IRS and FBI officials told Republicans they don’t recall Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss saying he was denied special counsel status in his investigation of Hunter Biden or that he’s not the decision-maker in the case, CNN reported—casting doubt on an IRS whistleblower’s claims of political interference in the probe into the president’s son.
Several IRS and FBI officials made the statements in closed-door testimony before the committees leading the impeachment inquiry into former President Joe Biden, CNN reported, citing transcripts.
The new testimony runs contrary to IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley’s claims made in interviews before House committees earlier this year that Weiss told officials during an October 2022 meeting he was “not the deciding person” in bringing charges against Hunter Biden and that Attorney General Merrick Garland denied Weiss special counsel status that would allow him to bring charges in other jurisdictions.
The allegations, which Weiss has denied, have bolstered Republicans’ claims that the Justice Department has been “weaponized” against the GOP to help President Joe Biden win reelection.
The new testimony came from three officials who also took part in the October meeting: FBI special agent Thomas Sobocinski, IRS special agent and Shapley’s former boss, Darrell Waldon, and FBI assistant special agent Ryeshia Holley, according to CNN.
Sobocinski told Republicans “I would have remembered” if Weiss said he wasn’t the decision-maker in the case, while Holley reportedly said Shapley may have misinterpreted Weiss’ statements.
The three agents did, however, say they were frustrated the investigation wasn’t moving faster and acknowledged that several U.S. attorneys in other states rejected Weiss’ request to partner with them on the case, according to CNN.
Shapley’s attorneys have highlighted the written notes he took during the October 2022 meeting in pushing back against Weiss’ denial that he had yet to request special counsel status at that stage. After CNN first reported on Sobocinski’s testimony last week, lawyers for Shapley noted in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee that Sobocinski did not take notes during the meeting.
Weiss, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, contested Shapley’s allegations in a July letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), writing that he had not requested special counsel status from DOJ leadership at the time of the October 7 meeting. Weiss instead said he inquired whether he could bring charges in other jurisdictions and was assured he could.
Weiss’ office indicted Hunter Biden last week on three counts related to a firearm purchase he made in 2018 while he was admittedly using drugs. The charges come after an agreement that would have allowed Hunter Biden to avoid the charges by entering a diversion program unraveled in court in July, along with a deal that would have required him to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges. Hunter Biden instead pleaded not guilty to the tax charges and Weiss’ office has said the case will likely go to trial. After the breakdown in the plea agreement, Garland granted Weiss special counsel status that allows him to bring the charges in jurisdictions outside of Delaware.
Hunter Biden sued the IRS on Monday, alleging Shapley and another agent who claimed the president’s son received preferential treatment, Joseph Ziegler, along with House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), violated his rights as a taxpayer by disclosing confidential information to the media about his taxes.
What To Watch For
The House Judiciary Committee has requested Weiss appear for a transcribed interview on October 11 and at a public hearing on October 18, CNN reported, citing a letter that seeks testimony from six additional Justice Department officials. The committee is one of three that are leading the impeachment inquiry into President Biden that was opened last week by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).