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House Republicans Ready To Hold Attorney General In Contempt Over Biden Audio

House Republicans plan to move forward next week with holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for his refusal to turn over the unredacted audio of an interview that was conducted as part of the special counsel probe into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents. The House Judiciary Committee is set to convene on May 16 to advance contempt charges against the Cabinet official, according to a person familiar with the matter who was granted anonymity to discuss plans not yet made public. The resolution would then go to the full House for a vote, the Associated Press reports. The contempt proceedings are just the latest flare-up in the increasingly tense relationship between Republicans and the Justice Department. House Republicans last month threatened to hold Garland in contempt for refusing to fully comply with a congressional subpoena issued as part their probe into Special Counsel Robert Hur’s decision not to charge the president with any crimes.

Republicans — led by Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and James Comer of Kentucky — had ordered the department to turn over audio of Hur’s interviews with Biden by early April. But the Justice Department only turned over some of the records, excluding the audio interview with the president. They warned of the precedent that would be set for future investigations if the audio was provided. Assistant Attorney General Carlos Uriarte, the department’s head of congressional affairs, said in the letter to Jordan and Comer last month that the committees’ interest in these records may not be “in service of legitimate oversight or investigatory functions, but to serve political purposes that should have no role in the treatment of law enforcement files.” Comer dismissed that rationale, saying in response that the Biden administration “does not get to determine what Congress needs and does not need for its oversight of the executive branch.” Contempt charges would require majority support in committee and then the support of the full House before a referral would be sent to the Justice Department. Should the House hold Garland in contempt, it is unlikely that the Justice Department — which Garland oversees — would prosecute him. The last time an attorney general was held in contempt was 2012.


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