High level officials within the Justice Department are in “onging discussions” on whether to appoint a special counsel to take over the investigation into Hunter Biden, with some believing it is “warranted,” two sources familiar told Fox News Wednesday.
Attorney General Bill Barr, who resigned from his post last week and had his last day at the Justice Department Wednesday, said earlier this week that he had “not seen a reason” to appoint a special counsel to probe President-elect Joe Biden’s son, who is under federal investigation for his “tax affairs.”
But one source familiar told Fox News on Wednesday that it is an “open discussion.”
“It is an ongoing discussion,” the source told Fox News. “No decisions have been made either way.”
Another source told Fox News that some high level DOJ officials believe a special counsel is “warranted,” and cited the special counsel statute.
“It was passed to deal with a potential conflict of interest of the attorney general or the president of the United States,” the source told Fox News. “A president-elect coming in, where his appointed attorneys will be investigating his son? That’s textbook conflict.”
President-elect Joe Biden was asked during a press conference Tuesday whether the issue of the federal investigation into Hunter has come up with his team and with attorney general candidates.
“No, no. I guarantee you I’m going to do what I said,” Biden responded. “The attorney general of the United States of America is not the president’s lawyer. I will appoint someone I expect to enforce the law as the law is written, not guided by me.”
And his incoming White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said this week that Biden “will not be discussing an investigation of his son with any attorney general candidates.”
“He will not be discussing it with anyone he is considering for the role and he will not be discussing it with a future attorney general,” Psaki told Fox News. “It will be up to the purview of a future attorney general in his administration to determine how to handle any investigation.”
The discussions within the Justice Department come as Barr steps down, and as acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen takes the helm.
Barr on Monday said he had no plan to appoint a special counsel for that investigation before he left the Justice Department.
“I think to the extent that there’s an investigation, I think that it’s being handled responsibly and professionally,” Barr said Monday about the investigation into Hunter Biden. “To this point I have not seen a reason to appoint a special counsel and I have no plan to do so before I leave.”
Meanwhile, in his first–and only–interview since being named acting attorney general, Rosen told Reuters that he would continue “to do things on the merits and to do things on the basis of the law and the facts.”
“That’s how I thought about it from the beginning and that’s how I’ll think about it through the end,” Rosen told Reuters last week
Republicans, for weeks, have demanded that a special counsel be appointed to continue the federal investigation into Hunter Biden to ensure that it continues through the incoming Biden administration. President Trump reportedly had been discussing a potential special counsel for that investigation.
Hunter Biden confirmed earlier this month that he is under federal investigation for his “tax affairs.”
A well-placed government source told Fox News that Hunter Biden has been a subject/target of the grand jury investigation. According to the source, a “target” means that there is a “high probability that person committed a crime,” while a “subject” is someone you “don’t know for sure” has committed a crime.
The source said President-elect Biden is not a subject of any grand jury investigation at this time.
The source also told Fox News that this investigation was predicated, in part, by Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regarding suspicious foreign transactions.
Another source familiar with the investigation told Fox News the SARs were regarding funds from “China and other foreign nations.”
A Treasury Department official, who did not comment on the investigation, spoke broadly about SARs, telling Fox News that SARs are filed by financial institutions “if there is something out of the ordinary about a particular transaction.”
The official told Fox News that the mere filing of a SAR does not mean there has been a criminal act, or violation of regulations, but instead, flags that a transaction is “out of the ordinary” for the customer. The official noted, though, that a SAR could be part of a money laundering or tax investigation.
The investigation, according to a source familiar with the matter, began in 2018.