US Attorney General Merrick Garland Friday announced that the federal prosecutor, David Weiss, who has initiated criminal charges against Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, will be granted expanded authority to investigate potential improper business activities involving the younger Biden, Reuters reported.
Garland’s decision to designate prosecutor David Weiss as a special counsel comes at a time when Republican members of Congress are contemplating the possibility of launching an impeachment inquiry based on unsubstantiated allegations suggesting that President Joe Biden may have benefited from his son’s business undertakings.
Originally nominated as US Attorney for Delaware by former Republican President Donald Trump, Weiss was retained in his role during the Biden administration.
David Weiss’s appointment as special counsel affords him a higher degree of autonomy than what is typically accorded to federal prosecutors.
Republicans have alleged that President Biden derived financial gains from his son’s business dealings in Ukraine and China, though they have not yet presented any concrete evidence of wrongdoing.
In July, Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy indicated the potential initiation of an impeachment.
“Parties in the case are at an impasse in plea negotiations and that a trial is in order, a court filing showed,” the federal prosecutor who has filed criminal charges against President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, said.
The prosecutor, US Attorney for Delaware David Weiss, was elevated to special counsel on Friday, giving him additional authority to investigate whether Hunter Biden engaged in improper business dealings.
The White House has dismissed those allegations as “insane conspiracy theories” and has said that Biden did not participate in his son’s business affairs. A years-long inquiry conducted by Weiss has not turned up any evidence that Hunter used his father’s political power for personal gain.
Hunter Biden, 53, has worked as a lobbyist, lawyer, consultant and investment banker and has said he has struggled with alcoholism and crack cocaine use.
Weiss charged Hunter Biden with failing to pay taxes in 2017 and 2018 and unlawfully owning a firearm while addicted to illegal drugs.
A federal judge in July rejected a deal that would have allowed Biden to plead guilty to the tax charges and avoid the gun charge.
Weiss is the third such quasi-independent prosecutor appointed by Garland to oversee politically sensitive investigations. Special Counsel Jack Smith has filed two criminal cases against Trump — one accusing him of trying to overturn his 2020 presidential defeat to Biden and a second that alleges he improperly took sensitive government documents with him when he left the White House and tried to prevent officials from recovering them.
Another special counsel, Robert Hur, is probing whether Biden mishandled classified documents after he left office as vice president in 2017.
Weiss was appointed by Trump and allowed to stay on when Biden took office. He has said the Justice Department has not interfered with his work and Garland has also denied allegations of special treatment.
Hunter Biden has been a focus of several Republican congressional committees.
One former associate told the House Oversight Committee that Hunter gave an impression that he emphasised his family ties while he was doing business in Ukraine nearly a decade ago, while his father was vice president. That witness, Devon Archer, said Hunter spoke with his father daily but said the conversations did not involve business dealings.
Trump also has frequently mentioned the younger Biden in an attempt to tar his father as the two gear up for a possible rematch in the 2024 presidential election.
A June Reuters/Ipsos poll found half of Americans, including 75% of Republicans and 33% of Democrats, believed the younger Biden received preferential treatment from Weiss. But most said that would not affect their vote next year.