House Republicans are reversing a high-profile vote to scorn FBI Director Christopher Wray, ending a week-long standoff with the office.
The oversight committee was scheduled to meet on Thursday on a resolution condemning Wray in defiance of Congress as he steps up a GOP investigation into President Joe Biden. But Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) announced Wednesday night that he was canceling the vote after the FBI offered to let all committee members review a 2020 document at the center of the impasse.
In addition to letting the entire panel review the document, known as FD-1023, describing an interview the FBI had with a confidential informant, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the top Democrat in the panel, and Comer also be able to review two additional documents.
“Allowing all members of the Oversight Committee to review this case is an important step toward oversight of the FBI and its accountability to the American people,” Comer said in a statement announcing his decision.
Comer quickly called the deal a win, saying the FBI “gave in.” But the Kentucky Republican previously pledged to hold the contempt vote in his committee unless the FBI physically delivers a copy of the document to the panel. He had announced Thursday’s vote on Monday after he and Raskin were able to see the document and get a briefing, but did not receive the document.
But people familiar with the offer told POLITICO earlier Wednesday that the FBI is now offering to let the entire committee review the document with the apparent goal of finding an exit ramp to prevent the committee from voting. Comer, in a joint Fox News interview with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) just hours before the deal was announced, confirmed that the bureau had put potential new deals on the table and was actively negotiating.
The deal is in line with a bar set by Chairman Kevin McCarthy, who has repeatedly said that if Wray let the entire panel see the document, there would be no need to hold a vote to scorn the FBI director. Speaking to reporters earlier Wednesday, McCarthy stressed that Comer deserves credit for any deal.
“Whether [Wray] change his position and give it to everyone, I want to thank President Comer for being strong,” he said.
Some conservatives had expressed confidence that they would have the support of Republicans in the House to despise Wray. But it would also be a historic vote and with only a majority of five seats, it would probably put some of their more pragmatic members in a difficult situation.
At the center of the standoff is a document that Republicans say ties then-Vice President Joe Biden to a “corruption scheme.” The forms themselves, regardless of their content, do not independently constitute evidence of wrongdoing and the FBI has warned that they contain unverified information.
The document has links to a Trump-era investigation led by then-US attorney Scott Brady, who was tasked with investigating allegations made by Rudy Giuliani, who was the attorney at the time. Trump staff. Although Democrats and Republicans have spent the days since Monday’s briefing arguing over what was said behind closed doors, they agree the document was created when the office, seeking information that could be related to the Brady investigation, re-interviewed an informant. in June 2020.
The informant, Comer noted, was considered credible by the FBI and had been paid six figures by the bureau since the Obama years.
The broader Brady investigation, the FBI told Raskin and Comer this week, was closed in August 2020. But Republicans pointed out that the document would have been turned over to Delaware DOJ prosecutors, who are conducting a years-long investigation. on Hunter Biden, the president’s son.
Both Comer and Raskin have confirmed that the allegation is linked to Ukraine – as have many claims Trump’s attorney at the time was circulating during the 2020 election. GOP watchdog aides pointed out that there was nothing in the 2020 document that shows a direct link to Giuliani, and that his name is not mentioned, but Democrats called the allegation similar to those he had previously made to Trump-era justice. Department.
Raskin, in a statement after Comer’s decision, praised the FBI for acting “in the spirit of good faith” and accused the Republicans on the panel of trying “to ignore the facts that undermine their false narratives.”
“Holding someone in contempt of Congress is one of the most serious actions our committee can take and it shouldn’t be armed to undermine the FBI,” Raskin said. “While Republicans’ investigation of President Biden has found no evidence of wrongdoing, they continue to attempt to discredit and dismantle the FBI to help support Donald Trump’s poll results.”