House Oversight Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., said Tuesday the committee is moving forward with a vote to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in criminal contempt of Congress for failing to deliver a document as part of the panel’s investigation into the Biden family’s business dealings. .
Comer subpoenaed the FBI this month for a Form FD-1023 that he and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, say “describes an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national regarding the ‘exchange of money for political decisions’, without providing further details. The FBI declined to provide the document, saying it is bound by Justice Department policy, which “strictly limits when and how confidential human source information may be provided outside of the FBI.”
Last week, Comer threatened to scorn Wray if the FBI didn’t provide the information by Tuesday. In a statement Tuesday, the Chairman of House Oversight said the FBI had informed the committee that “it will not provide unclassified documents subpoenaed” by the panel.
“The FBI’s decision to force Congress and hide this information from the American people is obstructionist and unacceptable,” he said.
Comer said he was scheduled to speak with Wray on Wednesday about the agency’s refusal to release the information, but the committee is preparing to take punitive action before their conversation.
“While I have a scheduled call with FBI Director Wray tomorrow to further discuss his response, the committee has been clear in its intention to protect congressional oversight authorities and will now take steps to hold FBI Director in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a lawful subpoena,” he said. “Americans deserve the truth, and the Oversight Committee will continue to demand transparency from the principal law enforcement agency of that country.”
FBI Acting Deputy Director Christopher Dunham sent a letter to Comer on Tuesday, ahead of his threat of contempt. In the letter, obtained by NBC News, Dunham explains why the bureau cannot comply with the committee’s subpoena due to the need to protect human sources.
“As we have also said previously, information provided by confidential human sources also engages other long-standing confidentiality interests of the Department,” Dunham wrote. “The Department’s law enforcement and intelligence authorities allow us to collect significant amounts of information, but only within strict constitutional, statutory and policy limits essential to the rule of law.”
The letter also describes how the FBI explained to Comer and his staff how the FD-1023 forms were used and how they are checked by agents to ensure their accuracy.
“Investigative reports, such as an FD-1023, include leads and suspicions, not the conclusions of investigators based on a fuller context, including information that may not be available to the confidential source” , wrote Dunham. “As we explained, an FD-1023 form documents information given to an FBI agent. Recording information does not validate the information, establish its credibility, or compare it to other information known or developed by the FBI.
“Furthermore, the public’s perception of the impartiality of the law enforcement process could be damaged if sensitive information is distributed beyond that necessary for the investigative process,” he added.
An FBI spokesperson said in a statement that the bureau “remains committed to cooperating in good faith with the committee.”
“In a letter to President Comer earlier today, the FBI committed to providing access to information in response to the committee’s subpoena in a format and framework that preserves confidentiality and protects security interests. important and integrity of FBI investigations,” the FBI spokesperson said. “Last week, Director Wray scheduled a phone call for tomorrow to provide further details of the FBI’s extraordinary accommodation to satisfy the subpoena request. Any discussion of escalation under these circumstances is unnecessary.
The Justice Department enforces any contempt citations, meaning it’s unlikely to pursue House oversight’s plans to scorn Wray.
In an interview with “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., predicted Comer was ready to move forward with a vote to despise Wray. McCarthy said he personally called Wray and told him he had to comply with the subpoena.
“If he misses the deadline today, I’m prepared to file contempt of Congress charges against him,” McCarthy said. “We have jurisdiction over this. He can send us this document.
“We have a right to look at this, Republicans and Democrats on this committee,” he added. “And if he breaks the law, we will bring contempt charges against Christopher Wray and the FBI.”
This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com