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GOP House docs back whistleblower accounts of key 2022 meeting for Hunter Biden investigation team

Documents released by House Ways and Means Committee call into question media narrative that FBI agent’s testimony disputed Shapley’s account about meeting in Hunter Biden case

Published: October 5, 2023 11:00pm

The FBI agent in charge of the investigative team working on the Hunter Biden case gave testimony to Congress that the media claimed undermined the account of IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley.

Yet new documents from the now-public trove that IRS whistleblowers disclosed to the House Ways and Means Committee lend credibility to Shapley’s testimony and call into question what the FBI agent remembered about the meeting.

Last month, the media reported the testimony – given by Special Agent in Charge Thomas Sobocinski of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office – disputed several of Shapley's claims to the committee in May.

The disparities included alleged statements made at a key October 7, 2022, meeting in which the FBI team discussed the future of the case against Biden. Shapley shared his concerns about the case, and U.S. Attorney David Weiss allegedly claimed he wasn’t the “deciding person” to bring charges.

Yet, much of what Sobocinski remembered about the meeting is disputed by contemporaneous documents and other testimony.

Sobocinski recalled that the meeting was scheduled because of a leak to the media about the investigation of the first son, according to his testimony obtained by "Just the News."

The day before the meeting, the "The Washington Post" published an exclusive report that federal agents saw possible charges against Biden for failing to submit tax returns and for a false statement during a gun purchase.

“You know, the purpose why I showed up, for the why I went to this meeting is there had been a media leak reported in one of the papers, and I was there to discuss the media leak,” Sobocinski said.

Sobocinski testified that he wanted to ask the meeting attendees whether they felt the case was being politicized after the leak.

When he asked, “nobody in that room raised their voice to say anything other” about the politicization of the investigation, Sobocinski told investigators.

“Do you know who called the meeting? Was it a regularly scheduled meeting?” committee investigators asked.

Sobocinski said: “I don't have a sense of whether it was previously scheduled or it was we were showing up because of that.  My memory is it was I was there because of the timing as it related to that leak."

Yet documents released by the committee last week show that the meeting was scheduled weeks in advance, before the "The Washington Post" story was published and before the leak became an issue. In fact, Shapley requested days earlier that specific issues he had with the case, such as delays and difficulties with charging venue, be discussed.

“We’d like to schedule a call with you on Wednesday, September 28, to discuss our expected charging timeline ... ,” Shawn Weede, chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Delaware, said in an email to Shapley and other members of the investigative team, weeks before the leak.

Shapley told the team: “I will be out of town next week but do not want to push this off."

The team scheduled the meeting for October 7, 2022 when everyone was available.

A few days before the meeting –before "The Washington Post" published its article – Shapley emailed Sobocinski’s deputy, giving him his “top three items” for the meeting agenda: "Special counsel,” “election deferral comment—continued delays,” and “venue issue?”

Read that email below:

 

The deputy responded to Shapley on Oct. 6 confirming the meeting agenda, the same day as the "The Post " article:

Our topics will include:

  1. Delays
  2. Venue
  3. Communication
  4. Anything further that develops by tomorrow.

The report in "The Post" was notably absent from the agenda, but Shapley’s concerns about how the case was being handled were set to be discussed. The concerns would later push Shapley to blow the whistle to Congress about how the Biden investigation was being handled.

“I am blowing the whistle because the Delaware U.S. Attorney's Office, Department of Justice Tax, and Department of Justice provided preferential treatment and unchecked conflicts of interest in an important and high-profile investigation of the President's son, Hunter Biden,” Shapley told investigators in his opening statement to the House Ways and Means Committee.

“I am alleging, with evidence, that DOJ provided preferential treatment, slow-walked the investigation, did nothing to avoid obvious conflicts of interest in this investigation."

 

Shapley, and another IRS whistleblower Joseph Ziegler, provided hundreds of pages of documentary evidence supporting the claims.

The documents showed that Biden-appointed U.S. attorneys in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles refused to allow Weiss to bring charges against Biden in their jurisdictions, including for allegedly not paying taxes on the $400,000 payments from Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company, for which he worked. Because of this, the statute of limitations on the alleged crimes expired.

Another FBI agent corroborated elements of Shapley’s concerns, specifically that the U.S. attorneys for Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles refused to bring charges against Biden in their districts, "Just the News" reported.

