US attorney general taps special counsel to lead Hunter Biden probe
Trump appointee tapped by US Attorney General Merrick Garland 'to decide where, when and whether to file charges'
By Darren Lyn
HOUSTON, United States (AA) - US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Friday that a district attorney has been appointed special counsel in the criminal investigation of the president’s son Hunter Biden, giving him more autonomy to carry out the case.
Addressing reporters at the Justice Department, Garland said David Weiss, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, will continue to lead the "ongoing investigation" into the junior Biden on tax and gun charges. Garland said it is in the "public interest" to do so.
"The appointment of Mr. Weiss reinforces to the American people the department's commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters," said Garland. "Mr. Weiss would be permitted to continue his investigation, take any investigative steps he wanted and make the decision whether to prosecute in any district."
"I am confident that Mr. Weiss will carry out his responsibility in an even-handed and urgent manner."
The junior Biden agreed last month to plead guilty to two counts of willful failure to pay federal income tax and another count of illegal possession of a firearm by a drug user. The tax charges are misdemeanors and stem from a failure to pay $100,000 in federal income taxes.
But US District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika, another Trump appointee, put the deal on pause, questioning part of the plea deal that would have kept Biden out of jail on gun charges.
Biden subsequently pleaded not guilty as his defense team and prosecutors work to revise the deal within a 30-day timeframe set by Noreika.
Garland said the House of Representatives and the Senate have been informed of Weiss' special counsel appointment.
"Mr. Weiss has told Congress that he has been granted ultimate authority over this matter including the responsibility for deciding where, when and whether to file charges and for making decisions necessary to preserve the integrity of any prosecution consistent with federal law, the principles of federal prosecution and departmental policies."
A Republican-led probe into Hunter Biden’s business dealings alleged that he used his father President Joe Biden as an influencing factor to fund a lavish lifestyle for himself and his associates. They have also alleged that Joe Biden, then vice president, took active part in using his influence to broker his son’s deals, something that no evidence has emerged of.
Weiss was appointed by former President Donald Trump to investigate Hunter Biden, and Garland said that Weiss asked to be named as special counsel earlier this week.
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