President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden may face a trial on criminal charges after talks with prosecutors on a potential plea deal reached a stalemate.
David Weiss made the comment after he was promoted to special counsel to investigate the financial and business dealings of the 53-year-old.
The US attorney general Merrick Garland has elevated Mr Weiss who, in his role as the US attorney in Delaware, has already been looking into Hunter Biden and now has been given extra powers.
Mr Weiss will be responsible for the “ongoing investigation” of the president’s son, “as well as for any other matters that arose or may arise from that investigation,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty last month to two tax charges in a Delaware court, after a plea deal he had struck over tax evasion and a gun charge collapsed as a judge refused to accept the proposed agreement.
He was accused of evading $100,000 (£77,000) in taxes from income of more than $1.5m in 2017 and 2018.
Mr Weiss, who was initially appointed into his role by former president Donald Trump, said a trial may be “in order” after the plea deal unravelled.
Hunter’s legal woes unlikely to damage President Biden
It’s the law of the land, and the politics of the law of the land.
The prosecution of Hunter Biden is the criminal pursuit of the President’s son for crimes which, at one point, were limited to non-repayment of tax and illegal possession of a firearm (he hadn’t declared his drug-abuse).
That’s how his ‘rap sheet’ shaped up when he reached a plea deal with prosecutors – who knows how it might look now. A special counsel has wide-ranging of investigation and can pursue charges in any jurisdiction.
Prosecutors say they expect matters to proceed towards a trial, which means next year’s presidential campaign could well be consumed, not only by the legal adventures of Donald Trump, but by Hunter Biden as a rival attraction – a Republican versus Democrat proxy war fought in the courts, with pitfalls for both sides.
Hunter Biden is a troubled soul, no doubt.
He’s made no secret of his struggles with drug use, which began following the death of his older brother, Beau.
Not that he gets a sympathetic hearing from his father’s Republican opponents in Congress. The story they tell of the President’s son is of shady business dealings in China and Eastern Europe, misusing his father’s influence.
It’s a tale, however, short on hard evidence and so lacks the capacity to damage President Biden.
They will hope the spreading tentacles of a Trump-appointed US attorney, newly-anointed and strengthened by the powers of a special counsel, will change all that.
Prosecutors say charges may need to be filed against Mr Biden in Washington DC or California.
“The parties have engaged in further plea negotiations but are at an impasse. The government now believes that the case will not resolve short of a trial,” a filing stated.
Mr Garland said Mr Weiss asked to be appointed to the position and told him that “in his [Weiss’s] judgement, his investigation has reached a stage at which he should continue his work as a special counsel”.
The announcement comes as House Republicans launch their own investigation into Hunter Biden and his business dealings, while the GOP in Congress has threatened to launch impeachment inquiries over allegations the president may have benefitted from his son’s ventures.
A troubled soul and troubling son
Hunter Biden exploited to embarrass powerful parent
The White House previously dismissed those allegations as “insane conspiracy theories”, adding Mr Biden did not get involved in his son’s business affairs.
In response to the appointment of a special counsel, Hunter Biden’s attorney, Chris Clark, said in a statement: “Whether in Delaware, Washington DC, or anywhere else, we expect a fair resolution on behalf of our client – this US Attorney has diligently been investigating my client for five years, and he had proposed a resolution which we fully intend to pursue in court.
“It is hard to see why he would have proposed such a resolution if there were other offences he could have successfully prosecuted, and we are aware of none. We are confident when all of these manoeuvrings are at an end my client will have resolution and will be moving on with his life successfully.”
Donald Trump, Joe Biden’s likely rival in the 2024 election, has repeatedly sought to use Hunter Biden’s legal troubles in an attempt to smear his opponent, despite his own charges.