House GOP to advance contempt resolution against FBI director over Biden pay-to-play documents
House Republicans on Tuesday vowed to advance a contempt resolution against FBI Director Christopher A. Wray after he missed the deadline to turn over subpoenaed records from an investigation into an alleged pay-to-play scheme by President Biden when he was vice president in the Obama White House.
House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer said he wouldn’t allow the FBI to “stiff-arm” Congress’s pursuit of records about a criminal scheme involving Mr. Biden.
“The FBI informed the committee that it will not provide the unclassified documents subpoenaed by the committee. The FBI’s decision to stiff-arm Congress and hide this information from the American people is obstructionist and unacceptable,” Mr. Comer, Kentucky Republican, said in a statement.
“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.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said earlier on Tuesday that he backed the contempt measures if Mr. Wray failed to turn over the documents.
“They are not above the law,” Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, said on Fox News.
The bureau responded by saying, “The FBI remains committed to cooperating with Congress‘ oversight requests on this matter and others as we always have, and we continue to be in touch with members of Congress regarding this request. The FBI‘s mission is to protect the American people. Releasing confidential source information could potentially jeopardize investigations and put lives at risk.”
Mr. Comer gave Mr. Wray a May 30 deadline to turn over an internal unclassified FD-1023 form that is believed to detail an arrangement for an exchange of money for policy decisions.
Republican lawmakers issued the subpoena for the document last month.
“We have jurisdiction over the FBI, which they seem to act like we do not,” Mr. McCarthy said Tuesday. “I personally called Director Wray and told him he needed to send that document. Today is the deadline.”
Mr. Comer and Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, are expected to speak to the FBI director by phone Wednesday.
According to Mr. Comer, the document is based on a tip from an informant on June 30, 2020. A whistleblower tipped off Mr. Grassley of the existence of the file on Mr. Biden.
The FBI cited concerns about informant confidentiality with regard to the document and said its information has not been verified.
In a letter sent to Mr. Wray on May 24, Mr. Comer conveyed his frustration at the FBI‘s refusal to comply with the panel’s request.
“Instead of working with the committee, the FBI has refused to even acknowledge whether the FD-1023 form exists. And the agency has made no attempts to engage in a reasonable accommodation process,” he wrote. “The FBI‘s refusal to produce this single document is obstructionist.”
A spokesperson for Democrats on the House Oversight Committee called Republicans’ pursuit of the document “political theater” based on an “unsubstantiated tip” to help former President Donald Trump in his 2024 primary campaign.
Republicans are increasingly suspicious that the Justice Department and FBI are running interference for Mr. Biden and his family, who are the subjects of a congressional investigation into alleged influence peddling schemes.
The move toward a contempt resolution came just days after IRS supervisory agent Gary Shapley testified behind closed doors to House Ways and Means Committee staffers about an alleged Justice Department cover-up to protect the president’s son, Hunter Biden.
Hunter Biden has been under federal investigation for several years for tax crimes, suspicious activity involving global business dealings and lying on a federal form when he purchased a gun.
“There were multiple steps that were slow-walked — were just completely not done — at the direction of the Department of Justice,” Mr. Shapley told CBS News last week. “When I took control of this particular investigation, I immediately saw deviations from the normal process. It was way outside the norm of what I’ve experienced in the past.”
Mr. Shapley said he and his team were removed from the investigation when he raised his concerns.
Mr. Shapley is the first of two IRS whistleblowers to come forward on the matter in recent days. The second whistleblower has yet to be identified.
According to an email sent Thursday to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, the whistleblower alleges being ousted for revealing concerns that the Department of Justice was “acting inappropriately” in its handling of the investigation into Hunter Biden.
The whistleblower alleges having been terminated without explanation after working on the Hunter Biden case since 2018.
Mr. Werfel has told Congress he did not retaliate by removing Mr. Shapley’s team from the probe.
“I want to state unequivocally that I have not intervened — and will not intervene — in any way that would impact the status of any whistleblower,” Mr. Werfel said in a letter to Congress.