The federal prosecutor investigating Hunter Biden repeatedly insisted in a closed-door interview with lawmakers that he was never constrained in the probe.

David Weiss, the special counsel helming the years-long investigation into the president’s son, sat for the interview with House Judiciary Committee investigators on Tuesday. POLITICO reviewed a transcript of the interview, which is not yet public.

The unusual interview, which Weiss agreed to voluntarily, was part of House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry targeting President Joe Biden and his family.

The extent of Weiss’s authority over the probe drew scrutiny this summer, when IRS agents working with him testified to Congress that the team faced unusual hurdles and roadblocks.

Weiss, the U.S. attorney for Delaware, said in the interview that Justice Department officials initially withheld an authorization he discussed with them — so-called “special attorney” authority, which would have allowed him to bring criminal charges against Hunter Biden outside of Delaware. Instead of immediately granting him that authority, Weiss testified, Justice Department officials directed him to follow a standard process in moving forward with his probe. Attorney General Merrick Garland later appointed him as a special counsel, a designation that gave him wide-ranging authority to charge the president’s son anywhere in the country.

But in the interview, Weiss insisted that he didn’t face constraints.

“I had the authority,” he said. “I was satisfied I had the authority. I wasn’t concerned about my authority. The only issue I was concerned with was the decision-making on the case, the strength of the case, and whether to bring the case.”

Weiss said that in February 2022, he “raised the idea” of receiving special authority to potentially bring charges against the president’s son in Washington, D.C., but top Justice Department officials wanted him to first ask the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. about working together. That office offered administrative help but declined to partner with Weiss.

So Weiss spoke again with officials at Main Justice and was given the green light. “If I intended to or was interested in moving forward in D.C., I had the authority to do so,” Weiss said in recounting what one DOJ official told him.

Republicans said this contradicts earlier statements from Weiss that he had “ultimate authority” to make decisions on the case. But Weiss said it did not.

In September, Weiss obtained an indictment of Hunter Biden in Delaware on charges that he owned a gun as a drug user.

Here are five other takeaways from Weiss’s testimony.

Threats abound

Weiss said people working on the case have faced significant threats and harassment, and that family members of people in his office have been doxed.

“I have safety concerns for everybody who has worked on the case,” he said.

He added that he doesn’t know what motivates the people who have threatened his team.

“I’ve certainly received messages, calls, emails from folks who have not been completely enamored of my — with my role in this case,” he added, noting that he is also concerned for his family’s safety.

Report preview

Weiss declined to answer a host of questions about decisions he has made during the investigation. But he also said a report he will write — required of all special counsels — would address many queries. Among the topics his report will likely address: how his office interacted with another U.S. attorney, Scott Brady, who was assigned to vet tips related to Ukraine corruption, including allegations about the Biden family. Brady previously told lawmakers that his office had a very difficult time getting in touch with Weiss’s team.

Weiss also confirmed that the statute of limitations has expired for any charges related to 2014 and 2015, two years when the president’s son was on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Investigators scrutinized his taxes during those years. Weiss said he would address decisions about those years in his report.

And Weiss said he expects to address a criminal referral his team received claiming that a lawyer violated campaign finance laws when he lent Hunter Biden money to pay his outstanding taxes. Biden’s lawyers have said the loan was made in 2021, after his father’s 2020 presidential campaign was over.

In the family

Weiss said he did not have a close relationship with Beau Biden, the deceased brother of Hunter Biden who was Delaware’s attorney general from 2007 to 2015. Weiss was the acting U.S. attorney for Delaware during some of that time.

“I wasn’t friends with Beau Biden,” Weiss said. “I barely had a relationship with Beau Biden. I was the acting U.S. Attorney. He was the attorney general, so our paths crossed. That was the extent of this relationship.”

The Washington Post reported in August that Weiss’s prior work with Beau Biden — who died from brain cancer in 2015 — “potentially complicates the probe.”

Plea deal was never the end

In June, Weiss’s team and Hunter Biden’s lawyers negotiated a proposed plea deal that likely would have allowed Biden to avoid prison on the gun charges as well as separate tax issues that Weiss has investigated.

At the time, Biden’s lawyers signaled that the deal meant the Justice Department’s probe of the president’s son was over. But, according to Weiss, the investigation hadn’t ended at that point.

“I can say that at no time was it coming to a close,” he said. “I think, as I stated in the one statement I made at the time, the investigation was continuing. So it wasn’t ending there in any event.”

The plea deal later collapsed after a judge raised questions about it.

‘Never good for cases to linger’

When pressed on why the investigation, which was quietly opened in 2018, has taken so long, Weiss signaled that he wants it to be over soon.

“Do you have any goal as to when you’d like to bring it to conclusion?” a Republican staffer asked.

“Two weeks ago,” Weiss replied. “No, I say — again, I say that in jest, but no. Look, I recognize that it’s never good for cases to linger, so I am interested in efficiency to the extent possible.”

“It’s been five years,” replied Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the chairman of the committee, who sat in for the interview.

“I understand that, Chairman,” Weiss said. “I really do. I absolutely do.”

“So that doesn’t — you just used the term ‘linger,’” Jordan replied. “That doesn’t fit the definition of ‘linger’?”

“I understand your question and appreciate it,” Weiss said.

Reached for comment, a Justice Department spokesperson said the transcript speaks for itself.

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