House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer is continuing to take steps to hold Director of the FBI Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress after the Bureau notified the panel it wouldn’t comply with its subpoena related to a possible criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Joe Biden.
However, the FBI said Tuesday evening that it remains committed to cooperating with Congress and will continue to provide access to the document “in a format and setting that maintains confidentiality and protects important security interests and the integrity of FBI investigations.”
Comer, a Kentucky Republican, subpoenaed the FBI for a document describing an alleged criminal scheme involving Biden and a foreign national and relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions. The document is the form FD-1023.
Comer originally subpoenaed the document earlier this month. The FBI didn’t turn it over, instead explaining it was needed to protect the Bureau’s confidential program.
The Committee Chairman set another deadline last week and gave Director Wray until yesterday, May 30, to turn over the document. After the deadline, Wray set up a call with Comer for Wednesday.
However, the FBI notified the panel that it did not plan to provide the document to the committee by Tuesday afternoon’s deadline.
“Today, the FBI informed the Committee that it will not provide the unclassified documents subpoenaed by the Committee,” said Comer on Tuesday. “The FBI’s decision to stiff-arm Congress and hide this information from the American people is obstructionist and unacceptable.”
“While I have a call scheduled with FBI Director Wray tomorrow to discuss his response further, the Committee has been clear in its intent to protect Congressional oversight authorities and will now be taking steps to hold the FBI Director in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a lawful subpoena,” said Comer.”
“Americans deserve the truth, and the Oversight Committee will continue to demand transparency from this nation’s chief law enforcement agency,” he added.
The FBI said the bureau “remains committed to cooperating with the Committee in good faith.”
“In a letter to Chairman Comer earlier today, the FBI committed to providing access to information responsive to the Committee’s subpoena in a format and setting that maintains confidentiality and protects important security interests and the integrity of FBI investigations,” said the FBI.
“Last week, Director Wray scheduled a telephone call for tomorrow to provide additional details of the FBI’s extraordinary accommodation to satisfy the subpoena request.”
The FBI added, “Any discussion of escalation under these circumstances is unnecessary.”
After a whistleblower approached GOP Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Comer, alleging that the Justice Department and the FBI had a document that would reveal “a precise description of how the alleged criminal scheme was employed as well as its purpose,” the document is being sought.
Grassley: Failure to comply comes with “consequences”
“Chairman Comer and I have been more than patient with the FBI,” said Grassley. “The bureau’s failure to comply with our constitutional oversight duty comes with consequences.”
“I hope to hear a different tune from Director Wray tomorrow, but if not, Congress must defend its oversight prerogatives. The American people deserve an accountable government,” added Grassley.
Chairman Comer attempted to “narrow the breadth of the subpoena” in response to FBI to staff criticisms last week, and the committee determined “additional terms based on unclassified legally protected whistleblower disclosures that may be referenced in the FD-1023 form.” The terms included “five million” and “June 30, 2020.”
The back-and-forth followed after Grassley and Comer notified Attorney General Merrick Garland and Director Wray this month about the “legally protected and highly credible unclassified whistleblower disclosures.”
Grassley and Comer said that based on “the alleged specificity within the document, it would appear that the DOJ and the FBI have enough information to determine the truth and accuracy of the information contained within it.”
“The FBI’s mission is to protect the American people. In a statement, ” releasing confidential source information could potentially jeopardize investigations and put lives at risk,” said the FBI. “The FBI remains committed to cooperating to with Congress’s oversight requests on this matter and others as we always have.”
The White House has maintained that the president never spoke to Hunter Biden, his son, about his business dealings and that the president was never involved in them. Additionally, officials have said the president never discussed investigations into family members with the Justice Department.