Law & the Courts

Hunter Biden’s Prosecutor Delayed Escalating Probe amid Presidential Race

Hunter Biden attends his father Joe Biden’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., January 20, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

As the 2020 presidential race heated up last summer, the federal probe into Hunter Biden’s tax filings and overseas business dealings was gaining steam, but the prosecutor in charge waited to issue grand jury subpoenas and request search warrants until the race ended.

The U.S. Attorney’s office had been investigating allegations that the president’s son was engaged in pay-for-play Chinese business engagements, potential money laundering, violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and tax evasion. The latter allegation, tax evasion, ultimately became the center of the probe, a person familiar with it told Politico.

While some officials wanted to escalate the inquiry, others cautioned Delaware’s U.S. Attorney, David Weiss, against pursuing the case more aggressively amid a presidential election. In 2018, former President Trump nominated Weiss to serve as U.S. attorney.

“To his credit, he listened,” a person familiar with the discussions told Politico. Weiss decided to delay any actions until after the presidential race concluded, so as to avoid making the prosecution the subject of political intrigue.

“It was a close call,” the person said. “That case has way more credibility now.”

The probe remained outside the mainstream media spotlight until several weeks after President Biden was declared the winner. Hunter Biden then released a statement downplaying the probe as pertaining exclusively to tax issues and acknowledging that Weiss had notified him of the investigation. Some Republicans demanded that a special prosecutor be appointed to conduct it, but Trumps’ Attorney General William Barr dismissed those calls.

In addition to the tax fraud probe, Weiss’s office is also conducting an accompanying investigation into work that Blue Star Strategies, a Democratic lobbying firm, did for Burisma, the Ukrainian energy firm for which Hunter Biden formerly served as a board member. Politico first reported on the Blue Star inquiry last month.

“David is the type of lawyer who follows the facts and whatever the facts may lead to,”  Tom Ostrander, a law firm partner who worked with Weiss while he prosecuted a murder case dealing with one of Delaware’s leading political families, told Politico. “It doesn’t matter who the person is he’s looking into.”

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