Impeachment is the only recourse if a government whistleblower’s allegation that President Joe Biden was part of a bribery scheme is true, said Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.
“You can’t prosecute a sitting president for crimes, so the only recourse—if this document exists, and we believe it does—is for the House to bring articles of impeachment,” Palmer told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Friday.
Palmer stressed that members of Congress need to see an FBI document that the unnamed whistleblower says alleges a scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and a foreign national related to an “exchange of money for policy decisions.”
The House Oversight and Accountability Committee subpoenaed the document from the FBI on Wednesday.
Palmer, a member of the oversight committee, said further review could “vindicate” the president, but the country won’t know unless the FBI promptly releases the subpoenaed information.
“I will look at this without a political lens to see if there were any impropper actions taken,” Palmer said. “It is incumbent on the FBI to hand over this document and let the evidence speak for itself.”
The House committee’s subpoena gives the FBI until Wednesday to respond. Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., issued the subpoena after the whistleblower made a legally protected disclosure to the office of Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.
Grassley has a long history of working with government whistleblowers. The FBI document, called an FD-1023 form, was created or modified in June 2020, about five months before Biden was elected president, according to the subpoena.
“We have tremendous confidence in the whistleblower,” Palmer said. “This is an American who stepped up, at personal risk, to expose how dangerous this was for the country.”
Comer told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night that he knows both the policy position and the country involved in the alleged Biden bribery scheme, but was not yet at liberty to disclose that information.
The Kentucky Republican said he did not know the amount of money that allegedly changed hands.
Palmer said he hoped the chairman would share the information with more committee members. But ultimately, the FBI has to repond to the subpoena.
“There has been a tremendous loss of confidence that federal law enforcement has been politicized and serious concerns that the president has been compromised,” Palmer said. “The FBI had a file with very specific information and didn’t do anything about it. Was it because of politics?”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeted Thursday: “Article II explicitly states that bribery is an impeachable offense.”
It’s not a mitigating factor against impeachment that the alleged bribery occurred before Biden was president, Palmer added.
“No, he was vice president at the time. It could depend on what the policy was that changes,” Palmer said. “This is clearly a bribery situation. We don’t yet know what the exchange of money or the policy decision was for. If the foreign national was a state actor, this could be even more serious.”
Biden was elected twice as President Barack Obama’s vice president, serving from 2009 to 2017.
There is precedent for impeachment over offenses committed before taking public office. In 2010, the House impeached and the Senate removed U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous of the Eastern District of Louisiana on four articles of impeachment involving corruption.
Particularly relevant is the fourth article of impeachment in that case, which said Porteous “knowingly made material false statements about his past” to the Senate and the FBI during his 1994 nomination and confirmation process, which occurred before the Louisiana jurist was confirmed as a federal judge.
The other charges against Porteous were over alleged misconduct after his confirmation to the federal bench.
Further, Palmer noted, as vice president Biden had the ear of Obama and as a U.S. senator from 1973 to 2009 he held increasing sway with fellow lawmakers. So, he said, the foreign national cited in the FBI document could have had a significant impact on policy.
“A vice president has a lot of influence on policy,” Palmer told The Daily Signal. “Joe Biden wasn’t just any vice president. He was in the Senate for years and could influence how his former colleagues voted.”
The FBI’s national press office, in an email to The Daily Signal, said: “The FBI received the subpeona and accompanying letter. We don’t have any additional comment.”
Ian Sams, a special assistant to the president in the White House Counsel’s Office, issued a statement to select media outlets Wednesday evening, as The Daily Signal previously reported.
“For going on five years now,” Sams said, “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.”
However, when the topic emerged Thursday in a White House press briefing, national security spokesman John Kirby simply referred reporters to the Justice Department. Apparently referring to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Kirby added, “And I’m getting the hook.” He then walked away from the lectern.
Comer’s subpoena asks the FBI for “all FD-1023 forms, including within any open, closed, or restricted access case files, created or modified in June 2020, containing the term ‘Biden,’ including all accompanying attachments and documents to those FD-1023 forms.”
An FD-1023 is an FBI document that memorializes meetings or information gathered from confidential sources, so it could include criminal allegations from a source, even if the information wasn’t verified by the FBI.
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