President-elect Joe Biden has picked Judge Merrick Garland to be the nation’s next attorney general.
When President Barack Obama nominated Garland for the Supreme Court in 2016, only to be thwarted after a stand-off with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, his supporters promoted him as an independent thinker, a moderate, a public servant of great integrity. The New York Times once described Garland “as fine a nominee as Republicans could hope to get from a Democratic president.”
Garland should sail through, now that Democrats will control the Senate.
And then his life likely will get a lot tougher.
Because one high-profile case to land on his desk is the ongoing FBI probe of the president-elect’s son, Hunter Biden.
On Thursday, The Washington Times revealed new details of the “tax affairs” matter, as the younger Biden described it last month, that the FBI is investigating.
It seems that in 2018 Hunter Biden was on the hook for a “substantial” amount of taxes, according to the Times, and was accruing late fees from the IRS because it wasn’t getting paid.
The Times attributed that to an email it obtained that had been on the laptop Hunter Biden abandoned in a Delaware repair shop. The email indicated Biden owed $804,000 in taxes for 2017. Most of that – $600,000 – was in personal levies. Through his law practice, he owed the government another $204,000.
The Times reported that Biden told his CPA that “some of the money he received was in the form of loans.” The CPA advised him that “filing the returns will stop further late filing penalties from accruing.”
The newspaper also noted that 2017 “was significant for Hunter Biden’s network of financial investment entities and shell companies,” which included his dealings with shady figures in Ukraine and China.
Especially lucrative were the Chinese ventures.
Hunter Biden made four trips to China that year, including hitching a ride with his father on Air Force 2. Per one deal, his Chinese contacts set up an investment company, which later went belly up, that funneled $4.8 million to Hunter Biden’s law firm for consulting fees.
But young Biden was looking for an even bigger payday. He once emailed his Chinese partners that he was looking for $10 million “for introductions alone.”
The Times noted that during that year Hunter Biden also paid his uncle, James Biden, and his company $1.4 million for consulting fees.
Recently, on one of the rare occasions Joe Biden discussed the investigation of his son, the next president pledged to not meddle in the probe.
On Wednesday, when news of Garland’s nomination became public, The New York Times reported that the judge “would inherit a department that grew more politicized under President Trump than at any point since Watergate.”
Apparently, the Times missed the entire Obama administration – which featured one attorney general being held in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over records, and another meeting with the husband of the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee on an airport runway just days before the FBI announced whether it would charge his wife with mishandling classified information.
But Joe Biden was certainly part of that, and by naming Garland, he hands the judge a case that will show the nation whether Garland can be as centrist, moderate, and independent as was billed in 2016.