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Hunter Biden’s prosecutor rejected moves that would have revealed probe earlier

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Last summer, federal officials in Delaware investigating Hunter Biden faced a dilemma. The probe had reached a point where prosecutors could have sought search warrants and issued a flurry of grand jury subpoenas. Some officials involved in the case wanted to do just that. Others urged caution. They advised Delaware’s U.S. Attorney, David Weiss, to avoid taking any actions that could alert the public to the existence of the case in the middle of a presidential election.

“To his credit, he listened,” said a person involved in the discussions, reported here for the first time. Weiss decided to wait, averting the possibility that the investigation would become a months-long campaign issue.

Since taking office, President Joe Biden has left Weiss — a Republican appointed by Donald Trump on the recommendation of Delaware’s two Democratic senators — in place. That puts him in one of the most sensitive positions in the Justice Department, deciding how to proceed with an investigation of the president’s son that has proven politically fraught on several fronts.

The probe, which is focused on possible tax law violations, has also examined Hunter Biden’s business dealings with foreign interests — a topic that has animated Biden detractors — and its existence first came to light amid a controversy about the leak of Hunter Biden’s laptop files. Since then, the case has become a political football: Some critics have suggested that the Trump administration’s political agenda influenced a parallel federal probe that scrutinized Hunter Biden in Pittsburgh, while some Republicans have called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to shield Weiss’s investigation from the influence of the Biden administration.

Weiss declined to comment. But as the 65-year-old U.S. attorney navigates this hazardous terrain, interviews with members of Delaware’s small legal community and an examination of his career reveal two salient qualities.

One is a bipartisan reputation for professionalism. One longtime pillar of the Delaware defense bar, Dan Lyons, recounted his sense of relief upon hearing that Weiss was in charge of the Hunter Biden probe. “I remember thinking he’s a straight shooter, and he’s the perfect one to have it,” said Lyons, whose history with the U.S. attorney dates back to the 1980s, when he defended one of the first cases Weiss ever prosecuted. “He would just go where the evidence led him.”

The other is a long track record of taking on the Delaware establishment. While Biden has held up “the Delaware Way,” the nickname for the state’s cozy political culture, as a positive model for bipartisan cooperation, Weiss has spent three decades confronting its excesses.

Early in his career, Weiss served as a special prosecutor during a federal crackdown on bribery and extortion among Delaware politicians of both parties. Later, he helped nab a former Delaware deputy attorney general who murdered his girlfriend. A decade ago, Weiss even investigated Biden’s presidential campaign fundraising, enlisting a beer distributor to wear a wire for the FBI and record conversations with Biden’s associates.

Now, that record may hold clues to Weiss’s approach as he weighs whether to seek charges against a president’s son who has intermingled his business dealings with the Biden family’s political connections. Weiss’s decision to avoid revealing the investigation in a highly charged political atmosphere — a move that might have boosted Donald Trump’s campaign, even at the cost of politicizing the probe — was consistent with his sober-minded approach to his job, said people familiar with Weiss’s career. But so too, they said, is the fact that the probe continues, with most expecting that Weiss will not drop the case until making a full assessment of Hunter Biden’s culpability.

“He’s got an appreciation,” said a former prosecutor who has worked closely with Weiss, “that there are times when the Delaware Way can turn into something more nefarious.”

Something rotten in Delaware

Weiss grew up in a middle-class home in northeast Philadelphia in the 1960s and went on to attend Washington University in St. Louis. He returned to the Philadelphia area to attend Widener University School of Law, where, in his final year, he met with a round of rejections after applying for jobs at several law firms.

Instead, he got a gig clerking for the Delaware Supreme Court in 1984, then went on to take a job with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Wilmington, Del. One former colleague recalled a joke around the office that Weiss — who played third base for Wash U.’s baseball team — was hired to improve the office softball team. While there, he got his first up-close look........

© Politico

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