Wednesday, Jul 10, 2024

Fresh Scandal Rocks FBI As Wray Defies Congressional Subpoena

 

Did the FBI, during the height of the 2020 election, suppress a whistleblower’s allegation that President Joe Biden was bribed with $5 million by a member of a foreign country when he was vice president, in exchange for influencing U.S. foreign policy?

According to Rep. James Comer, R-KY, chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, the whistleblower’s testimony, coming from a source known and trusted by the FBI, contains “a precise description of how the alleged criminal bribery scheme was employed.”

It also lays out the terms of the deal as it pertained “to the exchange of money for influencing U.S. policy.”

The foreign national involved is unnamed, but GOP legislators say the disclosures mark significant progress in the Biden family probe.

The explosive whistleblower document was expected to be turned over to Congress early this week, Fox News reported. This was after weeks of stonewalling by the Bureau as Director Chris Wray refused to comply with a binding congressional subpoena, citing the need to protect “confidential sources in an ongoing investigation.”

Rep. Comer had sent the FBI a letter in early May telling the bureau that “whistleblower disclosures” indicated that the FBI and Justice Department are “in possession” of an FD-1023 form that describes an “alleged criminal scheme” involving Joe Biden and a foreign national, “relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions.”

An FD-1023 form is a document the FBI uses to record interviews with a confidential human source.

Comer last week narrowed the subpoena document request with two new terms: “June 30, 2020” and “five million.” Those terms were a “reference to the amount of money the foreign national allegedly paid to receive the desired policy outcome,” according to Comer’s office.

 

“Growing Concern About Political Bias…”

The Oversight Committee chairman described the purpose behind the subpoena in the May 3 letter sent to Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland. The letter was authored jointly with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who is also investigating Biden family finances linked to China and Ukraine.

“It would appear that the DOJ and the FBI have enough information to determine the truth and accuracy of the information contained within [the whistleblower disclosures.] However, it remains unclear what steps, if any, were taken to investigate the matter,” Grassley and Comer wrote.

“The significant public interest in assessing the FBI’s response to this information, as well as growing concern about the DOJ and the FBI’s track record of allowing political bias to infect their decision-making process, necessitate exacting congressional oversight,” the letter went on.

“The DOJ and the FBI appear to have valuable, verifiable information that you have failed to disclose to the American people. Therefore, Congress will proceed to conduct an independent and objective review of this matter, free from those agencies’ influence,” the authors wrote.

“The FBI has continued to tie itself in knots to ignore a legitimate subpoena from Congress, which has a constitutional duty of oversight,” Grassley said last week. “The FBI knows exactly what document Chairman Comer and I are seeking, and if they know us at all, they know we will get it, one way or another.”

When the FBI director ignored two May deadlines for complying with the subpoena, Rep. Comer threatened to start contempt of Congress proceedings against him.

At that point, Wray capitulated and promised the whistleblower document would be brought to Capitol Hill this week for Comer and the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, Ranking Member Jamie Raskin, D-Md., to review.

 

Promised Hand-Over Never Took Place

The promised hand-over, however, never took place, according to Rep. Comer who summarized Monday’s events in a press briefing.

Although Comer was invited to view the whistleblower’s testimony on a screen in a “secure facility,” Wray still refused to surrender the actual document to the Oversight Committee.

“Today, the FBI informed the Committee that it will not provide the unclassified documents subpoenaed by the Committee,” Comer told news correspondents. “The FBI’s decision to stiff-arm Congress and hide this information from the American people is obstructionist and unacceptable.”

“Oversight Committee members will commence contempt of Congress hearings for Wray this Thursday,” Comer vowed.

He went on to say that FBI officials confirmed during the meeting on Capitol Hill that the unclassified FBI-generated record [of whistleblower testimony] has not been discredited and is currently being used in an ongoing investigation.

The GOP chairman noted that whistleblower disclosures pertaining to a criminal bribery scheme that might implicate President Biden [when he was vice president] “track closely with what we are seeing in our investigation into the Biden family’s influence peddling schemes.”

Comer has been conducting a long-running investigation into the Biden family’s overseas business dealings. His independent probe found that nine Biden family members over the course of several years received at least $10 million from shady schemes in Romania and China.

“The confidential 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,” Comer said in a press briefing.

“These are facts and no amount of spin and frankly, lies from the White House or congressional Democrats can change this information,” the Oversight Committee chairman stressed, alluding to White House efforts to downplay the whistleblower’s credibility.

