Investigation of son is likely to hang over Biden as he takes office

Unless President Trump’s Justice Department clears Hunter Biden of wrongdoing before leaving office, the new president will confront the prospect of his own newly installed administration deciding how or whether to proceed with an inquiry that could expose his son to criminal prosecution. Already some Republicans are demanding a special counsel be appointed to insulate the case from political influence…

“That should not be investigated by someone appointed by the president any more than if one of his cabinet members is accused of something or his national security adviser,” said Richard W. Painter, a former ethics counsel to President George W. Bush who became a leading critic of Mr. Trump and switched parties.

Mr. Painter said Mr. Biden should establish a permanent special counsel to handle politically sensitive cases and restore faith that the Justice Department is not simply a tool of the president. “This is the opportunity for the incoming president and attorney general, whoever he chooses, to say this is exactly why we need an office of special counsel,” he said…

But it is not clear whether the newly disclosed federal investigation has substantiated the Republican claims. The inquiry originally focused on possible money laundering but did not gather enough evidence for a prosecution, according to people close to the case. Instead, it turned to tax matters. The federal government and the city of Washington, D.C., issued liens against Hunter Biden for unpaid taxes but have since released them.