Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, rarely asks a question to which he doesn’t know the answer. When the question concerns the politicization and weaponization of the FBI, you can bet some damning information rests behind his query.
So when Grassley asked on Thursday whether bribery was within the parameters of Delaware’s investigation into Hunter Biden, it likely means the FBI defined the scope of the federal investigation into the president’s son so narrowly that agents lacked the authority to properly probe a “highly credible” confidential human source’s reporting implicating the Biden family. Specifically, the CHS reported that Hunter and Joe Biden each received $5 million in bribes from the Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma.
The Iowa senator posed his question last Thursday during the executive business meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee. After several exchanges between Republican members of the Judiciary Committee and Democrat Chair Dick Durbin over the question of what, if anything, the FBI had done to investigate the bribery alleged in the CHS’s FD-1023 report, Grassley interjected this query:
“In regard to U.S. Attorney Weiss, do we know if his job follows up on bribery, or is it just this tax stuff that we’ve been reading about? If it doesn’t include bribery, then he can’t do anything about investigating.”
And with those two sentences, Grassley revealed the initial answer Americans need to assess whether the DOJ and FBI sabotaged a criminal probe into the Biden family.
As Crossfire Hurricane and related sub-investigations established, when the FBI opens a full investigation, the “Electronic Communication” identifies the underlying suspected criminal offense. In the case of the investigation into the Trump campaign and connected individuals, Peter Strzok identified the Foreign Agents Registration Act as the relevant criminal statute. Further, the controlling Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, or DIOG, stresses that “it is particularly important clearly to identify and document the law enforcement or national security basis of the Full Investigation.”
What law enforcement basis did the FBI identify in launching an investigation into Hunter Biden? Did the Electronic Communication list only tax offenses? Or maybe also money laundering?
The crime identified in the EC will determine the course of the investigation, and unless the FBI updated the basis for the investigation, agents will only undertake investigative techniques likely to uncover evidence relevant to the stated offense. Thus, Grassley questioned whether bribery was within the scope of the investigation being handled by U.S. Attorney David Weiss because if not, it is unlikely the allegations in the FD-1023 received any scrutiny.
Relatedly, congressional oversight committees should inquire whether, after Attorney General William Barr sent Delaware the FD-1023’s reporting of the alleged bribes to Hunter and Joe Biden, agents opened an assessment for bribery or considered bribery within the scope of the already-predicated investigation into Hunter Biden. If not, and if the FBI had defined the scope of the already-launched full investigation of Hunter Biden narrowly, agents’ hands would be tied. They could not conduct even the most rudimentary of investigative techniques to probe the CHS’s reporting.
Recall that following the Russia-collusion hoax, then-AG Barr established new procedures requiring the written approval of the attorney general before the FBI launches an investigation of presidential candidates. Attorney General Merrick Garland reportedly renewed those procedures. As the controlling DIOG stressed, if an assessment (or an investigation), “involves Presidential or congressional candidates or campaigns,” there are additional requirements contained in the “Updated Requirements for Certain Investigative Matters Related to Presidential and Congressional Candidates and Campaigns.”
So did Delaware seek permission to open an assessment of Joe Biden? If not, why?
Again, without an open assessment or investigation, agents could do little to evaluate the FD-1023’s allegations against the non-president.
That may well explain why the Internal Revenue Service whistleblower claims he was limited in conducting investigative techniques that might implicate President Biden. It may also explain Garland’s testimony that he placed no limitations on Weiss’s investigation: He wouldn’t need to because the scope of the full investigation would limit the investigative techniques available to FBI agents to those related to the crime identified in the EC.
While Americans need answers to many questions, Grassley posed the preliminary one that will tell the country whether the DOJ and FBI ever took the investigation into the Bidens seriously. But given the DOJ and FBI’s dissembling, it seems unlikely we will receive answers anytime soon.