Who is David Weiss, US special counsel in the Hunter Biden case?

(This Aug. 11 story has been refiled to remove video)

By Andrew Goudsward

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Prosecutor David Weiss has spent years probing allegations involving President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Now as a U.S. special counsel, he will have a chance to dig deeper while facing intense scrutiny from the president’s opponents.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Weiss, the Delaware U.S. attorney, to the special counsel job on Friday, two weeks after a federal judge held off accepting Weiss’s deal to let Hunter Biden plead guilty to failing to pay taxes and unlawfully owning a firearm while addicted to illegal drugs.

Garland said Weiss asked for the appointment.

After being appointed on Friday, Weiss said in a court filing that plea negotiations had stalled and the case would likely go to trial.

Weiss supervised the Biden investigation from its start in 2019, focusing initially on potential violations of tax and money laundering laws in Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings, particularly in China, Reuters has reported.

Weiss’s legal career has been built on a string of high-stakes assignments involving political and business figures in the Bidens’ home state of Delaware. Weiss’s firm represented the family of Anne Marie Fahey, a secretary of Delaware’s then-governor who went missing in 1996.

Weiss pressed federal authorities to get involved in the investigation, said Thomas Ostrander, who worked with Weiss at law firm Duane Morris, a move that helped lead to the murder conviction of Delaware’s former deputy attorney general.

Weiss also oversaw the prosecution of Christopher Tigani, a Delaware beer distributor who solicited donations for Joe Biden’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign and was later convicted of campaign finance violations, Politico reported.

Weiss’s office suffered a setback in a high-profile corporate case in 2021 when a federal appeals court overturned the convictions of four former Wilmington Trust executives accused of hiding troubled loans in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Prosecutors later agreed to drop all charges.


Republican then-President Donald Trump in 2018 named Weiss to his post as the top federal prosecutor in Delaware. Weiss agreed to stay in the job after Biden took office in January 2021 to complete his long-running probe into Hunter Biden’s finances.

Hunter Biden’s legal woes have been amplified by Republican lawmakers who have pressed unproven claims that his father, a Democrat, has benefited from his son’s business ventures.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was among Republican leaders to criticize Weiss after his special counsel appointment, asking how Weiss’s fairness could be trusted after he negotiated what McCarthy called a “sweetheart” plea deal that a judge would not approve.

Republican House Majority Leader Steve Scalise called him a “sham special counsel.”

Garland has previously vowed not to interfere in the criminal investigation and answered Republican criticism by emphasizing Weiss’s role leading the probe. Former colleagues described Weiss as an independent-minded prosecutor.

“I don’t think he’s thinking about the politics at all,” Ostrander told Reuters in June. “He’s simply thinking about doing his job and doing what’s appropriate under the circumstances.”

Weiss’s nomination as Delaware’s U.S. attorney was backed by Delaware’s two Democratic U.S. senators. He previously served as the top deputy in the office and was interim U.S. attorney during the early years of the 2009-2017 Obama administration.

Lawmakers credited Weiss with prosecuting corruption, money laundering, drug offenses and helping to secure federal funding to fight illegal drug trafficking in Delaware.

(This story has been refiled to correct date to 2019 from 2018 in paragraph 5)

(Reporting by Andrew Goudsward; Editing by David Bario and Howard Goller)