The Federalist has reviewed the entirety of the 170-page transcript of the testimony of Thomas Sobocinski, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore field office. Sobocinski, who testified last Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee about the Hunter Biden investigation, disputed much of what IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley told the House Ways and Means Committee. It is hard to take Sobocinski seriously, though, given his incredible testimony about David Weiss’s supposed authority.
Weiss Had Full Authority to Charge Hunter — Well, Sorta, Not Really
When Sobocinski sat for questioning last week by the House Judiciary Committee, he was accompanied by two attorneys — one from the DOJ and one from the FBI. As the committee noted, the attorneys represented the DOJ and FBI and not Sobocinski personally. And boy, did they do that zealously, keeping Sobocinski from answering the majority of the questions posed.
One area of inquiry the DOJ and FBI attorneys allowed, though, concerned Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss and his purported authority to prosecute Hunter Biden.
“I was consistently aware that David Weiss had the authority in the U.S. to bring the charges where venue presented itself,” the special agent in charge testified. Sobocinski would repeat that claim multiple times during the transcribed interview, unequivocally stating, from “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.”
When Chairman Jim Jordan interjected, “So you believed that he had this authority when, where, and whether?” Sobocinski responded, “Yeah.”
While the DOJ and FBI clearly wanted Sobocinski to back up Weiss and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s claims that the Delaware U.S. attorney had ultimate charging authority, the FBI agent overplayed his hand — even for the government lawyers — forcing one to go off the record to speak with Sobocinski. After that little chat, Sobocinski walked back his statements, saying:
So for us, when it comes to charging decisions, that’s not an FBI role. I always assume that the U.S. Attorney’s Office that I am working with has some authority to do it in their venue. And if they don’t, there are administrative ways in which cases are brought to other districts in the U.S. That’s something I’ve worked with regularly throughout my career. There are various ways that happens. We can transfer a case. I have a general sense that David could go to — Mr. Weiss could go to another district. He could ask to have that joined. If it’s not, then he goes back for an administrative authority to bring the case on his own. But it’s administrative in nature. At no point did I think he did not have that authority to do all of those steps with all that we were looking at.
And with that lengthy caveat, Sobocinski confirmed Weiss lacked the authority the DOJ and FBI pretended he had over the Hunter Biden case. Yet Sobocinski continued to maintain that Weiss had the authority to charge Hunter in any venue — even while acknowledging Weiss needed approval and to be granted charging authority in other venues.
The government attorneys also questioned Sobocinski on the various letters and statements Weiss and Garland made, in which the duo pronounced Weiss held the ultimate charging authority. “Yes,” Sobocinski replied to the pre-planned questions about whether what Weiss and Garland wrote was accurate.
Jordan challenged the FBI agent: How could that be, when Weiss first claimed he possessed ultimate authority over the investigation, but then stated he had been promised such authority if needed? And why would Garland need to appoint Weiss as special counsel if he already had the authority to charge Hunter?
Sobocinski ignored the illogic of the situation and maintained there was no conflict between those facts and his view that Weiss always had the authority to charge Hunter in any venue he deemed appropriate. “Yeah, I think it’s semantics and word choice,” Sobocinski said to explain away the conflict.
That stance destroyed Sobocinski’s credibility and revealed the Baltimore agent to be a company man.
The October 2020 Meeting
Why then should anyone believe Sobocinski’s testimony that he had not heard Weiss say during the Oct. 7, 2020, meeting that he was “not the deciding official on whether charges are filed”?
Shapley had previously testified under oath that during that meeting with the Delaware U.S. attorney, Weiss announced to the team that he was “not the deciding official on whether charges are filed.” According to Shapley, Weiss also said he had sought special counsel status but that his request was denied. Further, the Middle District of California’s U.S. attorney’s office and the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office both refused to pursue tax charges against the president’s son, leading to the statute of limitations running on those charges.
Sobocinski claimed he did not remember Weiss saying he had sought (and been denied) special counsel status or that Weiss had represented that he was “not the deciding official.” And according to Sobocinski, had Weiss said either of those things, he would have remembered it. The implication, then, was that Shapley’s claims were false.
The Baltimore FBI agent attempted to further impugn Shapley’s testimony by stressing that Shapley’s email summary of the meeting was not “contemporaneous” to Weiss’s purported statements. Rather, Sobocinski noted that Shapley composed the email summary after the meeting with Weiss had ended, suggesting that reduced the credibility of the email.
But last Thursday’s questioning of Sobocinski revealed the FBI special agent in charge had taken no notes of his meeting with Weiss. Conversely, Shapley’s email summary came mere hours after the meeting and while the events that transpired remained fresh in his mind.
While it is impossible to reconcile Sobocinski and Shapley’s conflicting testimony, it isn’t hard to see which of the two has more credibility — and it isn’t the one represented by the DOJ and FBI lawyers.
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