While no final decision has been made on whether or not to bring charges against President Joe Biden’s son, sources say the investigation has intensified in recent months, along with discussions between Delaware prosecutors, investigators leading the investigation and officials on the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice.
The investigation into the president’s son looms up as one of the politically charged issues facing Merrick Garland as Attorney General. Weiss is one of the few appointees of former President Donald Trump detained by the Biden administration for overseeing politically sensitive investigations.
The Ministry of Justice guidelines regarding politically sensitive investigations during an election year may also play a role. Current and former Justice Department officials say there is an unwritten rule that prosecutors avoid bringing politically sensitive cases within 60 days of an election.
Some current and former justice officials have debated whether the rules necessarily apply in this case, given that Joe Biden is not on the ballot in the midterm elections.
A lawyer for Hunter Biden declined to comment. The US Attorney’s Office in Delaware declined to comment.
Hunter Biden has not been charged with any crimes and has previously denied any wrongdoing. His father is not being investigated as part of the investigation into his son’s business activities, according to informed sources.
Narrowing the focus
The Justice Department’s investigation initially focused on Hunter Biden’s financial and business activities abroad, dating back to when Joe Biden was vice president. But researchers have examined a range of broader behaviors, including whether Hunter Biden and associates have violated money laundering, campaign finance, tax and foreign lobbying laws, as well as whether Hunter Biden has violated federal firearms and other regulations, multiple sources said.
Now that the investigation has entered its final stages, prosecutors have narrowed their focus to tax and gun-related charges, the people say.
Hunter Biden has publicly discussed his own fight against substance abuse, with some law enforcement officials questioning whether his open discussions about his past drug use could potentially weaken their case if they brought one up.
Some officials have noted that Biden could claim he was unaware of wrongdoing for taking drugs, a source said. CNN has previously reported that some officials were concerned it could be a defense, but more recently, Justice officials have converged on the view that Biden’s own public accounts of his recovery show he was fully responsible for actions now under investigation. according to the known person with the discussions.
During the meetings, officials also discussed the timing of a possible indictment given the susceptibility to bringing a politically connected case close to an election, another person said.
Justice Department notes advise prosecutors not to file a lawsuit or take overt investigative steps with the aim of influencing an election or giving a candidate an advantage or disadvantage.
Garland issued a memo to prosecutors in May reiterating the department’s stance on election year sensitivities. The memo is a memo that attorneys general send every election year, and generally advises prosecutors about avoiding major investigative or indictment decisions near an election to avoid the perception of partisan motives.
In both cases, prosecutors took their charges with the election in mind, people familiar with the cases said.
Trump Justice officials have reversed a request from New York prosecutors to execute a search warrant against Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s personal attorneys, in the months surrounding the 2020 election. Biden’s Justice Department later gave the green light to the search, which was approved by a federal judge.