US attorney general faces bizarre art quiz as Republicans question him about Hunter Biden

Republican panel member asks Merrick Garland to appoint special counsel to investigate president’s son’s art sales

John Bowden
Thursday 21 October 2021 17:12 EDT
GOP congressman turns committee hearing into art show

A Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee used his time during Thursday’s questioning of Attorney General Merrick Garland to display an impromptu art show before asking the Justice Department director to investigate the president’s son.

The questions came from Rep Ken Buck, a conservative and loyalist to former President Donald Trump who was part of the effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory based on false claims spread by Mr Trump.

During Thursday’s hearing, Mr Buck displayed two pieces of impressionist art – one by Claude Monet, the other by Edgar Degas – before displaying a piece sold by Hunter Biden, Mr Biden’s adult son, for $100,000.

He then launched into a barrage of criticism over the issue, contending that Americans had no way of knowing whether people or entities seeking to win the Biden administration’s favour were funnelling money to the Biden family through Hunter’s art sales, a criticism that has also been made by independent ethics experts and journalists in the White House press corps.

“Hunter Biden should cancel this art sale because he knows the prices are based on his dad’s job,” Mr Buck contended. “Shame on [Mr Biden] if he doesn’t ask Hunter to stop.”

The White House did not respond directly to the criticism at Thursday’s daily press briefing, but has answered similar questions from reporters in the past by claiming that the relationship between Hunter Biden and the art dealer managing the sale of the president’s son’s pieces prevents the White House or the president from learning who or which entities purchases individual pieces.

The relationship has continued to face criticism, however, and not just from supporters of the former president. Richard Painter, a White House ethics chief under former President George W. Bush who defended Mr Biden from criticism regarding Hunter’s career in the past, changed his tune after news of the art sales broke this year.

“The whole thing is a really bad idea,” said Mr Painter, who added: “The initial reaction a lot of people are going to have is that he’s capitalizing on being the son of a president and wants people to give him a lot of money.”

Mr Garland did not say during the hearing whether he would support Mr Buck’s request for a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, stating only that he would take the congressman’s letter to the Justice Department “under advisement.”

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