President Biden has repeatedly defended his son Hunter amid a wave of legal troubles, saying multiple times that he was confident his son has done "nothing wrong" prior to the Justice Department's appointment of a special counsel to further investigate the matter.
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday appointed U.S. Attorney David Weiss as special counsel in the Hunter Biden probe, as well as any other matters that may arise from that investigation.
Weiss is the federal prosecutor who has investigated the business dealings of Hunter Biden and brought charges against him in Delaware. His appointment as special counsel indicates that, contrary to Hunter's defense lawyers' claims, the Justice Department investigation into Biden's son is not over.
But Weiss, who many Republicans feel will aide the Biden family in a "coverup" of Hunter Biden's crimes, announced in July a probation-only plea agreement for Hunter in which he would plead guilty to tax evasion charges. However, U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika, a Trump appointee, rejected the agreement after expressing several concerns over its provisions.
Republicans criticized the agreement as a "sweetheart" deal and have pursued their own investigation into the Biden family's business dealings, with an eye towards impeaching the president.
Despite the investigations, Biden, who took office in January 2021, has maintained that his son is innocent.
Then-candidate Biden insisted during a 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate in 2019 that neither he nor his son did anything "wrong" with regard to Hunter's past work in Ukraine.
"My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong," Biden said at the time. "I carried out the policy of the United States government, which was to root out corruption in Ukraine, and that’s what we should be focusing on."
Biden was asked by Fox News in 2020, "Are you confident your son Hunter did nothing wrong?"
"I am confident," then-candidate Biden said.
In 2020, he also said that Hunter is "the smartest guy I know."
That same year, in December 2020, Biden told "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert that he and his wife, Jill, had "great confidence in our son."
"I am not concerned about any accusations that have been made against him. It's used to get to me. I think it's kind of foul play, but look, it is what it is," Biden said at the time.
This year, he was asked in an MSNBC interview about the ongoing DOJ investigation and how it may impact his presidency.
"First of all, my son has done nothing wrong. I trust him I have faith in him, and it impacts my presidency by making me feel proud of him," Biden said in the May interview.
In June, after the news of the plea emerged, the White House issued a brief statement on the matter.
"The President and first lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life. We will have no further comment," spokesperson Ian Sams said.
Talks between federal prosecutors and Hunter's defense team subsequently broke down after the government acknowledged that he was still under federal investigation.
Garland confirmed Friday that the investigation is still ongoing. In a press release, the Department of Justice said that Weiss will serve as special counsel "for the ongoing investigation and prosecutions referenced and described in United States v. Robert Hunter Biden, as well as for any other matters that arose or may arise from that investigation."
That language leaves open the possibility that other members of the Biden family, potentially even the president, could be part of this investigation. When asked whether President Biden is being investigated as part of this probe, a Department of Justice official declined to comment.
House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, blasted Weiss' appointment in a statement issued through a spokesman.
"David Weiss can’t be trusted and this is just a new way to whitewash the Biden family’s corruption. Weiss has already signed off on a sweetheart plea deal that was so awful and unfair that a federal judge rejected it. We will continue to pursue facts brought to light by brave whistleblowers as well as Weiss’s inconsistent statements to Congress," said Jordan spokesman Russell Dye.
Fox News' Brooke Singman, Chris Pandolfo, Adam Shaw, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.