Washington — GOP Rep. James Comer, the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, late Wednesday canceled plans to move forward with proceedings to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress for failing to hand over a document detailing unconfirmed allegations of a bribery scheme involving then-Vice President Joe Biden and a foreign national.
A statement released by Comer Wednesday night said the FBI "caved" under the threat of contempt, that the bureau would allow all members to review the document and receive a briefing. Comer also said the FBI would make two additional records referenced in the original document available for Comer and Democratic Ranking Member Jamie Raskin to review.
Comer had unveiled a resolution Wednesday to hold Wray in contempt and released a 17-page report detailing the committee's pursuit of the FBI document, known as a FD-1023 form. FD-1023 forms are used by the FBI to document unverified reporting from a confidential human source. Comer's committee subpoenaed the FBI to produce the document in May.
FBI officials visited the Capitol on Monday andComer and Raskin, a Democrat, to review the partially redacted form. Comer initially said that step did not go far enough, and in a statement Wednesday again demanded that Wray "produce the unclassified FD-1023 record to the custody of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability" in order to comply with the subpoena.
After Comer unveiled the contempt resolution, two sources familiar with the matter told CBS News the FBI was willing to allow the full committee to view the document in a secure location.
On Wednesday morning, Comer said the FBI "created this record based on information from a credible informant who has worked with the FBI for over a decade and paid six figures," and claimed "the informant had first-hand conversations with the foreign national who claimed to have bribed then-Vice President Biden."
After viewing the document, Raskin said the Justice Department investigated the claim made by the informant in 2020 under Attorney General William Barr and "determined that there [were] no grounds to escalate from initial assessment to a preliminary investigation." He said the idea of holding Wray in contempt was "absolutely ridiculous," since the FBI gave Comer access to the document.
FD-1023 forms contain unverified information, and the FBI has noted that "[d]ocumenting the information does not validate it, establish its credibility, or weigh it against other information verified by the FBI." The bureau has defended its decision not to submit the document itself to the committee, saying it is necessary to protect its sources.
"The FBI has continually demonstrated its commitment to accommodate the committee's request, including by producing the document in a reading room at the U.S. Capitol," the bureau said earlier this week. "This commonsense safeguard is often employed in response to congressional requests and in court proceedings to protect important concerns, such as the physical safety of sources and the integrity of investigations. The escalation to a contempt vote under these circumstances is unwarranted."
The White House has repeatedly dismissed Comer's pursuit of the document as politically motivated. On Monday, Ian Sams, White House spokesman for oversight and investigations, called Comer's push to hold Wray in contempt "yet another fact-free stunt staged by Chairman Comer not to conduct legitimate oversight, but to spread thin innuendo to try to damage the president politically and get himself media attention."
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