Now We Know

Recall that House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R, KY) subpoenaed the FBI for an FD-1023 form that is supposed to contain information concerning a potential criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Joe Biden (D) and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions. The subpoena also required the FBI to advise the committee concerning what it did to investigate these allegations.

Both Comer and Senator Chuck Grassley (R, IA), who also wants the document and information so he can run his own investigation (however limited by being in the minority party in the Senate) into the doings of Joe Biden and his family, were confident of the document’s existence, but since their position was based on a so far unidentified whistleblower’s claim, there were doubts about the form’s actual existence.

When the subpoena’s deadline went by without the FBI’s producing either the document or the information, FBI Director Chris Wray wrote a letter to Comey explaining his refusal to produce them. That refusal, despite Wray’s standard “neither confirm nor deny” mantra, now confirms the document’s existence and emphasizes the importance of its production, along with what the FBI did—or didn’t—do about it to the Oversight Committee. Wray wrote a number of things in his letter, but one stands out.

[Y]our request for a single FD-1023 report that you say includes a “precise description” of an “alleged criminal scheme” risks the harms that our confidentiality rules protect against[.]

There are a couple of things about that standout. One is Wray’s naked insubordination in this. FBI “rules” do not supersede the House’s constitutional authority to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch and of Executive Branch agencies. Last I looked, the FBI was an Executive Branch agency. Wray knows full well that his agency’s “rules” are subordinate to that constitutional mandate.

The other thing is this: to the extent that producing the FD-1023 and its activities pursuant to it puts at risk the FBI’s needs for confidentiality regarding its sources and methods and any investigations the FBI may or may not have in progress—and the concerns themselves are valid—the form can be produced to Committee members in a SCIF in the House. The House already has a SCIF; that’s where classified intelligence documents get viewed by specified House members. Wray is fully aware of this, too; his refusal to produce the document and related information altogether rather than in the House’s SCIF is disingenuous at best.

That raises a question in my pea brain: who sent Wray? Who does he work for?

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