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FBI confirms existence of document tying Biden to scandal, but refuses to turn it over

By Sarah May
|
May 11, 2023

Despite a noon Wednesday deadline issued by Republican House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (KY-01), the FBI declined to turn over an internal document an agency whistleblower claims describes a “criminal scheme” involving President Joe Biden, as the Washington Examiner reports, but in doing so, appeared to confirm its existence.

Comer's request is part of a broader probe into the Biden family's foreign business dealings, additional details of which were presented in a press conference on the same day the FBI failed to comply with the congressman's demand.

Document Request Issued

The information sought by Comer along with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was said by the lawmakers to involve a supposed pay-to-play scheme that was allegedly operational during Joe Biden's tenure as vice president in the Obama administration.

Writing last week to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland, the Republican legislators began, “We have received legally protected and highly credible unclassified whistleblower disclosures.”

“Based on those disclosures, it has come to our attention that the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation possess an unclassified FD1023 form that describes an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions,” the pair continued.

The lawmakers added, “It has been alleged that the document includes a precise description of how the alleged criminal scheme was employed as well as its purpose” and specified Wednesday at noon as the deadline for its production.

FBI Declines

Blowing past that deadline, the FBI dispatched a letter to Comer Wednesday afternoon stating, “as is clear from the name itself, confidentiality is definitional to the FBI's Confidential Human Source program,” adding that “significant harm to investigative work – and to the program as a whole – could result from dissemination of FD-1023s or other similar documents,” the Examiner reported.

The letter further contended that “often, even confirming the fact of the existence (or nonexistence) of an investigation or a particular piece of investigative information can risk these serious harms.”

According to The Hill, the FBI did state to the lawmakers that the agency “is committed to beginning the constitutionally mandated accommodation process” and that officials “would be pleased to coordinate with your staff to discuss whether and how we can accommodate your request without violating our law enforcement and national security obligations.”

Whether those potential “accommodations” are likely to lead to a process satisfactory to Comer and Grassley, however, remains an open question.

Comer, Grassley Respond

In the wake of the FBI's refusal to immediately comply with their subpoena, Comer and Grassley issued statements on the matter and explained what they believe the agency's explanation might mean.

Grassley said, “While the FBI has failed to produce the specific document by the subpoena deadline, their offer to provide an accommodation process in response to our legitimate request indicates the document is real.”

The senator continued, “So the question remains, what did the FBI do to investigate very serious allegations from an apparent trusted FBI source implicating then-Vice President Biden? Today's letter from the FBI raises additional questions, including whether the FBI has an open investigation based on these allegations.”

Comer concurred, saying, “It'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,” adding, “[t]he FBI's position is 'trust, but you aren't allowed to verify.' That is unacceptable.”

Wray Questioned

During a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing late Wednesday, Wray was questioned by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) about the FBI's response to the subpoena, as the Examiner noted.

“I believe we submitted a lengthy letter earlier today,” Wray said.

The FBI director continued, “I can't speak to the specific document, but said, “we are committed to working collaboratively with both committees. But we also have to balance sources and methods and ongoing investigations, and we will continue to work through the accommodation process as has happened many times in the past.”

Comer, for his part, vowed to “follow up with the FBI” and noted that he and Grassley “expect compliance with the subpoena,” though what sort of back-and-forth might ultimately be necessary to achieve that result, only time will.