House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer is taking steps to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress after the Bureau notified the panel it will not comply with its subpoena related to a possible criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Joe Biden.
The FBI, though, said Tuesday evening it remains committed to cooperating with Congress, and will provide access to the document ‘in a format and setting that maintains confidentiality and protects important security interests and the integrity of FBI investigations.’
Comer, R-Ky., has subpoenaed the FBI for a document that allegedly describes a criminal scheme involving Biden and a foreign national and relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions. The document is an FBI-generated FD-1023 form.
Comer first subpoenaed the document earlier this month. The FBI did not turn it over and instead explained that it needed to protect the Bureau’s confidential human source program.
Comer set another deadline last week, giving Wray until Tuesday, May 30, to turn over the document. After the deadline was set, Wray set up a call with Comer for Wednesday, May 31.
However, the FBI notified the panel it would not provide the document to the committee by the Tuesday afternoon deadline.
‘Today, the FBI informed the Committee that it will not provide the unclassified documents subpoenaed by the Committee,’ Comer said Tuesday. ‘The FBI’s decision to stiff-arm Congress and hide this information from the American people is obstructionist and unacceptable.’
‘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,’ Comer said.
He added, ‘Americans deserve the truth, and the Oversight Committee will continue to demand transparency from this nation’s chief law enforcement agency.’
In response, the FBI told Fox News Digital that the bureau ‘remains committed to cooperating with the Committee in good faith.’
‘In a letter to Chairman Comer earlier today, the FBI committed to providing 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 FBI said. ‘Last week, Director Wray scheduled a telephone call for tomorrow to provide additional details of the FBI’s extraordinary accommodation to satisfy the subpoena request.’
The FBI added: ‘Any discussion of escalation under these circumstances is unnecessary.’
The document is being sought after a whistleblower approached Comer and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, alleging that the FBI and the Justice Department were in possession of it and that it would reveal ‘a precise description of how the alleged criminal scheme was employed as well as its purpose.’
‘Chairman Comer and I have been more than patient with the FBI,’ Grassley told Fox News Digital. ‘The bureau’s failure to comply with our constitutional oversight duty comes with consequences.’
Grassley added: ‘I hope to hear a different tune from Director Wray tomorrow, but if not, Congress must defend its oversight prerogatives. The American people deserve an accountable government.’
Last week, Comer attempted to ‘narrow the breadth of the subpoena’ in response to FBI staff criticisms, and the committee determined ‘additional terms based on unclassified legally protected whistleblower disclosures that may be referenced in the FD-1023 form.’ The terms included ‘June 30, 2020’ and ‘five million.’
The back-and-forth came after Comer and Grassley notified Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland this month about the ‘legally protected and highly credible unclassified whistleblower disclosures.’
Comer and Grassley said that based on ‘the alleged specificity within the document, it would appear that the DOJ and the FBI have enough information to determine the truth and accuracy of the information contained within it.’
‘The FBI’s mission is to protect the American people. Releasing confidential source information could potentially jeopardize investigations and put lives at risk,’ the FBI said in a statement. ‘The FBI remains committed to cooperating with Congress’s oversight requests on this matter and others as we always have.’
The White House has maintained that the president never spoke to his son, Hunter Biden, about his business dealings and that the president was never involved in them. Officials also say the president has never discussed investigations into members of his family with the Justice Department.