- Attorney General William Barr knew about two criminal investigations into Hunter Biden's financial dealings for months before the general election but kept them from the public, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- The news is a remarkable twist in Barr's tenure as President Donald Trump's attorney general, during which he repeatedly took steps to benefit the president and feed into his conspiracy theories.
- According to The Journal, Barr knew about the Biden tax investigations since at least the spring but tried to keep them under wraps in accordance with Justice Department rules that prevent prosecutors from taking overt investigative steps that could affect the outcome of an election.
- Thursday's report will likely infuriate Trump, who has been frustrated with Barr in recent months and came close to firing him on several occasions before aides talked the president out of it.
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Attorney General William Barr knew for months about two investigations into Hunter Biden's financial activity but worked to shield them from the public, The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday.
The news is a remarkable twist in Barr's tenure as President Donald Trump's attorney general, during which time he repeatedly took steps to aid the president and feed into his talking points about the Russia investigation, the Obama administration, and the 2020 election.
Barr's reported attempts to keep the Hunter Biden probes from becoming public were in accordance with Justice Department rules that restrict prosecutors from taking public investigative steps that could affect the outcome of an election. President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 general election, notching 306 Electoral College votes compared with Trump's 232.
Hunter Biden announced that he was being investigated on Wednesday after CNN reached out to the Biden transition team when it learned that the younger Biden was the subject of criminal inquiries into his finances.
"I learned yesterday for the first time that the US Attorney's Office in Delaware advised my legal counsel, also yesterday, that they are investigating my tax affairs," Hunter Biden said in a statement on Wednesday. "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."
Subsequent media reports said the investigation was broader in scope than Hunter Biden initially indicated, with The New York Times revealing that the tax probe grew out of what started off as a money-laundering investigation in late 2018. Politico also reported, citing one source, that in addition to Delaware prosecutors, the securities fraud unit at the Manhattan US attorney's office investigated Hunter Biden's finances, and as of early 2019, prosecutors in both Delaware and Washington, DC, were examining possible foreign ties and money laundering.
The Times reported that the money laundering inquiry has since fizzled out from a lack of evidence, but that investigators with the Internal Revenue Service are continuing to scrutinize Hunter Biden's taxes.
The younger Biden has not been charged in any criminal activity related to the investigations or prior inquiries. The president-elect is also not a subject of interest in the probes focusing on his son.
Thursday's reporting from The Journal about Barr's role in keeping the Hunter Biden investigations from the public will likely infuriate the president, who has been frustrated with the attorney general in recent weeks and was on the brink of firing him several times before aides talked Trump out of it.
The Justice Department declined to comment to The Journal, and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
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