House Republicans were poised to vote Thursday to charge FBI Director Christopher Wray with contempt of Congress after the bureau refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for well over a month. It appears, however, that both Republicans and the FBI flinched at the last moment.
The FBI decided Wednesday to provide the House Oversight Committee full access to the sought-after document detailing alleged criminal activity involving President Joe Biden.
In turn, House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) removed the vote to hold Wray in contempt from Thursday’s schedule.
The House Oversight Committee had released a resolution and accompanying report earlier in the day, recommending the House of Representatives hold Wray in contempt of Congress and setting a vote for Thursday at 9:00 a.m.
“We have been clear that the FBI must produce the unclassified FD-1023 record to the custody of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability. To date, the FBI has refused to comply with our lawfully issued subpoena and even refused to admit the record’s existence up until a week ago,” Comer said in a statement.
Congressional Republicans subpoenaed the FBI in early May for a document possibly containing evidence of an alleged criminal scheme involving Biden and, according to ranking member Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), corrupt dealings in Ukraine.
Comer and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) noted in a corresponding May 3 letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Wray that the form contains “valuable, verifiable information” describing “an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions.”
The FBI missed various deadlines, including the initial May 10 deadline and a May 30 deadline.
The bureau showed Comer and Raskin the document in a secure room Monday; however, this secretive showcase did not placate House Republicans, who stressed that the FBI had still not satisfied the demands of the May subpoena.
Just hours after Comer released his Wednesday resolution, stressing the need to hold the federal government accountable, the FBI finally offered to give every lawmaker on the committee access to a redacted version of the FD-1023 record, reported the Associated Press.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) reportedly indicated that would suffice, reported the New York Times.
“He needs to show it to every Republican and every Democrat on the committee,” said McCarthy. “If he is willing to do that, then there’s not a need to have contempt.”
While McCarthy was satisfied, it was not clear that Comer would accept the FBI’s last-minute offer, particularly since he had long stressed that only the provision of an unredacted version of the record would qualify as compliance with the congressional subpoena.
Comer ultimately budged, stating, “After weeks of refusing to even admit the FD-1023 record exists, the FBI has caved and is now allowing all members of the Oversight and Accountability Committee to review this unclassified record that memorializes a confidential human source’s conversations with a foreign national who claimed to have bribed then-Vice President Joe Biden”
The Kentucky Republican added, “Allowing all Oversight Committee members to review this record is an important step toward conducting oversight of the FBI and holding it accountable to the American people.”
Rep. Raskin appeared relieved that Comer wouldn’t ultimately hold Wray’s feet to the fire, stating, “Holding someone in contempt of Congress is among the most serious actions our Committee can take and it should not be weaponized to undermine the FBI”
Republicans have yet to wield the contempt power since taking the House, whereas Democrats previously used it liberally, having recently charged former President Donald Trump advisers Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro.
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