The FBI agent leading the team on the Hunter Biden criminal case testified to the House Judiciary Committee that U.S. Attorney David Weiss has final authority over the case.
Thomas Soboczynski, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore field office, told panel investigators in a closed-door interview last week that, from his perspective, he has the authority to press charges wherever he wants.
“My understanding is that David Weiss had authority, and at no time did I deviate from that,” Soboczynski said, according to a copy of his interview transcript obtained by CNN. “Nothing has changed that in my view.”
Sobosinski’s transcript, which was originally reported The Washington Post, House Republicans continue to investigate allegations that President Joe Biden’s son’s criminal case was mishandled. Although Republicans have yet to find out, they are all part of the House GOP impeachment inquiry into the president Evidence that the President did anything illegal.
Sobocinski’s testimony refutes several claims by an Internal Revenue Service whistleblower about a key meeting in October 2022 involving FBI and IRS agents, Weiss and other Justice Department lawyers that took place at a critical stage of the criminal investigation. Weiss revealed at the meeting that IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley, who was present at the meeting and worked on the case, is not the person who decides whether charges are filed. Shapley provided notes of that meeting and email exchanges to Congress to support his claim. The notes say, “Weiss said – he’s not a judgmental person.”
But Soboczynski was also at that October 2022 meeting, and Weiss said he never said that.
“I went into that meeting believing he had the authority, and I left that meeting believing he had the authority to press charges,” Soboczynski testified.
Reflecting on Shapley’s accusation against Weiss, Soboczynski said, “In my memory, if he had said that, I would have remembered it.”
In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee responding to Soboczynski’s testimony, Shapley’s legal team contested Soboczynski’s testimony, noting that Shapley did not take notes from the October 2022 meeting.
“Mr. Soboczynski openly admitted that he took no notes at the meeting, and then he did not document it in any contemporaneous fashion,” wrote Empower Oversight President Tristan Leavitt and attorney Mark Lytle, according to a letter obtained by CNN. “Instead, SSA Shapley took notes during the meeting. These notes, combined with her new memory of the meeting, formed the basis of her email that day and corroborated her current memory.
House Republicans responded to the comments, saying whistleblowers Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, a 13-year IRS special agent in charge of the Criminal Investigation Division, were “absolutely consistent.”
“Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler have been completely consistent in their disclosures to Congress, and the only ones who haven’t been are David Weiss, Merrick Garland and their liberal allies,” said Russell Dye, a spokesman for Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim. Jordan, an Ohio Republican.
Soboczynski also disputed Shapley’s claim that Weiss said at the October 2022 meeting that he had been denied special counsel status and denied places to present allegations.
Soboczynski told a House Judiciary panel that he was notified of Weiss’ special counsel status the day Attorney General Merrick Garland announced it last month, and that Weiss was not denied special counsel status, as Shapley said.
“I have no recollection of my interaction with Mr. Weiss or what he said at any time,” Soboczynski said. “It would have been a total 180 from our previous conversations about the authorities.”
Asked if anyone at FBI headquarters prevented Weiss from taking any action or accessing the necessary evidence, Soboczynski replied, “I don’t know.”
Soboczynski told congressional investigators that he had repeatedly raised concerns about the pace of the investigation into Hunter Biden.
“I would have liked it to go faster,” he said.
Republicans on the panel questioned why Weiss was given special counsel status if he had the ultimate authority, as Soboczynski contends. Soboczynski agreed that Weiss would be the best person to answer these questions, and more details about how special counsel status was granted.
As for whether Weiss was denied the opportunity to bring charges against the president’s son, Soboczynski said he had only had “high-level conversations” about specific charges, but from his understanding “there was a process” within the Justice Department to bring U.S. attorneys. Charges forward outside their district that “bureaucracy” is more involved but “not a permit issue”.
“Without going into specifics, there was a discussion about taxes and location,” Soboczynski said. “And, once again, Mr. Weiss was empowered to bring it up.”
In Shapley’s notes to the October 2022 meeting, an FBI agent asked the panel if they were concerned about the investigation becoming politicized. Soboczynski noted that part of why the meeting was called was in response to media leaks about the status of the criminal investigation. He told congressional investigators that he wanted to ask anyone in the room if he felt the investigation of the president’s son was politicized, and no one in the room, not even Shapley, expressed any concern.
“I wanted to go on record in the room of leaders involved in this investigation,” Soboczynski said. “I thought it wasn’t, and nobody in the room raised their voice to say anything else.”
Soboczynski also addressed broader claims about how the Hunter Biden criminal investigation was handled. Disparaging GOP claims that prosecutors colluded with Hunter Biden’s Secret Service by telling them they wanted to interview Hunter, Sobocinski said that as a former Secret Service agent, an intelligence agency was “expected” to talk to him before an interview. His protector. Soboczynski also said he knows of no evidence of judicial retaliation against IRS whistleblowers.
On October 7, 2022, the Justice Department sent a letter to Soboczynski, the day before his interview, giving him permission to discuss the details of the meeting and Weiss’ authority over the case. But Soboczynski was not authorized to discuss the ongoing criminal investigation.
This story has been updated with additional updates.