The investigation into Hunter Biden began as early as 2018, predating the arrival of William Barr as US attorney general. The existence of the probe will present an immediate test of Biden’s promise to maintain the independence of the Justice Department.
Now that the election is over, the investigation is entering a new phase. Federal prosecutors in Delaware, working with the IRS Criminal Investigation agency and the FBI, are taking overt steps such as issuing subpoenas and seeking interviews, the person with knowledge said.
Activity in the investigation had gone covert in recent months due to Justice Department guidelines prohibiting overt actions that could affect an election, the person said.
On Wednesday, Biden’s attorney released a statement acknowledging the probe.
“I learned yesterday for the first time that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs. 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,” Hunter Biden said in a statement.
Investigators have been examining multiple financial issues, including whether Hunter Biden and his associates violated tax and money laundering laws in business dealings in foreign countries, principally China, according to two people briefed on the probe.
Some of those transactions involved people who the FBI believe sparked counterintelligence concerns, a common issue when dealing with Chinese business, according to another source.