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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Comer Backs Off Contempt Charge as Wray Agrees to Furnish Redacted Biden Bribery Doc

'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...'

(Headline USA) The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday called off a vote on a contempt of Congress charge against FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., accepted a last-minute offer by the bureau to allow the full committee access to a confidential document related to President Joe Biden’s acceptance of a $5 million bribe, as alleged by a credible whistleblower who had previously acted as a well-paid FBI informant.

Comer said in a statement that the committee is removing a contempt resolution against Wray from Thursday’s schedule after receiving an accommodation that would give the full committee access to the document.

“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,” he said.

The action that played out over the last month against Wray reflects a larger breakdown between Republicans and the FBI that has only intensified this year, with some conservatives talking openly about trying to defund—or at least decentralize—the deeply corrupted and politicized bureau.

It’s a rift that first opened during the Russia-collusion hoax that the FBI played a central role in perpetrating against then-President Donald Trump.

The distrust has only widened during the Biden administration, amid the FBI’s wide-ranging criminal investigation into the Jan. 6, which many Republicans view as overly zealous and politicized, as well as the ongoing attacks on Trump, and other examples of abuse of power and two-tiered justice targeting conservatives who are simply exercising their free-speech rights.

Wray—who ironically enough was appointed by Trump to replace the disgraced James Comey—has been front and center in many of the efforts to push a dubious and divisive narrative that the nation’s top security threat comes from right-wing domestic extremism.

That may have included staging what appear to many to be false-flag attacks while relying on radical leftist propaganda like the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate map” to justify targeting law-abiding U.S. citizens.

Meanwhile, the bureau’s brazen decision to stonewall the very legislators tasked with keeping it honest has only added further insult to injury.

The FBI made the last-ditch effort to ward off the contempt vote Wednesday, offering to give every lawmaker on the oversight committee access to a redacted version of a confidential document that alleges a bribery scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national.

The FBI had called the contempt vote unwarranted considering the bureau had “continuously demonstrated its commitment to accommodate the committee’s request,” while protecting the safety of sources and the integrity of ongoing investigations.

But Comer had consistently said for the past month that the only way for the FBI to comply with the subpoena was to provide an unredacted copy of the document. It’s unclear what made him change course at the last minute.

FBI officials already showed a redacted version of the several-page form to Comer and ranking minority member Jamie Raskin, D-Md., during a 90-minute briefing Monday. The bureau described that briefing as an “extraordinary accommodation” where both men were able to take notes on the document and ask questions.

The whole contempt fight over the document moved at an unusually rapid speed for the House. Committees often battle for months with an agency or a witness before resorting to contempt proceedings, often haggling over an “accommodation” that is considered compliance with a subpoena. Republicans moved far faster, arriving at contempt a little over a month after issuing the subpoena to Wray on May 3.

It would have been the first time Republicans had used the contempt power against a federal official since taking control of the House in January, but would be far from a rare occurrence in the House.

Democrats wielded the power of contempt memorably in the last Congress as part of the partisan Jan. 6 Committee.

Steve Bannon, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was convicted by a jury on contempt charges last year after a referral from the House Jan. 6 committee. Another former Trump official, Peter Navarro, is awaiting trial on a contempt charge as well. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Biden document at the center of the new dispute was written up by a longtime FBI source whom both Republicans and Democrats have described as credible. In it, the source details an unverified tip received in 2020 about the business dealings of Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, in Ukraine. Hunter Biden worked on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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