Washington — Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that, the U.S. attorney overseeing the investigation into Hunter Biden, has been appointed special counsel, giving him expanded powers to continue the probe.
Weiss was appointed by President Donald Trump to become the top federal prosecutor in Delaware in 2018 and began investigating Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, the following year. He was asked to remain on as U.S. attorney after President Biden took office and has continued leading the investigation.
The elevation of Weiss to special counsel “reinforces for the American people the department’s commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters,” Garland said in remarks from the Justice Department.
The attorney general said Weiss informed him on Tuesday that his investigation had reached a stage where he believed his work should continue as special counsel, and asked for such a designation. Garland said he concluded it was “in the public interest” to appoint Weiss as special counsel given the “extraordinary circumstances” of the case.
The Hunter Biden investigation
In June, Hunter Bidenwith Weiss’ office in Delaware to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and enter a diversion program in lieu of pleading guilty to a felony gun possession count. But a federal judge , and Hunter Biden instead pleaded not guilty last month.
The misdemeanor tax charges related to Hunter Biden’s alleged failure to pay taxes for 2017 and 2018. A June filing from Weiss with the federal district court in Delaware indicated that Hunter Biden had at least $1.5 million in taxable income and owed at least $100,000. The president’s son has fully repaid back taxes and fines, including $2 million reportedly paid to the government in 2022 with the assistance of a loan from his personal lawyer.
The gun charge, meanwhile, stemmed from alleged possession of a firearm, identified in a filing as a Colt Cobra 38SPL, by a drug user in 2018. Weiss said in a statement that Hunter Biden had the gun for 11 days in October 2018.
Minutes after Garland announced Weiss would become special counsel, Justice Department lawyers asked the court in Delaware to allow them to withdraw the case against Hunter Biden so charges could be refiled in Washington, D.C., and California, which they said were the proper venues to resolve the allegations. They said talks about a plea deal were at an impasse and the case now appears headed for trial.
The decision to name Weiss special counsel
Garland said the decision to elevate Weiss confirms his earlier commitment to provide him with the required resources to pursue the investigation “based only on the facts and the law.”
Weiss will continue to serve as the U.S. attorney in Delaware, but as special counsel will not be subject to day-to-day supervision by any Justice Department official.
“As special counsel he will continue to have the authority and responsibility that he has previously exercised to oversee the investigation and decide where, when and whether to file charges,” Garland said.
Once Weiss concludes his investigation, he will provide Garland with a report explaining any prosecutorial decisions. The attorney general committed to making public as much of the report as possible.
“Today’s announcement affords the prosecutors, agents and analysts working on this matter the ability to proceed with their work expeditiously and to make decisions indisputably guided by the facts and the law,” Garland said.
Clare Hymes contributed reporting.