AG Garland Slams House GOP Over Contempt Effort

( – House Republicans have escalated the battle over recordings of Special Counsel Robert Hur’s interview with President Joe Biden. After Attorney General Merrick Garland refused to hand over the audio, the House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of contempt proceedings against Garland on May 16, a move the Attorney General described as “unfounded attacks” on himself and the Department of Justice.

Congress is battling the Biden administration for access to recordings of the President’s interview with the Special Counsel over documents that Biden illegally retained following his tenure as Vice President under President Barack Obama. Ultimately, Hur’s report concluded that Biden retained sensitive documents by “mistake,” attributing said mistake to Biden’s age and “poor memory.” However, the report also found evidence of “willful retention” of classified documents that Biden should have handed over when he left the Obama Administration.

Under Garland’s advice, Biden invoked executive privilege to block the audio of his interview, which many have decried as a conflict of interest, as the move also protects Garland from potential incrimination. Garland argued that turning the recordings over would affect the Justice Department’s ability to investigate sensitive matters in the future, suggesting that it would create “political influence.” The Attorney General further suggested that the request for Biden’s interview was not a “legitimate request” and the decision to hide the audio from Republicans and the public was merely to protect the Justice Department’s ability to perform “sensitive” and “high-profile” investigations.

Carlos Felipe Uriarte, the Assistant Attorney General, defended Garland and tried to dissuade members of Congress from moving the contempt efforts forward, suggesting that doing so would cause “unnecessary” division. Uriarte also argued that precedent has been established by both parties that officials who are protected by a presidential claim of executive privilege are unable to be held in contempt by lawmakers.

The White House Counsel Edward Siskel wrote to the House Oversight Committee, suggesting that the only reason they were trying to obtain the recordings was to use them for “partisan political purposes.”

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