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The 'secret' FBI document on Joe Biden, explained
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Kentucky Rep. James Comer, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, announced this week his plan to hold FBI director Chris Wray in contempt of Congress.
The stated reason was that Wray had failed to fully comply with a subpoena from Comer’s committee over a document containing allegations about “a criminal bribery scheme with a foreign national” involving the Bidens, according to Comer.
Which sounds like a VERY big deal! Right?
Let’s dig in — starting from the beginning.
At the heart of this is something called an FD-1023 document. Which is, according to this useful Newsweek explainer, “used by FBI agents to record unverified reporting by a confidential human source.”
In a letter to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who, along with Comer, has been pushing to see the FD-1023 document, acting Assistant Director of the FBI Chris Dunham explained the agency’s hesitancy to release it.
“Confidential human sources often provide information to the FBI at great risk to themselves and their loved ones,” he wrote. “Protecting the identities and information provided by confidential human sources from unnecessary disclosure or undue influence is therefore critical not only because of safety concerns but also to avoid chilling their candor or willingness to continue reporting to the FBI.”
Comer, in response, has claimed that the allegations made by the source are hugely serious.
In a memo from Comer obtained by CNN last month, the Kentucky Republican argued that his committee has uncovered evidence that Hunter Biden, the son of the president, had received seven-figure payments from Chinese and Romanian sources while Joe Biden was vice president.
New bank records cited in the memo were obtained by the committee through a subpoena and include payments made to companies tied to Hunter Biden. Republicans also alleged that Hunter Biden used his familial connections to help facilitate a meeting in 2016 between a Serbian running for United Nations Secretary-General and then-national security adviser to the vice president Colin Kahl.
The foreign payments raise questions about Hunter Biden’s business activities while his father was vice president, but the committee does not suggest any illegality about the payments from foreign sources. The bank records by themselves also do not indicate the purpose of the payments that were made.
CNN has previously reported that the allegations made in the FD-1023 document “surfaced years ago as Rudy Giuliani was sharing information with the Justice Department during the Trump administration while Bill Barr was attorney general.”
Barr assigned a former U.S. Attorney to look into the various claims Giuliani was making. Maryland Rep. Jaime Raskin, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, said that as part of that investigation the claims in the FD-1023 document were looked into and the decision was made that there wasn’t enough there there to open up a further investigation.
Comer continues to insist the information in the FD-1023 document is critical to making that case against Hunter Biden. (Worth noting: There is a federal investigation into Hunter Biden’s taxes and a gun purchase he made. You can read more on that here.)
After some back and forth, the FBI finally agreed to show both Comer and Raskin the FD-1023 document at the center of this whole controversy. That happened earlier this week.
Raskin said that the FBI not only brought the document to them at the Capitol but also answered questions from he and Comer on it for the better part of an hour. Raskin added this:
The FD-1023 form, which we reviewed first-hand today, records what a Confidential Human Source told the FBI about conversations he had with individuals in Ukraine. The source, who has been described as highly credible by the FBI, told the FBI he could not provide any opinion on the underlying veracity of the information provided by these Ukrainian individuals.
Raskin also suggested that the claims made in the document regard Burisma, a Ukrainian power company.
Those allegations come directly from a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden that Republicans have long been focused on.
In October 2020, the New York Post reported on a trove of emails that included, allegedly, proof that Joe Biden had met with the head of Burisma, whose board Hunter served on.
That “proof” came in the form of an email, allegedly from an executive in the firm, to Hunter. “Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together,” it read. “It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure.”
For Republicans, it was evidence of what they had long alleged without proof — that Biden, as VP, had pulled strings for his son.
At the center of that controversy is a December 2015 trip Biden made to Ukraine in which he called on the country to remove its top prosecutor. Republicans alleged that Biden’s move was an attempt to protect his son. Fact checks debunked that claim.
Comer, for his part, insisted that the document provided yet more evidence of a criminal scheme — a $5 million bribery scandal, he claimed — involving the Bidens. Said Comer:
The confidential human source who provided information about then-Vice President Biden being involved in a criminal bribery scheme is a trusted, highly credible informant who has been used by the FBI for over ten years and has been paid over six figures
These are facts and no amount of spin and frankly, lies from the White House or congressional Democrats can change this information.
Comer also insisted that, despite being allowed to see the document, he would proceed with his contempt filing against Wray because the FBI had not a) provided a physical copy of the record to the committee and b) allowed other members of the committee — other than Raskin and Comer, of course — to examine it. Comer has also said he wants to release the document publicly.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said that once the contempt resolution clears Comer’s committee, he will hold a vote of the full House on it.
For what it’s worth, the White House has dismissed the entire contretemps as a “fact free stunt” and denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
Where does the story go from here? The FBI seems content that they have done their duty in terms of providing the document to the relevant people in Congress. Comer seems set on holding contempt hearings directed at Wray in his committee.
And that doesn’t seem likely to be the end of it.
“Given the severity and complexity of the allegations contained within this record, Congress must investigate further,” Comer said recently. “The American people need to know if President Biden sold out the United States of America to make money for himself.”
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