After testimony by a senior FBI agent assigned to the Hunter Biden investigation cast doubt on IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley’s allegations that the U.S. attorney leading the probe, David Weiss, said he lacked the authority to bring charges in the case, CBS News obtained what Shapley said were his contemporaneous, handwritten notes from the October 2022 meeting.
“Weiss stated — He is not the deciding person,” Shapley’s note reads.
Shapley also said that in that meeting, Weiss stated that he had been denied special counsel status.
In June, Attorney General Merrickthat Weiss would be able “to make a decision to prosecute any way in which he wanted to and in any district in which he wanted to.”
In letters to Congress, Weiss insisted he had the “ultimate authority.” In August, Garland said Weiss had informed him that his investigation had reached a stage where he believed his work should continue as, and he then asked for the designation. Garland said he concluded it was “in the public interest” to appoint Weiss special counsel, giving him expanded powers to continue the probe, in light of the “extraordinary circumstances” of the case.
The transcript of the GOP-led House Judiciary Committee’s deposition on Sept. 7 with the FBI special agent, first reported by the Washington Post, and independently reviewed by CBS News, shows Thomas J. Sobocinski told the committee that he did not remember Weiss saying that he didn’t have the ability to decide on prosecuting Hunter Biden or where any charges against him could be filed.
During the interview, according to the transcript, FBI Special Agent Thomas Sobocinski was asked about Shapley’s allegations, and he was shown the IRS supervisor’s contemporaneous notes.
Majority General Counsel: So you do not remember the U.S. attorney stating that he is not the deciding person on whether charges are filed?
Sobocinski: Yeah, I do not.
Sobocinski had a similar response to allegations from Shapley that Weiss had said during the October 2022 meeting that he was previously denied special counsel status.
Question: But it (Shapley’s notes) says: ‘USA Weiss requested Special counsel authority when it was sent to D.C. and Main DOJ denied his request and told him to follow the process.’ Do you see where it says that?
Sobocinski: I do.
Question: Do you have any recollection of Mr. Weiss saying that?
Sobocinski: I don’t have a recollection with him saying that there or at any point in my communication with Mr. Weiss.
In a separate line of questioning about the claims, Sobocinski said, “I do not remember — I don’t — he didn’t say that. In my recollection, if he would have said that, I would have remembered it.”
The Justice Department and a spokesperson for Weiss have previously denied the IRS whistleblower allegations, which include that Hunter Biden received preferential treatment as Joe Biden’s son during the five-year probe, and that investigators were prevented from pursuing evidence that might have led to President Biden. The FBI and Justice Department declined to comment on the whistleblower’s contemporaneous notes.
On Wednesday, Shapley’s lawyers wrote to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, saying, “…[W]e are today providing those committees an unredacted version of SSA Shapley’s contemporaneous handwritten notes. In order for you to assess the truthfulness and reliability of Mr. Sobocinski’s testimony.”
In his deposition in May, Shapley included internal IRS communications to back up his claims. “Exhibit 10” is an email exchange between IRS staff members Darrell J. Waldon, Michael T. Batdorf and Shapley on Oct. 11, 2022, in which Shapley asked the two if his summary of the Oct. 7, 2022 meeting — including allegations that Weiss said he didn’t have the authority to charge Hunter Biden — was accurate. Waldon responded, “You covered it all.” The IRS did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment.
In Wednesday’s letter to Jordan and Nadler, Shapley’s lawyers say Sobocinski “took no notes” of the October 2022 meeting, while their client, in addition to the handwritten notes, wrote an email to his IRS supervisor to document the discussion. Waldon also recently sat for a transcribed interview. Those transcripts could be released as early as this week.
Nadler’s office has not responded to a request for comment. The FBI declined to comment.
Garland is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Sept. 20.