Sen. Chuck Grassley has already seen the FBI’s lengthy summary of a confidential human source’s claims that then-Vice President Joe Biden agreed to accept money from a foreign national to affect policy decisions, the Iowa Republican revealed on Thursday. Grassley further pledged to make the FBI report public as soon as the bureau complies with a congressional subpoena to provide an official copy of the FD-1023 form — something Director Christopher Wray has so far refused to do.
For the last month, Grassley has teamed up with House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer to obtain documents from the bureau related to whistleblower claims that FBI Headquarters opened an assessment in August 2020 to discredit derogatory information about Biden. Specifically, Grassley and Comer sought the FD-1023 form used to memorialize an interview with a confidential human source (CHS) and related documents, with Comer issuing Wray a subpoena for the material in early May.
The subpoena and related correspondence indicate the whistleblower has intimate knowledge of the CHS’s claims, with Grassley and Comer revealing that the FD-1023 form was dated June 30, 2020, and alleged a bribe of $5 million. But now we know not only that the FD-1023 form implicating Biden exists — something Grassley said Wray confirmed on Thursday — but also that Grassley has already seen the form.
What This Means
This proves significant because it means Grassley and Comer weren’t merely taking the whistleblower at his word, but that an FBI document confirmed the whistleblower’s claims. Several key points follow from this revelation.
For starters, the fact that Grassley had access to the FD-1023 bolsters the strength of the various characterizations he has made over the last year, such as that the CHS was “trusted.” The form would have provided specifics to support that conclusion, such as the CHS’s history of providing verifiable intel to the FBI.
Grassley also represented that the FD-1023 “include[d] a precise description of how the alleged criminal scheme was employed as well as its purpose.” The senator has clearly known those specifics for some time, allowing congressional investigators to run down the various leads the FBI allegedly deep-sixed. For instance, knowing how the alleged scheme was executed would point investigators to the various people and entities involved, allowing relevant bank records to be subpoenaed. Grassley and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., have already run down several leads, including by subpoenaing records that exposed one $5 million pay-to-play enterprise involving China.
However, given that Biden led the Obama administration’s policy initiatives in Ukraine, where Hunter Biden was also on the payroll of Burisma, it seems more likely the CHS had intel related to influence-peddling there.
What Other Documents Has Grassley Seen?
That Grassley has already seen the FD-1023 summary of the CHS’s allegations raises the likelihood that the senator had access to additional documentary support for the whistleblower’s claims. For instance, according to the whistleblower, FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten opened an “assessment” in August 2020 and then improperly discredited the “verified and verifiable” derogatory intel about Hunter Biden.
Has Grassley already seen that assessment? What about the verified information related to Hunter Biden? It seems likely.
And what about the other documents Grassley has requested that Wray provide? Does the senator already have copies of those?
For instance, 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, including “recordings of verbal communications.”
Might Grassley have already obtained access to such records through his whistleblowers? Given that the senator had access to the FD-1023, that’s a very real possibility.
Yet Grassley wants the FBI to release the official FD-1023 form, which he said he would then make public. Here, Grassley is likely working to protect the whistleblower while also ensuring there are no doubts about the authenticity of the form.
Wray continues to defy the subpoena, but in revealing he has already read the FD-1023 form, Grassley also eviscerated the FBI’s position that releasing the form will put sources at risk.
If Wray would read the FD-1023, Grassley said during a Fox News interview, “he would know that all these excuses he’s giving us, that he wants to protect sources … are not an issue with this document.”
Whether Wray knew Grassley had already reviewed the CHS report before hiding behind a desire to protect sources is unclear. What is clear is that Grassley knows much more than the FBI realized. If I were the ones who buried the scandal and am now trying to buy a coverup, I’d be rather nervous about what is coming next from the Iowa senator.
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.