WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday he has appointed a special counsel in the Hunter Biden probe, deepening the investigation of the president’s son ahead of the 2024 election.
Garland said he was naming David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware who has been probing the financial and business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son, as the special counsel.
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 as he made the announcement at the Justice Department. He said that Weiss asked to be appointed to the position and told him that “in his judgment, his investigation has reached a stage at which he should continue his work as a 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.
The move is a momentous development from the typically cautious Garland and comes amid a pair of sweeping Justice Department probes into former President Donald Trump, who’s Joe Biden’s chief 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 over tax evasion 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.
The Republicans claimed Weiss was being blocked from becoming a special counsel a claim he and the Justice Department denied.
By being named special counsel Weiss will have broader authority to conduct a more sweeping investigation across various areas.