Congressional Oversight: Document Demands Edition

Patrick G. Eddington

I think it’s fair to question whether or not the current House Oversight Committee inquiry into allegations against the President and his son, Hunter Biden (with respect to questionable business dealings with a Ukrainian energy company), is the kind of issue the committee should be spending its time on. It’s not fair to question the legitimacy of the subpoena and related document demands the committee has made of the FBI for an FD-1023 Confidential Human Source (CHS) report allegedly related to the Biden matter. You can find an example of a previously released FBI FD-1023 here.

To be clear, relying on single‐​source reporting for any kind of investigation—unless that source is a wiretap or another form of electronic surveillance that can be clearly tied to a suspect—is not a sound law enforcement or intelligence analysis technique. And in some cases, even multiple, independent sources of human intelligence (HUMINT) can be incomplete, misleading, or outright false. That’s exactly what the FBI did in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation targeting the Trump campaign, relying on unverified (and ultimately unsubstantiated) information from both the Australian government and a former British intelligence officer—with disastrous results. The issue here is whether this particular CHS account in the Biden episode is credible, and whether there is other information to validate or refute the source’s claims. At present, we don’t have definitive answers to either question.

It’s worth remembering that Democrats controlled the gavels in the House during the previous congress, they were not at all shy about using subpoenas to request documents and witness testimony in connection with the investigation of the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol—including seeking contempt charges for those who refused to cooperate. The country was the better for that oversight effort, which is why their opposition to Comer’s actions undermines the credibility of their allegations that House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer’s (R‑KY) is simply on a partisan mission to get the Bidens. House Democrats opposition to attempts to get the FBI to at least let all committee members be able to review the document undermine what should be a bipartisan effort to get to the truth of the matter.

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