House Judiciary Votes to Hold AG Garland in Contempt Over Biden Tapes

The House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for not giving them audio recordings of special counsel Robert K. Hur’s interviews with President Biden about his mishandling of classified documents.

The committee, led by Chairman Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, said that the recordings are important for figuring out if President Biden received special treatment from the Justice Department.

The vote now goes to the GOP-led House and if passed, the contempt resolution will be sent to the Justice Department. People who are found guilty of contempt can face a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment for up to 12 months. But Attorney General Garland, who oversees the department, is likely to ignore it.

Mr. Garland has refused to give Congress the audio recordings of Mr. Hur’s interview with Mr. Biden regarding his handling of classified documents while he was vice president. And he’s also denied House lawmakers the audio recordings of Mr. Hur’s interview with Mark Zwonitzer, who helped write Mr. Biden’s 2017 memoir.

The Justice Department only gave redacted transcripts of the Hur interviews, but lawmakers say they need the audio tapes to see if prosecutors are being fair.

Republicans say the tapes are important because what was given to them isn’t enough evidence since the White House has a history of changing transcripts.

The fight over the tapes is happening as President Biden, who is 81, is facing low approval ratings and questions from voters about his age.

The Justice Department said giving Congress the recordings would hurt future law enforcement efforts and that the committee’s continued requests are a problem for the separation of powers.

White House Counsel Ed Siskel wrote a letter to House lawmakers saying that Republicans don’t have a good reason for wanting the recordings besides using them for political reasons.

Republicans said that executive privilege shouldn’t count because the transcripts were already given to them. They argue for the tapes to do real oversight into Mr. Biden’s handling of classified documents.

Mr. Hur, who doesn’t work at the Justice Department anymore, used the audio recordings to decide not to charge Mr. Biden. He said that during the interviews, the president seemed like a nice man with a bad memory.

Republican lawmakers say the audio tapes will help them decide if Mr. Hur’s assessment of the president is right and if he should have been charged.

Mr. Biden shared classified information with Mr. Zwonitzer according to Mr. Hur’s report and Mr. Zwonitzer deleted some of his audio recordings when he found out about Mr. Hur’s case.

Mr. Hur said in March that Mr. Biden shared classified info about the war in Afghanistan and read classified material to Mr. Zwonitzer.

Written by Staff Reports

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