(NewsNation) — House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., says the committee will be “taking steps” to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over documents concerning President Joe Biden’s business dealings while he served as vice president.
What’s at the crux of the issue?
Comer wants an unclassified FD-1023 form containing allegations someone made about Biden. Wray recently failed to comply with a congressional subpoena requesting all FD-1023 forms containing the name “Biden.”
Former FBI agent Tracy Walder tells NewsNation host Dan Abrams it’s “highly unusual” for someone to demand the release of an FD-1023 and that the House Oversight Committee’s request seems like a “very broad fishing expedition.”
What are FD-1023 documents?
The FBI defines an FD-1023 as “one of many forms the FBI uses to collect and catalog information for its law enforcement and national security work.”
How are the FD-1023 forms used?
The FBI says the form is used by agents “to record unverified reporting from a confidential human source” and that confidential human source information is “highly sensitive.”
Why is the FBI allegedly not giving the form to lawmakers?
The FBI wants to protect its sources of information and says handing over the document would “risk the harms that our (the FBI’s) confidentiality rules protect against.”
The agency says Department of Justice policy “strictly limits when and how confidential human source information can be provided outside of the FBI.” They say the policy restrictions have been in place for decades.
The FBI believes unnecessary release of the forms could place their sources at risk.
“Confidential human sources often provide information to the FBI at great risk to themselves and their loved ones,” the agency said, in part. “Protecting the identities and information provided by confidential human sources from unnecessary disclosure or undue influence is therefore critical not only because of safety concerns but also to avoid chilling their candor or willingness to continue reporting to the FBI.”
How often are FD-1023 forms shared with other people?
Walder says the forms are rarely shared outside of the FBI.
“They’re typically not released because the reality is, we want to protect our sources and methods,” Walder said. “When we are releasing source information out into the public realm, that makes people then have a little bit of trepidation about coming to the FBI (…) if they are not going to be protected.”
Walder said she has never turned over any FD-1023 forms.
Could the FBI redact information in an FD-1023?
Yes. Walder says the FBI can redact information that could jeopardize sources.
“But the problem is, this could be the source of a bigger investigation, this could be the source of absolutely nothing, maybe this information went nowhere. We don’t necessarily know,” Walder said.
She said how the information was received, along with agent sources and methods being exposed would likely be difficult for the FBI to redact.
Is the report in an FD-1023 document always factual?
The short answer is no. The FBI says the information from sources in some reports are “unverified and, by definition, incomplete.”
The agency says the reports include “leads and suspicions, not the conclusions of investigators based on fuller context” and that more complete reports “might exonerate individuals cast in a negative light” by earlier reports.
Walder said when agents are conducting an FD-1023 report, they are not, at that point in their investigation, assessing the credibility of the source giving them information.
“All that form is, is literally an FBI agent sitting down with a source, and we don’t know the veracity of that source, and taking their information down word for word,” Walder told Abrams.
Comer has called the FBI’s decision “to stiff-arm Congress” by keeping the FD-1023 forms “obstructionist and unacceptable.”
The FBI says it “remains committed to cooperating with the committee in good faith.”
The demand for the 1023 forms is part of just one of many House GOP investigations into Biden and his family.
White House spokesperson Ian Sams has called the committee’s allegations in their investigations “unfounded, unproven, politically motivated attacks.”
Comer and Wray are expected to speak about the documents over the phone Wednesday.