House Oversight Chairman James Comer on Monday said he will move ahead this week with efforts to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt, even after the bureau allowed top members of the committee to view an internal law enforcement document.
Comer and the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Jamie Raskin, received a briefing from senior FBI officials and reviewed the document, known as an FD-1023, in a secure room at the Capitol. According to Republicans, the document includes an unverified allegation that Joe Biden, while vice president, was involved in a bribery scheme involving a foreign national.
“At the briefing, the FBI again refused to hand over the unclassified record to the custody of the House Oversight Committee, and we will now initiate contempt of Congress hearings this Thursday,” Comer told reporters after the briefing. Comer had previously subpoenaed the FBI for the document.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy vowed Monday to hold a full House vote to hold Wray in contempt, adding the full House Oversight committee is entitled to access to the FBI document.
The FBI has stressed that FD-1023 forms contain unverified claims provided by confidential human sources. The White House has denied the allegation and dismissed the GOP probe as a political stunt.
“The FBI has continually demonstrated its commitment to accommodate the committee’s request, including by producing the document in a reading room at the U.S. Capitol. This commonsense safeguard is often employed in response to congressional requests and in court proceedings to protect important concerns, such as the physical safety of sources and the integrity of investigations. The escalation to a contempt vote under these circumstances is unwarranted,” an FBI spokesperson said.
“This is yet another fact-free stunt staged by Chairman Comer not to conduct legitimate oversight, but to spread thin innuendo to try to damage the President politically and get himself media attention,” said Ian Sams, White House spokesman for oversight and investigations.
Comer said the allegations in the 1023 document are still being used as part of an ongoing investigation. But Raskin disputed the notion that the document is part of an ongoing investigation and other sources familiar with the situation told CNN the investigation into the document is a closed matter.
“They confirmed there’s an ongoing investigation using this information,” Comer said. “I assume that ongoing investigation is in Delaware. I don’t know that. But I assume that.”
Sources familiar with the matter said the document includes allegations involving then-Vice President Biden as well as his son, Hunter Biden. A criminal investigation into Hunter Biden is ongoing and has been overseen by the US attorney in Delaware.
The FBI has not said publicly whether the allegations in the document are related to an ongoing investigation.
CNN previously reported the allegations in the 1023 surfaced years ago as Rudy Giuliani was sharing information with the Justice Department during the Trump administration while Bill Barr was attorney general. Barr tapped former Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady to oversee an FBI investigation into a variety of claims Rudy Giuliani was providing to the Justice Department.
As part of that investigation, Raskin said Brady’s team did an initial assessment of the allegations in the 1023 document and concluded there was not enough evidence to take the next step of opening a preliminary investigation.
“The FBI and Department of Justice under Attorney General Barr and Scott Brady terminated the investigation. They said there were no grounds for further investigative steps,” Raskin told reporters. “My understanding is there is an ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden relating to gun charges and one or two other things taking place in Delaware. But I don’t know of any connection between that criminal investigation and the document that we saw today.”
Both Comer and Raskin said the 1023 document is based on information the FBI gleaned from a credible, confidential source. But Raskin said the confidential source was recounting a conversation with someone else.
“Remember what we’re talking about here is a confidential human source recording a conversation with someone else,” Raskin said. “So, what we’re talking about is secondhand hearsay.”
Comer, who has been investigating the Biden family’s business dealings, claimed the FBI document was the latest indication of a “pattern of bribery” involving Biden family members. He believes the allegations in the 1023 are still being used in a separate investigation beyond the Giuliani matter and has concerns about whether the FBI has taken appropriate steps to investigate the allegations in the document, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Raskin told CNN that Republicans appear to be set on trying to “embarrass the FBI” amid ongoing investigations into former President Donald Trump.
“It begs the question whether there’s a political motive” in moving to hold Wray in contempt, Raskin said.