WASHINGTON (AP) – Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that he has appointed a special counsel to the Hunter Biden investigation, deepening the investigation of the president’s son before the 2024 election.
Garland said he was appointing as special counsel David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware who has been investigating the financial and business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son.
Just as his appointment as special counsel was announced, Weiss notified a federal judge in Delaware that plea deal talks in the Hunter Biden case were at an “impasse.”
Garland noted the “extraordinary circumstances” of the matter when he made the announcement to the Justice Department. He said Weiss asked to be appointed to the position and told him that “in his judgment, his investigation has reached a stage where he should continue his work as special counsel.”
“Having considered his request, as well as the extraordinary circumstances surrounding this matter, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint him as special counsel,” Garland said.
The move is a momentous development for the usually cautious Garland and comes amid a pair of sweeping Justice Department probes into former President Donald Trump, who is Joe Biden’s main rival in next year’s election. It also comes as House Republicans are mounting their own investigation into Hunter Biden’s business dealings.
Last month, Hunter Biden’s plea deal on tax evasion collapsed after U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika, who was appointed by Trump, raised multiple concerns on the specifics.
Republicans had derided that deal as a “sweetheart” deal while pushing their own investigation.
Republicans claimed Weiss was blocked from becoming a special counsel, a claim he and the Justice Department denied.
By being appointed special counsel, Weiss will have broader authority to conduct a broader investigation in various areas.