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News / Nation & World

House Republicans pull back contempt charge against FBI director Wray over Biden doc

By FARNOUSH AMIRI, Associated Press
Published: June 7, 2023, 7:28pm

WASHINGTON — 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, accepting a last-minute offer by the bureau to allow the full committee access to a confidential document of an unverified tip about President Joe Biden.

Rep. James 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,” the Kentucky Republican 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 the bureau. It’s a rift that first opened during the Russia investigation of then-President Donald Trump and has only widened amid the FBI’s wide-ranging criminal investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, which some Republicans view as overly zealous and politicized.

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 Joe Biden and a foreign national. That’s according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

It was unclear until late Wednesday if Comer would accept the offer even as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that would suffice.

The FBI has 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 has consistently said that the only way for the FBI to comply with the subpoena is to provide an unredacted copy of the document.

FBI officials already showed a redacted version of the several-page form to Comer and Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the committee, 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.

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