In closed-door testimony before a House Republican-led inquiry, several officials reportedly told lawmakers they could not remember US Attorney David Weiss saying he lacked the authority to prosecute the president’s son or was denied special counsel status, the network reported.
The claims made by IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley had been central to GOP’s efforts to uncover evidence of bias in the criminal probe into Hunter Biden and led to Kevin McCarthy opening an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden last week.
The report came as US Attorney General Merrick Garland appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to answer Republican accusations that the Justice Department had been “weaponised”.
The key allegations made by Mr Shapley, a veteran IRS agent, related to an October 2022 meeting between officials investigating Hunter Biden.
Mr Shapley testified before Congress in June that Mr Weiss, the Delaware US attorney, told investigators he was not the “deciding person whether charges are filed” against Hunter Biden.
The claim has been denied by Mr Weiss, who has since been granted special counsel status, and several other FBI and IRS officials who were present.
Last week, it emerged that FBI agent Thomas Sobocinski, who led the agency’s investigation into Hunter Biden, disputed the whistleblowers’ claims in closed-door testimony to the House Judiciary and Ways and Means committees.
“I was consistently aware that David Weiss had the authority in the US to bring the charges where venue presented itself,” Mr Sobocinski told the committees, according to a transcript obtained by NBC News.
Two other officials have since denied Mr Shapley’s claims that the investigation was being deliberately hindered or “slow-walked” in private testimony, according to CNN.
The network obtained a transcript from Darrell Waldon, who was Mr Shapley’s boss at the IRS, who said he didn’t recall the claim.
Ryeshia Holley, an FBI assistant special agent, reportedly told the House committee that Mr Shapley may have been confused or misunderstood what had taken place at the meeting.
After the denials became public, Mr Shapley’s lawyers provided his contemporaneous notes of the meeting to the House Judiciary Committee.
Hunter Biden entered into a plea deal with prosecutors to resolve tax and gun charges in June. The deal then fell apart after it was questioned by a judge, and Mr Weiss was later appointed special counsel in the investigation.
Hunter Biden was last week indicted on three charges of making false statements on a federal firearms form and possession of a firearm as a prohibited person.