Latest on new special counsel investigating Hunter Biden
- U.S. Attorney David Weiss will be appointed special counsel in the ongoing probe of President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday.
- Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges related to his failure to pay income taxes earlier this year. But while he was standing in court last month waiting to enter the plea, the agreement fell apart over confusion about a separate gun charge.
Distrustful Republicans rip Hunter Biden special counsel appointment
WASHINGTON — House and Senate Republicans on Friday ripped Garland’s decision to appoint Weiss as the special counsel in the ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden.
Republicans accused Weiss of signing off on a “sweetheart deal” with the president’s son and suggested that he was appointed as special counsel to inhibit congressional investigations into the Bidens and to avoid testifying before Congress.
“This action by Biden’s DOJ cannot be used to obstruct congressional investigations or whitewash the Biden family corruption,” Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a tweet. “If Weiss negotiated the sweetheart deal that couldn’t get approved, how can he be trusted as a Special Counsel? House Republicans will continue to pursue the facts for the American people.”
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the chair of the Oversight Committee who’s been investigating the Biden family’s business dealings, slammed the development as “part of the Justice Department’s efforts to attempt a Biden family coverup.”
Haley on special counsel appointment: 'I don't trust it'
In an interview on Fox News, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who's running for the Republican presidential nomination, said she doesn't trust the special counsel appointment for Hunter Biden.
They're "trying to distract away from all this money conversation about what’s happened with the Biden family" and the actions of the Bidens "smells bad," she said.
Haley also pointed to her GOP rival, Donald Trump, saying "you’ve got a former president that’s been charged 73 times, you’ve got now the current president and his family who are in these pay-to-play schemes."
"I think it’s all the more reason why we’ve got to have a new generational candidate and a new generation of a president," she added.
Durbin says Garland is 'avoiding even the appearance of politicization'
U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., lauded Garland's appointment of Weiss, saying that it demonstrated his commitment to "avoiding even the appearance of politicization at the Justice Department."
"And President Biden’s decision to keep Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss on in Delaware when he was sworn-in stands in stark contrast to former President Trump’s repeated efforts to use the Justice Department and Attorney General as his personal lawyer," Durbin said in a statement.
"U.S. Attorney David Weiss is a distinguished prosecutor, and I trust that the Justice Department’s professional, nonpartisan approach will carry on as the Special Counsel continues his investigation."
An IRS agent told Congress last month that there was meddling in Weiss' Hunter Biden probe
An IRS whistleblower last month testified before the House Oversight Committee about allegations of meddling in the Justice Department’s investigation of Hunter Biden, claims which Weiss has denied.
Gary Shapley, an agent in the IRS’ Criminal Investigation division, testified that he saw Weiss tell a room full of senior FBI and IRS investigators in October that he was “not the deciding person on whether charges are filed.” Shapley alleged that he raised concerns during the meeting and that two weeks later, the IRS was entirely cut out of the case by the Justice Department.
Weiss has also been accused of retaliating against the IRS whistleblower, though he has repeatedly denied both allegations: in a letter sent last month to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Weiss said that the DOJ did not retaliate against any IRS official “for making protected disclosures to Congress,” and that he believed he could file charges outside his home district if the investigation leads in that direction.
Two Biden special counsels have previously worked together
There’s a notable connection between the two special counsels now overseeing separate probes into the Bidens.
Weiss has been appointed as special counsel in the Hunter Biden case, while Robert Hur is the special counsel overseeing the classified documents probe involving President Joe Biden.
Both were tapped to serve as U.S. attorneys by then-President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate in 2018. Hur previously served as the U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, and Weiss served as the U.S. attorney for Delaware.
As U.S. attorneys in neighboring states, they at times worked together on cases. In January 2020, their offices both worked together to charge a violent a violent extremist group known as “The Base.”
There is no reason to believe the two will collaborate on their separate probes. Their history of working together, however, is why some broadcast news stations have been airing footage of Weiss at a news conference with Hur standing behind him.
DeSantis: If Hunter Biden 'was a Republican, he’d be in jail by now'
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, commented on the news of the special counsel at the start of his speech during a campaign stop in Harlan, Iowa.
“You see the stuff with Hunter Biden," DeSantis said. "If he was a Republican, he’d be in jail by now.”
Garland told top lawmakers about Weiss' appointment minutes before the announcement
The attorney general sent a letter to top lawmakers on the House and Senate Judiciary committees informing them of Weiss' appointment as special counsel "minutes" before the news conference, according to two sources with direct knowledge.
The letter was sent to Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., along with Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., according to a copy obtained by NBC News.
Garland said in the letter that Weiss and federal law enforcement partners began investigating "allegations of certain criminal conduct" by Hunter Biden and others in 2019.
"I have concluded that, under the extraordinary circumstances relating to this matter, it is in the public interest to appoint David C. Weiss as Special Counsel for the Department of Justice," Garland wrote to the lawmakers.
