US President Joe Biden has nominated Hampton Dellinger, a former colleague of his son Hunter Biden, to lead the Office of the Special Counsel, an agency primarily responsible for investigating whistleblower complaints and instances of federal office misuse for partisan purposes.
Dellinger’s nomination has sparked concerns, especially at a time when whistleblowers from the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department have raised doubts about the credibility of a long-running government investigation into Hunter Biden’s activities.
House Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer expressed his reservations, stating, “President Biden’s decision to appoint Hunter Biden’s former colleague as head of the Office of Special Counsel raises concerns that he’s trying to protect his son instead of whistleblowers”. Comer added that the Office of Special Counsel is tasked with investigating whistleblower retaliation at agencies like the Departments of Justice and Treasury, and naming someone with close ties to the Biden family could erode confidence in the fair enforcement of the law.
Dellinger’s nomination will require confirmation by the Senate. He previously served as a partner at the Washington law firm of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP from May 2013 to November 2020. During the same period, Hunter Biden was also associated with the law firm as counsel, and he brought Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company, as a client for the firm while serving on its board.
House Republicans have initiated an impeachment inquiry into President Biden’s conduct, examining whether he was aware of or profited from his son’s foreign business dealings in countries such as China, Russia, Ukraine, and Romania.
While President Joe Biden had previously nominated Dellinger for the position of assistant attorney general overseeing the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, it’s unclear whether Dellinger directly worked with Burisma executives during his tenure with the Crisis Management and Government Response team at Boies Schiller Flexner, a Washington, DC legal team that collaborated with Burisma.
The White House press release announcing Dellinger’s nomination provided only vague references to his legal career, mentioning that he had been “a partner at regional and national law firms” and had represented whistleblowers and clients challenging government activities.
The Office of Special Counsel, or OSC, should not be confused with the special counsels appointed by the Justice Department to investigate presidential administrations. The OSC is an independent federal investigative agency operating under the authority of several federal statutes, with a primary focus on issues related to civil service reform, whistleblower protection, the Hatch Act, and employment rights for uniformed services.
During his tenure as the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, Dellinger’s responsibilities included vetting potential nominees for federal judgeships, coordinating departmental rule-making, and handling policy matters directed by Attorney General Merrick Garland or other department leaders. Dellinger also served as the chief legal counsel to former North Carolina Governor Michael Easley and held positions as a deputy attorney general in North Carolina prior to his federal roles.
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