WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has offered to brief all members of the House Oversight Committee on an unverified tip received by the FBI alleging that President Joe Biden took a bribe as vice president, two sources told HuffPost.
Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) threatened to initiate contempt of Congress proceedings against FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday if the bureau refuses to provide form that documents information about Biden. An FBI agent created the recording in June 2020.
FBI officials brought the document to Capitol Hill on Monday and showed it to Comer and the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. let the committee have the form.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested this week, however, that if the entire committee can see the document, “then there’s no need for contempt,” and Comer seems open to the idea.
“The speaker makes the best decision,” Comer told HuffPost on Tuesday. “But obviously, the more eyes on it, the better.”
A spokesman for the Oversight Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.
If the committee follows through on the contempt threat, the full chamber could approve the resolution as early as next week. It would have been a high-profile reprimand, the first time an FBI director had been held in contempt, but it would simply have resulted in a referral to the Justice Department for prosecution, which the Justice Department was unlikely to pursue.
According to Comer and Raskin, a reliable FBI source told the bureau in June 2020 that someone else told him that sometime during his vice presidency, Biden took a $5 million bribe from someone in Ukraine, but the source could not confirm the information. Then-President Donald Trump’s attempt to pressure the Ukrainian president to push a story about the Biden family’s corruption in Ukraine led to Trump’s first impeachment.
The FBI’s refusal to hand over the document has become the latest talking point to support the GOP’s overarching narrative that the federal government’s top law enforcement agency and the entire Justice Department have been “weaponized” by liberals against everything they see as good. in American life – especially Trump and his supporters.
“If this document was incriminating a political opponent against a political ally, it wouldn’t need to be subpoenaed,” Congressman Bob Goode (R-Va.) told HuffPost. “It would have been leaked and disclosed to the public a long time ago.”
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), a moderate Republican and former FBI agent, said he had been trying to help the two sides reach a deal, potentially by redacting identifying information.
“We can comply with the subpoena while protecting the source,” Fitzpatrick told HuffPost. “I’m the only FBI agent in Congress, so I’m offering my perspective to help all parties find a solution.”
Comer told HuffPost he didn’t care who the source of the information was. He said when he reviewed the document Monday, the FBI’s redactions were a problem.
“They redacted information that I believe would point to the banks and where this bribery actually took place,” Comer said.
At the same time, Comer acknowledged that he did not know whether the bribery allegation was true, only that it fit a pattern of shell companies funneling payments from foreign sources to members of the Biden family — a pattern that Comer documented through bank records, but one that , which did not implicate Biden himself. The council implicating the president is the missing link.
“It is my belief that Christopher Wray and senior FBI officials were not even aware of this form [documenting the tip] it existed until I asked for it,” Comer said. “Therefore no one verified this claim because it’s kind of hard to believe.”
Raskin, the top Democrat on the committee, said the materials were turned over to the FBI by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and that Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, signed off on closing the case in August 2020.
The Oversight Committee said Tuesday that the Department of Justice evaluated the materials it received in 2020, at which time Barr confirmed that the FBI is reviewing the Giuliani materialsbut that the form Republicans are trying to subpoena was created by an FBI agent in June 2020 “based on another FBI record from 2017.”
This week, Barr told The Federalist that the evaluation was not closed and that it had instead been “sent to Delaware for further investigation.”
Raskin doubled down on Wednesday, saying the FBI told him the form created in June 2020 largely repeated Giuliani’s material and that the indictment of Biden had gone nowhere — even if the FBI used the material elsewhere investigation, as Comer insisted.
“The FBI has confirmed that much of this information is the same as the information Mr. Giuliani previously provided,” Raskin said in long statementconcluding that “the key fact shared by the FBI in its briefing is that the evaluation that began in January 2020 to evaluate Mr. Giuliani’s allegations against President Biden and his son was closed in August 2020 .”