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Comer says Wray confirmed existence of record reporting alleged Biden bribery scheme, which the White House strongly refutes

Washington — GOP Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said in a statement Wednesday that FBI Director Christopher Wray confirmed "the existence of an unclassified record that contains reporting of an alleged bribery scheme related to then-Vice President Joe Biden and a foreign national." 

Comer believes the FBI record contains "a precise description of how the alleged criminal scheme was employed as well as its purpose," he and Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Chuck Grassley said in a letter to Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland in early May. The GOP lawmakers also said at the time, they believed the form "describes an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions."

While Comer and Grassley said in Wednesday's statement that the record includes "very serious and detailed allegations implicating the current President of the United States," they did not provide further evidence to support the claim.  

Ian Sams, the White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations, said: "This silly charade by Chairman Comer is yet another reminder that his so-called 'investigations' are political stunts not meant to get information but to spread thin innuendo and falsehoods to attack the President. He has already admitted this isn't about uncovering facts but about trying to hurt the President's poll numbers, so the only question left is how long he will waste time, energy, and taxpayer dollars to support a fact-free politically-motivated goose chase simply to get media attention and the Fox News spotlight."

According to Comer, Wray offered in a phone call Wednesday to allow lawmakers to view it at FBI headquarters. Comer issued the subpoena earlier this month after a whistleblower had provided GOP lawmakers with information about an alleged bribery scheme involving Mr. Biden. 

Republican Rep. James Comer of Kentucky during a House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.
Republican Rep. James Comer of Kentucky during a House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.  Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Grassley and Comer spoke with Wray by phone Wednesday after the FBI director did not provide the document by the May 30 deadline. The two Republicans are seeking evidence of any FBI probe into the allegation, and whether it was substantiated or deemed not credible. 

Comer has said he would hold Wray in contempt of Congress if he did not turn over the document, and he reiterated Wednesday that he remains committed to initiating contempt proceedings. 

"Today, FBI Director Wray confirmed the existence of the FD-1023 form alleging then-Vice President Biden engaged in a criminal bribery scheme with a foreign national," Comer said in his statement. 

In a statement to CBS News, the FBI described the FD-1023 form as a document "used by FBI agents to record unverified reporting by a confidential human source." The bureau noted that "[d]ocumenting the information does not validate it, establish its credibility, or weigh it against other information verified by the FBI."

Comer said that in their conversation, "Director Wray did not commit to producing the documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee." 

"While Director Wray — after a month of refusing to even acknowledge that the form existed — has offered to allow us to see the documents in person at FBI headquarters, we have been clear that anything short of producing these documents to the House Oversight Committee is not in compliance with the subpoena," Comer said, adding that if the FBI failed to submit the document to the committee, he would begin contempt of Congress proceedings.

In a statement, Grassley said, "While the FBI has apparently leaked classified information to the news media in recent weeks, jeopardizing its own human sources, it continues to treat Congress like second class citizens by refusing to provide a specific unclassified record. Director Wray confirmed what my whistleblowers have told me pursuant to legally protected disclosures: the FBI-generated document is real, but the bureau has yet to provide it to Congress in defiance of a legitimate congressional subpoena. This failure comes with consequences."

In describing the FD 1023, Christopher Dunham, acting assistant director for the Bureau's Office of Congressional Affairs, wrote in a May 10 letter that the FBI avoids "revealing information — including unverified or incomplete information — that could harm investigations, prejudice prosecutions or judicial proceedings, unfairly violate privacy or reputational interests, or create misimpressions in the public. Often, even confirming the fact of the existence (or nonexistence) of an investigation or a particular piece of investigative information can risk these serious harms."

The FBI confirmed the phone call, but didn't discuss the alleged document. 

"During today's call, Director Wray offered to provide the committee's chairman and ranking member an opportunity to review information responsive to the subpoena in a secure manner to accommodate the committee, while protecting the confidentiality and safety of sources and important investigative sensitivities," the FBI said in a statement. "The FBI has continually demonstrated its commitment to working with the committee to accommodate its request, from scheduling briefings and calls to now allowing the chair to review information in person. The FBI remains committed to cooperating with the committee in good faith."

When Comer and Grassley first announced the subpoena to obtain the document, Ian Sams, the White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations, said: "For going on five years now, Republicans in Congress have been lobbing unfounded, unproven, politically-motivated attacks against the president and his family without offering evidence for their claims or evidence of decisions influenced by anything other than U.S. interests."

Earlier this month, the House Oversight Committee released a report alleging that Biden family members and associates received over $10 million from foreign entities, but the White House noted that Republican investigators could not point to "a single Joe Biden policy" that was unduly influenced.

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