McCarthy criticizes DOJ's special counsel appointment: GOP will 'pursue the facts'
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., criticized Garland's appointment of a special counsel in the probe of Hunter Biden, claiming that Weiss cannot "be trusted" in the role.
"This action by Biden’s DOJ cannot be used to obstruct congressional investigations or whitewash the Biden family corruption," McCarthy said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. "If Weiss negotiated the sweetheart deal that couldn’t get approved, how can he be trusted as a Special Counsel?"
He added that Republicans will "continue to pursue the facts."
McCarthy in June raised the prospect of impeaching Garland over the federal investigation into Biden's son. At the time, he pointed to allegations made by a former IRS employee that Garland meddled in the Hunter Biden case. The DOJ denied the whistleblower's claims.
Garland has reiterated Trump-appointed Weiss' independence in the investigation and is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee this fall.
A 'constitutional safeguard' — for Hunter Biden and Trump cases
The new special counsel prosecuting Hunter Biden filed a strong statement in favor of holding a trial in the venue where crimes are alleged to have occurred at the same time former President Trump is pushing to remove his trial on 2020 election charges from Washington, D.C.
As Weiss wrote in a filing Friday, the same day he was named special counsel, Hunter Biden would be able to try to have his case dismissed if the prosecution is pursued in Delaware. The venue didn't matter when the president's son was expected to accept a plea deal. But since that fell through last month, he would be able to move to dismiss the case on venue grounds if it is not shifted to California or Washington, D.C., where he allegedly broke tax laws.
"In criminal cases, proper venue is an important constitutional safeguard," Weiss wrote in his filing in the Hunter Biden case, a sentiment that aligns with the counterargument to Trump's push to be tried outside Washington.
Weiss cited Article III of the Constitution, which provides that prosecutions "shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed," and the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees defendants the right to trial "by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed."
Trump campaign spokesperson denounces DOJ following special counsel appointment
A spokesperson for the Trump campaign criticized the Justice Department.
In a statement posted on X, the platform formally known as Twitter, campaign spokesperson Stephen Cheung accused the DOJ of shielding the "Biden Crime Family" from legal retribution "for decades."
The DOJ typically appoints special counsels to oversee politically sensitive investigations, but Cheung, in his statement, did not appear to endorse the move.
If this special counsel is truly independent — even though he failed to bring proper charges after a four year investigation and appears to be trying to move the case to a more Democrat-friendly venue — he will quickly conclude that Joe Biden, his troubled son Hunter, and their enablers, including the media, which colluded with the 51 intelligence officials who knowingly mislead the public about Hunter’s laptop, should face the required consequencesStephen Cheung, trump campaign spokesperson
Who is Weiss?
Weiss is a U.S. attorney for the District of Delaware who was already overseeing the Hunter Biden probe before Garland's announcement Friday.
He's one of the few U.S. attorneys who stayed in place when the Biden administration came into office.
He was appointed by then-President Donald Trump and started his post as attorney in 2018 following stints as the acting and interim U.S. attorney for the District of Delaware and first assistant U.S. attorney, according to his DOJ biography.
Pence applauds appointment of a special counsel, says 'the American people deserve answers'
Former Vice President Mike Pence applauded the appointment of a special counsel Friday and sought to draw a contrast between Hunter Biden's alleged conduct while his father was vice president with that of his own son.
"I can’t relate to what his son was doing when he was vice president," Pence said. "When I was vice president, my son was flying an F-35 for the Marine Corps defending this country."
Pence, a Republican presidential candidate, also praised the appointment: "I think it’s about time that we saw the appointment of a special counsel to get to the bottom of what he was doing. The American people deserve answers," he said.
Comer slams special counsel as part of DOJ's 'Biden family coverup'
House Oversight Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., who’s leading the GOP’s investigation into Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings, expressed deep skepticism at the special counsel announcement and called the development part of the Justice Department’s “Biden family coverup.”
“This move by Attorney General Garland is part of the Justice Department’s efforts to attempt a Biden family coverup in light of the House Oversight Committee’s mounting evidence of President Joe Biden’s role in his family’s schemes selling ‘the brand’ for millions of dollars to foreign nationals,” Comer said in a lengthy statement posted on Twitter.
Comer accused the DOJ of politicizing its investigation into Hunter Biden and failing to act quickly to prosecute him, allowing the statute of limitations to run out in some cases. He vowed that the GOP’s investigation would continue in light of the special counsel appointment.
“Let’s be clear what today’s move is really about. The Biden Justice Department is trying to stonewall congressional oversight as we have presented evidence to the American people about the Biden family’s corruption,” Comer stated.
“The House Oversight Committee will continue to follow the Biden family’s money trail and interview witnesses to determine whether foreign actors targeted the Bidens, President Biden is compromised and corrupt, and our national security is threatened.”
