WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray has scheduled a phone call for Wednesday with House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer to discuss an informant file that allegedly accuses President Biden of being part of a $5 million bribery scheme while vice president.
Comer (R-Ky.) issued a subpoena for the document nearly one month ago and set for Wray a final deadline of Tuesday before the committee takes action to hold him in contempt.
“Your response to the subpoena is due May 30, 2023,” Comer warned Wray in a letter last week. “If the FD-1023 form is not produced by that date, the Committee will initiate contempt of Congress proceedings.”
It’s unclear what the timing of the phone call portends for Wray’s compliance, but the FBI has thus far refused to provide the file, citing concerns about informant confidentiality and the fact that tips are unverified.
Comer issued a subpoena for the informant file on May 3 after a whistleblower contacted Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) about the document, said to have been “created or modified” on June 30, 2020.
The FBI said last week: “Releasing confidential source information could potentially jeopardize investigations and put lives at risk. The FBI remains committed to cooperating with Congress’s oversight requests on this matter and others as we always have.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) attempted to help mediate the dispute with a May 19 call to Wray and said afterward he thought the bureau would comply.
“The FBI has continued to tie itself in knots to ignore a legitimate subpoena from Congress, which has a constitutional duty of oversight,” Grassley fumed last week.
“The Bureau’s developed a serious reputation problem through its spate of failures and overreach, and leadership is doing it no favors by attempting to stiff-arm Congress,” the longtime senator and Whistleblower Protection Caucus co-chairman said.
“The FBI knows exactly what document Chairman Comer and I are seeking, and if they know us at all, they know we will get it, one way or another. If FBI leadership truly cares about protecting the agency’s reputation, they’d cooperate.”
Comer and Grassley have not publicly discussed major details of the bribery allegation, such as specifying which country or US policy decisions it involves.
Congress has many tools to force executive-branch agencies to comply with subpoenas, including litigation and withholding funding. In addition to contempt votes, which generally are used to shame subjects, it’s possible for lawmakers to impeach officials.
During and immediately after his vice presidency, Joe Biden interacted with his son Hunter Biden and brother James Biden’s associates from China, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine, according to files from Hunter’s abandoned laptop, photographs and witness recollections.
He even appeared to be penciled in for a 10% cut of a Chinese-government-linked energy deal under negotiation in 2017.
Hunter Biden is under criminal investigation by Delaware US Attorney David Weiss for tax fraud, money laundering, illegal foreign lobbying and lying about his drug use on a gun-purchase form.
Hunter wrote in laptop files that he had to share “half” of his income with his father.
IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley, who oversaw the tax fraud investigation of Hunter since January 2020, testified Friday to the House Ways and Means Committee about alleged “preferential treatment” in the five-year-old investigation.
The primary IRS case agent on the investigation, since it opened in 2018, came forward last week to back up his boss after the IRS on May 15 removed the 13-person investigative team in alleged retribution for Shapley contacting Congress.
FBI agents assigned to the investigation also reportedly are frustrated by the lack of charges after completing most of their work on the case last year.