In a move that could spell a legal reckoning for FBI Director Christopher Wray, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R–CA) issued a stern warning on Tuesday, threatening to hold the agency head in contempt of Congress.
Speaking during an appearance on Fox News, McCarthy said the agency had until the end of the day to comply with a subpoena from House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R–KY) seeking a document believed to contain allegations of a criminal “bribery“ scheme involving President Joe Biden that dates back to his time as vice president.
“Let me tell Director Christopher Wray right here, right now. If he misses the deadline today, I am prepared to move contempt charges in Congress against him,” McCarthy said. “We have jurisdiction over this. He can send us that document. We have the right to look at that, Republicans and Democrats alike in that committee. And if he does not follow through with the law, we will move contempt charges against Wray and the FBI. They are not above the law.”
According to Comer, whistleblower disclosures led him and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–IA) to believe that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI have an unclassified FD–1023 form describing the alleged “bribery” scheme and the payment of “five million“ to the foreign national on June 30, 2020.
The FBI has maintained that it is committed to cooperating with Congressional oversight requests and that releasing confidential source information could potentially jeopardize investigations and endanger lives. However, McCarthy said the agency must still provide them the document, with redactions if need be, and that it could not be above the law.
If the House, narrowly controlled by Republicans, were to approve a criminal contempt referral to the DOJ, Wray could face a fine and up to a year in prison if federal prosecutors were to take up the case.
The Speaker’s threat comes as the FBI still refuses to acknowledge the document even exists, with the agency having previously only issued general caution around disclosing unverified information from informants.
“We call on the FBI to follow through on its commitment to cooperate with Congress’s oversight requests, and to provide the document in question so that the appropriate investigations can take place,” McCarthy said. “We at no point will allow the FBI to disregard its duty to the American people.”
I have a message for FBI Director Christopher Wray: If he misses today's deadline to turn over subpoenaed documents to Congress, I am prepared to move contempt charges against him. pic.twitter.com/D3hyW3VIpX
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) May 30, 2023