Hunter Biden plea deal talks collapse as special counsel appointed


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A US Department of Justice special counsel has been appointed to oversee a federal investigation targeting Joe Biden’s son Hunter, raising the stakes in a criminal case that threatens to complicate the president’s re-election campaign.

Attorney-general Merrick Garland on Friday named David Weiss — the US attorney for the district of Delaware who was appointed by Donald Trump and has led the criminal probe into Hunter Biden so far — as special counsel, giving him greater independence to pursue the politically sensitive case.

Garland said he had made the move at Weiss’s request, in light of the “extraordinary circumstances relating to this matter”.

The appointment comes after a plea deal Hunter Biden had initially reached with federal prosecutors to resolve the charges unravelled last month during a court hearing in Delaware. Federal prosecutors said in a Friday court filing that further plea negotiations between the government and Hunter Biden “are at an impasse”.

The DoJ “now believes that the case will not resolve short of a trial”, the court filing said. Prosecutors are seeking to dismiss the case in Delaware in order to bring charges in a jurisdiction where the alleged offences happened, either California or Washington, DC.

The investigation into Hunter Biden is ongoing, Garland said.

The US attorney’s office in Delaware declined to comment beyond Garland’s statement. A lawyer representing Hunter Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Weiss’s appointment and the government’s filing are a sharp about-turn in a case that seemed to be near its conclusion, in what had been a welcome development for Joe Biden’s re-election campaign.

Hunter Biden’s legal and personal struggles have at times loomed over his father’s presidency, stoking criticism from Republican lawmakers, who have been probing his overseas business dealings in Congress, and political opponents including Trump.

Hunter Biden in June had agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanour counts of wilful failure to pay federal income tax. He was accused of not paying income tax in excess of $100,000 on annual income of more than $1.5mn earned in 2017 and 2018, according to court filings.

He had also agreed to enter a “pretrial diversion agreement” in relation to a separate charge accusing him of possessing a firearm as an unlawful or addicted user of a controlled substance. Under this type of deal, defendants are typically redirected to community services.

But the judge overseeing the case in Delaware last month raised doubts about the terms of the deal, including questions around the firearm offence. Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty at the time.

Weiss’s appointment could help the DoJ, which has installed a special counsel to manage probes targeting Trump, defuse accusations of partiality in a sensitive case.

Garland said the move “confirms my commitment to provide” Weiss “all the resources he requests” and “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”.

But some Republicans were critical. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, said Weiss’s appointment “cannot be used to obstruct congressional investigations or whitewash the Biden family corruption”.

“If Weiss negotiated the sweetheart deal that couldn’t get approved, how can he be trusted as a Special Counsel?” McCarthy said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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