Senior FBI agent says Weiss had authority to charge Hunter Biden

The FBI agent overseeing the investigation into Hunter Biden disputed whistleblower claims that the prosecutor in charge of the probe was stymied by the Justice Department, according to the transcript of an interview with lawmakers that took place last week and was obtained by The Washington Post.

The question-and-answer session sheds additional light on the long-running investigation, which has become a focal point for Republican allegations of wrongdoing and corruption by President Biden and his family. The younger Biden is facing potential criminal charges for alleged tax and gun violations after the collapse of a plea deal in July. But GOP lawmakers have claimed for years that Hunter Biden’s alleged wrongdoing extends to efforts to use his father’s name and influence to get lucrative business deals overseas.

While no concrete evidence has surfaced to support such theories, the Republican claims are a key element of the impeachment inquiry of the president that the House launched Tuesday. In addition, Republicans pointed to allegations by two IRS whistleblowers that the Justice Department stymied aspects of the Hunter Biden probe.

The interview transcript obtained by The Post pushed back on some of those claims, specifically that Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss told investigators he did not have authority to bring certain criminal charges against the president’s son. But Thomas Sobocinski, who manages the FBI team involved in the investigation, agreed with the IRS whistleblowers that Weiss had moved slowly in making a charging decision.

Weiss was appointed as the top federal prosecutor in Delaware during the Trump administration, and launched the Hunter Biden investigation while Donald Trump was in the White House. Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Biden administration appointee, kept Weiss on so he could continue the probe and pledged to give him full decision-making authority.

After the plea deal collapsed in July amid a dispute between Weiss’s office and Hunter Biden’s lawyers over whether it gave the younger Biden immunity from additional potential charges, Weiss asked Garland to make him a special counsel in the probe, which gives him a greater degree of independence and allows him to seek indictments in jurisdictions outside Delaware.

Key parts of Sobocinski’s interview with lawmakers focused on an Oct. 7, 2022, meeting that Gary Shapley, one of the IRS whistleblowers, had earlier described to the lawmakers.

Shapley said Weiss told FBI and IRS agents during that meeting that Weiss was not the “deciding official on whether charges are filed.” But Sobocinski, who was also there, said he did not hear Weiss say that and “never felt that [Weiss] needed approval” to bring charges.

Sobocinski, who is the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore field office, noted there was “bureaucratic administrative process” Weiss had to work through to bring charges outside Delaware but that his understanding was “that [Weiss] had the authority to bring whatever he needed to do.”

“I never thought that anybody was there above David Weiss to say no,” he said.

Pressed again on the issue…

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