Biden attorneys in talks with prosecutors over terms of his interview in classified docs case
WASHINGTON — Attorneys for President Joe Biden and the special counsel appointed to investigate his handling of classified documents have been negotiating for about a month over the terms under which he would be interviewed, two people familiar with the matter said.
Discussions between Biden’s lawyers and special counsel Robert Hur’s office are focused on how, when and where the interview might take place, as well as the scope of the questions, these people said. They stressed that the negotiations are ongoing and that no agreement has been reached.
The back-and-forth suggests that the probe — now in its eighth month — may not be wrapping up imminently. But an interview with the person at the center of an investigation typically takes place near the end of the process.
A spokesperson for Biden’s personal attorney, Bob Bauer, declined to comment Thursday, as did a spokesperson for Hur. The White House declined to comment and referred questions to the Justice Department, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.
For months now, Biden’s lawyers have been gaming out various scenarios for an interview, with the expectation that he would provide one once his legal team and the special counsel agreed on the specifics.
'Way to whitewash the Biden family’s corruption': Jordan slams announcement
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has criticized Garland's announcement of a new special counsel in the Hunter Biden probe.
"David Weiss can’t be trusted and this is just a new way to whitewash the Biden family’s corruption. Weiss has already signed off on a sweetheart plea deal that was so awful and unfair that a federal judge rejected it. We will continue to pursue facts brought to light by brave whistleblowers as well as Weiss's inconsistent statements to Congress," a spokesperson for Jordan's office said in a statement.
The Judiciary Committee, along with the House Oversight and House Ways and Means committees, launched an investigation into the failed DOJ plea deal with Hunter Biden earlier this month.
David Weiss has offered to appear before the Judiciary Committee later this fall. Jordan spokesperson Russell Dye said Friday that the committee still expects him to "fully cooperate with our investigation" and uphold "his commitment to testify."
White House was not given advance notice of the announcement
The White House was not given advance notice of the appointment of the new special counsel investigating Hunter Biden, according to two people familiar with the matter.
This is consistent with other DOJ probes, they said.
Hunter Biden's lawyer says they 'fully intend to pursue' resolution in court
Hunter Biden's attorney Chris Clark said in a statement in response to the special counsel appointment that "the Attorney General made clear what was always the case in terms of the authority of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware in this matter.
"Whether in Delaware, Washington, D.C. or anywhere else, we expect a fair resolution on behalf of our client — this US Attorney has diligently been investigating my client for five years and he had proposed a resolution which we fully intend to pursue in court.
"It is hard to see why he would have proposed such a resolution if there were other offenses he could have successfully prosecuted, and we are aware of none. We are confident when all of these maneuverings are at an end my client will have resolution and will be moving in with his life successfully."
Trial will take place in California or D.C., not Delaware, filing says
As part of the now defunct plea deal, prosecutors initially agreed to file their charges against Hunter Biden in the district of Delaware. The new motion, however, says that since he did not plead guilty, a trial must take place in the venue where the alleged crimes took place: the central district of California or Washington, D.C.
A key excerpt from the motion:
When the parties were proceeding to a negotiated resolution in this matter, a plea in this District was agreed upon. As part of that plea, the Defendant would have waived any challenge to venue in this District. At the hearing on July 26, 2023, the Defendant did not plead guilty and therefore did not waive venue. After the hearing, the parties continued negotiating but reached an impasse. A trial is therefore in order. And that trial cannot take place in this District because, as explained, venue does not lie here.
White House refers request for comment to DOJ or Hunter Biden's reps
Reached for comment on the special counsel's appointment, a White House spokesperson said: "We would refer you to the Justice Department or Hunter Biden’s personal representatives."
White House officials have previously reiterated the DOJ's independence in Hunter Biden cases.
"As we have also said many times before, the Justice Department makes decisions in its criminal investigations independently, and in this case, the White House has not been involved," Ian Sams, a spokesman for the White House counsel's office, said in June. "As the President has said, he loves his son and is proud of him accepting responsibility for his actions and is proud of what he is doing to rebuild his life."
Government believes Hunter Biden case 'will not resolve short of a trial,' prosecutors say in new filing
Prosecutors have filed a motion to dismiss the criminal information filed against Hunter Biden on tax charges in Delaware, saying that the parties are no longer able to come to an agreement on a plea and the charges may need to be filed in California or Washington, D.C.
“The parties have engaged in further plea negotiations but are at an impasse. The Government now believes that the case will not resolve short of a trial,” the filing said.
Garland appoints a special counsel in Hunter Biden probe
U.S. Attorney David Weiss will be appointed special counsel in the ongoing probe of the president’s son Hunter Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday.
Weiss will be responsible for the “ongoing investigation” of President Joe Biden’s son, “as well as for any other matters that arose or may arise from that investigation,” the Justice Department said in a statement. Weiss, who was already overseeing the Hunter Biden probe and is based in Delaware, asked to be appointed special counsel Tuesday and Garland said he agreed it was “in the public interest” to do so.