“The president has spoken to this and there’s nothing to these claims,” White House spokesman John Kirby assured press correspondents last week. “Director Wray offered to provide the committee’s chairman an opportunity to review information responsive to the subpoena in a secure manner, while protecting the confidentiality and safety of sources.”

None of the supposed concessions by the FBI have induced Comer to back down from his insistence on gaining access to the actual concrete whistleblower document.

“Congress and the American people need to know what, if anything, the FBI did to verify the allegations contained within this record,” he told press correspondents. “If Director Wray refuses to hand over this unclassified record, the Oversight Committee will have no choice but to begin contempt of Congress proceedings.”

 

Bureau Rocked by String of Scandals

The FBI’s refusal to honor a Congressional subpoena has tarnished an agency already rocked by a string of scandals in recent months.

The incident comes on the heels of the Durham’s report excoriating the FBI for wrongdoing in the Trump-Russia probe; revelations about the FBI illegally spying on ordinary Americans and classifying law-abiding parents as ‘domestic terrorists’; and attempts by the Bureau’s leadership to purge FBI ranks of conservative employees.

The bribery allegations may hurt the Bureau more and hit closer to the presidency than all previous scandals, observers say.

“The director’s defiance of Congress’s subpoena is contemptuous. If he persists in it, Congress should hold him accountable,” wrote the National Review.  “The era of FBI prestige is over. The FBI killed it, and director Chris Wray seems to be the last one to know. As a result, he’s about to be held in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena that he has no lawful basis to defy.”

In an appearance on Fox News, Comer elaborated on the serious allegations in the report.

“According to the whistleblower’s testimony, when Joe Biden was vice president, he was involved in a pay-for-play scheme with a foreign country pertaining to U.S. foreign aid,” Comer said. “This fits a pattern that we have uncovered in several countries, particularly in Romania. The pattern is that Vice President Biden visits a country, talks about foreign aid to diplomats there, and then two weeks later, his family starts getting bank wires from foreign nationals.

“Payments started flowing into different shell companies that would then flow down to different Biden family members,” Comer elaborated.

“We traced at least $10 million being paid to Biden family members this way but we’re only at the beginning of the investigation. What this new whistleblower allegation says is that Joe Biden did this exact same thing in another country and it pretty clearly details how the payments were made.”

Comer has not publicly discussed major details of the bribery allegation, such as specifying which country or U.S. policy decisions it involves. He said his committee is after not only the contents of the FD-1023 document but the full record of what the FBI did to investigate these revelations.

According to the Oversight Committee chairman, influence-peddling is one of the most serious charges ever been made to any public official in the history of the United States.

‘The American people need to know if President Biden sold out the United States of America to make money for himself,’ Rep. James Comer said.

“Credible whistleblowers have also come forward from the IRS in recent weeks,” Rep. Comer told Fox News. “They say that Biden’s DOJ shut down the entire IRS team probing Hunter Biden. They say the Justice Department is politically meddling and stonewalling potential criminal charges against Hunter.”

“We’ve now got multiple credible whistleblowers —good quality career employees—at the DOJ, IRS and FBI. These individuals have come forward and say what’s taking place is bad, we don’t support it. There’s been an active cover up for many years and we’re done with it, we’re going to shine a light on this wrongdoing.”

 

Sen. Grassley: Fake ‘Intelligence Analysis’ Used to Shut Down Biden Investigation

Congressional investigators have gathered substantial evidence that a dubious narrative masquerading as intelligence analysis inside the bureau was used to shut down several avenues of investigation in the Biden family corruption probe ahead of the 2020 presidential election, reports Just The News.

The questionable narrative was also used to thwart a Senate probe led by Sens. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

Grassley divulged the dubious intelligence—which he referred to as “the Russian disinformation analysis” and its impact on Biden-related probes inside the FBI during February 2023 testimony to a House committee, though that angle did not get much public traction, according to Just the News.

“Whistleblowers approached my office with allegations that the FBI created an official ‘assessment’ in August 2020 – the same month that the FBI briefed me and Senator Johnson,” Grassley testified at the time. “According to these whistleblowers, that assessment was used by FBI Headquarters to improperly discredit incriminating Hunter Biden information as ‘Russian disinformation.’

This scheme allegedly caused investigative activity then to entirely cease,” Grassley said.

Congressional investigators say they now want to know whether the Joe Biden bribery information allegation also was sidelined by the Russian disinformation analysis.

Grassley cited “further allegations” made to his office involving FBI personnel in Washington who “improperly ordered information to be shut down by the FBI.”

