FBI is willing to allow full Oversight Committee to review Biden-related document

CNN Newsource Pristine Villarreal

(CNN) — The FBI is willing to allow the full House Oversight Committee to review an internal law enforcement document that includes an unverified allegation that Joe Biden, while vice president, was involved in a bribery scheme involving a foreign national, sources familiar with the decision tell CNN.

The FBI is willing to hold a briefing with members of the panel and allow them to view the document, known as an FD-1023, as early as Wednesday, the sources said, in an effort to stave off expected contempt of Congress proceedings. The FBI has been reluctant to share the full document, stressing that FD-1023 forms contain unverified claims provided by confidential human sources. The White House has denied the allegation and dismissed the GOP probe as a political stunt.

Senior FBI officials briefed House Oversight Chairman James Comer and Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the committee, earlier this week and allowed them to review the document. But the bureau has declined to hand over a hard copy of the document, noting it contains unverified information from a confidential human source.

The bureau’s latest move to accommodate the committee’s demands comes one day before Comer is slated to formally begin proceedings to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress for failing to turn the document, which he subpoenaed last month, over to the committee.

A spokesperson for Comer and the Oversight Republicans told CNN they have not yet been approached by the FBI about this latest accommodation.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has so far supported Comer’s efforts to move forward with contempt and vowed to hold a full vote on the House floor as early as next week, told CNN on Wednesday that House Republicans are prepared to cease the contempt proceedings if the FBI agreed to allow the entire Oversight Committee to view document.

“All he has to do is follow through and allow everybody on the committee” to view it, McCarthy told CNN in an interview. “If he would supply that to them, there wouldn’t be a contempt (vote). That’s all we’re asking him to do. It’s rational. It’s sensible. It’s what his responsibility is to do. If he won’t follow through on the most basic things, then he’ll be held in contempt.”

Comer told CNN that his goal is to get the document in his possession.

“My next ask is I want the document. Now, McCarthy has asked for the whole committee to see it and I’m fine with that,” the chairman said, acknowledging that McCarthy is the one to make the ultimate decision.

Even though the FBI appears willing to make accommodations to avoid Congress moving forward with contempt proceedings, McCarthy might not be able to overcome the pressure from his right flank, particularly given the tensions within the House GOP since the debt ceiling deal has left many lawmakers frustrated with his leadership.

A number of House Republicans are itching to hold Wray in contempt.

“If the director of the FBI is flouting subpoenas from Congress, I’m fully supportive of every effort to enforce the subpoena,” GOP Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee told CNN.

But others stressed that they would be open to a deal that would prevent the House from voting on contempt.

“We’ll see what happens in negotiation between now and Thursday, I guess. There’s still room,” GOP Rep. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota said Tuesday, who serves on the Oversight panel.

GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California told CNN that holding Wray in contempt would prevent House Republicans from getting the information they wanted.

“Contempt is not the last step, but it generally ends the debate on compliance until after there’s time in front of the court,” he said. “We really don’t want that time in front of the court. We want compliance.”

GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, a member of the Oversight Committee, told CNN she plans to vote in favor of contempt.

“I voted to hold people in contempt up here before. If you don’t follow through with the subpoena, there are consequences to it,” she said. “They’ve stonewalled, they’ve obfuscated, they’ve bullshitted, you know what I mean? It’s like, just follow the law.”

GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, also a member of the Oversight panel, told CNN, “It’s an unclassified form. Just showing it to our chairman and to the ranking member, Congressman Raskin, that’s not enough. We subpoenaed the form. And so, the form needs to be handed over. This is his job – Chris Wray’s job.”

If the House Oversight Committee were to refer Wray for contempt out of committee, McCarthy would still need to schedule a floor vote. While a number of right-wing lawmakers support the effort, some have warned they are less supportive.

“I think replacing one witch hunt for another witch hunt is a bad idea. I’d like to see this institution get back to solving big problems for the American public,” GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas told CNN, adding that he had not decided how he would vote if a contempt vote on Wray came to the floor.

The alleged bribery claims documented in the 1023 form surfaced years ago under the Trump administration and eventually became part of Delaware US Attorney David Weiss’ investigation of Hunter Biden, which remains ongoing, people briefed on the matter said. The 1023 includes allegations related to Hunter Biden, as well as Joe Biden, according to people familiar with matter.

The FBI interviewed the informant, who was known to the bureau and had considered him a trusted source based on interactions in a previous investigation. Investigators were unable to corroborate the claims, but Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady, who then-Attorney General William Barr had appointed to review allegations brought to the Justice Department by Rudy Giuliani, decided to send the informant’s allegations to Weiss, who was already leading the Hunter Biden probe.

It’s unclear what additional steps the FBI took to investigate the claims, but Weiss’ investigation of Hunter Biden has since narrowed in scope to focus on alleged tax violations and a possible false statement.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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