US attorney general gives Hunter Biden prosecutor expanded powers by appointing him special counsel

On Friday, US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he had appointed as special counsel the US attorney for Delaware, David Weiss, who has been investigating Hunter Biden for five years.

The appointment, coming several weeks after the collapse of a plea deal worked out between Weiss and Hunter Biden’s lawyers, gives the US prosecutor expanded powers to potentially charge President Joe Biden’s son with corrupt business dealings with foreign firms, including in Ukraine and China, and bring him to trial in the midst of the 2024 presidential election campaign.

At a press appearance, where he refused to respond to reporters’ questions, the attorney general said: “On Tuesday of this week, Mr. Weiss advised me that in his judgment his investigation had reached a stage at which he should continue his work as a special counsel, and he asked to be so appointed.”

Garland continued: “Upon considering his request, as well as the extraordinary circumstances relating to this matter, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint him as special counsel.”

US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. on Friday, August 11, 2023. Garland announced that he was appointing a special counsel in the Hunter Biden probe, deepening the investigation of the president’s son ahead of the 2024 election. [AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough]

Also on Friday, Weiss filed a motion on behalf of the Justice Department saying that the parties were at an impasse on reworking the plea deal and a trial was in order. “Following additional negotiations after the hearing held on July 26, 2023,” the filing stated, “the parties are at an impasse and are not in agreement on either a plea agreement or a diversion agreement.”

Garland’s move is clearly in response to efforts by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to utilize Hunter Biden’s well known lucrative and shady business dealings in Ukraine and China, in which the younger Biden traded on his father’s name and influence, to implicate the current president and leading 2024 Democratic presidential candidate in corrupt practices, including by means of an impeachment inquiry.

These efforts are being spearheaded by the fascist wing of the GOP, which increasingly sets the political tone for the House Republicans and the Republican Party as a whole in supporting Donald Trump’s reelection bid and defending or downplaying the former president’s attempt to overthrow the 2020 election result and remain in power as a de facto dictator.

Garland’s move at once underscores and intensifies the unprecedented crisis of the entire US political system. American capitalism is careening into a presidential election year under conditions where the leading Republican contender, Trump, is already facing three criminal indictments, including for seeking to overthrow the 2020 election and the US Constitution, and is expected to be indicted again next week for seeking to overturn Biden’s 2020 election victory in Georgia.

Trump is using his reelection campaign to incite fascist violence against Democrats and officials, including judges, involved in prosecuting him. He recently denounced Weiss for agreeing to the plea bargain for Hunter Biden, which a Republican judge subsequently rejected, and demanded that Hunter Biden be executed. He has repeatedly called for the deportation and jailing of Marxists and socialists.

Both parties claim that their likely presidential opponent is a criminal and belongs in jail, as the political system as a whole lurches ever further to the right.

The breakdown of bourgeois democratic forms of rule and moves toward dictatorship take place under conditions of escalating war against Russia in Ukraine, raising the danger of nuclear annihilation; a deepening financial crisis, including credit downgrades of US debt, major bank failures and bailouts, and growing challenges to the US dollar; and an explosive growth of the class struggle, at the center of which is a mounting rebellion against the corporatist trade union bureaucracies.

Leading House Republicans dismissed the appointment of Weiss as special counsel as a maneuver by the Biden administration to sideline House hearings on “Biden family corruption” and a possible impeachment inquiry.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted: “This action by Biden’s DOJ 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? House Republicans will continue to pursue the facts for the American people.”

A Trump spokesperson said in a statement: “If this special counsel is truly independent—even though he failed to bring proper charges after a four-year investigation and he appears to be trying to move the case to a more Democrat-friendly venue—he will quickly conclude that Joe Biden, his troubled son Hunter, and their enablers, including the media, which colluded with the 51 intelligence officials who knowingly misled the public about Hunter’s laptop, should face the required consequences.”

President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden leaves after a court appearance, Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Wilmington, Delaware. [AP Photo/Julio Cortez]

Trump and his fascist allies such as Steve Bannon claimed shortly before the 2020 election that a laptop computer abandoned by Hunter Biden at a Delaware computer repair shop contained emails proving that Joe Biden, when he was vice president under Barack Obama, interceded with the Ukraine government to shield his son Hunter from prosecution for corrupt business dealings while he was on the board of directors of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

The Republicans will make sure that the president is dragged into any investigation involving his son’s multimillion-dollar earnings in connection with Burisma in Ukraine, CEFC China Energy in China or other companies that either employed the younger Biden or paid fees to his consulting companies. And there is, in all probability, a substantial case to be made against Biden, Sr.

As US attorney, Weiss charged Hunter Biden with two misdemeanor counts of tax evasion for failing to file tax returns in 2017 and 2018 for $100,000 each year due on income “in excess” of $1.5 million per year from his business operations overseas. Weiss also charged Biden with a gun law violation for illegally purchasing a pistol in 2018 while he was addicted to legally banned drugs, an addiction Hunter Biden has acknowledged.

The Biden administration and the Democratic Party, including Garland, had hoped that the plea bargain worked out between Weiss and Hunter Biden’s attorneys would end the younger Biden’s legal problems and foreclose any further charges, at least prior to the 2024 election. Under the deal, Hunter Biden was to plead guilty to the misdemeanor tax counts and accept a “diversion agreement” on the gun charge, under which Biden would not have to plead guilty and prosecutors would be expected to lift the charge after two years’ probation if Biden remained drug-free.

However, when the parties appeared before Judge Maryellen Noreika, a Trump appointee, on July 26, the deal blew up. First, Weiss made it clear that despite the plea deal, his investigation of Hunter Biden’s business relations would continue, prompting Biden to plead not guilty to the tax charges. In the end, the judge refused to approve the agreement, an unusual occurrence in a plea deal involving misdemeanor charges.

In the intervening period, the House Republicans have stepped up their hearings on “Biden family” corruption, including House Oversight Committee investigators taking hours of closed-door testimony from a former business associate of Hunter Biden, Devon Archer. The committee published hundreds of pages of Archer’s testimony, in which he described Hunter Biden on numerous occasions putting his father on the speaker phone during business meetings with clients or prospective clients to “sell” his access to the Washington D.C elite.