House Oversight Chair James Comer on Wednesday dramatically escalated his investigation into President Joe Biden with a subpoena Wednesday to the FBI citing the broad outlines of a “highly credible” whistleblower complaint.
The summons for documents is Comer’s (R-Ky.) most direct attempt to investigate the president after largely focusing on Hunter Biden and other family members. The Oversight chair and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), in a separate letter released on Wednesday, asserted that the FBI has material outlining “an alleged criminal scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national relating to the exchange of money for policy decisions.”
The two senior Republicans provided no further detail on the nature of those allegations. But the GOP has made clear for months that the ultimate goal of its Biden oversight is to find a smoking gun that might link the president to the business deals of his son Hunter, who is also under a federal investigation.
Comer and Grassley say they became aware of the potential existence of material underpinning the anti-Biden allegations from a “highly credible whistleblower” who contacted lawmakers to assert knowledge of a conversation the FBI had with a confidential source.
The two Republicans provided no information on the purported whistleblower’s background, or how that person would have knowledge of an alleged conversation with an FBI source. GOP lawmakers have faced Democratic criticism in the past for applying the whistleblower designation to individuals who don’t meet the legal definition.
“Based on the alleged specificity within the document, it would appear that the DOJ and the FBI have enough information to determine the truth and accuracy of the information contained within it. However, it remains unclear what steps, if any, were taken to investigate the matter,” Comer and Grassley wrote on Wednesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The subpoena compels the FBI to require over any FD-1023 forms — the formal term for records that describe conversations with a confidential human source — from June 2020 that contain the word “Biden.” The forms themselves, regardless of their content, do not independently amount to evidence of wrongdoing.
The FBI has until May 10 to hand over the documents, according to a copy of the subpoena obtained by POLITICO.
Grassley and Comer acknowledged in their letter to Wray and Garland that they weren’t sure if the FBI had already investigated the matter internally. The DOJ confirmed they received the Republicans’ letter and declined to comment. The FBI separately acknowledged that it had received the subpoena but declined to comment further.
Ian Sams, a White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations, accused Republicans of “floating anonymous innuendo” and tied the subpoena to a longer arc of Hill GOP investigations into Biden and his family.
“For going on five years now, Republicans in Congress have been lobbing unfounded, unproven, politically-motivated attacks against the President and his family without offering evidence for their claims or evidence of decisions influenced by anything other than U.S. interests. That’s because they prefer floating anonymous innuendo, amplified by the megaphone of their allies in rightwing media, to get attention,” Sams said in a statement.
No evidence has emerged that Biden’s decisions were influenced by his son’s arrangements, though Hunter Biden’s business dealings have propelled GOP investigations on both sides of the Capitol since before his father’s election.
Comer wrote in a letter to Wray accompanying the subpoena that his ongoing investigation would “inform potential legislative solutions that the Committee is exploring,” including the financial disclosures required by presidents, vice presidents and their family members.
The GOP volley is all but guaranteed to spark fierce pushback and skepticism . Comer and Grassley have both spearheaded long-running Biden investigations: Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) investigated Hunter Biden in the leadup to the 2020 election, drawing charges from Democrats and even warnings from some fellow Republicans that they were at risk of spreading Russian misinformation.
Since Republicans took the House majority at the start of the year, Comer has conducted a lengthy investigation — largely behind the scenes — that’s so far focused on Hunter Biden and other Biden family members. He’s expected to hold a press conference later this month to detail his findings after the Treasury Department granted him access to “suspicious activity reports,” which don’t indicate wrongdoing but are frequently used in law enforcement investigations.