(CNN) -- David Weiss, the Donald Trump-appointed US attorney who on Friday was named a special counsel leading the investigation into President Joe Biden's son Hunter, has decades of experience as a federal prosecutor.
The appointment marks another dramatic development in the long-running probe into Hunter Biden, which began in 2018 and, at one time, concerned multiple financial and business activities in foreign countries dating to when Joe Biden was vice president.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday that the move stemmed from Weiss' request earlier this week to be elevated to special counsel – which now gives him more powers than a typical US attorney – and due to the "extraordinary circumstances" of this case and "public interest."
"I am confident that Mr. Weiss will carry out his responsibility in an evenhanded and urgent manner and in accordance with the highest traditions of this department," Garland said.
Weiss, the Delaware US attorney, met in April with Biden's attorneys, who had requested a routine status update on the investigation, and it had appeared in June that the probe was near its end with a plea agreement. Hunter Biden agreed to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors and struck a deal with federal prosecutors to resolve a felony gun charge.
However, in a court hearing last month, theafter a slammed the intertwined deals as "unprecedented" and asked the Justice Department and Biden's lawyers to file additional legal briefs defending the constitutionality of the deal. In a court filing Friday, Weiss said the plea talks between the two parties broke down following the court hearing.
The appointment of a special counsel has long been called for by Republicans who have repeatedly criticized the Justice Department's handling of the probe as being favorable to the president and his son. A senior Justice Department official told CNN that the White House and Biden's legal team were not informed beforehand about the appointment.
However, House GOP members on Friday questioned whether Weiss could be trusted and reiterated calls for Weiss to testify before Congress.
"This action by Biden's DOJ cannot be used to obstruct congressional investigations or whitewash the Biden family corruption," House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said in a tweet. "If Weiss negotiated the sweetheart deal that couldn't get approved, how can he be trusted as a Special Counsel?"
In 2018, the Senate confirmed Weiss to serve as US attorney for the District of Delaware. At the time of his nomination, he was serving as the acting US attorney for the district and was one of nine candidates whom Trump said shared his "vision for 'Making America Safe Again.'"
The Philadelphia native is a member of the Delaware and Pennsylvania bars.
A Washington University in St. Louis and Widener University School of Law graduate, Weiss began his career in law in 1984 as a clerk to Justice Andrew D. Christie of the Delaware Supreme Court, according to his Justice Department biography.
Following his clerkship, Weiss prosecuted violent crimes and white-collar offenses as an assistant US attorney before joining firm Duane Morris, where he was a commercial litigation associate and eventually became a partner. He later served as chief operating officer and senior vice president at The Siegfried Group, a financial services firm, according to his biography.
He served as the first assistant US attorney starting in 2007.
Weiss' investigation into Hunter Biden continued into the Biden administration, prompting Garland to stress during a March Senate committee hearing that he would not interfere with the investigation. Weiss, he reiterated at the time, had "full authority" to carry out the investigation and to bring in another jurisdiction if necessary.
Garland said Weiss was "not to be denied anything that he needs."
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