Congressional Republicans have been demanding the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of President Biden, over his business dealings. They specifically requested that David C. Weiss, the Trump-appointed Delaware U.S. attorney, be named as the leader of the inquiry. However, when Attorney General Merrick B. Garland elevated Weiss to special counsel status, Republicans reacted with outrage. They claimed that this appointment was meant to distract from their investigations and accused Weiss of being untrustworthy.
Privately, some Republicans saw Weiss’s appointment as a victory. They had worked to elevate the Hunter Biden case to a scandal equivalent to those surrounding former President Trump. While Hunter Biden has only been accused of misdemeanor crimes related to tax evasion and illegal possession of a firearm, Republicans have accused him and his family of corruption. However, they have not provided evidence linking the overseas money to President Biden or proving that the president influenced U.S. policy to benefit his son’s business partners.
Despite their objections to Weiss, some Republicans acknowledged that this appointment signaled that their allegations against Hunter Biden deserved a serious investigation. They believed that this appointment would keep Hunter Biden’s misdeeds in the news for longer and link the names Trump and Biden to scandal, even though no wrongdoing by the current president has been proven.
House Republicans have criticized the Justice Department for leniency in the Hunter Biden case. They have accused the department of political interference and have brought forth allegations that Weiss had sought to bring charges against Hunter Biden but was rebuffed by prosecutors in Washington and California. The appointment of Weiss as special counsel authorizes him to bring charges in any jurisdiction, extending the life of the investigation and complicating the narrative for Democrats.
Some House Republicans close to Trump welcomed the appointment of a special counsel as it provided Trump with the investigation he desired to depict the Biden family as corrupt. However, other Republicans worried that the development could be used to block their investigations and that Weiss may refuse to testify on Capitol Hill, citing the special counsel investigation.
The announcement of the special counsel also provided political cover for President Biden and Attorney General Garland against Republican accusations of a two-tier system of justice. It could undercut Republican arguments for an impeachment inquiry and give momentum to Republican oversight activities. While some Republicans’ respect for Weiss declined after the plea deal with Hunter Biden, Democrat-aligned groups saw the Republicans’ opposition as disingenuous and a political stunt to interfere with the ongoing investigation and harm Joe Biden.