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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Justice Department names special counsel in Hunter Biden case

By Perry Stein and David Nakamura Washington Post

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss of Delaware as special counsel in the ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden’s tax case, a move that appeared aimed at rebutting Republican criticism that the process had been politicized.

Garland made the surprise announcement during a midday news conference at Justice Department headquarters in Washington. The appointment of Weiss, an appointee of former president Donald Trump who began the investigation of President Biden’s son in 2018 and has continued to lead the prosecution under Garland, would give him broad authority and, presumably, distance the attorney general from some key decisions in the case.

Justice officials said Weiss requested to be named as special counsel on Tuesday, and Garland agreed. Weiss will hold this position while he continues to serve as U.S. attorney in Delaware, Garland said.

“Mr. Weiss advised me that in his judgment, his investigation has reached a stage at which he should continue his work as a special counsel,” Garland said in a statement. Given the “extraordinary circumstances” of the case, Garland said, “I have concluded it is in the public interest.”

The unexpected announcement Friday is the latest twist in Hunter Biden’s years-long legal saga. The president’s son had reached a tentative agreement with federal prosecutors in June to plead guilty to two minor tax crimes and admit to the facts of a gun charge under terms that would probably have kept him out of jail.

But that deal unraveled in a federal courtroom in Delaware last month when the judge assigned to the case questioned whether the terms of the deal were constitutional and asked them to spend a few weeks to ensure it was on solid legal footing.

Garland has maintained that Weiss has wielded full authority to make independent decisions during the Hunter Biden investigation. The attorney general did not delineate Friday how special counsel status would notably change Weiss’ authority.

The appointment could clarify whether Weiss can bring charges in states outside Delaware. An IRS agent who supervised the investigation told Congress this year that Weiss had said he could not bring charges outside Delaware.

The Justice Department has denied the IRS agent’s claims.

“As special counsel, he will continue to have the authority and responsibility that he has exercised previously to oversee the investigation and decide where, when and whether to file charges,” Garland said Friday.

Weiss and his prosecutors have described the investigation as “ongoing.”

Republican politicians have repeatedly accused Hunter Biden of broad wrongdoing in his overseas business deals – though they have presented no evidence linking President Biden to any wrongdoing – and have questioned whether Weiss has aggressively pursued the investigation.