Because he was unable to bring charges in those districts, Weiss then requested special counsel status with the Justice Department, according to Shapley. “Weiss requested special counsel status in D.C.,” Shapley recorded in hand-written notes from the October 2022 meeting. “Main DOJ said ‘NO’— follow the process.”

Shapley’s notes, released in un-redacted form for the first time by the committee last week, can be read below:

"Just the News" previously obtained a redacted version of the notes and reported Shapley wrote that Weiss told the  team that he was “not the deciding person” on whether to bring charges against Biden for failure to pay taxes and lying on a firearm application.

Shapley wrote an email to his colleagues to memorialize and provide an update from the October meeting.

“Darrell asked me to shoot an update from todays [sic] meeting,” Shapley wrote. “Darrell –feel free to comment if I missed something.”

He wrote in the summary:  “Weiss stated that he is not the deciding person on whether charges are filed. I believe this to be a huge problem – inconsistent with DOJ public position and Merrick Garland testimony.”

You can read the email and the summary of the October 7, 2022, meeting below:

“Thanks, Gary. You covered it all,” Darrell Waldon, special agent in charge of the IRS' D.C. Field Office, wrote back, confirming Shapley’s account.

Sobocinski disputed the claims in his testimony about the meeting. He told congressional investigators that Weiss never made that statement.

“I went into that meeting believing he had the authority, and I have left that meeting believing he had the authority to bring charges,” Sobocinski said in his testimony. “I do not remember. I don't [sic] he didn't say that. In my recollection, if he would have said that, I would have remembered it."

Sobocinski also disputed that Weiss told the team at the meeting that he was denied special counsel status by the Justice Department, as Shapley claimed.

“I don’t have a recollection with him saying that there or at any point in my communication with Mr. Weiss,” Sobocinski testified. “That would have been a total 180 from all our previous conversations about authorities.”

After an account of Sobocinski’s testimony was published by the "The Post" in September, Tristan Leavitt and Mark Lytle – the lawyers representing Shapley – sent a letter to congressional investigators calling into question the reliability of Sobocinski’s recollections of the meeting. The letter contained the hand-written notes that Shapely kept from the October 2022 meeting.

“According to the Washington Post story, Mr. Sobocinski reportedly failed to recall in his interview with House Judiciary Committee staff certain details of the meeting recorded in SSA Shapley’s email,” the lawyers wrote.

“However, Mr. Sobocinski apparently acknowledged that he took no notes in the meeting, nor did he document it in any contemporaneous fashion afterwards.”

“By contrast, SSA Shapley took notes during the meeting,” they continued. “These notes, combined with his fresh memory of the meeting, formed the basis for the email he sent later that day and corroborate his current recollection.”

Shapley’s testimony and the contemporaneous evidence he provided calls into question Weiss’ representation to Congress that he had the full authority to bring cases as promised by Garland.

In multiple letters to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, Weiss claimed that he has “been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including responsibility for deciding where, when and whether to file charges.”

Even Sobocinski, who disputes Shapley’s recollection of the October meeting, said that he did not believe Weiss had the “ultimate authority” that he claimed he did.

You can read one of those letters below:

 

“But based on what we just discussed, it’s true that Mr. Weiss alone was not the deciding person on whether charges are filed?” an investigator asked Sobocinski.

Sobocinski answered: “I would say, based on the statute, seeing that, as it reads here … yes. I would say that there is someone else, the Attorney General, as it’s noted here in the statute, that is involved in this process."

Both IRS whistleblowers have been attacked by Biden attorney Abbe Lowell, who told CNN that they were “disgruntled agents with an axe to grind.”

Lowell has also claimed Shapley and Ziegler violated the law when they made their protected disclosures to Congress.

According to the "The New York Times," Biden’s lawyers called for the whistleblowers to be prosecuted for disclosing the information to investigators.

"As reprehensible as it was for Mr. Lowell to smear Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler, it appears from public reporting that Hunter Biden’s legal team – perhaps including Mr. Lowell – even urged the [Justice] Department to investigate and prosecute these whistleblowers," Jordan, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, and Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith wrote in a letter to Garland.

"Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler followed the appropriate process by raising their genuine concerns about how the Department conducted its investigation into Mr. Biden. Both IRS employees sat for transcribed interviews with the Committee on Ways and Means, which then voted to release to the full House the transcripts of these interviews,” they continued.

The documents the whistleblowers delivered to Congress, and fully made public last week, corroborate their testimony that the investigation faced significant hurdles from the U.S. Attorney’s office and that they raised this concerns with the investigative team at the October 2022 meeting, as documented by Shapley.