Washington, D.C. – In a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik announced that, following her continued oversight and advocacy, the FBI will present Stefanik and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence its report from the investigation into the FBI’s involvement in the 2018 deadly Schoharie limo crash. During today’s House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, Stefanik secured FBI Director Chris Wray’s commitment to full transparency and compliance with how the FBI briefs the findings of the Stefanik-initiated review to Congress and demanded he brief the immediate family members of the crash victims.
A full transcript of her questioning below:
Stefanik: Director Wray, one year ago at this very same hearing, I asked you about the deadliest vehicle crash in decades in my district in Upstate New York, the 2018 Schoharie limo crash, instantly killing 20 people. Those families have never been the same. And my office has communicated with many of them.
The owner of the illegally retrofitted limo was a longtime FBI informant with a rap sheet a mile long. And it was because of my question to you in this open hearing that the FBI was forced to open an internal review. Let me be clear, that review was in response to our Congressional oversight. Since then, that was a year ago, the FBI has stonewalled and slow-walked our additional requests for updates on that review, until miraculously just this week before you knew you were going to appear here today, we received an email informing this committee and myself of the following, “The internal review is now complete. The FBI will now provide a briefing and, in connection with that briefing, we will make available the internal review with certain redactions. We’ll coordinate with your staff regarding the in-camera review of the materials. The FBI is providing this briefing and materials with the understanding that the committee will not publicly disclose the nonpublic information contained therein.” [Full letter included below]
My expectation is that briefing will be this month. Do I have your commitment?
I want to follow up, can you commit to providing that briefing to those family members, immediate family members, the parents or spouses of those victims?
Wray: On that one, let me make sure I talk with our folks and circle back with you about what can be shared if there are any limitations. Obviously, we want to make sure that the victims and their families are appropriately informed. But I don't know yet what constraints there may be. So we will follow back up with you on that.
Stefanik: They have not been appropriately informed. It's only because of my work in Congressional oversight that they're starting to have sunlight. I believe you're a parent, Chris Wray?
Stefanik: I'm a new parent as well. And there is a set of parents that lost four daughters in that crash. So providing sunlight and transparency is important.
I also want to note an important portion of the letter that was included. It says, “The FBI considers the provision of the internal review as fulfillment of the above reference fence.” I remind you that this committee, not the FBI, determines the level of transparency equating to full compliance with our Constitutionally-directed oversight role. Mr. Chairman, I want to submit this unclassified version of the letter for the record.
In March 2022, Stefanik publicly questioned Director Wray on the FBI’s involvement in the crash at the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s hearing. She followed up with a letter demanding answers regarding the FBI’s involvement with 2018 Schoharie limousine crash. Following this advocacy, Stefanik announced the FBI opened an internal investigation the limo crash. In June, Stefanik continued her oversight and requested a timeline for the FBI’s review, a copy of the completed review, and any findings and recommendations.
The Unclassified Letter from the FBI was entered into the Congressional Record during today’s hearing and is pasted below:
Dear Chairman Turner and Representative Stefanik:
This responds to your request—reflected in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) and in Rep. Stefanik’s letter, dated December 12, 2022—to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), requesting a copy of the FBI Inspection Division’s (INSD) Internal Review (Internal Review) related to the 2018 tragic limousine crash in Schoharie, New York. This supplements our prior correspondence to Rep. Stefanik, dated April 22, 2022 and November 25, 2022, and our briefing to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staff, which included a detailed overview of the FBI’s confidential human source program, on May 18, 2022.
The Internal Review is now complete. As a further accommodation to the Committee’s stated oversight objectives, the FBI will provide a briefing by INSD leadership and, in connection with that briefing, will make available the Internal Review with certain redactions, such as those required to protect personally identifiable information, and consistent with our law enforcement and national security obligations. We will coordinate with your staff regarding this in camera review of the materials, which have been Bates number FBI-HPSCI118-INSD-000001 to FBI-HPSCI118-INSD-000023. The FBI is providing this briefing and materials with the understanding that the Committee will not publicly disclose the non-public information contained therein. The production of these materials does not waive any applicable privilege. The FBI considers the provision of the Internal Review as a fulfillment of the above-referenced fence.
Acting Assistant Director