“If he would have said that, I would have remembered it,” Mr. Sobocinski said in his testimony, which took place on Thursday and was reported earlier by The Washington Post. He added, “I went into that meeting believing he had the authority, and I have left that meeting believing he had the authority to bring charges.”
During the interview, Mr. Sobocinski also pushed back against other claims of political interference. He was asked, “Do you have any reason to believe President Biden interfered in this investigation in any way?”
“No,” he replied.
In a statement, Mr. Shapley’s legal team chalked up the differing testimony to variations in memories from the same event. His lawyers said he had notes to back up his account.
“While it’s not unusual for people to have slightly different recollections of the same event, in this case, S.S.A. Shapley took notes in real time and that day emailed his summary of the meeting to several people, including his supervisor, who contemporaneously corroborated his account — which is all very different from trying to recall information a year later with no notes,” the statement said, using an abbreviation for supervisory special agent.
Mr. Shapley’s lawyers also pointed to the fact that Mr. Garland recently appointed Mr. Weiss as a special counsel, enabling him to bring charges in jurisdictions outside Delaware, as evidence that he had lacked the full authority he needed to prosecute Hunter Biden in California or the District of Columbia, where some of the offenses are alleged to have occurred.
Republicans appeared similarly unmoved.
Russell Dye, a spokesman for Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Shapley and a second I.R.S. agent who testified before Congress supporting his account “have been wholly consistent throughout their disclosures to Congress, and the only people who haven’t are people like David Weiss, Merrick Garland and their liberal cronies.”