The FBI agent who oversaw the agency’s investigation into Hunter Biden disputed a claim by IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley that the Justice Department gave preferential treatment to President Joe Biden’s son, according to a transcript of the interview obtained by NBC News.
In a Sept. 7 interview with the House Judiciary and Ways and Means Committees, Thomas Sobocinski refuted Shapley’s claim that U.S. Attorney David Weiss said he was not the deciding person on whether charges would be filed in the Hunter Biden case.
Following an Oct. 7, 2022 meeting with Weiss’ team and investigators from the FBI and IRS working on the Hunter Biden case, Shapley prepared an email of notes that stated that Weiss said he was “not the deciding person on whether charges are filed.” That claim has been central to the House GOP’s scrutiny of Weiss’ investigation.
Sobocinski, who oversaw the FBI’s work on the Hunter Biden investigation when he became the Special Agent in Charge of the Baltimore Field Office in July 2021, said he did not remember Weiss making that statement.
“I was consistently aware that David Weiss had the authority in the U.S. to bring the charges where venue presented itself,” Sobocinski said. “The minute I got there in July of ’21, it was always the understanding and the communication between David Weiss and myself is that he had that authority to bring it on behalf of the Department.”
Later, he added, “In my recollection, if he would have said that, I would have remembered it.”
The Washington Post first reported on details from Sobocinski’s interview.
During the five-hour interview, Republican investigators pressed Sobocinski about differences between his recollection of the meeting and Shapley’s. “I went in believing he was the deciding official, and I left believing the same,” he said.
On Shapley’s claim that Weiss had requested and been denied special counsel authority — which he was ultimately granted in August 2023 — Sobocinski said, “I don’t have a recollection with him saying that there or at any point in my communication with Mr. Weiss,” and that he would have remembered that because, “That would have been a total 180 from all our previous conversations about authorities.”
When asked about Shapley’s claims that FBI agent Joe Gordon indicated to him that the Baltimore field office was pushing for Weiss to get special counsel authority, Sobocinski said, “I have no idea what Joe Gordon meant by that.”
Republicans also tried to press Sobocinski about Weiss’ decision not to charge Hunter Biden over his 2014 and 2015 taxes and when that decision was made, but he said he did not have a direct date or knowledge of when those decisions happened. He also declined to answer many questions directly relating to the investigation, keeping with the DOJ’s policy not to comment on ongoing investigations.
The FBI agent said multiple times that he was working to bring the case to “resolution,” and ultimately, under questioning from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Sobocinski said, “I would have liked for it to move faster.”
And while Sobocinski did not discuss specific case decisions, citing DOJ policy, he did offer context on why the FBI might have tipped off the Biden transition team about a desire to interview Hunter Biden — which happened in December 2020, before he was overseeing the Baltimore office — based on his previous experience as a Secret Service agent.
“I was a Secret Service agent,” he said. “And it would have been expected for me, and I would expect an investigative entity if they were going to want to interview a protectee of mine, to come directly to me … But it would definitely be of concern to me if I was a Secret Service agent and somebody’s knocking on my door — an armed individual claiming to be somebody is knocking on my door. Yeah, that would have been a concern for me.”
Sobocinski also spoke multiple times about his concern about increased threats against agents working on the case as well as their families and significant others.