March 26, 2024

House Panels Threatens to Charge Biden's AG Merrick Garland with Contempt

Two Republican-led House committees issued a stern warning on Monday, threatening to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress unless he shares audio recordings of special counsel Robert Hur's interviews with President Biden and his ghostwriter.

The interviews are part of an investigation into the mishandling of classified documents.

The Judiciary Committee, chaired by Jim Jordan (R-OH), and the Oversight Committee, led by James Comer (R-KY), had subpoenaed the audio in February.

[T]he Committees expect you to produce all responsive materials no later than 12:00 p.m. on April 8, 2024. If you fail to do so, the Committees will consider taking further action, such as the invocation of contempt of Congress proceedings,” Comer and Jordan wrote.

They set a deadline of noon on April 8, 2024, for Garland to produce the materials. Failure to comply could lead to contempt proceedings.

These recordings hold potential significance as they could offer insights into Biden's handling of classified information and shed light on the actions of Mark Zwonitzer, Biden's ghostwriter, who admitted to deleting recordings of Biden's discussions after learning of Hur's inquiry.

The transcripts of Biden's discussions with Hur were released by the Justice Department on March 12, just before Hur testified before the House Judiciary Committee.

The threat of contempt proceedings is seen as a tactic to pressure Garland into transparency, similar to tactics used last year to compel FBI Director Christopher Wray to share documents.

If held in contempt, Garland would face the decision of whether to prosecute himself. This scenario echoes past clashes between Congress and the Justice Department.

In 2012, the GOP-led House held Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal.

Similarly, in 2019, the Democrat-led House took the same action against Attorney General William Barr over documents related to the census. Neither Holder nor Barr faced prosecution in those instances.

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