted that, as a player for the Chicago White Sox, he and seven other teammates had intentionally lost the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in 1919. When a kid stopped him outside of the grand jury room and asked “It ain’t true, is it, Joe?” Jackson responded “Yes, kid, I’m afraid it is.”

This is not a case of history repeating itself. After being confronted by allegations of a fixed investigation, Attorney General Merrick Garland just sent Shoeless Joe back into the game.

The appointment of Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss as the new special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden left many with the same disbelief as that kid in Chicago. This is, after all, the same Weiss who headed an investigation that was trashed by whistleblowers, who alleged that his investigation had been fixed from the outset.

It is the same Weiss who ran an investigation in which agents were allegedly prevented from asking about Joe Biden, obstructed in their efforts to pursue questions and compromised by tip offs to the Biden team on planned searches.

It is also the same Weiss who reportedly allowed the statute of limitations to run out on Hunter’s major tax offenses, even though he had the option to extend it.

It is the same Weiss who did not indict on major tax felonies and cut a plea deal that brushed aside a felony gun charge.

It is the same Weiss who inked a widely panned “sweetheart” deal that caused a federal judge to balk and trash a sweeping immunity grant — language that even the prosecutor admitted he had never previously seen in a plea deal.

That is why many asked Garland to “say it ain’t so.”

The Weiss appointment definitively established Garland as a failure as attorney general. As someone who initially praised Garland’s appointment, I now see that he has repeatedly shown he lacks the strength and leadership to rise to these moments.

This is why the Justice Department is now less trusted by the public than it was under his predecessor, Bill Barr. During Barr’s tenure, Pew found that 54 percent of the public viewed the department favorably, and 70 percent had a favorable view of the FBI. Under Garland, the department’s favorability had declined to 49 percent as of March, before many of the recent failures. The FBI’s favorability has fallen by 18 points to just 52 percent.

Garland’s failure of leadership has undermined key cases. A Harvard-Harris poll this summer showed that 55 percent of the public view the Trump indictment as “politically motivated,” and 56 percent believe that it constitutes election interference.

Garland continues to do little to reverse that public perception, other than repeatedly refer to the motto of the Department. He offered the same mantra for years as some of us called for a special counsel appointment to investigate Biden corruption. The case for such an appointment has long been unassailable, but Garland refused to make the appointment, allowing years to pass with underlying crimes.

The immediate effect of this belated appointment will be to insulate Weiss and the Department from Congress as it prepares to interview Weiss and members of his team.

Yet if that was truly his purpose in doing this, Garland might have been too clever by half. First, since Garland did not appoint someone from outside of the Department (as envisioned under Section 600.3).

Of course, Garland could insist that, although this appointment from inside the Justice Department violates the statute, Special Counsel John Durham was also selected from the department’s ranks. Yet that does not excuse the appointment of a prosecutor who has been accused of conflicts of interest and false statements — the very antithesis of a special counsel who is supposed to have “a reputation for integrity and impartial decision-making.”

Second, there is the failure to expand Weiss’s mandate. Garland described that mandate as focusing again on Hunter Biden, and the Justice Department refused to respond to questions on the possible inclusion of his father in the investigation.

This was another opportunity to recognize the widespread distrust over the department and expressly allow the special counsel to include the corruption allegations involving both Hunter and the president. That would have supported calls for the House to delay further investigations.

As it stands, Garland has virtually ensured that Congress will pursue an impeachment inquiry as the only body seriously investigating the scandal.

The use of impeachment authority is the only effective way to overcome the roadblocks that the Justice Department is likely to throw up after this new appointment. Impeachment can work as constitutional Kryptonite. No court could seriously question the right and duty of Congress to get to the bottom of corruption allegations against the president without delay. Although Weiss can refuse to answer questions, Congress can use its impeachment authority to demand answers from fact witnesses, including Biden family members.

None of this means that Hunter Biden will be protected by Weiss from additional charges. He will likely pursue long dormant charges, such as Hunter’s being an unregistered foreign agent. He could also pursue felonies on the crimes detailed in the now-defunct plea bargain. In other words, he could show all of the aggression that was lacking in his prior work.

The public, however, doesn’t seem to be buying the special counsel spin. The result is reinforcing rather than resolving the lack of trust in the Justice Department.

It could not be worse for the Justice Department as an institution. “Shoeless Joe” Weiss is back in the game, long after the public has left in disgust.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University

203 thoughts on ““Shoeless Joe” and the Fixing of the Biden Scandal”

  1. Garland almost became a SCOTUS Justice. Let that sink in. Such a small and crooked mind almost became a decision maker on our highest court. We’re in real trouble in this country.

  2. News Alert! *More vacation time* for the President Biden and his crime family!

    🚨BREAKING: Biden to travel to Lake Tahoe, Nevada for A WEEK this Friday.
    Meanwhile Mr. Empathy has “No comment” on the hundreds of dead Americans as Maui burns to the ground.

    1. Joe Biden is a FRAUD.
      Joe Biden is a LIAR.
      Joe Biden is a CRIMINAL.
      Joe Biden was INSTALLED, not elected.
      Joe Biden is an ILLEGITIMATE president-in-name-only sunning himself at the beach as Americans suffer while the country is being destroyed.

