House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said an FBI offer to review a document he subpoenaed has not swayed his plans to hold Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress, adding he may release the confidential tip publicly.
Comer issued a subpoena earlier this month compelling Wray to produce any FD-1023 forms — records of interactions with confidential sources — from June 2020 that contain the word “Biden.”
The FBI wrote to the committee Tuesday that it would make an “extraordinary accommodation” to allow the panel to review the form at agency headquarters.
But a planned Wednesday call between Wray and Comer resolved little.
“Director Wray did not commit to producing the documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee. 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,” Comer said in a statement.
“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.”
Speaking with reporters shortly after the call, Comer said he plans to bring the matter up for a vote in committee next week, a move that was slammed by Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), the top Democrat on the panel.
“Obviously the purpose of requesting the subpoena is to try to get a contempt motion against the FBI director. There’s no other explanation for it, because they’re essentially offering anything that they want,” Raskin said Wednesday.
Comer said following the call that he wants more information about how the FBI handled the tip.
“We want to know what they’ve done with it. This is a very serious allegation. Has the FBI investigated it?…What did they find?” he asked.
The chairman went on to say he would consider releasing the form publicly.
“I think it would help with you all,” Comer said of the media, going on to reference another probe that scoured Biden family business bank records but failed to show any foreign money flowing directly to Joe Biden.
“We produced bank records and a lot of the media questioned the validity or credibility of our investigation — we actually had the record — so I feel like showing the media the actual Form 1023 would help with you all’s quest to write about the proof,” he added.
That’s one of the FBI’s fears.
The Tuesday letter from the bureau stressed “concern over the chilling effect that could flow from the wide dissemination of investigative files, to include reduced willingness of confidential human sources to provide valuable reporting.”
“As you know, confidential sources are critical to the FBI’s ability to build cases, including those against violent gangs, drug cartels, and terrorists,” it added.
The FBI also reiterated the unverified nature of the information.
That was a point echoed by Raskin, who was blocked from joining Comer’s call with Wray but spoke to the director afterwards.
“This Form 1023 is a record of some information that comes to the FBI. It could be based on double, triple, quadruple or quintuple hearsay. Somebody told somebody who told somebody who told somebody who told somebody this tip, right? So I don’t know the specifics of this, but a Form 1023 overwhelmingly does not lead to a criminal investigation or prosecution,” Raskin said.
A contempt vote for Wray, while a remarkable move, would have little practical effect for the director. The vote, which also must be approved by the full House, serves as a recommendation to the Department of Justice (DOJ), which would make the final call over whether to pursue a criminal prosecution.
It’s a decision DOJ has faced recently, choosing to pursue only half of such referrals forwarded by the House Jan. 6 committee last year, filing charges against two Trump allies who defied subpoenas.
Comer plans to review the document at FBI headquarters, a committee spokesman said, while Raskin said he also plans to do so.
The FBI on Wednesday noted it has reviewed the matter for the committee in a briefing.
“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 sensitivities,” the agency said in a statement.
“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.”