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House Votes to Hold Attorney General Garland in Contempt

The U.S. House voted 216 to 207 to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress yesterday.

Garland has so far refused to turn over the audio of President Joe Biden’s interview with Special Investigator Robert Hur. He has said he has no legal requirement to do so, while GOP House members say that Garland must comply with their request to review the audio and that the Department of Justice is the only one who has access to the interview.

Republicans have been demanding to listen to the audio after Hur announced Biden should not face criminal charges, described Biden this way:

“…as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

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Hur’s report described Biden as having a “poor memory” and said that a jury would likely find sympathy for him at his age when he would face trial “well into his eighties.”

Additionally, Hur’s report said that having Biden stand trial for a serious felony requires a “mental state of willfulness.” Hur concluded that criminal charges would not be warranted as a result.

Republicans have since been requesting the audio and other documents related to the interview, but Biden has claimed “executive privilege” for that material.

Garland posted a response to the vote on X, saying,

“It is deeply disappointing that this House of Representatives has turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon. Today’s vote disregards the constitutional separation of powers, the Justice Department’s need to protect its investigations, and the substantial amount of information we have provided to the Committees.

I will always stand up for this Department, its employees, and its vital mission to defend our democracy.”

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Garland did provide a transcript of the conversation, but Republicans have said that Garland may be trying to hide something from the interview.

Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX) had this to say after the vote to hold Garland in contempt:

“He doesn’t want us to hear it. And there’s really only two reasons why that would be the case – either the transcript doesn’t match the audio, or the audio is so bad that he doesn’t want us to hear it.”

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However, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) said executive privilege was waived when the DOJ turned over the interview transcript.

Jordan went on X to list eight reasons why he says Congress needs the audio interview of the Hur/Biden interview, including his first listed reason as,

“1. The audio recording is the best evidence of what was said during the interview.  Transcripts do not and cannot capture emphasis, inflection, intonation, nuance, pace, pauses, pitch, rhythm, tone, and other cues and idiosyncrasies that convey meaning.”

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The only Republican congressman to vote against holding Garland in contempt was Rep. David Joyce (R-OH).

Joyce said after the vote,

“As a former prosecutor, I cannot in good conscience support a resolution that would further politicize our judicial system to score political points. The American people expect Congress to work for them, solve policy problems, and prioritize good governance.”

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Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said Republicans were doing nothing for the American people after the contempt vote took place. He posted on X,

“They failed to impeach President Biden.

The impeachment of Secretary Majorkas also a failure.

Now they hold AG Garland in contempt.

All while doing nothing for the American people.”

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Garland is not the first Attorney General to be held in contempt of Congress.

Former Attorney Generals William Barr and Eric Holder were also held in contempt of Congress. Neither was charged criminally.

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