WASHINGTON — House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., announced Monday that his panel will start proceedings to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress, a move the agency called "unwarranted."
The FBI briefed Comer and Oversight Committee ranking member Jamie Raskin, D-Md., on Capitol Hill for more than an hour Monday and offered them the chance to review a document that purportedly describes an allegation that Joe Biden accepted a bribe as vice president.
Speaking to reporters outside the secure briefing site afterward, Comer said the "FBI again refused to hand over the unclassified record to the custody" of the committee. "And we will now initiate contempt of Congress hearings this Thursday."
"FBI officials confirmed that the unclassified FBI-generated record has not been disproven and is currently being used in an ongoing investigation," he said.
Raskin told reporters he wasn’t aware of an ongoing investigation, but he said he’s also “not privy” to some information accessible to Comer. He said he knows there have been published reports about an ongoing investigation in Delaware by the U.S. attorney related to the president's son Hunter Biden.
In a statement, the FBI said it had been cooperative with Comer's request.
“The FBI has continually demonstrated its commitment to accommodate the committee’s request, including by producing the document in a reading room at the U.S. Capitol. This commonsense safeguard is often employed in response to congressional requests and in court proceedings to protect important concerns, such as the physical safety of sources and the integrity of investigations," the statement said.
"The escalation to a contempt vote under these circumstances is unwarranted,” it added.
The White House has criticized the investigations, arguing the probes are politically motivated and designed to hurt Biden’s re-election chances.
Ian Sams, the White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations, said in a statement Monday that the committee's move was "another fact-free stunt staged by Chairman Comer not to conduct legitimate oversight, but to spread thin innuendo to try to damage the President politically and get himself media attention."
Comer subpoenaed the FBI last month to obtain the FBI document, called an FD-1023, which he and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, claimed describes an alleged criminal scheme involving Biden when he was vice president "relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions." Comer has alleged the scheme involved a $5 million payment from a foreign national in exchange for a policy outcome.
Raskin said Monday that the FBI team provided context to the document, saying former Attorney General William Barr named Scott Brady, then the U.S. attorney for Western Pennsylvania, to look into allegations from Trump ally Rudy Giuliani. Raskin said that investigation has ended.
"So if there’s a complaint, the complaint is with Attorney General William Barr, the Trump Justice Department and the team that the Trump administration appointed to look into it," Raskin said.
The FBI and Brady reviewed the allegation when it was made in 2020, as well as other information about Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine, a senior law enforcement official said Friday. The bribery allegation, however, wasn't substantiated, the official said.
Comer had threatened to hold Wray in contempt over the document after the FBI declined to provide it. An FBI official told Comer in a letter last month that Justice Department policy “strictly limits when and how confidential human source information can be provided outside of the FBI."
In a statement Monday night, Raskin said, "Comer's actions prove that his interest in issuing this subpoena was never about seeking the truth, but was always about weaponizing the powers of this Committee."