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House Oversight chairman to move ahead with contempt of Congress proceedings against FBI director

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, Republican of Kentucky, says he'll move forward with proceedings to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress over a document he has subpoenaed and that the FBI has declined to turn over to the committee.

However, FBI officials went to the Capitol Monday morning with the document, which is related to then-Vice President Biden and an alleged bribery scheme involving a foreign national, and allowed Comer and Ranking Member Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, to review the partly redacted FD-1023 document, which Comer subpoenaed in May. 

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

Ian Sams, the White House spokesman for oversight and investigations, slammed Comer's move in a statement Monday, calling it "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."

Comer told reporters Monday that FBI officials confirmed that the record "has not been disproven and is currently being used in an ongoing investigation." He also said that the source of the information, who he alleges "provided information about then-Vice President Biden being involved in a criminal bribery scheme is a trusted, highly credible informant who has been used by the FBI for over 10 years."

The chairman offered no details about what the document said, only that he thought it was consistent with "a pattern of bribery" from the Biden family. Comer also said of the probe that he had cited that "it appears this investigation is part of an ongoing investigation, which I assume is in Delaware." He told reporters that "we want to have this document in hand."

In a statement, the FBI defended its decision not to submit the document to the committee, reiterated the actions taken to provide access to the top members of the committee and expressed its opposition to Comer's contempt proceedings.  

"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 statement said. "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." 

Despite the fact that both Comer and Raskin viewed the same documents and were briefed by the same FBI officials, they appeared to arrive at different conclusions about the import of the documents and their role in any probes. Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, said he did not hear from the FBI officials whether the document was part of an ongoing investigation. 

He said that according to the FBI officials, Attorney General Bill Barr had tasked former Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney Scott Brady with heading up a group of prosecutors and FBI agents who would examine allegations related to Ukraine that had been "surfaced" by former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The group was created in June 2020 to investigate. It "spent the summer on it," examining the FD-1023 form, and "in August determined that there was no grounds to escalate from initial assessment to a preliminary investigation," Raskin said.  

"What I know is that the FBI, Department of Justice team under William Barr and Scott Brady, in the Western District, Pennsylvania, terminated the investigation," Raskin said. "They said there were no grounds for further investigative steps. So, they ended that."

Raskin also told reporters the confidential human source behind the FD-1023 was reporting on a conversation with another individual, and didn't know whether the claims were actually true.

The Oversight committee is expected to vote Thursday on whether to refer Wray for contempt of Congress charges. If the referral advances out of the panel, it heads to the full House for consideration. If the House votes to refer Wray for contempt, the Department of Justice would ultimately decide whether to prosecute him. 

Andres Triay, Robert Legare and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

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