As Hunter Biden Probes Intensify, Biden Names New White House Counsel With Experience Defending Democrats in Benghazi, ‘Fast and Furious’ Investigations
The appointment of a former federal prosecutor, Ed Siskel, as the president’s top lawyer suggests that the White House is taking the prospect of an impeachment inquiry seriously.
President Biden has announced that attorney Ed Siskel will become the White House’s top lawyer come September. His experience during the Obama administration in dealing with Republican congressional investigations — including of the notorious Benghazi and “Fast and Furious” affairs — could serve the president well as the GOP probes his family’s financial dealings abroad.
“Ed Siskel’s many years of experience in public service and a career defending the rule of law make him the perfect choice to serve as my next White House Counsel,” Mr. Biden said in a statement Tuesday. “For nearly four years in the White House when I was Vice President, he helped the Counsel’s Office navigate complex challenges and advance the President’s agenda on behalf of the American people.”
Mr. Siskel served under President Obama between 2009 to 2014, eventually rising to the position of deputy counsel. In his position, he played a key role in implementing the Affordable Care Act and handling Republican congressional investigations, including probes into the 2011 terrorist attack on the American consulate at Benghazi, Libya, and into Operation Fast and Furious, a botched Department of Justice operation in which federal agents were running weapons to Mexican drug cartels. As a result of the “Fast and Furious” investigation, Attorney General Holder was held in contempt of Congress.
In his role as White House counsel, Mr. Siskel will have to contend with a bevy of investigations by the House Republican majority, most notably the probe into whether Mr. Biden engaged in any illegal activity during his time as vice president by aiding and abetting his son’s foreign business dealings.
Investigations into Hunter Biden and his father are being led by the House Oversight, Ways and Means, and Judiciary committees. All of these panels are led by chairmen who have been waging public battles with the White House for months and have shown no signs of relenting — Representatives James Comer, Jason Smith, and Jim Jordan, respectively.
Mr. Comer and his Oversight Committee have already uncovered more than $20 million that was sent to the younger Mr. Biden during his work as a consultant and lobbyist for overseas businesses — money that was later dispersed to members of his family. Congressional investigators have yet to conclusively tie the president to any of these transactions
Messrs. Smith and Jordan have engaged in their own respective investigations as committee chairmen, with Mr. Smith disclosing the existence of an encrypted message sent to a business associate in Communist China from the younger Mr. Biden in which he threatened to have his father get involved and “hold a grudge” if he did not receive payment.
On Monday, Messrs. Smith and Jordan subpoenaed records from the executive branch that could shed light on the formulation of the first son’s “sweetheart plea deal,” in which the chief investigator, Special Counsel David Weiss, was allegedly hamstrung by his superiors at the Department of Justice.
According to the subpoenas sent to the Internal Revenue Service, the CIA, and the FBI, Messrs. Smith and Jordan are seeking testimony from multiple federal agents who may have knowledge about the alleged suppression of Mr. Weiss’s investigation.
Beyond congressional probes, Mr. Siskel will have to contend with personal problems for the president, including a special counsel investigation into his handling of classified documents as well as the potential threat of the president being called to testify in defense of his son should Hunter Biden be charged with tax evasion, an illegal weapons purchase, or violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
In January, it was announced that a federal prosecutor, Robert Hur, would lead the investigation into whether Mr. Biden violated federal law by allegedly retaining classified information from his time as vice president. On August 11, NBC News reported that Mr. Hur was seeking an interview with the president and is in negotiations with his lawyers — something with which Mr. Siskel will likely be involved once he takes office in September.
The likelihood of the president being called to testify at a potential criminal trial of his son is also increasing, given that prosecutors at Delaware are considered likely to file charges against the first son in the coming weeks.
On August 18, a judge dismissed the charges against the first son in order to end his plea agreement. Mr. Weiss told the court that the charges ought to be dismissed so that his office could pursue a prosecution, saying in a legal filing that “the Government now believes that the case will not resolve short of a trial.”
One day later, Politico disclosed the existence of a 32-page letter that Mr. Biden’s attorney, Christopher Clark, had sent to Mr. Weiss in 2022. Should Mr. Weiss bring charges against the first son, Mr. Clark wrote, “President Biden now unquestionably would be a fact witness for the defense in any criminal trial.”
“This of all cases justifies neither the spectacle of a sitting President testifying at a criminal trial nor the potential for a resulting Constitutional crisis,” Mr. Clark continued.