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US Attorney General Names Special Counsel in Hunter Biden Case

Written by on August 11, 2023

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed David Weiss, the Delaware U.S. attorney leading the investigation into President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, as special counsel in the case, Garland announced Friday.

The surprise announcement came as prosecutors disclosed in a court filing Friday that plea talks with Biden’s defense team have reached “an impasse” and that a trial was in order.

Weiss, a Trump appointee, has been investigating Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings since 2019. He was kept on by the Biden administration to continue that probe.

Although Weiss has insisted that he has full authority to lead the investigation and bring charges, Garland has faced growing pressure in recent months to appoint a special counsel with greater independence from the Justice Department.

Garland said Weiss asked for the special counsel designation Tuesday.

“Upon considering his request as well as the extraordinary circumstances related to this matter, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint him as special counsel,” Garland said in a brief televised statement.

A special counsel is a prosecutor appointed to investigate a case in which the Justice Department believes it has a conflict of interest or that the appointment is deemed in the public interest.

Though their day-to-day work is not supervised by the Justice Department, special counsels report to the attorney general under department guidelines.

This is Garland’s third special counsel appointment. Last year he appointed two separate special prosecutors to investigate former President Donald Trump’s and Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents.

Garland said that at the end of his investigation, Weiss will provide him with a report, and he pledged to make as much of it public as possible.

Weiss’ elevation to special counsel will ensure he has all the resources and authority he needs to “conduct a thorough investigation and to continue to take the steps he deems appropriate independently — based only on the facts and the law,” Garland said.

But Republicans who have been pressing for the appointment of a special counsel blasted the move as political, questioning Weiss’ authority to lead an independent inquiry.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the appointment amounted to changing “the title of a compromised investigator.”

“What they’re trying to do is to give Hunter Biden a deal no American would get,” Graham said on Fox News.

In June, Hunter Biden reached an agreement with prosecutors from Weiss’ office, agreeing to plead guilty to two minor tax offenses and enter a diversion program in exchange for prosecutors dropping a more serious gun charge.

Republicans decried the agreement as a “sweetheart deal,” claiming they had uncovered proof of corruption and other crimes, allegations that Biden has denied.

But the deal unraveled in court last month amid a dispute over whether the agreement shielded Biden from future criminal charges arising from the investigation.

Biden pleaded not guilty to the charges, and U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika, a Trump appointee, put the deal on hold and ordered the parties to resolve their disagreement.

With the two sides unable to reach an agreement, prosecutors are now raising the prospects of a trial, and some experts say additional criminal charges could be brought.


By Masood Farivar

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