House Oversight Committee chair James Comer, R-Ky., held a call with FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday on a refusal to hand over an FBI whistleblower document to Congress, potentially setting the stage for a historic contempt of Congress charge.
"On my call with FBI Director Wray, the FBI finally confirmed the existence of the FD-1023 form alleging then-VP Joe Biden engaged in a criminal bribery scheme," Comer tweeted Wednesday after the call. "Anything short of producing these documents to @GOPoversight is not in compliance with my subpoena."
Comer's statement detailed the call with Wray, including the first time confirmation of FD-1023 form alleging Biden's "criminal bribery scheme with a foreign national."
"However, Director Wray did not commit to producing the documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee," Comer's statement continued. "While Director Wray – after a month of refusing to even acknowledge that the form existed – has offered to allow us to see the documents in person at FBI headquarters, we have been clear that anything short of producing these documents to the House Oversight Committee is not in compliance with the subpoena.
"If the FBI fails to hand over the FD-1023 form as required by the subpoena, the House Oversight Committee will begin contempt of Congress proceedings."
A source told Newsmax congressional correspondent Kilmeny Duchardt on Newsmax's "American Agenda," the call did not go well and will ultimately force Comer and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to call for a vote on holding Wray in contempt of Congress.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a longtime whistleblower advocate working with Comer, condemned the FBI for treating Congress like "second-class citizens" while leaking other information to the media.
"While the FBI has apparently leaked classified information to the news media in recent weeks, jeopardizing its own human sources, it continues to treat Congress like second-class citizens by refusing to provide a specific unclassified record," Grassley wrote in a statement. "Director Wray confirmed what my whistleblowers have told me pursuant to legally protected disclosures: the FBI-generated document is real, but the bureau has yet to provide it to Congress in defiance of a legitimate congressional subpoena. This failure comes with consequences."
Comer said Tuesday he was moving forward with holding Wray in contempt of Congress because the FBI missed the deadline to turn over the FBI record on Biden and his family's foreign business dealings.
"The FBI's decision to stiff-arm Congress and hide this information from the American people is obstructionist and unacceptable," Comer wrote in a statement.
In response, the FBI said in a Tuesday statement it remained committed to cooperating with lawmakers in "good faith," and "any discussion of escalation under these circumstances is unnecessary."
The FBI said it offered to give the Oversight committee "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."
The bureau called that offer "an extraordinary accommodation."
The offer was reportedly repeated to Comer on Wednesday, but House GOP members believe it has oversight authority that should force the FBI to turn that document over the Congress without a secure viewing alternative.
In a Wednesday statement to Newsmax, the FBI said, "During today's call, Director Wray offered to provide the committee's chairman and ranking member an opportunity to review information responsive to the subpoena in a secure manner to accommodate the committee, while protecting the confidentiality and safety of sources and important investigative sensitives. The FBI has continually demonstrated its commitment to working with the committee to accommodate its request, from scheduling briefings and calls to now allowing the chair to review information in person. The FBI remains committed to cooperating with the committee in good faith."
Calls to move forward with contempt were elevated by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier Tuesday, who said he had personally called Wray to urge the release of the document to Congress.
"If he does not act, he's not above the law," McCarthy said. "He's not above Congress. And we will hold him in contempt. Now I want to be very clear about that."
Comer subpoenaed Wray earlier this month seeking a specific FBI form from June 2020 that is a report of conversations or interactions with a confidential source. These reports are routine, contain uncorroborated and unvetted information and do not on their own establish any wrongdoing.
In a May 3 letter to Wray with Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Comer said that "it has come to our attention" that the bureau has such a document that "describes an alleged criminal scheme" involving Biden and a foreign national "relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions" when Biden was vice president and includes "a precise description" about it.
Comer and Grassley said those "disclosures" demand further investigation, and they want to know whether the FBI investigated and, if so, what agents found.
The subpoena seeks all so-called FD-1023 forms and accompanying attachments and documents.
In a Wednesday statement to Newsmax, the FBI said, "An FD-1023 form is used by FBI agents to record unverified reporting by a confidential human source. Documenting the information does not validate it, establish its credibility, or weigh it against other information verified by the FBI. Revealing unverified or possibly incomplete information could harm investigations, prejudice prosecutions or judicial proceedings, unfairly violate privacy or reputations, create misimpressions in the public, or potentially identify individuals who provide information to law enforcement, placing their physical safety at risk. Information from confidential human sources and members of the public is critical to the work of the FBI, and we are also committed to protecting the confidentiality of anyone who comes forward."
Democrats on the Oversight committee called Comer's narrative of the FBI obstructing "a radical distortion of the situation." And they accused the chairman of stonewalling them from the call with Wray on Wednesday.
"This subpoenaed document, by definition, reveals nothing more than an unverified and unsubstantiated tip made to Donald Trump's Justice Department, which presumably led to no evidence of criminal wrongdoing," Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the committee, said in a statement late Tuesday.
The lawmakers used the word "alleged" three times in the opening paragraph of the letter and offered no evidence of the veracity of the accusations or any details about what they contend are "highly credible unclassified whistleblower disclosures."
The White House has called the subpoena effort further evidence of how congressional Republicans long "have been lobbing unfounded, unproven, politically motivated attacks" against the Biden family "without offering evidence for their claims or evidence of decisions influenced by anything other than U.S. interests."
A contempt of Congress charge would require a full committee vote before going to the House floor.
If the House were to approve a contempt resolution against Wray, the decision about whether to prosecute him would fall to prosecutors in the Justice Department, where Wray works.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Eric Mack ✉
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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