Justice Department names special counsel in Hunter Biden case

President Biden stands with his son Hunter Biden and sister, Valerie Biden Owens

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appointed David C. Weiss, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, to serve as Special Counsel for the ongoing prosecutions against Robert Hunter Biden (“Hunter Biden”) of Los Angeles, as well as for any other matters that arose or may arise from the investigation.

Weiss was nominated by former President Donald Trump in 2017 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2018. In 2021, acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson asked him to remain as U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, where he was overseeing the federal tax probe involving President Joe Biden’s son.

On Tuesday, June 20, 2023, Weiss filed charges against Hunter Biden accusing him of two misdemeanor tax offenses and a felony firearm offense pursuant to a plea agreement.

Hunter Biden was to plead guilty to the tax offenses and enter into a pre-trial diversion program with regard to the firearm charge at a proceeding to be scheduled by the assigned United States District Court judge.

Republicans have not presented evidence that the president was involved in any wrongdoing, but they have made the long-standing federal investigation into his son a political distraction for the White House.

Garland said the appointment gives Weiss—who began the investigation of Hunter Biden in 2018— broad authority and it will help distance the attorney general from some key decisions in the case.

According to the tax information, Hunter Biden received taxable income in excess of $1,500,000 annually in calendar years 2017 and 2018. Despite owing in excess of $100,000 in federal income taxes each year, he did not pay the income tax due for either year.

According to the firearm information, from on or about October 12, 2018, through October 23, 2018, Hunter Biden possessed a firearm despite knowing he was an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance.

Federal prosecutors issued a court filing stating that they could not salvage the plea bargain with Biden’s attorneys after a judge raised questions about the deal last month.

The decision leaves unresolved three federal charges — two tax misdemeanors and a felony firearm offense — against the president’s son.

Hunter Biden is charged with two violations of failure to pay income tax and one violation of unlawful possession of a firearm by a person prohibited.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison on each of the tax charges and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on the firearm charge but actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.

On Tuesday, Aug. 8, Weiss asked to be appointed as Special Counsel, and today the Attorney General made that appointment.

“On Tuesday of this week, Mr. Weiss advised me that in his judgment, his investigation has reached a stage at which he should continue his work as a Special Counsel, and he asked to be so appointed,” said Garland. “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. This appointment confirms my commitment to provide Mr. Weiss all the resources he requests. It also reaffirms that Mr. Weiss has the authority he needs to conduct a thorough investigation and to continue to take the steps he deems appropriate independently, based only on the facts and the law.”

The Attorney General also said, “As Special Counsel, he will continue to have the authority and responsibility that he has exercised previously to oversee the investigation and decide where, when, and whether to file charges. The Special Counsel will not be subject to the day-to-day supervision of any official of the Department, but he must comply with the regulations, procedures, and policies of the Department … 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 only by the facts and the law … I am confident that Mr. Weiss will carry out his responsibility in an even-handed and urgent matter, and in accordance with the highest traditions of this Department.”

Weiss, a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and Widener University School of Law, began his legal career in 1984 as a law clerk to Justice Andrew D. Christie of the Delaware Supreme Court.

After completing his clerkship, Weiss served as an Assistant United States Attorney from 1986 through 1989, prosecuting a variety of federal crimes.

He joined Duane Morris in 1989, and in 1993 he became a partner at the law firm, one of the largest in the U.S., where he practiced in the commercial litigation department.

In 1999 Weiss joined The Siegfried Group, a financial services firm, where he served as Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President.

Weiss previously served two stints as the First Assistant United States Attorney, under Republican Colm Connolly from 2007 to 2009; and under Democrat Charles Oberly from 2012 to 2018.

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