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Special counsel appointed to oversee Hunter Biden probe in U.S.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel Friday in the Hunter Biden probe, a surprise move that intensifies the investigation into the president's son ahead of the 2024 election.

David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware, to serve as special counsel in case against president's son

Special counsel appointed to oversee Hunter Biden probe

7 hours ago

Duration 1:49

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday he is appointing a special counsel in the Hunter Biden probe, deepening the investigation of the U.S. president's son ahead of the 2024 election.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel in the Hunter Biden probe, a surprise move that intensifies the investigation of the U.S. president's son ahead of the 2024 election.

Garland noted the "extraordinary circumstances" of the matter as he named David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware, who has been probing the financial and business dealings of the president's son, as the special counsel as plea talks in the case broke down.

The sudden turn of events raises fresh questions about the case against Hunter Biden on tax evasion and a gun charge, deepening an investigation that was close to a resolution just weeks ago. Weiss had asked to be named special counsel, gaining broad authority to investigate and report his findings.

It comes as the U.S. Justice Department has taken the unprecedented step of indicting former U.S. president Donald Trump, who is Joe Biden's chief rival in next year's election, in two separate cases. It also puts questions about Biden's family at the forefront of the 2024 presidential election.

Appointment in 'the public interest'

Speaking at the Justice Department, Garland said he expects the special counsel to work expeditiously in an "even-handed and urgent" manner.

Garland said that Weiss, who had been appointed by Trump as U.S. attorney, told him this week the investigation had reached a stage in which he should continue as special counsel.

"Upon considering his request, as well as the extraordinary circumstances relating to this matter, I have concluded it is in the public interest to appoint him as special counsel," Garland said.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in Washington.

The announcement of a special counsel is a significant development from the typically cautious Garland and provides Weiss with independence, authority and a budget to pursue the investigation.

It's not fully clear why the attorney general took the step in appointing a special counsel for the Hunter Biden case, but prosecutors in Delaware also announced on Friday that plea deal talks Weiss was pursuing in the tax evasion case hit an impasse.

In a court filing on Friday, Weiss's team said charges would be better filed in California or Washington.

Although Garland has said Weiss always had the authority to file outside of Delaware, the venue may have been a factor in his request to be named special counsel.

Nevertheless, the announcement ensures the Justice Department's probes of Trump and now of Biden's youngest son — who used drugs and whose personal entanglements have trailed his father's political career — will carry into election season.

The federal cases differ significantly: Trump has been indicted and is awaiting trial in two separate cases brought by special counsel Jack Smith. One is over Trump's refusal to turn over classified documents stored at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The other involves charges of fraud and conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election in the run-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

'Fair resolution' expected: Biden attorney

In the case of Hunter Biden, the president has not been accused or charged with any wrongdoing by prosecutors probing the affairs of his son.

Hunter Biden's lawyer, Chris Clark, said little has changed about their understanding of the situation and the prosecutor's role.

"Whether in Delaware, Washington, D.C., or anywhere else, we expect a fair resolution not infected by politics," Clark said in a statement.

Hunter Biden, the son of U.S. President Joe Biden, is seen outside a court in Delaware in July 2023.

U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has said repeatedly he does not talk with his son about business.

Trump's team on Friday questioned the independence of the special counsel Weiss, who he himself had appointed. But a Trump spokesman said the prosecutor should move quickly, and anyone found to have committed wrongdoing "should face the required consequences."

Mike Pence, another Republican rival for the presidency in 2024, told reporters at the Iowa State Fair that he welcomed the special counsel appointment — as he made his own dig at the Biden family.

"To be honest with you, I can't relate to what his son was doing when [Joe Biden] was vice-president," said Pence, who served alongside Trump. "When I was vice-president, my son was flying an F35 in the Marine Corps defending this country."

Garland said Weiss will have "all the resources he requests" to probe the matter.

Last month, Hunter Biden's plea deal over tax evasion and a gun charge collapsed after U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika, who was appointed by Trump, raised multiple concerns about the specifics.

Republicans had derided that agreement as a "sweetheart" deal as they pushed their own probe.

They have been struggling to connect the son's work to his father, and so far they have not been able to produce evidence to show any wrongdoing.

LISTEN | All about the Hunter Biden plea deal:

As It Happens6:16Hunter Biden agreement ‘not a sweetheart deal,’ says former federal prosecutor

U.S. President Joe Biden’s son has reached tentative agreement with federal prosecutors over three charges, two related to tax evasion and one related to firearms. Republicans say he’s getting special treatment. But Shanlon Wu, a legal analyst and former U.S. federal prosecutor, disagrees. He spoke to As It Happens host Nil Köksal.

Rep. James Comer, the Republican chair of the House oversight committee, has been leading the congressional inquiry into Hunter Biden's financial ties and transactions.

The Kentucky lawmaker has obtained thousands of pages of financial records from various members of the Biden family through subpoenas to the U.S. Treasury Department and various financial institutions.

Shortly after Hunter Biden reached an initial agreement with the government, Comer joined forces with two chairmen of powerful committees to launch a larger investigation into claims by two IRS agents who said the Justice Department improperly interfered in the years-long case.

The Republicans claimed Weiss was being blocked from becoming a special counsel. It's a claim Weiss and the Justice Department have both denied.

Since then, Comer has brought in a former business associate of Hunter Biden, Devon Archer, who provided fresh insight during closed-door testimony into how the Democratic president's son capitalized on his relationship with his father, who was then vice-president, to court foreign investors.

Archer said Hunter Biden was using the "illusion of access" in Washington. But he offered no tangible evidence that Joe Biden played any role in his son's work beyond saying hello during their daily family calls.

Comer joined other Republicans on Friday in rejecting the appointment of a special counsel, calling it a "coverup" by the Justice Department and vowing to continue his own probe.

The Hunter Biden Affair: Epic scandal or nothing-burger?

21 hours ago

Duration 8:05

Depending on where you land on the political spectrum, the controversy involving U.S. President Joe Biden’s son Hunter is either one of the greatest corruption scandals in American history or a right-wing partisan joke. CBC’s Alex Panetta breaks down what we know, what we don't and what’s next.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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