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Republican-Led House Poised to Hold Attorney General Garland in Contempt Over Biden Audiotapes


Washington, D.C. – In a contentious move, the Republican-led House of Representatives is set to vote Wednesday on whether to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress. The vote centers on Garland's refusal to provide audiotapes of President Biden’s interview with a special prosecutor. This escalation follows a federal criminal investigation that concluded without any charges against Biden for mishandling classified information.

Special counsel Robert Hur, who led the investigation, noted the decision to not press charges was influenced by the likelihood that a jury might view President Biden as a "sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory."

Republicans Push for Contempt Vote

Efforts to secure the needed votes for the contempt resolution have intensified, with top Republican leaders working tirelessly to ensure passage in the narrowly divided House. If successful, Garland would join a select few attorneys general reprimanded for defying congressional subpoenas. Despite this, further legal proceedings appear unlikely due to President Biden asserting executive privilege over the tapes, effectively shielding Garland from additional inquiries.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) expressed confidence in the vote's success, stating Republican members have shown strong support for the measure. Jordan, who has faced criticism for his own past refusals to cooperate with congressional investigations, distinguished his actions from Garland’s. He emphasized that Garland has not engaged in any negotiations over the audiotapes, making this case different in his view.

Democratic Opposition and DOJ Stand

Democratic leaders and the Justice Department have rejected the premise of the contempt proceedings. Garland has highlighted the extensive cooperation already provided, including five hours of congressional testimony from special counsel Hur and the release of written transcripts of Biden’s interviews.

In a recent opinion piece, Garland criticized the contempt proceedings as politically motivated attacks on the Justice Department and its career employees. He underscored the destructive nature of using conspiracy theories and falsehoods for political gains.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, condemned the contempt measure, arguing it serves more to appease the GOP base than to address genuine policy disagreements with the DOJ. Nadler warned that the audiotapes could be manipulated for political purposes if released.

Implications for Biden and Legislative Efforts

House Republicans, led by Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), argue that obtaining the tapes is crucial for advancing a stalled impeachment inquiry against Biden and considering new legislation to safeguard classified materials. They also assert that the tapes are essential for evaluating Biden's mental fitness, a key point in their campaign strategy for the 2024 presidential election.

President Biden's invoking of executive privilege not only protects Garland from criminal contempt charges but also prevents the tapes from becoming a tool in election-related advertising.

Legal experts and political scientists, such as George Mason University's Mark Rozell, acknowledge the potential political damage if the tapes were released, noting how they could be edited to harm Biden’s public image.

Ongoing Legal Battles for Transparency

Various media organizations and the Heritage Foundation are pursuing access to the tapes through the Freedom of Information Act. However, it remains uncertain if these efforts will bear fruit before the upcoming election.

Special counsel Robert Hur’s report on the investigation into Biden’s handling of classified documents, which took place over more than a year, confirmed no criminal charges would be pursued. Nevertheless, the report did record evidence that Biden had retained and disclosed classified materials following his vice presidency while he was a private citizen.

The outcome of this contempt vote and the broader legal battles underscore the intensifying partisan tensions in Washington, with significant implications for the political landscape leading up to the 2024 presidential election.


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