Oversight chairman halts plan to advance Wray contempt proceedings following deal over FBI document
(CNN) — House Oversight Chairman James Comer is scrapping his plans to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress after the two sides reached an agreement over an FBI document that includes an unverified allegation that Joe Biden, while vice president, was involved in a bribery scheme involving a foreign national.
Comer, a Kentucky Republican, accepted the FBI’s offer to allow all members on the House Oversight panel to view the internal law enforcement document he initially subpoenaed, known as an FD-1023, in exchange for halting contempt proceedings. The FBI will also make two additional documents available to Comer and the top Democrat on the panel, Rep. Jamie Raskin, according to Comer’s statement announcing the agreement. As a result of the deal, Comer removed Thursday’s scheduled committee meeting to refer Wray for contempt from the schedule.
“Allowing all Oversight Committee members to review this record is an important step toward conducting oversight of the FBI and holding it accountable to the American people,” Comer said in a statement.
In response to the deal, Raskin said in a statement, “Chairman Comer’s acceptance of these further accommodations comes after he has spent weeks attacking the FBI despite its extraordinary efforts to provide Committee Republicans the information they claim to seek.”
CNN first reported the FBI’s offer earlier Wednesday.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had said earlier in the day that Comer and Wray were planning to speak Wednesday night to negotiate, and signaled that he would accept the FBI’s offer and cease contempt efforts if all committee members could view the document in question.
“He needs to show it to every Republican and every Democrat on the committee. If he is willing to do that, then there’s not a need to have contempt. But if he doesn’t follow through with that, then there would be a need for contempt,” McCarthy said of Wray.
Earlier this week, senior FBI officials briefed Comer and Raskin. Previously, Comer had said he wanted the FBI to actually turn the document over to him.
While the FBI had previously declined to hand over a hard copy of the document, noting it contains unverified information from a confidential human source, the bureau said it was willing to hold a briefing with members of the panel and allow them to view the document as early as Wednesday, sources told CNN, in an effort to stave off contempt of Congress proceedings.
The alleged bribery claims documented in the 1023 form surfaced years ago under the Trump administration and eventually became part of Delaware US Attorney David Weiss’ investigation of Hunter Biden, which remains ongoing, people briefed on the matter said. The 1023 includes allegations related to Hunter Biden, as well as Joe Biden, according to people familiar with matter.
The FBI interviewed the informant, who was known to the bureau and had considered him a trusted source based on interactions in a previous investigation. Investigators were unable to corroborate the claims, but Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady, who then-Attorney General William Barr had appointed to review allegations brought to the Justice Department by Rudy Giuliani, decided to send the informant’s allegations to Weiss, who was already leading the Hunter Biden probe.
It’s unclear what additional steps the FBI took to investigate the claims, but Weiss’ investigation of Hunter Biden has since narrowed in scope to focus on alleged tax violations and a possible false statement.
The White House has denied the allegation and dismissed the GOP probe as a political stunt.
The decision to halt contempt proceedings comes as a number of House Republicans have been pushing to hold Wray in contempt.
GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, a member of the Oversight Committee, told CNN she plans to vote in favor of contempt.
“I voted to hold people in contempt up here before. If you don’t follow through with the subpoena, there are consequences to it,” she said. “They’ve stonewalled, they’ve obfuscated, they’ve bullshitted, you know what I mean? It’s like, just follow the law.”
GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, also a member of the Oversight panel, told CNN, “It’s an unclassified form. Just showing it to our chairman and to the ranking member, Congressman Raskin, that’s not enough. We subpoenaed the form. And so, the form needs to be handed over. This is his job – Chris Wray’s job.”
“If the director of the FBI is flouting subpoenas from Congress, I’m fully supportive of every effort to enforce the subpoena,” GOP Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee told CNN.
This story and headline have been updated to reflect additional developments.