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House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) said Tuesday his committee is “taking steps” to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress, arguing the FBI would not provide subpoenaed documents about an alleged bribery scheme involving President Joe Biden—escalating a broad GOP-led probe into the president.
The subpoena sought conversational records from June 2020 containing the term “Biden,” citing disclosures from a whistleblower who alleged the FBI and Department of Justice were in possession of a form that described “an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden” and a foreign national regarding the exchange of money for policy decisions.
Comer has not elaborated on the whistleblower’s background or how they are privy to the document they claim is possessed by the FBI and DOJ, and it’s unclear what evidence—if any—supports the allegations.
Comer’s statement said the FBI’s decision not to respond to the subpoena was “obstructionist” and “unacceptable.”
If the House Oversight Committee votes to recommend holding Wray in contempt, the resolution would go to the full House of Representatives—but even if the House votes in favor of contempt, Wray will only face criminal charges if the Department of Justice chooses to bring them, which is rare but not unheard-of.
The FBI told Forbes “discussion of escalation under these circumstances is unnecessary,” adding the agency will cooperate “in good faith” and Wray scheduled a telephone call with Comer for this Wednesday to provide details of the FBI’s accommodation to “satisfy the subpoena request.”
The document subpoenaed by Comer is a FD-1023 form, which is used for records describing conversations with confidential sources that can also include unverified information. Such documents are not inherently indicative of misconduct or wrongdoing. The subpoena was issued on May 3 with an initial return date of May 10. That date was eventually pushed back to May 30 and within that time, Comer provided the additional terms “June 30, 2020” and “five million,” to make the subpoena more specific. Comer claimed in a letter last week that the latter term referenced the alleged amount of money a foreign national paid to receive a desired policy outcome. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in interviews Tuesday morning that if the contempt of Congress makes it out of Comer’s committee, he would bring a contempt vote to the House floor, according to Politico.
The House Oversight Committee has spent months investigating Biden and his family members, often looking into his son Hunter and brother James’ foreign business dealings. Earlier this month, the panel presented new details on payments made to some of Biden’s relatives—but stopped short of providing evidence that the president himself was involved.
House Oversight Chair James Comer is vowing to move forward with holding FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress (Politico)
GOP Oversight chair to launch contempt proceedings against FBI director (The Hill)