Martin Estrada, the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, told congressional investigators he declined to partner with Special Counsel David Weiss in bringing charges against Hunter Biden in Estrada’s district, Fox News Digital has learned.
Estrada participated in a voluntary closed-door interview before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday as part of the panel’s investigation into whistleblower allegations that politics impacted prosecutorial decisions throughout the years-long federal investigation into the president’s son.
Fox News Digital reviewed a transcript of Estrada’s testimony Thursday.
Estrada told congressional investigators he first learned the Hunter Biden investigation could be “touching on” his district in late September or early October 2022, when he became U.S. attorney.
Estrada said, at that time, there was a “request from the District of Delaware to partner or co-counsel on certain charges that they were investigating.”
Weiss, appointed special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland this summer, at the time was serving as the U.S. attorney for Delaware. He has been investigating Hunter Biden since 2018.
Estrada told investigators career attorneys in his office “were recommending against partnering or co-counseling in the charges being contemplated” and said Weiss “wanted to speak to me about that.”
Estrada said he took the advice of his colleagues and notified Weiss of his decision in a phone call Oct. 19, 2022.
During the call, Estrada said he “discussed our analysis of facts and law to explain to him why we would not be co-counseling on the case, but then I told him that we were happy to provide office space, administrative support for his attorneys.
“He thanked me for that, and the call ended.”
Estrada said his “understanding was that (Weiss) could bring charges in my district.”
“When I offered him administrative support and office space, he thanked me for that,” Estrada said. “So, it was my belief that he was going to be able to do that.”
Estrada again said he thought that if Weiss “wanted to bring those charges in my district, he could bring those charges in my district.”
Estrada said he has never partnered with another U.S. attorney’s office on an investigation, but he did partner “quite often with different components at Main Justice.”
Estrada also said his office was “resource-strapped” at the time of the Weiss request.
When asked if he believed Weiss had “ultimate authority,” as Garland had claimed, despite whistleblowers alleging Weiss was frustrated that he did not have full authority over the probe, Estrada said Weiss “was leading the investigation and was able to bring whatever charges he wanted at ay point.”
Estrada, though, said “ultimate authority” is a “vague term to me.”
Estrada’s testimony comes after an IRS whistleblower assigned to the Hunter Biden investigation, Gary Shapley, alleged that Weiss was mulling whether to bring tax charges against Hunter Biden in California.
Shapley said Weiss attempted to bring charges and partner with the Central District of California to do so, but he was rebuffed.
Shapley said Weiss did not have charging authority and was “constantly hamstrung, limited and marginalized” by DOJ officials as he sought to make prosecutorial decisions. Shapley also alleged Weiss requested special counsel authority but was denied. He has since been appointed special counsel.
Weiss, in a letter to Congress in June, explained that as U.S. attorney for Delaware, his “charging authority is geographically limited” to his “home district.”
“If venue for a case lies elsewhere, common Departmental practice is to contact the United States Attorney’s Office for the district in question and determine whether it wants to partner on the case,” he wrote. “If not, I may request Special Attorney status from the Attorney General.”
Estrada testified that he had a second call with Weiss just last month. He said the call lasted approximately five minutes but did not provide additional details. He did, though, indicate the call was not about co-counseling for the Hunter Biden probe.
Estrada’s testimony comes as part of the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the alleged politicization of the Justice Department and FBI and on whether politics influenced the federal investigation.
Weiss charged Hunter Biden last month with making a false statement in the purchase of a firearm, making a false statement related to information required to be kept by a federal firearms licensed dealer and one count of possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance.
The president’s son pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Weiss said the investigation is ongoing.
Scroll down to leave a comment: