FBI avoids House Oversight Committee contempt vote with compromise

WASHINGTON — Republicans have dropped a threat to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress.

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) had planned to file contempt proceedings against Wray on Thursday if the office refused to provide a form documenting an unverified report that Joe Biden had accepted a bribe when he was vice president.

The Justice Department offered to brief all members of the House Oversight Committee on the document after briefing Comer and the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), on Monday.

Comer had said he would always look down on Wray if he didn’t let the committee have its own copy of the form, but Comer said Wednesday night he had accepted the briefing from all members.

“Allowing all members of the Oversight Committee to review this file is an important step toward oversight of the FBI and its accountability to the American people,” Comer said in a press release.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested this week that if the full oversight committee could see the document, “then there’s no need for contempt,” and Comer had seemed open to the idea.

“The speaker makes the final call,” Comer told HuffPost on Tuesday. “But obviously the more eyes the better.”

According to Comer and Raskin, a reliable FBI source told the office in June 2020 that someone else told him that at some point during his vice presidency, Biden had received a $5 bribe. million dollars from someone in Ukraine, but the source could not corroborate the information. Then-President Donald Trump’s attempt to pressure the Ukrainian president into publishing a story about Biden family corruption in Ukraine led to Trump’s first impeachment.

The FBI’s refusal to hand over the document had become the latest talking point supporting the radical GOP narrative that the federal government’s top law enforcement agency and the entire Justice Department have been “armed” by liberals against everything they see as good in American life – especially Trump and his supporters.

“If this document incriminated a political opponent against a political ally, he wouldn’t have to be subpoenaed,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) told HuffPost. “That would have long since been leaked and leaked to the public.”

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), a moderate Republican and former FBI agent, said he tried to help the two sides reach an agreement, potentially by removing identifying information.

“We can comply with the subpoena while simultaneously protecting the source,” Fitzpatrick told HuffPost. “I’m the only FBI agent in Congress, so I’m offering my perspective to help all parties facilitate a resolution.”

Comer told HuffPost on Tuesday that he didn’t care who the source of the tip was. He said when he saw the document on Monday, the FBI redactions were a problem.

“They redacted information that I believe would identify the banks and where this bribe actually happened,” Comer said.

At the same time, Comer admitted he didn’t know if the bribery allegation was true, just that it matched a pattern of front companies funneling payments from foreign sources to members of Biden’s family – a a pattern Comer documented through bank records, but which did not implicate Biden himself. The pipe involving the president is the missing link.

“I believe that Christopher Wray and senior FBI officials never even knew about this form [documenting the tip] existed until I asked,” Comer said. “Therefore, no one has verified this claim because it’s a bit hard to believe.”

Raskin, the committee’s top Democrat, said the material was passed to the FBI by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, approved the case to be closed in August. 2020.

The Supervisory Committee said tuesday that the DOJ evaluated the material it received in 2020, around the time Barr confirmed the FBI is reviewing Giuliani’s materialbut that the form Republicans are trying to subpoena was created by an FBI agent in June 2020 “based on another FBI file from 2017.”

This week, Barr told The Federalist that the assessment had not been closed and was instead “sent to Delaware for further investigation.”

Raskin doubled down on Wednesday, saying the FBI told him the form created in June 2020 roughly echoed Giuliani’s material and that the allegation against Biden was going nowhere — even though the FBI uses the material in a further investigation, as Comer insisted.

“The FBI has confirmed that much of this information is the same as that Mr. Giuliani previously provided,” Raskin said in a statement. long statementconcluding that “the key fact shared by the FBI in its briefing was that the assessment opened in January 2020 to assess Mr. Giuliani’s allegations against President Biden and his son was closed in August 2020”.

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