    2. An inquiry that should be pursued is what did President Obama know and when did he know it about Biden corruption while Joe Biden served under him as Veep. The Congressional government oversight committee should consider subpoening Obama to take his deposition testimony.

  3. Joe Biden’s blatant corruption is reason to insist on term limits to stop these criminals from self-enriching ‘public service’ as a “career.”
    Joe Biden is and has always been a total a-hole. He acts like a mob boss, high on his power. It’s despicable.

    How did Delaware continue voting to keep this man and his crime family in power decade after decade?
    How has the Biden Family managed to run the entire state of Delaware like a mob boss all these years? And no one took him down?
    How is Biden and his family *still* getting away with his brazen criminality and corruption now?
    Is there no one who will stand up against this? McConnell? Romney? Anyone in Republican Senate leadership? (just kidding….of course not).

  4. In Garland’s defense, I must point out that Garland belatedly gave the Republican Establishment what they wanted all along by appointing David Weiss “special counsel”, even though Weiss was a US Government employee, and even though appointing him “special counsel” would be in violation of 28 CFR § 600.3 – Qualifications of the Special Counsel.

    See the Republican Establishment’s September 16, 2022 letter: https://www.cassidy.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Hunter%20Biden%20Special%20Counsel%20Letter%20FINAL.pdf

    There’s a good reason that the Democrats and the Republicans are often collectively referred to as the Uniparty.

      1. Catherine, there’s no doubt many are seeing through Garland’s belated maneuver. But I hope that it’s also clear to those same people that David Weiss was a poor recommendation by the Republicans even back in 2022.

        My point is that even if Garland had been appointed “special counsel” in 2022, as the Republicans asked for, I think the result would have been the same because Weiss could never be truly independent as an employee of the US Government. A genuine, independent Special Counsel must come from outside the US Government, as specified in 28 CFR § 600.3. When the rules are violated, as they were with Durham and now with Weiss, at best, you get a slow-walked-go-through-the-motions feckless and ultimately worthless “investigation”.

  5. In the midst of the disaster in Maui…and his supposed “reelection campaign”….and his own corruption scandals….President Biden rides his bike at the beach….nary a care in the world. Because he can. Because Joe Biden doesn’t give AF about anyone….but another Biden.

    “He is not going to have a Katrina Moment, because:

    1. No one thinks he’s in charge of anything, including the operation of his own bowels and

    2. the entire Regime media apparatus is arrayed to insulate him from even the most mild criticism.”

    1. Barefoot Joe spends another relaxing day at the beach.
      When asked by media about devastation in Maui, big guy Joe says, “No comment.”

      Joe Biden does not GAF about anyone not named Biden.

      1. Obama played golf on Marthas Vineyard as Americans were beheaded by terrorists. They DO NOT CARE. Even the corrupt fake news media does not think they should interupt their “well deserved” vacation time.

  6. Mr. Turley, I understand you have described Merrick Garland as a former friend and colleague you admire. However people can either be different than as we believe them to be, just as we can all change for either the good or better.

    There is no law or regulation anywhere that prevents you from calling Merrick Garland what he obviously is: a corrupt fraud, pathological liar and political hack in the service of the Democrats. Not just a failure at serving his country America.

    Would the son you wrote of being so proud of last week circle around the truth rather than speaking in plain language when he is a doctor?

    Res ipsa loquitur indeed…

    1. Do not fear for our Republic. Our sacred Banana Republic remains strong and our esteemed two-tiered system of justice will withstand the challenges from the profane Constitutionalists.

  7. Hunter Biden is claiming in his filing today that the Diversion Agreement is a binding contract. Since the broad immunity clause is contained in that agreement, he will no doubt raise that as a defence to any further charges Weiss may seek to bring. And if Weiss goes to D.C. for venue he may find a Biden-friendly judge and jury who will find in Biden’s favour.

  8. Jonathan, I invite you to visit us at the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum the next time you are in Greenville, SC. We have a lot to share about Joe’s life in and out of baseball.
    I would suggest that equating Joe to Mr. Weiss is not really valid. There are lots of points to be considered. I offer just two now.
    You were able to list several ways in which Mr. Weiss’ actions were rightly questionable. Errors might be a good term. In contrast in that 1919 World Series Joe was the best performing player on either team. He had the highest batting average, the only home run, and no errors in the field.
    Secondly, the “Say it ain’t so, Joe” line is well embedded in baseball lore but also almost certainly a creation of talented newspaper writer. Joe claimed that it never happened and that he actually left the court through a side door, accompanied by a policeman to whom he had offered a ride home.
    Again, I hope you are able to visit with us. We would offer a warm welcome to you.

  9. he lacks the strength and leadership to rise to these moments. Really? I think it shows he lacks morals and ethics and is a liar, to boot. He took an oath, right? His failure to abide by that oath makes him a liar, every bit as big a liar as Joe and Nancy and Mitch and Adam and the list goes on. Men of good character are hard to find; men of low, base, mean character are a dime a dozen and he’s come pretty cheap.

  10. They were convicted of count 1.

    Moreover, your question was “has the crime of fraud on the US ever been applied to a challenge to a recorded election result?”

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