After a confidential human source claimed then-Vice President Joe Biden agreed to accept money from a foreign national to affect policy decisions, FBI agents used what’s called an FD-1023 form to record the allegation. Now FBI Director Christopher Wray is defying a May 3 congressional subpoena to provide this form. On Tuesday, in response to Wray’s refusal to hand over the documents, Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer announced the House will move to hold the FBI director in contempt of Congress.
It isn’t that announcement — or even the other explosive ones released over the past year by Comer’s Senate colleague, Chuck Grassley — that prove the most telling, however. Rather, it is the combination of all the details, big and small, that suggests the scandal set to unfold over the coming weeks will be bigger than anyone imagined.
The Dirt Is in the Details
Take recent big news from whistleblower disclosures revealing that the Justice Department and the FBI have the unclassified FD-1023 form spelling out Biden’s alleged criminal behavior. Then combine that with other known information to discover the bigger picture.
For instance, in response to Wray’s failure to comply with the subpoena, Grassley, who had previously noted the FD-1023 form was five or six pages long, indicated that the confidential human source (CHS) was “an apparent trusted FBI source.” This is huge because Grassley wouldn’t make that claim unless the whistleblower had. That means the source is not some random guy walking in off the street, but rather an existing “trusted” CHS, which is why the FBI used the FD-1023 form.
In response to Wray’s stonewalling, Comer likewise revealed some significant details, clarifying late last week that the CHS reporting document was dated June 30, 2020, and referenced “the amount of money the foreign national allegedly paid to receive the desired policy outcome” as “five million.” These details could only have come from a whistleblower with deep knowledge of the investigation, meaning the whistleblower’s characterization of the CHS as “trusted” carries more weight. Likewise, the whistleblower’s claim that the FD-1023 “includes a precise description of how the alleged criminal scheme was employed as well as its purpose,” is more credible given the whistleblower’s knowledge of other details.
Comer’s reference to “five million” is also intriguing. In a letter to Wray, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, Grassley had previously revealed a promise by a Chinese communist government-connected enterprise to funnel $5 million to “Hunter and James Biden to compensate them for work done while Joe Biden was vice president.” Records released by Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., also confirmed a $5 million payment to James and Hunter Biden from another Chinese-connected business.
The date of the FD-1023 form, June 30, 2020, also proves significant when read in conjunction with Grassley’s letter to Wray in July 2022. In that letter, Grassley said the whistleblower had claimed that “the FBI developed information in 2020 about Hunter Biden’s criminal financial and related activity,” but “that in August 2020, FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten opened an assessment which was used by a FBI Headquarters (‘FBI HQ’) team to improperly discredit negative Hunter Biden information as disinformation and caused investigative activity to cease.”
The whistleblower further alleged that in September 2020, the FBI HQ team that handled the Auten assessment, after concluding the reporting was disinformation, placed the information in a restricted access sub-file that only the particular agents who uncovered the CHS’s information could access.
Several points merit mention here: First, Auten is the same agent responsible for some of the shenanigans in Crossfire Hurricane. Second, Grassley’s letter indicates Auten did not open the “assessment” on Hunter Biden or other members of the Biden family. The senator’s correspondence actually suggests the assessment may have been opened on the CHS.
Here’s the relevant language:
The basis for how the FBI HQ team selected the specific information for inclusion in Auten’s assessment is unknown, but in more than one instance the focus of the FBI HQ team’s attention involved derogatory information about Hunter Biden.
The whistleblower also reportedly told Grassley that FBI HQ later closed sources after branding their info as disinformation. Given the timing of the assessment (August 2020) and the date of the CHS report (June 2020), it seems likely the FBI used the CHS report as part of the “assessment” and that the “assessment” was of the CHS.
This leads to the next significant point: According to the whistleblower, Auten’s assessment led to the “improper discrediting” of the verified and verifiable derogatory information about Hunter Biden. Worse, based on several hints dropped by Grassley over the last year, FBI headquarters conducted little to no investigation on the CHS and other derogatory info before labeling it “disinformation.”
The timing of the CHS report in June 2020 also proves conveniently coincidental to the decision by Democrat Sens. Chuck Schumer and Mark Warner, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Rep. Adam Schiff to send a letter just two weeks later, on July 13, 2020, to the FBI claiming Congress was being subjected to a foreign disinformation campaign. On July 16, 2020, the then-ranking members of two congressional committees asked the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force — the same one that handled the “assessment” that branded the Hunter Biden intel as disinformation — to give the committees a defensive briefing. News of that “Russian disinformation” briefing soon leaked to the press.
What About a Recording?
Grassley’s correspondence and statements over the last year hint at one more possibility: The FBI had at least one recording that implicated members of the Biden family in a criminal enterprise and buried that evidence.
Specifically, in one letter to the bureau, Grassley said other FBI records “shed light on Hunter Biden’s business and financial relationship with Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky,” and those “documents include specific details about conversations by non-government individuals relevant to potential criminal conduct by Hunter Biden.” Grassley had previously requested interview summary forms that referenced Zlochevsky, and in seeking FBI records, the senator’s letter made clear that “records” included “recorded or graphic material,” including “recordings of verbal communications.”
This possibility fits with the whistleblower’s description of “an avenue of additional derogatory Hunter Biden reporting” that FBI HQ shut down in October 2020 “in furtherance of Mr. Auten’s assessment,” even though, according to the whistleblower, the intel could have been verified by use of search warrants.
A follow-up question Grassley asked Wray further suggests the possibility of recorded conversations implicating the Bidens: “Does the Justice Department have a specific policy regarding the use of materials and information related to U.S. citizens who reside in the United States provided by foreign governments, including the fruits of surveillance carried out by a foreign state’s intelligence service?”
Whether these possibilities pan out remains to be seen, but what should be clear to all now is that the whistleblower knows where the evidence is buried — and Grassley and Comer have brought their shovels.
Margot Cleveland is The Federalist’s senior legal correspondent. She is also a contributor to National Review Online, the Washington Examiner, Aleteia, and Townhall.com, and has been published in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Cleveland is a lawyer and a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School, where she earned the Hoynes Prize—the law school’s highest honor. She later served for nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk for a federal appellate judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Cleveland is a former full-time university faculty member and now teaches as an adjunct from time to time. As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of a young son with cystic fibrosis, Cleveland frequently writes on cultural issues related to parenting and special-needs children. Cleveland is on Twitter at @ProfMJCleveland. The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.
123 total views, 1 views today