Top officials within the Justice Department are discussing whether to appoint a special counsel in the federal criminal investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. 

The news came after Attorney General William Barr resigned last week and left the Justice Department on Wednesday, Dec. 23. Barr recently said that a tax inquiry involving Hunter was being handled “responsibly and professionally” by federal prosecutors in Delaware and he had “not seen a reason” to appoint a special counsel to investigate Hunter.

Barr reportedly knew about investigations into Hunter’s financial dealings for months before the U.S. general election but kept them from the public.

President Donald Trump blasted the FBI and the Department of Justice, along with the media, for not reporting the probe before the November election. He said that Barr “perhaps knew of the corruption during the impeachment hoax.”

Hunter Biden admitted earlier this month that he was under criminal investigation over his tax, affairs which focused on allegations of money laundering and his business dealings in foreign countries, particularly with Bursima Holdings in Ukraine and China.

According to Fox News, whether a special counsel is appointed is currently an “open discussion” with high-level officials at the department believing that it is “warranted.” 

“It was passed to deal with a potential conflict of interest of the attorney general or the president of the United States,” the source told Fox News. “A president-elect coming in, where his appointed attorneys will be investigating his son? That’s textbook conflict.” 

Biden has consistently avoided answering questions about his son’s troubles with the Department of Justice. On Tuesday, Biden called a reporter a “one horse pony” after he asked a question about the federal investigation into his son at a press conference. Biden then vowed that he would be objective when appointing his attorney general. 

President Trump appointed acting United States Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to replace Barr. Rosen has refused to say whether he would appoint a special counsel to probe Hunter, but added that he would continue “to do things on the merits and to do things on the basis of the law and the facts.”

In October, the New York Post published a report on a “smoking gun” email revealing how Hunter Biden introduced a Ukrainian businessman to his dad who was vice president at the time. Biden has denied being involved with his son’s business dealings.

Former acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker told Newsmax on Tuesday that a report on Hunter’s emails is just the “tip of the iceberg.”

“This investigation has been going on for months and I think the Department of Justice is well-positioned to get to the bottom of it,” Whitaker said. “There’s no doubt these activities, as we’ve known all along, his involvement with Burisma doesn’t smell good. The question is, was there criminal activity? I think that’s ultimately going to be up to the Department of Justice and the attorney general, whoever that is at the time to make that decision.” 

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