In a significant development in the ongoing Hunter Biden investigation, US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Friday that Delaware US Attorney David Weiss would be appointed as special counsel. The decision has led to concerns among some Republicans that the Justice Department may be attempting to obscure the truth regarding allegations of influence-peddling within the first family.
Garland's brief midday statement detailed that Weiss had requested special counsel authority on Tuesday. The attorney general accepted, citing “the extraordinary circumstances relating to this matter," the New York Post reports.
Simultaneously, a Friday legal filing in Wilmington US District Court revealed a lack of progress in negotiations between prosecutors and Hunter Biden's legal team. The talks, concerning a possible guilty plea to federal tax misdemeanors and a felony weapons charge, were described as being “at an impasse.”
“The Government now believes that the case will not resolve short of a trial,” wrote Assistant US Attorney Leo Wise in the document.
The announcement by Garland comes 10 months and four days after Weiss allegedly informed officials from the FBI and IRS that he did not possess the necessary authority to charge the president's son, now aged 53, outside of Delaware.
Following his statement, the attorney general did not entertain any questions from the media. This included ignoring a query from a reporter who asked why Weiss had been promoted to the role of special counsel if he had “ultimate authority” to prosecute, a claim Garland himself had made under oath in congressional testimony earlier this year.
The lack of response may further fuel speculation and debate surrounding the case and its handling by the Justice Department.
“Do you still have faith in US Attorney Weiss after the deal fell apart?” Garland was also asked.
Special counsels in the United States are granted extensive powers, including the ability to issue indictments, dispatch subpoenas, and acquire search warrants. Additionally, they may call upon the expertise of attorneys from both within the Department of Justice and outside it, depending on the requirements of the investigation.
Critics of Weiss' nomination highlighted that according to Justice Department rules, a special counsel should be chosen from "outside the United States Government." This requirement seems to make Weiss ineligible for the position. How this inconsistency would be addressed was not immediately apparent.