The US attorney general has appointed a special counsel to investigate the financial and business dealings of the son of President Joe Biden.
Merrick Garland said he is promoting David Weiss, the US attorney in Delaware who has already been probing Hunter Biden, to the position.
He will be responsible for the “ongoing investigation” of President Joe Biden’s son, “as well as for any other matters that arose or may arise from that investigation,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
Mr Biden, 53, pleaded not guilty last month to two tax charges in a Delaware court, after a plea deal he had struck apparently unravelled.
He was accused of evading $100,000 (£77,000) in taxes from income of over $1.5m in 2017 and 2018.
Mr Weiss, who was initially appointed into his role by former president Donald Trump, said after talks over a plea deal for Mr Biden had broken down, a trial may be “in order”.
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 on Tuesday, Weiss told him: “In his judgment, his investigation has reached a stage at which he should continue his work as a special counsel, and he asked to be appointed.”
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.
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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 trouble’s in an attempt to smear his opponent, despite his own charges.