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The U.S. attorney for Delaware is a key decision-maker in a high-profile case: The Hunter Biden probe

Federal agents have been looking into the president's son's tax filings and the purchase of a handgun.

U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss, top federal prosecutor in the state of Delaware, is in charge of the investigation into Hunter Biden.
U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss, top federal prosecutor in the state of Delaware, is in charge of the investigation into Hunter Biden.Read moreHandout

The cloud over Hunter Biden seemed to grow darker last week when the Washington Post reported that federal agents have gathered what they believe is enough evidence to charge the president’s son with tax crimes and offenses related to his purchase of a handgun.

Now it is up to the U.S. attorney for Delaware, David C. Weiss, to decide whether to bring a case, the Post reported Thursday. CBS News confirmed the Post’s account in a story Friday.

Here’s a look at what’s known about the investigation and Weiss:

What did the Post report?

Two reporters who cover the Justice Department wrote that the Hunter Biden probe is focused on whether he reported all of his income for tax purposes and whether he made a false sworn statement on federal paperwork when he bought a weapon in 2018. The newspaper’s story was attributed to unnamed sources.

How has the case been pursued?

As Attorney General Merrick Garland has said publicly, Weiss is overseeing the probe. “There will not be interference of any political or improper kind,” Garland told a congressional committee earlier this year. “We put the investigation in the hands of a Trump appointee from the previous administration.”

Who is David Weiss?

Weiss, 66, has worked as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware for the last 15 years. President Donald Trump nominated him to the top job as U.S. attorney there in 2018, moving him up from an acting position. He had the backing of the state’s two senators, both Democrats, a traditional requirement of landing one of the 93 U.S. attorney posts in the nation. Weiss launched the investigation of Hunter Biden that year, and President Joe Biden kept him in the position after he took office in 2021. Weiss has registered to vote as a Republican, according to public records.

What is Weiss’ career path?

He grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and went to Washington University in St. Louis before returning to the Philadelphia area to attend Widener University law school. Earlier in his career, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in Wilmington for three years before working in the private sector for 18 years. He worked as a commercial litigator in the Duane Morris law firm’s Wilmington office and later as the chief executive of a Wilmington financial company that advises executives. He returned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2007.

How has he been in the news?

Weiss had not had a high profile, but more than a decade ago, when he was working for a previous U.S. attorney in Delaware, an appointee of President George W. Bush, Weiss led an investigation into a businessman who was a “bundler,” a raiser of campaign money, for Joe Biden’s losing presidential primary campaign in 2007. The target, Christopher Tigani, pleaded guilty to taking part in a “straw donor” scheme, illegally reimbursing employees for their contributions. The inquiry found no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden.

Before that, Weiss played a role in a headline-making case while in private practice. The family of Anne Marie Fahey, a secretary for Delaware’s governor, hired Weiss for help after she went missing. He urged his former colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s Office to join in the investigation. In 1999, Thomas Capano, a former Delaware deputy attorney general, was convicted of her murder.

Attorney Thomas Ostrander, a Duane Morris partner who worked with Weiss in the Fahey matter, said his former colleague would pursue the Hunter Biden investigation in a nonpartisan way.

“David is a very good, experienced lawyer. He has extensive experience both in the private sector and as a prosecutor,” Ostrander said Friday. “He’s the perfect person for this. He’s going to follow the facts, as they say, wherever they might lead.”

If the leaks to the news media were designed to ramp up pressure on Weiss, Ostrander said, it won’t work. “David is not going to be pressured by any type of press report or story,” Ostrander said. “He’s not going to do anything sooner than he would ordinarily do.

Why is he investigating Hunter Biden?

In late 2020, Hunter Biden issued a statement saying federal prosecutors in Delaware had advised his lawyer that “they are investigating my tax affairs.” The Washington Post said Biden made the statement after learning the FBI wanted to interview him.

Biden added at that time: “I take this matter very seriously but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.”

For several years, Trump and other Republicans have been raising questions about Biden’s overseas business dealings, in Ukraine and China.

What about the gun?

In late 2018, Hunter Biden bought a .38-caliber revolver, according to an article in Politico, and possessed it for about 10 days before his companion at the time — Hallie Biden, the widow of his late brother, Beau — found the firearm and threw it out. Politico said it had obtained copies of the federal paperwork for the purchase and that it showed Biden answered “no” when asked if he used narcotics. However, in his memoir last year, Biden said he was a heavy user of crack in 2018.

Federal prosecutions for lying on firearms forms are extremely rare. In a 2018 GAO study, researchers found that 112,000 people were denied the right to buy guns in the previous fiscal year — and prosecutors charged only a dozen with falsehoods on the forms.

And what about Biden’s laptop computer?

In late 2019, news organization have reported, a FBI agent who works in Delaware, armed with a subpoena, seized a computer and external hard drive apparently once owned by Biden from a Delaware computer repair shop. It’s not known what role, if any, the devices might have played in the investigation.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the circumstances of Anne Marie Fahey's death. Her body has never been found.