SPECIAL COUNSEL STATUS
Weiss was elevated to special counsel status in August after investigating Hunter Biden’s business dealings for years as the US attorney in the Democratic president’s home state of Delaware. Weiss was originally nominated by Trump.
The younger Biden for years has been the focus of unrelenting attacks by Trump and his Republican allies who have accused him of wrongdoing relating to Ukraine and China, among other matters. Hunter Biden has worked as a lobbyist, lawyer, investment banker and artist, and has publicly detailed his struggles with substance abuse.
While Republican lawmakers have collected testimony that Joe Biden at times joined calls with his son’s business associates, they have yet to produce evidence that the president personally benefited.
“Today’s charges against Hunter Biden are a very small start, but unless US Attorney Weiss investigates everyone involved in the fraud schemes and influence peddling, it will be clear President Biden’s DOJ is protecting Hunter Biden and the big guy,” said Republican Representative James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, one of the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry kicked off this week.
Hunter Biden disclosed in December 2020 that Weiss’s office was investigating his tax affairs. He has denied wrongdoing.
While most US attorneys appointed by Trump were asked to step down when Biden took office in January 2021, as is routine, the Justice Department asked Weiss to stay on.
Hunter Biden never held a position in the White House or on his father’s campaign. The president has said he has not discussed foreign business dealings with his son and has said his Justice Department would have independence in any investigation of a member of his family.
Trump and other Republicans have alleged what they called conflicts of interest from Hunter Biden’s position on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma at the time his father was vice president to Democratic President Barack Obama. Trump in a July 2019 phone call with Ukraine’s president asked him to have his government open an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden in the lead-up to the US presidential election.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives later voted to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming from these efforts, though the Senate ultimately voted to keep Trump in office.
Hunter Biden described in a 2021 memoir dealing with substance abuse issues in his life including crack cocaine use and alcoholism. He was discharged from the US Navy reserve in 2014 after, sources said at the time, testing positive for cocaine.
The president has two surviving children, Hunter Biden and daughter Ashley Biden. His son Beau Biden died in 2015 of cancer and his daughter Naomi Biden died as an infant after a car accident that also killed Joe Biden’s first wife.
Hunter Biden appears to be the first child of a sitting president to be indicted, according to Aaron Crawford, who specializes in presidential history at the University of Tennessee.
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