(WASHINGTON) — Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss as a special counsel in his investigation of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, Garland announced on Friday.
The move came as a plea deal struck between Hunter Biden and federal prosecutors fell apart last month and the case appeared headed for trial. In the interim, Hunter Biden entered a not-guilty plea.
Weiss, who was previously appointed by former President Donald Trump, asked Garland to be appointed special counsel on Tuesday and Garland said he concluded it was in the public interest after considering the request.
A senior Department of Justice official told reporters that this is the first time Weiss has asked to be appointed special counsel. Weiss himself has said the same before, pushing back on claims by an IRS whistleblower.
“This appointment confirms my commitment to provide Mr. Weiss all the resources he requests,” Garland said. “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 in dependently based only on the facts and the law.”
Garland said Weiss “will continue to have the authority and responsibility that he has previously exercised to oversee the investigation and decide where, when and whether to file charges.”
Prosecutors also wrote in court filings that they intend to drop the misdemeanor tax charges against Hunter Biden in Delaware and instead bring them in California and Washington, D.C. — the venues where prosecutors say the alleged misconduct occurred.
“Since that time [of Hunter Biden’s not-guilty plea], 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.
“Now that the parties are at an impasse, a trial is in order,” they wrote. “Venue must be proper for each count of an indictment.”
The judge gave Hunter Biden until Monday to respond to the motion from the United States to vacate the court’s briefing order.
Republicans blasted the appointment of Weiss as special counsel, with House Oversight Chair James Comer, R-Ky., claiming the Justice Department is trying to “stonewall” Congress’ own investigations into Hunter Biden and calling the news part of a “Biden family coverup,” despite Republicans offering no evidence of a “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, who is leading the effort by House Republicans investigating Joe Biden and his family, said in a statement on Friday.
Since Republicans retook the House last year, they have launched multiple investigative efforts aimed at learning more about who paid Hunter Biden in the past, when and why, and they have contended that the swirl of foreign money sullies Joe Biden himself.
The White House has repeatedly dismissed claims of misconduct by the president, saying there is no evidence that Joe Biden was or is connected to his son’s business work. The president has said the same.
ABC News’ Will Steakin contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.