By Zachary Stieber
An FBI official has contradicted a whistleblower who says the prosecutor investigating President Joe Biden’s son did not have authority to bring charges against Hunter Biden outside Delaware.
Gary Shapley, an IRS agent who became a whistleblower, made the allegation in notes after an Oct. 7, 2022, meeting with U.S. Attorney David Weiss, the prosecutor, and again in recent sworn testimony.
His supervisor has backed his account.
But Thomas Sobocinski, the FBI official, said he did not recall Mr. Weiss making such a statement.
“If he would have said that, I would have remembered it,” Mr. Sobocinski said during a transcribed interview with the House Judiciary Committee this month.
The transcript was reviewed by The Epoch Times.
Mr. Shapley made notes on the meeting within hours of it occurring. “Weiss stated that he is not the deciding person on whether charges are filed,” Mr. Shapley wrote.
Mr. Sobocinski, who was also at the meeting, acknowledged he never made any notes on the meeting.
But he insisted that nothing in the meeting changed his position on Mr. Weiss’s charging authority.
“I went in believing he was the deciding official, and I left believing the same,” Mr. Sobocinski said.
Mr. Weiss eventually charged Mr. Biden with crimes in federal court in Delaware. After a plea deal fell apart, Mr. Biden’s tax charges were dismissed and he is slated to stand trial on a felony gun charge.
Mr. Weiss Changes Position
Mr. Weiss, appointed under President Donald Trump, told members of Congress earlier this year that he had “ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when, and whether to file charges.”
He later told members that his charging authority was “limited” to Delaware. If he wanted to bring charges elsewhere, he would need to “partner” with the local U.S. attorney.
That attorney could reject the request, Mr. Weiss said. If that happened, he could request special attorney status.
“I have been assured that, if necessary after the above process, I would be granted § 515 Authority in the District of Columbia, the Central District of California, or any other district where charges could be brought in this matter,” Mr. Weiss said.
According to Mr. Shapley’s notes, Mr. Weiss described going to U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves with charges against Mr. Biden but that Mr. Graves, appointed by President Biden, “said they could not charge in his district.”
A case was also presented to the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Martin Estrada, another appointee of President Biden, and Mr. Estrada had not yet made a decision, the notes stated.
Mr. Weiss asked to be made special counsel but was denied by the Department of Justice, according to the notes.
Mr. Weiss has said the department informed him he would be given special counsel authority if requested, and he was appointed special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland in August.
Mr. Garland has told Congress that Mr. Weiss was “permitted to … make a decision to prosecute any way in which he wanted to and in any district in which he wanted to.”
IRS investigators were blocked by the Department of Justice from taking some investigative steps, records Mr. Shapley and another whistleblower have produced show.
Mr. Sobocinski later acknowledged that the system for U.S. attorneys bringing charges in other jurisdictions could be interpreted as needing approval.
“There was administrative process that people may have referred to as approval within the IRS,” he said. He said he did not know the intricacies of the process, “but it definitely seemed very cumbersome.”
More on Testimony
Mr. Sobocinski, the special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Baltimore, Maryland since July 2021, was helping oversee FBI agents involved in the investigation into Mr. Biden.
Mr. Sobocinski has been with the FBI for 25 years.
“At this point, I’m dangerous enough to kind of know what I’m doing a little bit,” he said.
His focus at the October 2022 meeting was discussing the leak of information regarding the probe and trying to push prosecutors into making a charging decision.
“I was focused on bringing this case to a resolution,” Mr. Sobocinski said. “I recommended he make whatever decision with whatever venue he needed to do to move it.”
Like the IRS whistleblowers, Mr. Sobocinski felt the pace of the yearslong investigation was too slow. “I would have liked for it to move faster,” he said.
Mr. Sobocinski would not say whether he was comfortable with the plea deal Mr. Biden was offered and prepared to accept before it was scuttled in court.
“This is an ongoing issue that I am currently managing, and I do not think it’s appropriate for me to discuss my opinion of that right now,” he said.
Mr. Sobocinski repeatedly would not comment on other particulars, such as whether Department of Justice lawyers tried convincing Mr. Weiss not to bring certain charges against Mr. Biden. At other times he went off the record to consult with government attorneys, who limited the questioning.
Mark Tapscott contributed to this report.