June 1, 2023
House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Kentucky) said on Tuesday, May 30, that the committee is moving forward with a vote to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in criminal contempt of Congress for failing to hand over a document in the panel’ in the panel’s investigation into the Biden family’s business dealings, reports NBC News.
Comer subpoenaed the FBI this month for an FD-1023 form containing allegations someone made about then-Vice President Joe Biden. Wray recently failed to comply with a congressional subpoena requesting all FD-1023 forms containing the name “Biden.”
Former FBI agent Tracy Walder told NewsNation host Dan Abrams this week that it’s “highly unusual” for someone to demand the release of an FD-1023 and that the House Oversight Committee’s request seems like a “very broad fishing expedition.”
Comer and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) claim that the form “describes an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions,” without providing further details.
The FBI declined to provide the document—saying that it is bound by Justice Department policy, which “strictly limits when and how confidential human source information can be provided outside of the FBI.”
Comer last week threatened to hold Wray in contempt if the FBI didn’t provide the information by Tuesday. However, in a statement on Tuesday, the House Oversight chair said the FBI informed the committee that “it will not provide the unclassified documents subpoenaed” by the panel.
“The FBI’s decision to stiff-arm Congress and hide this information from the American people is obstructionist and unacceptable,” he said.
Comer said he was scheduled to speak with Wray on Wednesday about the agency’s refusal to hand over the information, but the committee is preparing to take the punitive step ahead of their conversation.
“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,” he said. “Americans deserve the truth, and the Oversight Committee will continue to demand transparency from this nation’s chief law enforcement agency.”
On Tuesday, Acting Assistant Director of the FBI Christopher Dunham sent a letter to Comer, prior to his contempt threat. In the letter, obtained by NBC News, Dunham explains why the bureau can’t comply with the committee’s subpoena due to the need to protect human sources.
“As we also have said previously, information provided by confidential human sources also implicates other longstanding Department confidentiality interest,” Dunham wrote. “The Department’s law enforcement and intelligence authorities enable us to collect significant amounts of information, but only subject to strict constitutional, statutory, and policy limits essential to the rule of law.”
The letter also outlines how the FBI explained to Comer and his staff the way FD-1023 forms were used and how they are vetted by agents to ensure their accuracy.
Research contact: @NBCNews