WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Friday that David Weiss, the federal prosecutor in Delaware who has led the criminal investigation of President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, will be appointed special counsel in the case.
Garland said that Weiss, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump to become a U.S. Attorney in 2018, asked earlier this week to be named special counsel. Weiss began investigating Hunter Biden in 2019.
“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,” Garland said during a press conference at the Department of Justice.
At nearly the same time Garland was announcing the special counsel investigation of the president’s son, federal prosecutors revealed in new court filings that they had reached an “impasse” in plea negotiations with Hunter Biden’s lawyers.
“The Government now believes that the case will not resolve short of a trial,” they wrote in a federal filing in Delaware.
The White House was not given advance notice of Garland’s announcement, two people familiar with the matter told NBC News.
Last month, Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to federal tax charges after an original agreement brokered between his lawyers and federal prosecutors fell apart. Biden, 53, was expected to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges.
“We are confident when all of these maneuverings are at an end my client will have resolution and will be moving on with his life successfully,” Chris Clark, Hunter Biden’s attorney, said in a statement obtained by NBC News.
Garland, who ascended to the top spot at the Department of Justice in 2021, has previously tapped two other special counsels.
Last November, Garland named Jack Smith as a special counsel to carry out two investigations into Trump. The first was a probe into Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving the nation’s highest office, and the other for the former president’s role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election.
Earlier this year, Garland tapped Robert Hur to investigate classified documents that were found in President Joe Biden’s office and residence. The intelligence documents were in Biden’s possession since he served as vice president under then-President Barack Obama.
Garland added that Weiss will continue to serve as U.S. Attorney for Delaware.
— Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report from CNBC’s global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that David Weiss was appointed to his post in 2018 by then-President Trump and began investigating Hunter Biden in 2019. A previous version misstated the timeline of the appointment and investigation.