After the appointment of a special counsel in the investigation into US President Joe Biden's son, a number of Republicans are questioning his independence.
Republican James Comer, who heads a powerful House committee, complained that the move against Hunter Biden was a cover-up. Congress Chamber Chairman Kevin McCarthy questioned whether Special Counsel Davis Weiss could be trusted. The prosecutor's appointment is a major twist in a years-long justice saga that Republicans have repeatedly used to attack President and Democrat Biden.
Special Counsel was previously responsible for the case
Justice Secretary Merrick Garland made the move public yesterday. Investigations against Hunter Biden have been ongoing for years, including with a view to possible tax offenses. Republicans are particularly bothered by the fact that Weiss has led these investigations before.
In this context, the prosecutor from the US state of Delaware had already negotiated an agreement with the defense of the 53-year-old, which was far too generous a deal for political opponents. This agreement has now burst for the time being - also because a judge did not want to approve it in this form. Hunter Biden may have hoped to use the planned deal to quickly close the case and avoid court proceedings.
Biden's son has been the target of political attacks from Republicans for years, especially from ex-President Donald Trump. He raised allegations of corruption against Hunter Biden in connection with deals in Ukraine and China.
In Congress, Republicans have been pushing ahead with investigations into Hunter Biden for some time. They have now made it clear that the appointment of a special counsel will not change these investigations. Committee chairman Comer criticized the Justice Department for trying to block the work of Congress. He is largely responsible for the investigations into Hunter Biden in the House of Representatives.
Republicans accuse Justice Department of diversionary tactics
A spokesman for Trump accused Weiss of failing to bring Hunter Biden to justice after years of investigation. Republican Nikki Haley, who wants to be in the White House like Trump, spoke on US television of a diversionary maneuver and claimed that people in the US did not trust the Justice Department anyway.
Ex-Vice President Mike Pence, who also wants to become his party's presidential candidate, welcomed the appointment of the special counsel. "To be honest, I don't understand what [Biden's] son did when [Biden] was vice president," he said. When he was vice himself, his son defended the country in fighter jets, Pence continued.
In June, the Delaware prosecutor's office published formal allegations of alleged tax violations against the president's son. Prosecutors also charged Hunter Biden with illegal possession of a firearm in 2018. When buying the gun, he concealed his drug addiction. As a drug user, he shouldn't have bought a gun. Hunter Biden himself published his long-standing drug addiction in a book in 2021.
Appointment only "cosmetic" nature?
The appointment of the special counsel could make a trial more likely. In addition, Special Counsel Weiss now has the authority to conduct investigations across the country. Hunter Biden's attorney said they were not aware of any other crimes outside of Delaware. One is confident that there will be a solution and that Biden can "continue his life successfully," the Washington Post quoted a statement as saying.
By appointing the special counsel, Attorney General Garland is likely to try to get himself out of the line of fire and refute Republican criticism. After several charges against Trump, they accuse Biden's administration of using the Justice Department "as a weapon" in the election campaign.
The "New York Times" now rated Garland's step as more of a cosmetic nature. Special investigators should be able to act more independently of the ministry and not be involved in day-to-day business. However, the ministry had repeatedly emphasized that Weiss was independent. As a rule, but not necessarily, special investigators - unlike Weiss - do not come from the ministry, but from outside.
Heated election campaign and serious allegations
The investigations against Hunter Biden are likely to determine the election campaign in a similar way to the investigations against Trump. Joe Biden also wants to run for a second term in the 2024 election. The investigation against Hunter is not about the President. Republicans, however, repeatedly scorn the Bidens and portray them as a crime family.
Joe Biden has dismissed the attacks against himself and his family as a smear campaign in the past. He traveled to his private home in Rehoboth Beach on Friday evening - he did not answer questions about his son.