 

Biden Family Allegations Hidden in Restricted Database

The Iowa Senator has pointed out another bizarre fact during the 2020 election: senior FBI personnel took the Biden family allegations and the assessment of their credibility and stored them in a restricted database that kept them from being seen by many agents and analysts, according to Just the News editor John Solomon, writing in the Ohio Star.

“It’s been further alleged to me that in September 2020 – the same month Senator Johnson and I released our first report – those FBI Headquarters personnel began placing their analysis of the intelligence related to the Biden family in a restricted access sub-file,” Grassley testified 4 months ago.

Grassley viewed the whistleblower document in May at the FBI and told Fox News that if the bureau complies with the original subpoena and gives Congress the document as legally required, lawmakers will “make it public.”

As for the accusations in the document, Grassley said it is “not for me to make a judgment about whether these accusations are accurate or not.”

“It’s my job to make sure the FBI is doing their job, and that’s what this is all about, as far as I’m concerned,” Grassley said. “The public’s business ought to be public.”

The alliance of Grassley, who has relentlessly investigated FBI whistleblowers claims and Comer, who as a House majority chairman has subpoena power, has brought sustained pressure to bear on the FBI to hand over the whistleblower allegations of bribery involving then Vice President Biden.

Despite the intense pressure, Director Wray continues to defy Congressional leaders.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-CA., promised he will lead Republicans in voting to hold Wray in contempt if he refuses to provide the informant file.

What ‘Fingerprints’ on the Evidence Suggest

“During and immediately after his vice presidency, Joe Biden interacted with Hunter and brother James Biden’s associates from China, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine, according to files from Hunter’s abandoned laptop, photographs, and witness recollections,” wrote the NY Post.

Vast amounts of this material still await investigation by federal law enforcement bodies, principally the FBI.

Based on the whistleblower’s “bribery” testimony, Comer revealed the precise date of the alleged informant tip and specified that the bribe amount which allegedly involved then Vice President Biden was $5 million.

In a possible clue as to the parties involved, Ukrainian officials held a press conference two weeks before the FBI tipoff, where they showed off $5 million in cash seized from natural gas company Burisma. The company had allegedly offered the money to officials to end an investigation of the company’s founder, Mykola Zlochevsky.

Burisma employed Hunter Biden from 2014 to 2019 — paying him up to $1 million per year despite no relevant industry experience — and an executive from the firm met Vice President Biden at an April 16, 2015, dinner in Washington.

Joe Biden allegedly plugged U.S. support for the natural gas industry in Ukraine days after his son Hunter secretly joined Burisma, according to former White House stenographer Mike McCormick. The current president also used U.S. aid as leverage to pressure Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who investigated Burisma.

(McCormick, the former White House stenographer, has been attempting to contact Delaware US Attorney David Weiss in order to testify to a grand jury investigating Hunter Biden for tax fraud, illegal foreign lobbying and other crimes, according to the NY Post.)

Comer argues that Biden corruptly used his prior office to benefit his family and at a May 10 press conference identified nine Biden family members who allegedly received money from countries including China and Romania.

The White House has maintained that the president never spoke to his son, Hunter Biden, about his business dealings and that the president was never involved in them. Officials also say the president has never discussed investigations into members of his family with the Justice Department.

Republicans scoff at those protestations.

“There’s not going to be anybody left for a holiday picture if the [DOJ] did their job and went in there and indicted everyone that has any type of fingerprints involved in this influence-peddling scheme,” Comer said in a recent televised appearance.

“Americans have lost trust in the FBI’s ability to enforce the law impartially, and demand answers, transparency and accountability,” he said. “Given the severity and complexity of the allegations contained in this [whistleblower] document, Congress must investigate further. This is only the beginning.”

 

*****

A Mark of Shame

A contempt of Congress vote can carry criminal penalties but serves primarily to shame the officeholder, notes a NY Post op-ed.

The Justice Department, which includes the FBI, would decide whether to bring criminal charges against Wray if the House votes to hold him in contempt.

In past scenarios involving defiance of subpoenas by prominent officials, prosecutors have chosen not to charge their superiors even if the House finds they broke the law.

In 2012, the House held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for refusing to hand over documents on the “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal.

And in 2019, the House held Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt “for refusing to share documents on attempts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census,” the Post article details.

The Cabinet leaders were not prosecuted and all three kept their jobs, if not their former reputations as people of principle and moral fiber.

Other congressional tools available to enforce subpoenas include litigation, withholding of funding, or impeachment. Experts say FBI Director Wray is not likely to face any of these repercussions.

Whether public shame for hypocrisy in defying the law he represents will exert any influence on Wray as the whistleblower drama unfolds, remains to be seen.

 

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