WASHINGTON – US Attorney-General Merrick Garland on Friday said the federal prosecutor who has filed criminal charges against President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, would get additional authority to investigate whether the son engaged in improper business dealings.
Mr Garland’s elevation of prosecutor David Weiss to special counsel comes as Republicans in Congress threaten an impeachment inquiry into unproven claims that President Biden benefited from his son’s business ventures.
Mr Weiss, was originally appointed to his position as US Attorney for Delaware by Republican president Donald Trump, and allowed to stay on during the Biden administration.
His appointment as special counsel gives him more independence than federal prosecutors usually enjoy.
Republicans have accused the elder Biden of profiting from his son’s business ventures in Ukraine and China, though they have yet to produce any evidence of wrongdoing.
House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy said in July that the chamber might launch an impeachment inquiry in the autumn.
The White House has dismissed those allegations as “insane conspiracy theories” and has said that Mr Biden did not participate in his son’s business affairs.
A years-long inquiry conducted by Mr Weiss has not turned up any evidence that Hunter used his father’s political power for personal gain.
Hunter Biden, 53, has worked as a lobbyist, lawyer, consultant and investment banker and has said he has struggled with alcoholism and crack cocaine use.
Mr Weiss charged Hunter Biden with failing to pay taxes in 2017 and 2018 and unlawfully owning a firearm while addicted to illegal drugs.
A federal judge in July rejected a deal that would have allowed Hunter Biden to plead guilty to the tax charges and avoid the gun charge.
Mr Weiss is the third such quasi-independent prosecutor appointed by Mr Garland to oversee politically sensitive investigations.