McCarthy floats contempt for FBI director over document request

Tribune Content Agency

WASHINGTON — Speaker Kevin McCarthy threatened Tuesday to seek to hold the head of the FBI in contempt of Congress if the agency didn’t comply with a congressional subpoena issued after lawmakers received “whistleblower disclosures” related to President Joe Biden.

The comments came hours before the head of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee announced that the panel will take steps to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress for not complying with a congressional subpoena.

Republicans contend that an unclassified form describes an alleged scheme involving “then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions,” and the House oversight committee issued a subpoena for specific documents.

Republicans said they received “highly credible unclassified whistleblower disclosures,” but the lawmakers provided no details of the scheme nor evidence of its accuracy in a letter to the FBI and the Justice Department as the subpoena was rolled out. The White House has said congressional Republicans have been making unproven political attacks against Biden for years.

McCarthy, during a Fox News appearance, said he spoke with Wray and told him the document must be provided, a move that comes after Republicans accused the agency of delaying.

“If he misses the deadline today, I am prepared to move contempt charges in Congress against him,” McCarthy said in the interview. “We have jurisdiction over this. He can send us that document. We have the right to look at that.”

The California Republican said Wray has not denied that the document exists and said he told the director that certain parts of it could be redacted.

“But we have a right to see it. He does not have the right to choose what he can and cannot show us,” McCarthy said. “We oversee the FBI. And if he thinks differently, he will soon see a contempt charge in Congress against the director.”

McCarthy added that there are “enough problems in the FBI.”

The agency has been the subject of fierce criticism from Republicans, particularly after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s property in Florida last year.

House Oversight Chairman James R. Comer, R-Ky., subpoenaed Wray earlier this month and last week warned of contempt of Congress proceedings if Wray failed to produce the record. On Tuesday, after McCarthy’s statement, Comer issued a statement that the FBI informed the House Oversight panel that it would not provide the subpoenaed documents.

“The FBI’s decision to stiff-arm Congress and hide this information from the American people is obstructionist and unacceptable,” Comer said. “While I have a call scheduled with FBI Director Wray tomorrow to discuss his response further, the Committee has been clear in its intent to protect Congressional oversight authorities.”

In a letter earlier this month, Comer and Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa said it appears the Justice Department and the FBI have enough information to find out the truthfulness of the information in the document.

Ian Sams, White House spokesman for oversight and investigations, said on Twitter earlier this month that Republicans in Congress “prefer trafficking in innuendo.”

“For going on 5 years now, Republicans in Congress have been lobbing unfounded politically-motivated attacks against (the president) without offering evidence for their claims. Or evidence of decisions influenced by anything other than U.S. interests,” he tweeted.