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Tipsheet

'Unacceptable': Oversight Chairman Slams FBI for Stonewalling Biden Bribery Probe

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

The House Oversight Committee issued a new demand letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday after the nation's principal law enforcement agency failed to produce previously subpoenaed documents regarding an alleged criminal bribery scheme involving then-Vice President Joe Biden and a foreign national by the initial May 10 deadline.

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The letter, sent by Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer to embattled FBI Director Christopher Wray, notes that the Republican congressman from Kentucky first issued a subpoena on May 3 that "required the production" of "all FD-1023 forms, including within any open, closed, or restricted access case files, created or modified in June 2020, containing the term 'Biden,' including all accompanying attachments and documents to those FD-1023 forms."

But, as Townhall reported last week, the FBI failed to respond to the subpoena or turn over document(s) that would allegedly have shown then-VP Joe Biden trading policy decisions for cash payments, allegations based on protected disclosures made by a whistleblower to Comer and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA). 

In Friday's letter, Comer explains that, when the deadline was reached to respond to his subpoena, "the FBI sent the Committee a letter describing background information and programmatic issues related to confidential human source reporting," but the FBI’s response "did not include the FD-1023 form, failed to address whether the FBI possessed documents responsive to the Committee’s subpoena, and proposed no accommodations that would allow Committee staff to view the FD-1023 form." Instead, the FBI offered “to coordinate with [Committee] staff to discuss whether and how we can accommodate your request without violating our law enforcement and national security obligations."

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At the time the FBI failed to turn over the subpoenaed documents, Comer said in a statement that "[i]t’s clear from the FBI’s response that the unclassified record the Oversight Committee subpoenaed exists, but they are refusing to provide it to the Committee." Comer also pledged to "follow up with the FBI," a promise kept with the latest exchange from Comer to the FBI on Friday evening.   

Still, despite Comer and the Oversight Committee's since-repeated attempts to accommodate the FBI's claimed concerns, responsive information has still not been provided, as Comer explains in his letter:

FBI staff agreed to meet on Monday, May 15. During the in-person meeting, the FBI did not produce the FD-1023 form. Most troubling, the FBI staff stated they were not authorized to disclose whether the FD-1023 form exists. Notwithstanding the FBI’s lack of cooperation, Committee counsel reiterated the legislative purpose of the subpoena, set forth the Committee’s national security concerns, and discussed certain safeguards and accommodations that are routinely used in federal disclosures to protect the identity of confidential human sources. In lieu of producing the subpoenaed document, FBI staff proposed a second meeting with different FBI employees to provide a briefing regarding confidential human source reporting. Committee counsel agreed to the second meeting but called into question whether the FBI was acting in good faith given its refusal to even acknowledge the existence of the FD-1023 form at issue.

Soon after the first meeting, Committee counsel requested that the FBI schedule the second meeting for the same week. However, the FBI could not accommodate the briefing until the following week. The second FBI meeting is now scheduled for May 22, 2023. By the date of that meeting, the FBI will be 12 days past the return date set forth in the subpoena.

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Comer's letter calls the FBI's delays in producing the FD-1023 form "unacceptable" and slammed the agency for having "refused to meaningfully engage in discussions about how the committee can obtain the information that it needs" while the FBI "has sought to change the subject by offering to provide the committee with information it has not requested."

Despite the FBI's bad-faith responses and apparent attempts to delay or throw off the oversight process, Comer pledged that the Oversight Committee "will continue participating in the accommodations process in the hopes that the FBI will change course and begin discussing accommodations that will meet the committee's needs."

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