The investigation into President Joe Biden's son has taken a sharp turn, creating an additional challenge for President Biden's reelection efforts.
On Friday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that David Weiss would serve as special counsel in the case.
"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 independently, based only on the facts and the law," said Garland.
Hunter Biden was charged with failing to pay more than $200,000 in taxes on more than $1.5 million in income back in 2017 and 2018 and illegally owning a gun at a time he was allegedly addicted to drugs.
Last month, the president’s son was expected to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors. In exchange, he would not face jail time for the gun charge.
But the deal between the Justice Department and Hunter Biden fell through at the last moment.
The district judge overseeing the case called the deal "confusing" and "not straightforward."
"I am only concerned that a force other than facts or law will influence any additional decision. And if this prosecutor with a new title now continues in doing what he is supposed to do, which is to follow the evidence and follow the law, the conclusion should be the same," said Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden's Attorney.
Hunter Biden ended up pleading not guilty. The two parties continued negotiating, but prosecutors finally said talks were at an impasse.
"Look, they got him on the verge of a very, very reasonable plea deal. But very wisely, the defense counsel said as soon as the DOJ implied there could be other charges, said 'wait a minute, we're not expecting more investigation and other charges beyond this plea deal,'" said Kendall Coffey, former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Legal Analyst.
Coffey says the now-special counsel could end up charging Hunter Biden with more serious crimes.
"If I were Hunter Biden, I would be losing sleep at night because I think they are going to take a look at other issues," said Coffey.
Republicans vying for their party nomination sought to turn the president’s oft-troubled son into political capital.
"It strikes me as a fig leaf, but on paper, at least it's nominally a step in the right direction, but it strikes me as a big leaf to provide air cover for corruption," said Vivek Ramaswamy.
"And it's like if he were Republican, special counsel, if he were a Republican, he’d be in jail by now, and we all know that," said Gov. Ron DeSantis.
"But I think it's about time that we saw the appointment of a special counsel to get to the bottom of not only what Hunter Biden was doing but what the Biden family was doing. The American people deserve answers," said former Vice President Mike Pence.
The legal development comes on the heels of historic criminal indictments against President Joe Biden’s likely rival for the White House, Donald Trump.
"We're in highly polarized times where I say this sadly, there is more public skepticism about the true independence of the Department of Justice and even legendary agencies such as the FBI people more than ten years ago."
Either way, two presidential candidates may have legal baggage strapped to their campaigns, one a lot heavier than the other.
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